I’ll be honest, today has been a bit of a dud. I woke up feeling awful, somehow managed to get through work and then got home and collapsed on the sofa. Lovely Joseph had put the sheets in the wash so with a very quick team effort, I’ve now got soft, fresh sheets on my king-sized duvet (all to myself, we have separate duvets because we find it easier to sleep that way!). I’m cosied up and not really sure what to talk about (by not sure, I mean, there are ideas but nothing my banging headache will allow me to think about properly). To make up for the lack of anything too exciting, I thought I’d just share a piece of actual creative writing with you. Ahead of NaNoWriMo, it would be good to share and get some thoughts.
I wrote a Children’s/YA piece for one of my assignments in final year, so here’s a snippet of the opening chapter. (Reading back it sounds kinda lame to me but it got a decent mark so maybe it’s alright…)
I wasn’t far behind her when the accident happened. I had been watching, focusing on the way her hair bobbed up and down in time with her step under the streetlights. I gripped on to the handle of the knife in my pocket. My hood was up, my own hair swept as far over my face as I could get it. I felt like a hunter stalking its prey. No – I was a hunter stalking its prey. Innocent prey.
Her name was Alice. She went to my school, in the year below mine. I didn’t know her well, I didn’t want to be there, and I didn’t want to be a hunter.
Alice was cautious. She had glanced back in my direction once or twice, but she was beginning to sense danger. I watched her reach into her pocket and pull out her phone. I imagined her texting someone, I think I’m being followed. I could only imagine what she was thinking. What if someone came to pick her up? I let go of the knife and pulled my hand out of my pocket.
I’d get caught. It was too much of a risk.
But I didn’t have a choice. I ran the events of the evening through my head, trying to make sense of them, trying to find a loophole to help me get out before I did the unthinkable. After a few minutes I clicked back into reality to see that Alice had gained some distance on me. She was walking faster now. I quickened my pace to keep up with her, drawing ever closer. She glanced back at me again. I caught her face in the lamplight: afraid. She was almost running. I ran. Alice shouted, “Leave me alone!” but I kept going. I could reach out, grab her. It had to be now. I dug for the knife in my pocket, regretting not taking it out sooner. I pulled it out, stretched my hand towards her shoulder, fingertips grazing the wool of her coat. She darted across the road. My heart was pounding, I felt sick and sweaty. I longed to be at home, in bed. And then I heard the screech of tyres, saw the flash of brake lights – the chase was over.
For a moment – a weird time-warpy kind of moment where everything seemed to just stop – I was relieved. In the next moment, I realised what had happened. Alice had been hit by a car. I couldn’t restrain myself from bursting into action. I rushed forward and knelt beside her. The tarmac was wet; on closer inspection I realised that it was blood. The driver stepped out of the car and immediately began to scream.
“Call an ambulance!” I squeaked at her, afraid for Alice’s life.
I instinctively did what I’d learned to do in the first-aid course my mum had forced me to take: kneel down, tell them your name, check airway, and look for wounds…
No response. I put my face close to hers. It was faint, but I could feel her breath on my cheek.
“Hello, my name is Max.” I lied. I repeated myself until I saw her eyelids flutter. She started to lift her head. “Hey, hey! Stay still now.” I remembered that she mustn’t move. “The driver’s calling an ambulance, just stay and speak to me until then, ok?” I thought to myself, I shouldn’t be doing this. I shouldn’t even be here. If they knew they’d kill me. They’d kill my father too. But I tried to push the knife to the back of my mind. Oh crap, the knife! I had dropped it. I glanced around the crash-site but I couldn’t see it anywhere. I stood up to search for it.
“Where are you going?” Alice’s voice was strained; I could tell she was in pain. I was torn between protecting myself and looking after her. Reluctantly, I knelt back down beside her.
“I won’t leave you.”
“Ok,” She mumbled back at me. The driver of the car was crying and shaking on the phone to 999 and Alice was quite calm in comparison. She just laid there. I hoped she wouldn’t realise it was me that was following her. Alice looked at me for some time, her forehead wrinkled in thought. Finally, she mustered up the energy to ask, “What happened?”
I didn’t know how to answer that question – I couldn’t say the truth out loud. I took advantage of the fact that she couldn’t remember.
“You were crossing the road and… the car came out of nowhere. If you ask me, she’s been drinking.” I gestured over to the woman, who was pacing up and down with her head in her hands. She didn’t look drunk. I didn’t know what good lying about it would do. I was confused. I wished I had decided not to see my dad that night after all. I looked around for any of Joseph’s crew – it wouldn’t have surprised me if I were being followed too. It was 11pm on a quiet street 10 minutes from my house; as far as I could see we three were the only ones at the scene. I glanced around again, spotting the glint of a blade on the pavement. I had to get to it before the police arrived.
“I looked both ways.” Her eyes were frantically darting to see around her. The car’s bright headlights dazzled her. I held my hands either side of her head to stop her moving her neck before looking back towards the pavement. “I’m sure I looked both ways.”
“I’m sure you did, y’know I really didn’t see her.” My words didn’t feel sincere. I had bigger things to worry about. Like getting to my knife.
“Maybe I didn’t look both ways? I d…don’t remember. I…I think somebody was following me.” Alice’s voice lowered to a whisper now, as if her stalker might still be watching her. “They were getting closer to me and I was trying to get away.” As her memory came back, I decided to play innocent. The truth of the matter was, I don’t think I could have done it anyway. I’d have put it off. The accident was a blessing in disguise. But in the back of my mind, I knew I’d be in trouble if anyone from the gang found out about it. I could hear distant sirens. I had to get my knife.
“I don’t think anyone was following you. I didn’t see anybody else and it certainly wasn’t me chasing you!” I joked. “Stay still.” I told her, and then ran to where my weapon sat on the pavement and put it safely back into my pocket. I felt a little bit of the weight on my shoulders subside as I came back to where Alice was lying on the road.
“What are you doing?” She asked.
“Just…just checking. To make sure there wasn’t anybody following you. There’s nobody else here.”
“I felt…so scared. Like they were going to hurt me.” She swallowed, “I’m so glad you were near by.” I was a fraud. She trusted me because I was like her – a teenager. I wanted to tell her off for believing me so easily. She could – would – get seriously hurt.
“What’s your name?” I was taught that keeping the subject light and informative was the best idea. It would help the paramedics when they arrived.
“Alice,” she swallowed, “Alice Large.”
“Hi Alice Large, I’m Jack Kingsley.”
“Jack? I thought you said your name was Max?” She looked confused, her face forming into a frown. My heart simultaneously jumped into my throat and fell into my stomach. I wanted to cry – I was so bad at this that I couldn’t even lie well enough. I just wanted to relive my day, minus the gang of scary guys holding a knife to my throat: telling me they’d have no problem slitting it.
“Uh, I’m sorry.” I sighed as I gave up my cover. “I said Jack, maybe you misheard me.” My voice wavered. She might have seen me around school anyway, the lie would have been found out.
“Thanks for looking after me, Jack.” She pulled her best smile – understandably shaky. It turned back into a frown quite quickly. “My leg really hurts.” I looked down and discovered where the blood was coming from.
“Just stay still, I’m sure it won’t be long before the ambulance arrives.” Alice did everything I told her to. She reached out and held my hand until the moment the paramedics wheeled her into the ambulance.
Let me know what you guys think, feel free to offer tips for improvement or share your work with me! If I have enough positive feedback, maybe I’ll share the rest of the piece…
P.S. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them here, I will hopefully have my Q&A post up by the end of the week.