Reads: 263
Comments: 8

 

 

Anya Calhorn woke with a start, as a throbbing pain stabbed her skull. She had been to ‘The Ultimate Party of the Century’ hosted by the local youth club that her parents made her attend weekly. Last night the club supervisors proved just how foolish they were. The party began at 7pm and the adults made under-fifteens leave around 10pm, but as soon as they’d left, that’s when the real ‘ultimate’ party had started. The adults moved to the corridor to give them space, hoping they could be responsible for once, but their plan had clearly failed before it really began. They should have known they could never trust a bunch of rowdy teenagers. Anya considered this as she tried to sit up. Surely they should have known something was going to happen. But adults can be stupid. She reminded herself, as more memories from last night came flooding back.

Blurs of broken windows and distant voices, and the supervisors closing the building flooded through her mind in torn fragments that refused to fit together. She figured out that things must have gone downhill from there. Where else could they go? By the time the adults sent them all stumbling home, telling their parents to meet them outside the front entrance, they were almost tripping over each other. She had stupidly agreed to let loose and go to an afterparty, they fell through the door of Peter’s (one of the many suspects of the broken windows) flat, where the loud rock music remained dominant through the rest of the morning. She, of course, remembered barely anything of this. Anya had drained a few too many.

She sat perched on her bed and gazed at the wall. Last time something similar happened, only last month, she’d promised herself to never get drunk again, and promised to never do so much as look at a bottle of ale. So much for commitment. She slipped her feet into the slippers her mum bought her last Christmas; they were a shabby shade of yellow and, like most of her wardrobe, looked like they hadn’t seen clean water since 1995. After standing, she walked towards the door of her bedroom and felt her way to the stairs. Anya recalled her friend, Jamie, telling her how to cure a hangover, and Anya trusted her. She was, after all, quite experienced when it came to drinking. Coffee, Anya told herself. Coffee will make everything better. But, to her surprise, she saw her mum sitting on a stool at the kitchen table, muttering to herself.

Yulia Calhorn was a woman who would shout at you for flossing your teeth with a piece of floss too long. She spoke with a heavy, thick Russian accent, and black hair - always pulled into a high, neat bun. She had a kind, but not friendly smile and was tall for a woman. That morning, she was wearing her cotton pyjamas with blue polka dots. She wasn’t much of a variety person, more of someone who enjoyed leading a life of organisation and structure. It was unheard of for her to be without her planner or glasses and was someone who most people would think didn’t understand fun. Anya’s mother did in fact understand the word ‘fun’, as she did with the rest of the 171,146 words in the English language. That was another thing about her: she loved dictionaries. Some people called it OCD. She called it organisation.

“Mum?”

Yulia looked up and struggled to cover whatever it was she was reading. Whatever it was, Anya had never seen it before. “What are you doing? You’ve got work today.” As she spoke, Anya could taste the stale alcohol in her mouth.

“Nothing, nothing. I could ask the same of you, what are you doing at this time of morning?” Her daughter could practically chew the lies as they bounced off of her mother’s tongue.

“I can’t sleep.”

“Well, try counting sheep then.” She waved her hand, as though she was dismissing her like a tired school teacher. She knew this was pointless, but just wanted Anya to leave the room and forget this. She’d already seen too much.

“Fine. Goodnight.” Anya said, trying her best not to sound too slurred. Her Mother had clearly not received the email from the youth club about the incidents of last night. Thank God her mother wasn’t paying close attention, or she may have realised lack of sleep wasn’t the only cause of her grogginess that morning.

“Good morning.” Her mother called after her, as she made her way back towards the stairs. Anya let out a grunt, that was just typical of her mother. She just had to correct everyone and everything, all the time. As she maneuvered herself back towards the stairs empty-handed, she could hear her mother fingering the paper she had tried to hide so desperately. whatever it was it would have to wait, without coffee she had no hope of making it through the morning. She glanced at her watch. 5:13am. She’d just have to hope that sleep would somehow find her in her hungover state.

She woke up an hour later with worse pain than before. She had snatched an hour’s sleep. It would have to do. After crawling her way out of the room, she found her way to the kitchen.

