You may not know literary lovelies that I not only write this lovely blog for you all, but I have within the last year finished a novel.
I have titled it: Whose Story. I would like to put the first chapter on here (a much longer post than my usual) for you all to read and I look forward to any feedback you might have my dear friends. I was extremely fortunate to come across Swoon Reads (who with amazing readers such as yourselves help publish YA reads) where the rest of the manuscript is if you want to read on!
Story wakes up to find herself in a hospital, after an event she has no recollection of, with a white bandage in a socially disapproved of place. With her family and their unusual history, this bandaged location changes everything for Story. She finds herself shipped off to a once beloved Aunt, whose new-found rules push Story toward a dangerous path. Every rule leads Story to step forward on a journey filled with missed opportunities, misjudgments, and the need for forgiveness. As a girl who cannot explain why she is seeing things, or more accurately, seeing people no one else can, Story must decide on taking the leap to tell someone. It is who she will tell that will decide not only the fate of those she feels duty-bound to help, but her as well.
I had no recollection of what I had done.
Waking up to the fluorescent zoo animals was a stark reminder of my balancing on the precipice of being considered a child who had made an all too adult decision. I would come to find out, I couldn’t have it both ways.
I noticed the panda right away. He was giving me this look which I could only describe as sheer disgust. I appeared to be ruining his room with my illegitimate illness wrapped in teenage selfishness. I’m sure he would have much preferred an ailing cancer kid or even an anorexic. The zebra related to my indecision: his being white on black or black on white stripes, mine whether I had actually wanted to die. It more or less related to my plight and for that I appreciated it.
My brain felt like a marshmallow; sticky and as though it had been stretched between fingers. I felt a sharp pain as I moved my arms and noticed a white bandage against my left wrist. My smore like mind couldn’t comprehend what the significance of that bandage in that specific spot would amount to.
Her sigh alerted me to her presence and I watched as she stood across the room, her arms clutched tightly around her stomach as if to keep her insides from tumbling out. Her pixie hair curled slightly at her neck, the same dishwater blonde as mine, badly in need of a trim. The sunlight which usually danced upon her features now struck her with a blinding hatred. She turned to look at me and the hatred stuck.
“Did you want to be with him? I didn’t think you believed in that sort of thing,” the words tumbled from her lips. The lips that used to kiss my forehead as a child.
I opened my mouth and coughed. The words hung desperately to my vocal cords.
My Dad came in, as always, at the right moment to be the bridge between us. His glasses, or spectacles as he called them, slid precariously down his nose. His receding hairline glistened beneath the fluorescent lights. The giraffe watched him with a bemused expression as he walked straight for her with coffee in his hands. He didn’t look in my direction until he handed her a cup and when he did a sheepish look passed over his face, moulding him into the painted mural. I was too groggy to figure out what it meant.
This time the words were willing to separate from me and I sputtered, “What happened?”
She sipped her coffee carefully before answering, “You slit your wrist, poorly I might add, and then you were in pain and took a whole bunch of pills?”
“I didn’t take a whole bunch of pills.”
She responded by gesturing at the hospital room we were currently sequestered in. I swear the panda nodded in agreement and the zebra couldn’t meet my gaze; turncoat.
“We didn’t even know you were depressed.” He added more to his cup than to me.
“I’m not,” slithered from my lips.
And with that my Mother snorted and grabbed her purse. When she reached the door, she turned and her words came for me again, “You better figure out your story,” she paused for dramatic non-pun effect. “And fast, as we try and figure out how to keep all this mess from being fodder for the gossips of this town.” She then blazed out of the room.
My Dad looked at me, really looked at me, and then followed her. Of all that had just transpired it was that look which struck me. My Mother and I had always had a tense relationship but my Dad had been the glue that kept us together. Now it appeared he too was lost to me.
A Lab Coat entered the room just moments after what felt like the implosion of my family, but I could no longer concentrate on the human being who was attached to it.
“So what’s the story, Story?” Smirked the Lab Coat as it checked a clipboard.
My exacerbated sigh signaled my disapproval. It only took eleven of my seventeen years to build up complete spite for people who used my name in that context. Probably another reason for the tenuous relationship between my Mother and me. Who in their right minds names their kid Story?
The Lab Coat closed the clipboard, sidled up beside me and placed her hand on the gauze that lined my inner wrist. I watched as she gently pulled on the edge to reveal several stitches stand to attention.
“My parents…” My mouth started to move but even my brain couldn’t process what had just happened.
