NaNoWriMo: Chapter One Excerpt

by courtvanhaaren

Well, I have exciting news: I just passed 10,000 words! I know this is still a little behind in the word count necessary to complete on time, but this is also 10,000 words more than I’ve ever wrote for a novel, so this is a pretty big milestone.

So, in celebration of this, I’m going to post an excerpt from the first chapter. PLEASE keep in mind that this is a rough draft, by no means is this the finished product. Grammatical errors, tense errors, and spelling errors may occur in this. I am not asking for any editing, I am just sharing a little piece of what I’ve wrote so far.

It hurts to breathe. My chest is tight all the time. I don’t know if it’s the tears or just my misery but it hurts. I can’t take the pain. No one will listen! They don’t understand. They don’t try to understand. The pain, it grows all the time. I don’t know if I have a soul anymore. Maybe all I have is grief. I can’t go on this way. I can’t.

I won’t.

-Imogen’s journal, unknown entry

Rain was gently falling outside my window, adding a calm but dreary mood to the day. It was close to sunset, but the ominous clouds blocked any light that would have brightened our sleepy town. Sitting on the edge of my desk, I mindlessly fumbled with a pen, a notebook opened to homework I had once again neglected over the weekend. My auburn hair was frizzy, constantly falling over my eyes, intruding on the clouds I was trying to watch. The darkened wisps hung over the city, giving a sense of awe and discomfort to anyone watching them.

A Soft tapping at my door interrupted my cloud-watching. My older sister, Imogen, stood in the doorway. She did not look like her normal self. Imogen was usually a parent’s dream: clean, tasteful clothes, brushed hair, and all smiles. Her light auburn mane was usually pulled up, and the freckles that splashed her nose were usually scrunched together from laughing.

Instead, she stood at my doorway looking very ill. Her hair was loose and wild, twisting in knots around her face. Her freckles were vibrant against her unusually pale skin, looking more abundant with the grim look on her face. Her eyes were fixed on the floor, unwilling to make contact with mine. A quick glace up showed that her eyes were puffy and her nose was red, clear indications she had been crying.

“Hey Mimi, are you okay?” I asked, not too sure what to say to my sister.

“Yeah, I just wanted to see what you were doing is all.” She lightly responded. Still hovering in my doorway, she began to rub her arms, looking around the room. I made a motion to welcome her in, but she stood in place.

“I don’t want to hold you up so I’ll leave. I love you, okay? I love you Riri.” Her voice cracked, sounding as if she was going to burst into tears.

A small shiver shot through my back. My sister had abandoned our childhood nicknames once she hit middle school. I still called her Mimi to annoy her, but she always used Irene. Trying to push back the concern, I casually respond, “I love you too, Imogen. See you in the morning.”

She nodded, clearly absent from the conversation that was occurring. She started to turn to leave, but hesitated for a moment. Glancing over her shoulders, she gave me the tiniest of smiles, probably in some effort to assure me everything was okay. I returned the small smile, but Imogen had already turned around.

The encounter left me anxious. My older sister was never at ends with herself, and if she was, she normally vocalized it to my mother or friends. Fiddling with the pen I had in my hand, I debated whether or not to follow her and find out what was wrong. Spending a few moments to debate, I decided it was in my sister’s best interest to see what was wrong.

Wandering down the hall, I stopped in front of my sister’s door. I gently turned the handle, only to find out it was locked. A sense of worry began to sprout within me.

Knocking on her door, I pressed against the wooden frame and whispered “Imogen, are you okay?”

I pressed myself harder against the door, hoping to hear any indication from my sister that I was being intrusive, or at the least she was okay. Many minutes passed before I accepted she was not going to respond to me. Sighing in defeat, I began to turn away, only to be greeted by the sound of retching in the other room.

What once was worry began to quickly develop into panic. Tripping over myself, I began to jog down the hall, skimming the rooms to find my parents. I opened my mouth to call out to them, but only a small cry came out. Somehow my father heard me and was up the stairs, a look of concern displayed on his face. It wasn’t until I tried talking to him that I realized I was crying.

“Dad, I think something’s wrong with Imogen. She didn’t look okay when she talked to me earlier, and now her door is locked and I can hear her puking.”

My father did not hesitate; he rushed towards my sister’s door and began to yell her name repeatedly, first out of concern, then out of desperation. Despite his calling, my sister remained silent. The racket taking place brought my mother upstairs. Silently she observed that we were locked out of Imogen’s room, a mixture of confusion and worry setting on her face. It only took a few minutes for my father to begin ramming himself into the door. This feat would not normally work, but for my father it did. Standing at 6’2 and a few hundred pounds of muscle, the warped wood bent and collapsed under the force of his weight and adrenaline.

Pushing the destroyed door forward, my dad barreled into the dark room. The sickening smell of fresh vomit wafted out of the room, warning anyone daring to walk in the possibility of what lay inside. Knots began to form in my stomach, adding to the panic that was already rushing through my body. My mother pushed me aside, quick to see what was wrong with her daughter. A scream followed right after.

The scream echoed throughout the house; resonating in every possible corner and crack that existed in our home. I’ve never heard such a horrified sound come out of my mother’s mouth. My knees went weak, threatening to collapse before I could even see what was wrong. Soon after my mother began repeating Imogen’s name, which became incoherent from her growing hysteria.

In a stupor, I began shuffling into my sister’s room, not too sure I wanted to see what was going on. A short strand of multi-colored Christmas lights were the only source of light, shining dimly across her bed. My father stood in a corner in an obvious state of shock. My mother was hunched over Imogen’s bed, overcome with hysterics.

The smell of bile became stronger as I approached her bed. There were papers everywhere; some were torn, some were full pages. Picking one up off of her bed, I flipped it over, only to have I’m sorry scribbled repeatedly. Grabbing other scraps it became evident quickly that my sister only felt it was necessary to say she was sorry.

Finally gaining the courage to look up, I took a deep breath and sought out my sister in the dim lighting. Her body was slumped near the edge of her bed, a pillow sticking out from under her chest. The pillow had traces of the same pattern of vomit that decorated my sister’s chest. She was either using the pillow for comfort or suffocation.

The realization hit me then: my sister had committed suicide. My breathing had become ragged, unable to process the truth. More tears began to flow as the pace to my breathing sped up, close to the point of a panic attack. My head began to swim as my sight became unfocused. Overwhelmed with the sight, I momentarily blacked out, falling onto the edge of my sister’s bed.

Coming to, a quick glance around the room reveled that I was still at the scene, still next to my sister’s unresponsive body. I was greeted with spots of cold puke as I tried to use my hands to block the sight out of view. Jumping up, I tried to wipe all the evidence of my sister’s actions from my body as I began to pace. My breathing once again began to take off. Everything was too much.

I hope you enjoy!

Until next time

~C M VanHaaren

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