To her relief, the stool where Yulia sat earlier that morning was now empty, and she made her way to the coffee machine - hiding amongst the pots and pans of her mother’s kitchen. She inserted a coffee pod into the humming gadget and watched as it filled to the top of the cup. She was still thinking of her mother and why she might be trying to hide something from her. Was it a letter? No, no one ever wrote to her mother; if someone needed to tell her something they’d send her an email. A bill? But why would she hide something like that. It just didn’t add up. She took a sip of the hot, bitter liquid. Anything to get the taste of alcohol out of her mouth, and it would hopefully heal her hangover too.

She spent the rest of the morning drinking countless cups of coffee, and by lunch the dirty mugs were piled high on the draining board, but Yulia didn't seem to notice, or rather care.

"Mum," came Anya's voice from the kitchen.

"What now?" Came a reply from Yulia's study downstairs, it was clear she was not in the mood for questions.

"I was just wondering why-"

"Well can you stop wondering and leave me to my work. You may not have to spend hours working, but some of us do. In fact, maybe it's time you got a job, I'm sure they're hiring at that cafe a few roads down. Then maybe you'd learn some skills instead of constantly complaining and grappling for attention."

"I'm not grappling for attention!" Her voice broke, a clear affect of the drinking from last night.

"Really, Then leave me to do this work and do something useful instead." But Anya was  already gone, she had stormed upstairs before her mother had the chance to insult her again.  She let out a loud grunt, her mother was always trying to get her to 'grow up' and take some responsibility for herself. Was she even old enough to get a job? She walked over to the other end of the room, and behind the shabby tan curtains (chosen by her mum) she found her laptop. She quickly signed on and began typing. It was a miracle it still turned on. Remember to ask for a new laptop for Christmas, and this time, don't forget to make sure it's not from 2007. She thought to herself. Laptops didn't get much more out of date than the one she relied on to update her social life. When it finished loading, she scanned through webpages until she got her answer. Sixteen, great. But surely her mother wouldn't go through with this, she must have been joking. But her mother wasn't exactly the joking type. Well, she'd just have to hope her mum would forget about it.

She fixed herself a ham sandwich for lunch, one of the few things she could make, and struggled to swallow it as a sick feeling rose to her chest. Hangovers, sent straight from the devil. For the rest of the day, Anya mainly just scrolled through her Facebook feed, laughing at funny posts, liking the pictures that involved her friends and feeling sorry for herself before drifting off mid-like.

She woke up to the annoying beep of the smoke alarm downstairs, her mother had clearly been busy in the kitchen. Yulia had never been excited by the thought of baking or creating delicious meals, she had been to engaged in her studying to worry about learning to cook when she was a student, and that attitude had stuck with her. At the most recent attempt of a homemade dinner, Anya had been presented with a slab of dry, burnt meat and some undercooked broccoli. Luckily, her mum had bought the sauce from the supermarket, so at least that part was edible. Who knew maybe her mum would surprise her? But the noise of the smoke alarm ringing in her ears convinced her otherwise.

"Anya! ANYA!" She stumbled downstairs at the sound of her mum's panicking voice. "ANYA!"

"Yes mum, I'm here! What is it? Are you OK? Did you burn yourself?"

"No, no! I was trying to dice some potatoes to go with the beef and my hand slipped."  Anya looked down at her mum's hand to see a river of crimson blood coming from a deep gash, flowing down her mother's fingers.

"Don't move mum! I'll call an ambulance!" She raced over to the table at the far corner of the living room and dialed 999.

"Hello? Ambulance, we need and ambulance." Anya couldn't keep the worry out of her voice." My mum's had an accident in the kitchen. She sliced her hand with a knife. Yes, of course. We live at 37 Smithy Way, Manchester. Thank you."

"Anya." She saw her mum was now sitting on the cream sofa in the center of the room.

"Mum, I'm going to go get a towel to wrap your fingers in, OK? Don't move." She quickly left the room and grabbed a towel off of the shelf in the spare room and wrapped it around her mum's fingers, trying to keep the tears out of her eyes. She had to be strong for her mother.and that was when the sirens came towards the house.

