Chapter 1.

Chapter 1.

A Chapter by robsmunn

Kidnapped by my best friend. Not exactly how I’d envisioned my day going. I was sat in the passenger seat of Coralie’s nicotine infused car, with a scarf tied around my eyes as a makeshift blindfold. I was fully capable of taking it off of course, but I somehow got the feeling that it wouldn’t be worth the fuss that Cor was bound to put up.

I was supposed to be at Ikea right now, shopping for bedsheets and wastepaper bins with my parents, not being held hostage by a crazed blonde, who was currently singing some inane pop song at the top of her lungs, as if she didn’t have a care in the world. I mean, she obviously did have a care in the world, or else none of this craziness would be happening, but as of yet I hadn’t been able to figure out what was going on in her head. And as I sat there, all but bound and gagged I knew that I was going to find out, even if it was the last thing I did. And it possibly would be, the way things were going.

I knew I was probably being dramatic, but I’d had my feathers ruffled and felt as if the situation called for a few dramatics. Cor’s craziness, this ridiculous plan and everything that was to come and mess up my perfectly mundane existence had all started the morning before, when I’d been sat in the same seat in Cor’s car, inhaling a mist of cigarette smoke.

                        ***

I had been reflecting on this mundane existence as the swirling plumes of smoke invaded my senses and despite myself I choked on the harsh earthy smell. As much as I liked to pretend that I was as cool as hell and nothing could phase me, my idiotic lungs decided to give me up as a fraud. I waved my hands in front of my face to little avail before turning towards the open car window, letting the warm summer air wash over me, relieving my protesting lungs as I breathed it in.

 “Don’t be such a baba Erin, you’re so dramatic,” Coralie sighed from the driver’s seat, “You know you’d have one from anyone other than me.” She flicked the stub that remained of her cigarette out of the window onto the rapidly moving road, which was racing past beneath the wheels of her car. That’s what you think, I thought smugly to myself, cigarettes disgust me so, ha!
“Well in all honesty I’d rather you just concentrated on the road for once,” I said out loud, in just pretentious a tone that I knew it would annoy her, “Plus, it would be way too ironic if I died today of all days, the start of my actual life.”
“Actual life,” Coralie snorted and pushed down harder on the accelerator, the car making a strained whining noise, which seemed to grate more on me than it did her, despite the fact that it was her gear box that was getting a beating because she was trying to wind me up.
The day was a warm and hazy one, just the sort of summer’s day I’d been craving since the beginning of the exam season, the sort of day that laid warm and inviting, brimming with possibilities.

There’d been many days like this one over the past few weeks that had risen to BBQs, beach walks and shopping trips. Our skin was softly sun kissed, our hair highlighted and our eyes seemed brighter somehow. The summer had been pleasant enough, but truthfully, my heart hadn’t been fully into anything. I’d spent most of my time with the slightest sense of anxiety hovering over me like a bad smell. It had been like my own personal mist, which clung to me like a second skin, whereas everywhere else was shiny and sunny and glorious. The thought of my impending A level results and consequential admittance into university had taken hold of my mind all summer, refusing to budge, stubbornly accompanying me every single day. Until today that was. That morning I’d woken up, turned on my laptop and cried tears of happiness through barely open eyes, the message that confirmed my place to study creative writing at Cardiff university displayed rather radiantly on the screen.

 I’d been buzzing all day, informing my family, my friends. I’d kept my happy little buzz for a record breaking four hours until I happened to speak to Coralie. I’d not heard from her all morning and we’d arranged to meet at our high school at midday to pick up our official results. The atmosphere at the school had been electric, happy faces in the corridors, result sheets being thrust from hand to hand and congratulations all around. I’d revelled in the unanimous feeling of bittersweet endings and beginnings of new, exciting futures. The only thing that had spoilt it for me had been the mysterious absence of Coralie.

 I’d gotten home from school and was welcomed back to a rare encounter with both of my parents. In the same room. They’d greeted me with teary eyes and hugs and what even seemed to be an agreeance on something for once. I found myself feeling proud that their pride for me had brought them together. But then I’d realised how messed up that was and went back to feeling proud of my results instead.

 Once they were tired of being nice to me and to each other I’d slipped up to my room, flopped down onto my bed and found Coralie on my speed dial.
“Cor,” I’d breathed into the phone as soon as she picked up, my anticipation brimming over into my voice, making it shaky. We’d been discussing uni for months and had decided to apply to all the same ones, wanting to experience the newness of it, without the sadness of leaving each other behind. If my best friend had gotten into the same university as me, there was no doubt that this was going to be the best day of my life. So far anyway, the notion of moving away to university with Coralie, promising much bigger, better and exciting days.

