A story you can write too

It’s Community Story Monday again. But first, a check in with my goals.

Last week, I shortened my revision goal of six chapters a week to four. Then in the week, I only managed three. But I got up early today — I’m not sure why I was having so many problems getting up on time last week, but after losing an hour, I was able to get up at 5:30 — and finished revising another chapter. I’m on chapter 21 now, out of 33.

I also discovered something interesting last week. One scene wasn’t quite fitting in, so I took it out of the chapter it was in with the idea that I would put it back into the novel later when I found a better place. I moved onto the next chapter, and added into the scene a character who had been in the scene I took out. When I was done, I realized the new chapter achieved everything that it was supposed to achieve as well as what the scene I had taken out was supposed to achieve. So I didn’t need the scene I had taken out anymore. Sometimes, it helps to try new things. Most of the times, you’ll be surprised at the results.

Now onto the Community Story. As always, you can post what you think should be the next paragraph or sentence in the comments and they’ll be included next week. Below is the story so far, including Imatk’s addition posted in the comments in last Monday’s post. The last paragraph is this week’s addition from me.

Bonnie’s eyes flickered open as she laid on her back looking up at the sky. She caught a brief glimpse of a person moving away from a ledge 30 feet above her. Slightly dazed, she was not sure if she had fallen or been pushed, but what she did know was that her back was hurt and her head was throbbing from her fall. She lifted her right hand to her head. Wet. She was bleeding, and it didn’t feel like a cut that could be patched up with a Band Aid. It would have to wait, though. She could hear footsteps, and they were getting closer and more urgent.

Wincing against the pain that now radiated from her back as well as her head, Bonnie eased herself up to a sitting position and surveyed her surroundings. She had landed on a patch of soft grass nestled between two rock faces, and to her right was what looked like a drop off. She tried to stand, careful not to make any noise. But as her elbow buckled in pain, her hand knocked a small rock over the edge. She froze, waiting for the sound of the crash to alert the other people. But when no noise came, she looked over the edge and her head began to spin. The drop off was at least a hundred feet, ending in white caps of a rushing river.

Something hit the back of Bonnie’s head and she looked up. A rope had been thrown down from the ledge above her and a head was peering over the side. Panic rushed into Bonnie’s mind. “Climb up!” The head from above was shouting at her. But Bonnie didn’t know what to do. Was the head friend or foe? And really, what other choices did she have?

She grabbed the twisted rope and as she did, a FLASH popped into her mind. Wind rushed into her ears as she flew from the green Cadillac. Two quick glimpses of sky and earth and her face crunched against the rocky Tennessee soil.

That’s right. She had been in a car crash. No, not a crash, she remembered. She had jumped out of the car while it was still moving. But why would she do that? Or was she pushed? “Climb up!” the voice above her insisted again. Bonnie wished she could remember more.

The footsteps around the ledge were closer now and accompanied by shouts in a language Bonnie didn’t understand. She couldn’t see who owned the voices, but something told her they weren’t friendly. She wasn’t sure about the head above her either, but, as she looked over the hundred feet drop-off at the edge of her ridge, she knew she didn’t have much choice. She was going to have to trust someone — at least for now. Taking a deep breath, she grabbed the rope and began to pull.

Every muscle in her body ached as she dragged herself up the mountainside to the ledge above. She could see the head disappearing then appearing again. As she got closer, Bonnie realized there was concern in the person’s eyes. But still, she told herself, that doesn’t mean she can trust them. As her left hand reached for the edge of the ledge, her right hand balled into a fist, ready to strike as soon as she was on steady ground.

A hand reached over the ledge and pulled Bonnie up the last few feet. The head that had seemed so distant from below now looked strange. Bonnie had no recollection of this person whatsoever. She squinted, as though through slits she might get a better idea of who owned this face. A memory just began to poke into her brain, when everything went white and Bonnie collapsed on the floor.

The smell of wet newspaper filtered into her nose, pulling Bonnie from her daze.

Her eyes slid open like withered old windows to reveal a dark wet room of block concrete and hanging lawn equipment.

The only trace of life in this gray room was a small green plant standing as proudly as a three-inch plant could stand, almost as if the plant were in defiance of its terrible living condition.

Bonnie sat up, but her pounding brain quickly pulled her flat on her back again. She lay on a steel table, cold and slightly wet.

Her eyes opened again and then she heard footsteps.

A door creaked open, letting in a spray of bright sunshine that slapped Bonnie’s eyes. Then the door was slammed shut again. Bonnie could hear breathing, then shuffling of shoes on concrete. She wanted to scream. She wanted to get up and run. But her body was completely frozen.

“You awake?” said a voice.

The next part is yours. Post in the comments, what you think will come next.

4 Responses

  1. mand says:

    Well done removing that scene! I find the best way to make myself able to ‘kill my babies’ is to tell myself it’s temporary, I’ll use the passage again or at least come back to the first version when the shorter one turns out to be awful. Can’t think that I’ve ever gone back to the original!

    Sorry I haven’t been around much in 2009 so far, but here’s my offering for this instalment. You weren’t setting us a word limit, were you?
    A voice she knew. Knew from the old days. The old, bad days.

    Urgent as the command was that her brain sent, her body would not obey. Only her eyes could widen, as sight confirmed that this was indeed the woman who had blighted so many years of her life.

    She had suffered so many nights painfully awake, days trying to escape or ignore the flashbacks, months of therapy when the fifth or sixth employer, the supportive one, had suggested getting help, in the same conversation as he told her she was failing and they couldn’t keep her on.

    Thirteen years. Thirteen years, this coming Saturday. And for nearly ten of those years Bonnie had felt it was behind her – never got rid of, but put away far enough that she’d managed to lead a life that was normal and even reasonably successful. To outside observers.

    Now standing over her, with an expression that may have been triumph or may have been disgust, stood the woman who had haunted those years of terror and recovery. Whose name Bonnie and the police had never discovered. ‘Yes, good,’ said that mannish voice. ‘Awake already.’

    * * *

    ‘And now she hasn’t got her phone on!’ grumbled the old woman, slump heavily into her armchair. ‘That girl doesn’t ever think. What am I going to do now?’

    ‘She could have no signal, Mum. Try in a minute.’

    ‘She’s not like you, Mark. She doesn’t remember my needs. My only daughter…’

    ‘Paul O’Grady on in a minute,’ he interrupted before she could get tearful. ‘I’ll keep trying the phone while you enjoy your cup of tea.’

    Privately he was beginning to worry. It wasn’t like Bonnie to forget Mum’s birthday.

  2. mand says:

    Blast, of course that should be ‘slumping’, not ‘slump’. Bet there are other typos in there too!

  3. Thanks, Mand. Awesome entry. I always love it when someone comes in and takes the story in a new direction. How fun!

    Don’t worry about the typo. I can fix when this gets added into the story on Monday. Anyone else got an addition? Take it from “It wasn’t like Bonnie to forget Mum’s birthday.”

    And I agree about killing our babies. It’s hard. But keeping them around in a different document just in case they can be used elsewhere makes it a lot easier. An early chapter 1 of novel was cut, but I managed to use some of it in a different chapter a little later in the book, which was nice. The important thing is what’s best for the story.

  4. mand says:

    The important thing is what’s best for the story.
    – so true, and so hard. So the other important thing is knowing thyself well enough to find the strength.

    (Why can i never type ‘strength’ correctly at the first try?)

What do you think?