They cut through the air, the sound of wailing sirens echoed through their quiet Manchester street. Anya saw the ambulance pull up outside of their house and flung open the front door.

"She's in here!" Anya found herself shouting as two men in paramedic uniforms swiftly walked through the door to find her mother hunched on the sofa. They walked over as a scared looking Yulia Calhorn held out her bloody finger, and Anya watched in horror as it dripped onto the floor beneath her, forming puddles of red liquid. The taller of the pair reached into his pocket and brought out a clean white cloth and wrapped it around Yulia's finger.

"Do you think you could go into the kitchen to get your mum a glass of water? She's still suffering from shock." The tall man said.

 

Trusting the paramedic, she walked into the small kitchen and immediately knew something was wrong. She replayed the conversation she'd had with her mum in her head.

"Yes mum, I'm here! What is it? Are you OK? Did you burn yourself?"

"No, no! I was trying to dice some potatoes to go with the beef and my hand slipped." Anya looked down at her mum's hand to see a river of crimson blood coming from a deep gash, flowing down her mother's fingers.

That was it. Her mum had sliced her hand dicing potatoes. But, there were no potatoes on the counter. She checked the fridge. Still no potatoes. Just blood on the edge of the cabinet. Fresh blood.

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: October 22, 2020

© Copyright 2022 ThatGreenWriter. All rights reserved.

Chapters

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

Comments

Lucinda Amare

I am not a Fantasy writer but I am a novelist so if you want I might have a few tips for you :)

I think your characters are very interesting. I especially like how you describe the mom. The interaction between Anya and her mom is great, you can tell what their relationship is like.

Anya itself also seems interesting but the way you started the chapter might be a little...messy if I may say?

The opening line is a bit confusing... she wakes up with the start of throbbing pain.
Either it hurts or it doesn't, but I never woke up thinking hm? It seems like a pain is starting in my head. So maybe you could say something like: "Anya woke up with a throbbing headache. What a great way to start the day."

Then when you tell the part of the party. Maybe you could cut it shorter and more to the point. Telling (in your own words of course) that Anya went to a party hosted by a local youth club. After ten things got out of hand and the hosts had to cut the party short. So Anya and her friends went to an afterparty and got extremely wasted.

You can add details but try to make them relevant to the point you are trying to make, which in this case I think is 'Anya got wasted last night'.

It's a good start though with interesting characters, just focus a bit more on the 'way' you tell something and keep in mind to stick to relevant details :)

I hope I explained it well, if I haven't feel free to message me if you have any questions :D

Sat, October 24th, 2020 6:58pm

Author
Reply

Thank you so much! This is my first time attempting to write a novel, and I really wasn't expecting to get any feedback!

I was unsure of how to start my novel, and I wasn't sure if the first sentence made sense. Thanks to your comment, I can see now that it does. But it is unprofessional, and I understand what you mean by 'messy'. I have had comments from other people about different ways to begin and will look at them later.

I understand what you mean, I have included lots of description, that is quite off topic, but to be honest I don't know how else to write it. Novels are usually around 60,00 words long, and I've read a lot of novels. I just don't understand how they can create such great, long stories without going off topic with their descriptions. If you had any advice about this, I'd be very grateful to hear how you think I could help balance out plot and description!

Thanks again,

Lily

Sun, October 25th, 2020 6:53am

A.K.Taylor

Hi, Greenwriter

I'm not a published author but I do have one novel nearly completed and working on three more to follow it. I've done several short stories on here and have garnered some established reads with notable feedback and comments. So, hopefully, with my limited knowledge I can guide you a little here also.

I agree with some of what Lucinda has mentioned; however I know what you meant with the first line and it doesn't confuse me at all. However, I would suggest that you might be able to rephrase it for a bit more clarity. I've noted it in blue highlight. Since you and Lucinda are new to the site this function let's us do In-line comments to emphasize areas to correct or just to show praise for a particular spot we like in a work.