 “Oh hey RiRi,” she’d replied, her tone nonchalant, happy even. Naively I took it upon myself to take this as a good sign.
“You got in then?” I had chirped, thinking that if she could see the goofy smile on my face she probably would have called me a right loser.
There had been a pause and it sounded as if she was chewing, which was confirmed when she snapped her gum.
“Nah, looks like all that slacking off from revision really paid off,” she’d scoffed, the sound severe, a blow to my good mood.
“How’d my little nerd do? I’m guessing you got in?” There was nothing bitter in the way that she’d said it but still, I didn’t know how to reply without sounded boastful.
“Yeah I got in,” I had murmured, still certain that I sounded like I was bragging and hating myself for it.
“Ah, fab Ri, I’m so proud of you!” Coralie had squealed, sounding genuinely pleased for me and not the slightest bit phased, “fancy a celebratory lunch in town? Oooh, we should go to that cute little café that you like, the one with the free books. You know the one a few doors down from Costa Coffee? What’s it called again? The Cuckoo’s Nest, that’s the one. Shall we say half an hour?”

 “Sure,” I’d mumbled, my mind not completely in sync with my mouth, scrambling to find the right words to say to her. I’d known that I had to say something, I couldn’t just leave it like she was obviously planning on doing. This was big. It wasn’t like the time she’d got a hideous tattoo on her lower back of a shooting star and I had pretended to love it and had said all the right things, as much as it had killed me to (it had truly been hideous). I had gone along with her nonsense so many times in the past without saying anything, but this was different. This was life stuff, actual grown up stuff.
“Cor,” I’d started, my mind working overtime, which I knew would be no use to my slow moving mouth.
“Ok, I’ll pick you up in half an hour then, see you hun!”

 Hanging up on me wasn’t a new habit for Coralie but this time it stung. I’d wanted to say something to make her feel better. I felt as if it was my duty to, because no one else would. What shook me most was that she didn’t seem in need of cheering up. Surely that wasn’t normal, it couldn’t be.
I had run my hands through my hair and let out the sigh that had been building in my chest throughout the phone call.
I had leant over the side of my bed to reach my bag and fished around inside it until I pulled out my results sheet. It was already slightly dog eared from the amount of times I’d folded and unfolded it, checking that what was written on it was truly real, that it wasn’t going to suddenly change. The letters A A B made my heart swell with pride every time I looked at them. I’d actually done it, my hard work had paid off and suddenly the sleepless nights, the tearful days and the three pounds of revision weight (that I’d fondly named my revision baby) all seemed worth it. But this time even the beautiful letters hadn’t been able to rescue my mood from where Cor had unwittingly thrust it.
                                
                                                                        * * *


“I knew I was going to regret that second can of coke, I feel sickly. But I just hate the taste of diet, you know? It’s like regular coke’s ugly cousin. Like not even its sister because they don’t taste similar enough to be that closely related. It’s just so not good,” Coralie took a hand off the steering wheel and placed it on her flat stomach, groaning slightly, in my opinion, purely for dramatic effect. I turned away from the window, the cigarette episode forgotten momentarily and stared gormlessly at her. She’d been this way all through lunch, happy, talkative, babbling on about inane rubbish. I was the one who was often big on talking rubbish, I was a pro at sprouting any random s**t that came into my head, often preferring to say something stupid than have a serious conversation. But that wasn’t Coralie’s style at all and I’d been generous, allowed her to go way too far into the realms of absolute crap, her latest musings about coke, sent me dangerously close to lamping her.

Her relaxed attitude just wasn’t sitting well with me, making me feel slightly sickly as well. Surely having your plans for the future cut off so abruptly had to be even a little bit upsetting. I knew I would have been a blubbering, snotty mess if I hadn’t got in. Not only that, but our comprehensive plan to go to the same uni, live together, join societies together had been shattered. I mean yeah, out of the two of us I’d always been the most enthusiastic about the planning, but Cor had never said anything to make me think she wasn’t in to it. This was the end of Coralie and Erin, the dynamic duo, the pair everyone at school, the kids, the parents and the teachers had viewed as two separate halves of the same entity. Suddenly a thought hit me.

