All that Remains-Chapter One

Having a blog can be a useful thing for a writer. While I do freelance for websites, writing novels is what I cherish most. Assuming there is any interest, I will post a few more chapters. The story follows Angela Abrams, a recent high school graduate who cannot wait to get out of her small town. There is something sinister about this town and it is up to her and her best friend, Milo to get to the bottom of it before they both leave for college at the end of the summer.

 

Chapter 1

     It was the time of the year when my entire room was under assault. Even with the blinds closed tight, the heat would sneak itself through the inhibiting slats, rousing my bare legs, arms and every inch of exposed skin that wasn’t hidden beneath the thin cotton sheet. Usually, I would become furious with the aggressive coaxing from the sun to start the day as it was typically a weekend in which I didn’t wake up before the sun. This was a morning, unlike the others. This time it was a signifier of summer. Not just any summer, but the last summer I would sleep in my childhood bed. The last summer I would have an east facing window. In only a few months, seventy-four days, I would be living in a dorm room away from everything I had known. My mom begged me to go to school nearby but living in the middle of the desert for nearly eighteen years was long enough, and I wouldn’t wish a lifetime in Manere Valley on my worst enemy. Manere became physically and emotionally exhausting and was more than I could handle for another year. My chosen University was Carnegie Mellon, a school I fantasized about since before I knew what I wanted to do there. I found a brochure hidden beneath old magazines and advertisements in our school library. There were pictures of young people laughing on the steps of historic buildings, others goofing off on the lush green lawn while some were studying under massive oak trees.

     Manere had none of that; just dirt, cactus, and devastating winds that would knock down innocent strolling pedestrians, regularly. There was rarely studying done outside because the shade was limited, not to mention how difficult it was to think straight with the blistering heat melting our developing brains. If it weren’t for hiding away inside and utilizing air conditioners and swamp-coolers, nothing would ever get done in Manere. Even so, many people walked around like depression-afflicted zombies unable to ask for help. Life was completely different across the country, the cheerfulness on the faces on those brochures sparked a motivation that never wavered. I was going to leave Manere.

     Beyond the most vital reasons to escape, I chose to go to Carnegie Mellon to get away from everything I had amassed in my life, so far. It was more than a pile of memories, it was a heaping junkyard of past indiscretions that needed to be cleared out, so I could start fresh. My friends were the only thing in my life that I knew I would miss when we all went our separate ways. Though, even that was beginning to become less true.

     I had the same best friends practically since birth.  They were my friends before we grew up and became deplorable. Maybe we weren’t any worse than the average awful teenager, it was just our natural state of being. This realization only occurred to me a few months before graduation. The first moment I became aware of the unkindness of my group came during Calculus. Mr. Machinski was giving some lesson on the rules of derivatives, but I became distracted by the notes Ellie and Lucy were passing back and forth. It was one of those long tables, not our standard single desks, so they were just passing back and forth a spiral notebook.

Look at Mr. M with those special Ed shoes and high waters. Vomit!

No wonder his wife left him.

Ugh, now he has a wedgie. I wonder if he even notices

He probably doesn’t even care. He’s probably just going to kill himself anyway

When I saw those words on the paper, which could have been so easily seen by Mr. Machinski, I just felt incredibly sad for him and more than anything, disappointed in my friends. There were plenty of times when we would make jokes about people, even Mr. M but some feeling of unrest swirled inside of me that day, making every interaction with my group slightly less appealing.                                                               

     That wasn’t the first or last time I felt isolated, even from Lucy who had been my best friend since we were three-years-old. The second moment I knew I needed to get out of Manere came when we were in line waiting to get our graduation caps. For four years, the concept of waiting in line seemed to have vanished. Elementary school was all about waiting in line. Coming from recess, going to lunch or the library, was all done in a single-file line. Once high school came around, there was no need for it. Everyone forgot how to behave, and it became impossible to stay civilized. The lack of civility may have contributed to the nasty attitude we all seemed to have developed. Sure, when we were kids, we teased and were teased. Once we became teenagers, it became a brutal psychological game that never let up. Every time I did something rude, I would feel instantly terrible about it. Sometimes it would make me feel sick to my stomach, I couldn’t eat, and my sleep would become all wonky. Yet, I would keep doing it. It was an addiction like anything else.