Also, be a bit more direct with your story context. Don't jump around with extraneous details unless they add to the setting or the character's motivation.

The details between Anya and her mother work really well. Like Lucinda said, it really shows their relationship.

I've noted some areas you can take a stronger look at in your chapter for edits. I really hope this helps, and is the type of feedback you want. My best suggestion for improving is to make good friends with two or more people willing to read and critique your work as often as they can. Lucinda seems to be offering some help, and I'm on here most days every afternoon and weekends U.S. Eastern time.

I'm kinda curious as to how your character develops. I have my suspicions but I won't dive into that until you make the reveal. After all, it's just a hunch from a fellow fantasy writer and reader.

Sat, October 24th, 2020 10:59pm

Author
Reply

Thank you so much! As this is my first novel, I'm just trying to figure out how to do this, and thanks to you, Lucinda and Anne, I feel I can make some significant improvements to my work! I really appreciate you being specific with your feedback, and highlighting certain areas that I could improve, as it makes it a lot easier for me to see where you have made suggestions.

I understand what you mean by story context, and will try to cut down on that. I would also love it if you and maybe Lucinda could regulary critique my work, at the moment I'm just trying to figure out the best way to try and edit my work, and I think this would be a grwat method!

Thanks again,

Lily

Sun, October 25th, 2020 7:06am

Ann Sepino

Hi! I saw your request on the forums and I thought I'd give it a read. I'm not an expert or anything, but I do have some experience with YA and fantasy romance.

First off, I like the MC you're going for. She feels relatable for a young audience, and I appreciate that she's not being played up. The interaction with her Mum feels natural, and there is a distinct difference to how they talk. This makes it easier to follow along with the conversation, so good job!

The one thing that might pose an issue is the tendency to info-dump. The paragraph about the party and the one with Yulia's description had this. Information is concentrated at these points in this chapter. This might distract readers from what the goal of the chapter is, which is to put Anya's interaction with her Mum at center stage. I think shortening these parts or distributing them to different areas of the story will help.

It's important to maintain a story's imagery and suspension of disbelief, which is why info-dumps are avoided most of the time. And if one does have to info-dump, it has to be done in a way that it doesn't look like one. There are really good articles on the internet about it, including this one: https://ellenbrockediting.com/2014/07/03/novel-boot-camp-lecture-3-how-to-avoid-info-dumping/

I hope this helps. Good luck on your story! :)

Sun, October 25th, 2020 1:44am

Author
Reply

Thank you so much for this feedback! Other people who have commented have given some brilliant advice, but aren't fantasy authors, so it's great to have someone who is experienced in this genre giving some feedback!

I understand what you mean info dumping and thank you for pointing it out! I vaguely understood the term, but after reading through the article you linked, it's much clearer to me about how to identify them, why they might be there, and (most importantly) how to prevent them! With this new information, I'm hoping I can get rid of this info dump.

Thanks again,

Lily

Sun, October 25th, 2020 7:00am

Yoshikrab

Hi! I recently joined Booksie but I do have some experience in writing.

I think that since this is the first chapter, you should try to describe the characters more and have a bit more clarity on the things you are describing. For example, the first paragraph is very descriptive and very nice, but seems a bit stuffed and messy. For a paragraph like that, you should leave it somewhere in the middle or the end and focus more on creating a setting or hook in place of it.

Sorry this isn't longer than I expected it to be, but I hope this was helpful! I love writing fantasy too, and it looks good! :)

Sun, October 25th, 2020 6:46pm

Author
Reply

Thank you for your feedback! First of all, welcome to Booksie! I've recently joined as well, and I'm still trying to figure out how some things work. I have had a few people commenting on the first paragraph, and I have tried to change it but it still seems messy. Do you have any advice on trying to make it cleaner and flow better?

Thanks again,

Lily

Sun, October 25th, 2020 2:14pm

C. J. Davis

I like this beginning!

I agree with what Akuma said about the narrative jumping around a bit. The first paragraph is all over the place with descriptions: Headache. It had been the party of the century. The supervisors were dumb. It started at 7.