“What about clearing Cor?”
“Huh?” She gave me a sideways glance, her dark eyebrows laced together, clearly still expecting a reply to her ridiculous statement about coke, unaware that my mind had been racing along by itself, “what are you on about?”
“Uni! You could still go through clearing, get in somewhere. I mean, we won’t be together but it’ll still be fun, we can visit each other and have skype calls-”
Coralie’s harsh laughter interrupted me.
“With the grades I got, I’m not getting in anywhere my dear, me and education are officially broken up.” As she said this she reached down and drew another cigarette from her packet with such ease that it was clear she’d done the same thing many times that day. Finally I gave in. I’d kept my mouth shut all the way through lunch, not strictly through choice but because once again my stupid brain had been too slow in handing over the word to my mouth. By the time I knew what I wanted to say she’d congratulated me and we’d moved on from the subject and I wanted it to come up organically. But no, I couldn’t keep quiet anymore.

 “Aren’t you even a tiny bit concerned Cor? Even a little?”
Coralie took a drag of her cigarette, letting the smoke seep back out through her slightly parted lips.
“Nope. I’ve got my whole life in front of me, I’m not spending another day of it in a classroom,” as she spoke she waved her cigarette around, sending ash tumbling into her lap, which she wiped away briskly, swerving all over the road.
“I want to experience life now. Real life.”
“I thought it’s what you wanted though, to get a degree, move away from home, the whole thing?”
Coralie tutted as if what I was saying was absolutely outrageous.
“That’s what you want. You and millions of other try-hards. Anyway, stop going on, it’s not as if I tried very hard anyway.”

She threw her half-finished f*g out of the window and turned the radio up. I took this as a hint to shut up. Not that I knew what I wanted to say now anyway.
“Hey, wanna go to the beach tomorrow? Heard it’s supposed to be a scorcher and I need to even out this gross taffy tan,” Cor said after a few moments of slightly strained silence. She pulled down the waistband of her shorts to show me the line where recently tanned, golden skin, met clammy pale skin and laughed as if it was her biggest care in the world. I was tempted to say no just to bug her as much as her careless, ridiculous attitude was bugging me. But there was something unnatural about her excitement, about the smile on her face and it unsettled me.
“Sure, but it’ll have to be before three because my parents want to take me shopping for uni stuff.” Miraculously they’ve agreed to spend longer than a few minutes in each other’s company, I thought but didn’t add.
Without me noticing we had arrived at my house. Coralie parked the car and checked her reflection in the overhead mirror.
“Sure nerd. See you tomorrow.”



© 2017 robsmunn


Author's Note

robsmunn
Just the first chapter of nineteen, just testing the waters to see if anyone would be interested in reading anymore? :)

My Review

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Featured Review

Personally I don't particularly like these types of stories, so leaving a rating would be biased. That being said, I will still comment on this chapter, and hope you find this review helpful. This chapter is masterfully done! It's clear and easy to follow. Your characters are superb! They are, in my opinion, the best part about this chapter! You do have some grammatical mistakes here and there, but nothing to really impact the overall narrative.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

robsmunn

3 Years Ago

Well thank you for reading even if this isn't normally the type of stuff you read! Thank you for you.. read more
Robert

3 Years Ago

Very vivid characters--loved the beginning!!



Reviews

So I'm going to give a completely hypocritical review and endorse the old phrase "do as I say, not as I do," but this is only because I think it will be genuinely helpful, rather than just telling you what you want to hear. So keep in mind that objectively I think you're writing is stellar.
In the first few paragraphs you had a couple of words like "hazy" where you said it twice and you might want a synonym a second/third time. Also, this may be more of a matter of preference, but there were times where I felt you used one or two more adjectives than necessary. I've just always admired thrifty use of words to get more meat into the story without overwhelming the reader with descriptors. Along with that scarcity/juditious use of words, I'm terrible with this, but a Creative Writing proffessor I had always encouraged me to only use adverbs/descriptions about the way characters articulate dialogue if you absolutely have to. He expressed that it's about showing rather than telling so the reader should be about to understand what sort of inflection/mood there is from the words that are spoken. I especially saw that you could have let some of the dialogue with Coralie not getting in to college. But once again, most of these things are only opinions.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, in response to your question about being interested in reading more, there's an excess of talent in the writing world today to the point where it becomes diffcult to pick one person's writing over another's. What I would attempt to do is just really focus on what makes the story different from anything else someone is going to read. Like you have to have significant break from normative that makes the story great, because otherwise you're just another fish in the sea of talented writers.
I hope you know I mean that sincerely, purely because I struggle with a similar issue.
Oh, and if you'd like for me to read more, I'd be glad to and I figure we can do some chapter swaps since I have like 20ish chapters too.