“There’ll be some scarring I’m afraid.” She gently replaced the gauze and looked up at me. Her eyes were the weirdest shade of blue I had ever seen. “I bumped into them in the hallway. Honestly, we usually have protocols for this type of situation. But they have made alternative plans for your care.”
I continued to stare into her eyes, she smiled believing we were forming some sort of connection due to her honesty about disapproving with my parent’s idea of my care. I stopped it immediately by asking, “Are those coloured contacts?”
I watched her pupils dilate, not sure why I would ask something so arbitrary. It was a technique I used when I didn’t want people to think we could or would easily connect over any subject matter, especially the parent/child dynamic. I had built a solid reputation on not only keeping people at a distance but looking as though I enjoyed it.
“Yes they are.” The Lab Coat stepped back. “Your parents are signing your discharge papers as we speak.” I nodded as she moved away. The eager swish of her ponytail waved its white flag at me as she left to console some other patient more willing than I. I’m shocked the zoo animals didn’t follow suit.
I felt my bladder protest my long awaited consciousness. I lifted the covers to slide from the bed. A twinge of pain slide up my arm as my gauze brushed the scratchy hospital covers. I took strange comfort in the pain as my feet touched the cold tiled floor. No slippers lay next to the bed and I knew my Mother was definitely pissed, she hated bare feet on hospital floors so much she would always make sure we had a pair of slippers. No slippers equalled another foreboding sign of what was to come.
A set of clothes and shoes lay neatly folded in an open locker, reminding me of a prison television show I once saw. I grabbed them as I padded towards the bathroom.
I came to the sink after and started the taps. As I turned on one and then the other, the pain pulsed up my arm. I stared down at the water which ran through my fingers and wondered if I could get the bandage wet. I was pretty sure the answer was no, but why? What would happen if I did? The urge was so strong the only thing which pulled me from it was when I looked into the mirror.
My appearance was never really something I worried too much about. My hair, always jokingly referred to as dirty or dishwater blonde (always a negative connotation), clung to my pale face. A few of the layers I had decided to put in myself, stuck out the back creating an interesting nest effect. I looked as though my soul had been sucked from me, if I believed that such a thing was possible. The rap on the door pulled me from my fractured self.
“You are not allowed to have this door shut,” came the insistent tone of my Dad. It was the first time it was laced with impatience.
I tilted my head to one side and then the other before I replied, “Am I expected to change in the middle of the room for all to see?”
“Well get on with it then.” I could hear him take a long sip of his coffee.
I laid the toilet seat down and sat upon it, the cool porcelain chilled my thighs. I placed both my feet into each leg of my pants at the same time and pulled slowly until both my toes poked out. I jumped up and wiggled several times into them, cautious of my bandage. This was how I had always put my pants on, two legs at a time. I have this memory, or maybe it’s just been told to me so many times I’ve ingrained it into one. I was just learning to dress myself and I believed it wasn’t fair that one leg always got to go first when I put my pants on. So I devised a plan where both would go in at the same time. It was tricky for one so young my Mother told me, but it was just my personality to get the job done.
All the while I dressed myself the stitches on my arm stung and I could hear my Dad as he huffed outside the door. Finally he had enough, “If you don’t open this door right now I will find someone who will.”
I swung the door wide and looked right into his eyes. My gaze was too strong for him and he turned away. I followed to the middle of the room and stopped.
I scanned the room for my mother who was currently nowhere to be seen. It was like he read my mind as I leaned against the bed and slipped on my shoes.
“Your mother took a cab home.” It came out in a release of breath.
“At least the ride home will be silent,” I joked.
He turned on me, “Story, you have no idea what you’ve put us through. The things the doctor said, they make no sense. And you know what your mother thinks of…”
His stutter gave way to my fury, “You can’t even say the word!”
“I shouldn’t have to. No one should. You won’t even admit you did anything wrong,” he spat.
“I don’t remember,” It came from me in a rush. Loud and yet soft at the same time. Like when you try to extinguish a candle whose flame only flickers at you mockingly. It takes one giant gust of air to extinguish its life and what I said just extinguished mine.
His brows furrowed as he narrowed his eyes in the oddest of squints. This look did not suit him, part disapproval with just enough loathing to make me think he was almost envious of my actions. He turned and walked away from me, the second parent to do that to me today and this time I reluctantly followed.
What I didn’t know at the time was that I was walking into a life markedly different from the one I thought I’d been living. And just for the record, my name is Story Grayson and I don’t believe this is my story; I’m just a part of it.
That is the end of Chapter 1. I would love any feedback you might have in the comments below! AND if you would like to continue on you can find the entire novel on Swoon Reads here.
Postscript: I have been extremely nervous about posting this first chapter.