Move the sentences around more chronologically. Start it off with a bit more of an introduction. Tell a tiny story with the description, and keep the narrative flowing from one step to the next.

'The Ultimate Party of the Century had been a bit more than she'd expected. It had been hosted by the local youth club--a group that her parents had forced her to join, but she found herself enjoying her weekly group meetings, so it hadn't been too bad--and organized by the newly-elected Youth Leaders. The doors had opened at seven, and the younger teenagers had been shooed out by the chaperones at ten. That's when things got a bit crazy.'

And go on from there.

Watch your sentence structure--I noticed a few run-ons and fragments. A trick I learned about how to identify run-ons and fragments is to break the sentence down into its bare essentials.

"The over-fed cat and the horribly flea-ridden dog ate trash from the three trash cans I'd placed by the curb the evening before." can be broken down into: "The cat and the dog ate trash." This lets me know that the sentence is complete.

The book starts off well with this first chapter! I think it ends a bit abruptly though--it seems like you could continue it through her learning Something Interesting (whether about what her mother was reading or something else).

I left you iComments with in-line suggestions, and I'm about to send you a PM.

Tue, October 27th, 2020 3:30am

Tommy Gunner

For a first attempt at a novel, this is really good! You should see my first attempts haha. It took me several tries to get to this point. One thing you already do very well is write scenes. A lot of writers (especially young authors) just starting out struggle with novel scenes because it’s not like the creative writing assignments you did in school, it requires a much deeper thought process, more detail and attention put on the characters. A lot of young or inexperienced writers fall into the trap of “this happened, then this happened, the this happened...” on and on, without showing how the characters are feeling, what they’re thinking, beneath the surface level. You did really well on this.

As others have pointed out, I like that Anya is realistic and understated. You don't know how many books I’ve read from young authors who basically make their main characters flawless cliches or self-inserts. Anya feels like a real person, like she’s either above or below anybody, but just a part of the world. At the same time, she has her own personality to make her stand out.

I do agree with the others in that the main thing you can work on is trying to make your thoughts flow better. At times it seems to just jump from one thing to the next, but you’d be surprised by how easily this can be fixed. If you just put some transitional sentences between these sudden changes in perspective, it’ll make it flow that much smoother.

But overall, you should really be proud of yourself. This is a wonderful start, and I look forward to reading more. I think you have a lot of potential if you can just clean up some of the things we’ve mentioned. I’d love to PM and discuss further :)

Thu, November 12th, 2020 7:40pm

Author
Reply

Thank you so much! I really appreciate this message, it's so nice to get some constructive feedback! As a 12-year-old author (and aspiring novelist) it's hard to think that other people like my work, and don't think it too childish. When I tell people that I write, they often aren't that interested because they think it might not be written convincingly, and that it might be too short or a boring read, so it means so much to me that you like it.

I completely understand what you mean by the flow of my novel, but I am writing it for Nanowrimo, a challenge where you write a complete novel in just November, so I've been trying not to worry about it too much. After I have written my words for today, I will go back and try to clean it up.

I would love it if you could discuss it further. So far this site has been so useful for understanding how to be a better writer, and I hope that it can continue to do so with a little help from others!

Thanks again,
Lily

Fri, November 13th, 2020 7:42am

KatV

I read this first chapter and it is intriguing. It is full of good descriptive writing. I enjoyed your story; you've got me interested. I'm made a few suggestions; take what you need and leave the rest. Write On!

Fri, December 11th, 2020 5:03am

Author
Reply

Thank you for having a read through my current work in progress, I'm really glad you enjoyed it so far! I'll have a read through the suggestions now!

Thanks again,
Lily

Sat, December 12th, 2020 2:56am

Jonathon Asur-Robinson

I think this is an amazing opening and can't help, being from Manchester myself, feeling a little excited :)

Mon, January 18th, 2021 3:00pm

Author
Reply

Thank you! I'm really glad you like it! I'll be posting a new chapter shortly, but in the mean time, if you're interested, I have posted a few more chapters.

Mon, January 18th, 2021 7:33am

Facebook Comments

Other Content by ThatGreenWriter