Posted 3 Years Ago


robsmunn

3 Years Ago

Thank you for your review! I've taken what you've said into consideration and I've changed my first .. read more
Hello!!! I DO like these kind of stories, and I love the voice! Probably because it seems that we have a similar writing style. I love the thought process of the characters.
I like the way you talk about anxiety hanging around like a mist. That's good. I can see myself in your characters, especially Erin.
(I'm really tired. I'm not conveying what I'm trying to say very well. But I do really like it and want to read more.)

Posted 3 Years Ago


robsmunn

3 Years Ago

Thank you so much for your review! Glad to hear you enjoyed it. Will be adding more chapters soon i.. read more
Hi! Here's my review. It's mostly just about things I didn't like and would have done differently myself. :) Bare in mind, I think the only one equipped to judge a story is the writer himself. So, these are just opinions of someone who takes writing very seriously and thinks he's smarter than everyone else :)

Use what you like, or discard it all.


PROBLEMS?



Given that you're writing a novel, I assume you would like to one day see it on the shelves
of a bookstore. The thing is, for the reader, picking a book goes like this.
"Hm, that's an interesting tile, I better take a closer look."
"Hm, the summary sounds interesting, better open it up."
"The first paragraph is exiting, i should buy it."

I don't think your first paragraph was exiting enough.

A novel should start with a bomb. Like, "I had just received an acceptance letter from my
dream college, when our house burnt down, leaving us with no money to pay for my
education."
That's a bit shocking, surprising. A hook to keep reading.

This probably leads to a different story than yours, but it was just an example.

And going forward, the story moves rather slow. It might just be me, I like fast pace.



"Oooh, we should go to that cute little café that you like, the one with the vintage
mismatched furniture and those big book shelves with free books."

I get that you want to describe the cafe, but i don't think it sounds realistic. Given
that it's her favorite cafe, you wouldn't have to describe it in such details for her to
connect the dots. "Oooh, we should go to that cute little café that you like, the one with
free books."
That sounds more like a real conversation to me.

"It wasn’t like the time she’d got a hideous tattoo on her lower back of a shooting star and I had pretended to love it and had said all the right things, as much as it had killed me to (it had truly been hideous). Or like the time when she’d been seeing two guys at once, rather treacherously choosing to do this with two guys who were fairly close friends, or even the time she’d driven the few streets from her house to mine after drinking almost four pints. I had gone along with her nonsense so many times in the past, even some dodgy, dodgy things, without saying anything,"

IMO, too many examples. Pick the best one and make it strong and vivid.


(Half way through the story)

You're giving a lot of backstory, which is good to create full characters. But i don't think the past belongs to chapter 1. Chapter 1 should focus on the present, and getting the present story rolling.

(Finished the story)

"Does the story grip you at all?"

Far too much backstory for me. I got to know the main characters well, but that isn't enough to make me want to read on. It was a half hour read, but in the end, nothing really happened. We found out that the two girls aren't going to uni together, and that Coralie is almost certainly upset about something. Also, there was no hook at the end of the chapter, something that would force me to keep reading. The character just went to sleep upset.


WHAT I LIKED?

Your style. It's easy to read and has a good flow. You use your words well.

Dynamics between the two character are believable. I can see them as real people.


So, this is what i think. I hope you will take it for what it is, a single opinion.

Keep writing.

Posted 3 Years Ago


robsmunn

3 Years Ago

Thank you for your advice! I've done some editing to try and make the first chapter a bit more engag.. read more
Eogin

3 Years Ago

Good job! I found this edit much more attention grabbing.

But i should say, on anoth.. read more
robsmunn

3 Years Ago

Thank you and I get what you're saying but I've been thinking for a while that my first chapter star.. read more
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I am happy to continue reading :)

Posted 3 Years Ago


robsmunn

3 Years Ago

Thank you! I will add a few more chapters soon
Personally I don't particularly like these types of stories, so leaving a rating would be biased. That being said, I will still comment on this chapter, and hope you find this review helpful. This chapter is masterfully done! It's clear and easy to follow. Your characters are superb! They are, in my opinion, the best part about this chapter! You do have some grammatical mistakes here and there, but nothing to really impact the overall narrative.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

robsmunn

3 Years Ago

Well thank you for reading even if this isn't normally the type of stuff you read! Thank you for you.. read more
Robert

3 Years Ago

Very vivid characters--loved the beginning!!

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Added on January 2, 2017
Last Updated on January 8, 2017


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robsmunn
robsmunn

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