     Rather than seeking out some help for my addiction, I needed to cut off my supply by moving far away from these people who made it far too easy to scorch the world in which I lived. Since the world I lived in was such a tiny place in the universe, I knew it was time to expand where I had been, so I could develop who I would become.

     Lucy was running late and if there was one thing I could always count on it was that Lucy never showed up anywhere even close to on time. Her tardiness was just one of the traits I was not going to miss about Lucy, especially if it meant we would miss part of Ellie’s final soccer game ever. Lucy snuck up behind me and faintly smacked me in the back of my head.

“Dude, what was that?” I slurred, unsure of whether she left any permanent damage.

“You told my dad we weren’t going to go out of town for the camping trip? What was that

about?”

Lucy was indignant, but it was tricky trying to figure out when something was going to stew with her for days or if this was something that could be cured with a change of subject. I decided it was best to address the problem.

“I thought you said we weren’t going to go, anyway. My mom doesn’t want me to leave town until it’s time to leave in the fall. Your dad nearly had a conniption fit when you told him we were going to go.” I explained

“That was the best part, Angie. What is the point of doing stupid things if you’re not terrorizing your parents?”

“Lucy, you know we wouldn’t be able to leave anyway. I’m sure the trip will be canceled for everyone, once word gets out that a bunch of teenagers want to get out of town”

“It’s barely out of town limits” Lucy whined.

“Still.”

“Ugh, but it would be so entertaining to drive my father crazy” Lucy whimpered.

“I don’t know why you have to be so bitchy to your dad. He loves you, but you treat him like he just annoys you all the time.”

“Ding! Ding! Ding! My dear friend. That is exactly what he does.”

“Come on Lucy, he is not that bad. He just doesn’t want anything bad to happen to you. He’s a

worrier. I can understand that”.

     I used to worry about everything. When I was ten, the incessant worrying felt like part of my identity. It started out in ways that seemed inconsequential. I didn’t realize it was the beginning of everything else. When I was ten, Lydia Baker came over to play, and she didn’t close Squiggle’s cage after playing with him. That night, there was a clamoring which jolted me out of bed. The flimsy cassette holder that was standing in the corner of my room was now on the ground in pieces. Under the debris of cheap pine was my hamster, poor Squiggle, trapped. Squiggle gave out a single breathe and died. It was the worst experience I had ever had, and even years later I think about his tiny startled face. After that, not only would I check doors to make sure they were locked, anchored things to make sure they didn’t fall, but I also questioned the safety and potential outcome for all possible future activities. Somehow this led to an obsession with germs which lasted a bit longer than securing the house four times before bed. The concern made me physically ill at school. I spent half of the fifth grade in the nurse’s office.

     Along with discovering I had severe anxiety problems, my time there was how I met Derek Mayhew. I recognized him as the kid who transferred into my class mid-year. Through his persistence and the rest of our group taking an interest, he became part of our close-knit team too. That was back when Milo was still talking to me.

“What are you thinking about?” Lucy nearly shouted.

“Nothing. How it all used to be.”

“Oh, no Angela. Please don’t get all nostalgic on me. Is this about Milo?”

              “No.”

        “Yes. It seems like whenever you get lost in your thoughts, we start talking about him.”

   “I guess I just miss him,” I said under my breath, trying not to dwell on it too long.

  “It’s his fault. Don’t even think about him for another minute. He sucks, and you are awesome. What kind of friend just decides to ditch his friends and make them feel bad about who they are?”

        “I know, I just wish,” I said sulkily while I rolled my open palm on the pencil that sat on my desk.

“He is the one who changed. Not us. If he doesn’t like it, he can sit in his sad, dark room with all his friends. Oh wait, he doesn’t have any friends” Lucy smirked

     Milo was the one who had decided he didn’t want to be friends with us anymore. At first, I couldn’t understand why which made me hate him. It took me far too long to understand it all.  He could see what I wasn’t ready to see.

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One thought on “All that Remains-Chapter One

  1. Pingback: All that Remains Chapter 2-5 – Another day in the Motherhood

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