For this week, and next week’s blog post, I wanted to do something a little different and fun. This week I’m going to post a chapter from an unfinished short story I did in high school ten years ago. Next week I’m going to post a chapter from the WIP I started in April.
My goal with this is for you to critique my work. Compare the two chapters. Have I improved in the last ten years? Gotten worse? Is there something in my writing style that I need to work on or change?
Give me your best constructive criticism and don’t hold back! One of the wonderful things I enjoy about an online writing community is that it allows a writer, like myself, to get feedback and constructive criticism from people with different viewpoints, walks of life, and niches.
With all that being said, here is the first chapter from a short story I started, and never finished, ten years ago. I titled it Running. Enjoy!
Note: The following chapter deals with suicide. By continuing to read you agree that you are comfortable with the trigger warning mentioned above. You also agree that this work is the property of Jade Penn and under copyright protection. If any portion of the writing below is plagiarized you may be forced to pay me for lost earnings in addition to covering attorney fees.
My name is Michelle Hunter. Today I am going to the Old 59th Bridge and if no one smiles at me on my way to the middle of the bridge then I am going to jump.
The words ran through my mind repeatedly, making a continuous loop in my head as I parked my car and started toward the bridge. As I begin a slow walk towards it, I kept my head up, waiting for someone to smile at me. I wasn’t suicidal. I didn’t want to jump a bridge and drown. After all, I was just your average girl.
Take a look at me and you would see a young adult with brown hair and brown eyes. Not too fat but not skinny either. Dressed in jeans, a blue t-shirt from the local Wal-Mart, and worn sneakers. Look a little bit closer and you’ll notice that the jeans fit a little too snug in the thigh, the hair isn’t as shinny as you thought at first glance, and the skin has acne spots here and there. Peer even deeper and you’ll see the crooked teeth, the eyes that never quite reach your face, and the hands that never seem to stop shaking. In that quick, maybe fifteen second onceover, you have probably pre-judged me and deemed me not worthy of a second glance. Sadly, though, you’ve missed the main attraction…my heart.
You see, my heart has been battered, bruised, broken, hurt, stepped on, and crushed. The heartbeats have been reduced to a slight murmur and the blood flows like the gentle trickle of an almost dried-up stream. The bandages have piled up, one on top of another, until what was once there is now barely noticeable. And now…I simply cannot continue to live. Am I depressed? No. I’m in my right mind, perfectly rational, but the fear of dying is no longer there.
I reach the middle of the bridge with not one smile. Resolutely, I go to the railing and grasp it hard with shaking hands. Slipping off my shoes, I step onto the third rail and prepare myself to lean forward and fall over. As I close my eyes and start to fall, I feel warmth on my ear. “Do you really want to jump? Wouldn’t you rather tell me what the matter is instead?” Flustered, I suck in a sharp breath of air, and topple over the edge.
They say that drowning happens in stages.
The water hits me like spray from the nozzle when you first step in the shower. Almost immediately the water swallows me inside itself; caressing and shielding me from the world above. My body involuntarily starts to fight but I quiet it as a mother does a fussy baby and brace myself. I close my eyes, willing my body to sink deeper.
As the water seeps into my nose and mouth my arms start to flip around, reaching out for something to hold on to. My head fights to reach the surface and I lose the fragile fight for control as I struggle to breathe.
Water flows into my body like a faucet with the spigot on full blast. I choke and cough, but that does nothing but let more water in. Sinking deeper into the lake, my mind registers the fact that I now have little chance at survival. My body starts to shut down, and right before I black out I think: It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.
For a moment, I am caught in limbo; motionless. Losing all sense of sound, touch, and ultimately consciousness, my body drifts into a permanent state of peace…
…Until, my eyes pop open and I start to gag and vomit into the grass. I glance up at a stranger, soaked and smiling down at me, “I’m so glad you’re alive,” he whispers. Faintly, I hear approaching sirens, and in a small corner of my brain, I register disappointment. I wasn’t supposed to live and be the girl everyone felt sorry for because she tried to kill herself. Instead of fixing everything, I’ve just made everything worse.