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Old 10-02-2016, 02:16 AM View Post #1 (Link) Chapter 1 of my novel: The Cliffs
Redhead311 (Offline)
Literary Newbie
Join Date: Oct 2016
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This is the first chapter of my novel, The Cliffs. I'm new to this website, so thanks a lot for all of the critiques you give me! Hope you all enjoy! (Btw, when I lasted this into this thread, it removed any italics/ bold font I had included when originally writing this)

Most people believe that after a person dies, they can never really come back. If what they say is true, then why does Miren keep living on in my head? Every night as I lay in bed, being slowly dragged down into an abyss of darkness, I'm praying for escape; but Miren is always waiting for me in my dreams. And just as soon as the inky blackness finally takes its hold on me, I'm running, screaming, crying as I sprint along the cliffs of Moher, hearing her soft, lilting voice just up ahead. I'm just behind her, and she's just out of sight until suddenly, she's not. I see her, balancing on the edge of the cliff, eyes closed and arms spread, liquid honey pouring from her mouth as she sings her tune. A goddess, a phantom, my sister.
"Miren! Miren!" I scream, my voice shards of broken glass. "Miren, look out!" And then a gust of wind blows by, sweeping her away, far over the edge of the cliffs that are my home. A look of shock encompasses her face as she tumbles down, down, down. Screams echo about; tearing themselves from my mouth, rubbing my throat raw. Then I'm running, sobbing as I jump over the edge after her, thoughts racing through my head. I have to save her, I have to be with her, I can't lose her. The ocean grows closer and closer, and just before I hit... I wake up.
I'm coated in sweat and drowning in terror as I wait for the scene to melt away from my mind. With my heart beating an erratic rhythm in my ears, I begin to recite the lines my therapist, Dr. Jen, gave me for whenever the dreams became too much; for whenever I couldn't pull my nightmares from the horror that is my reality. My name is Kendra Estelle Lowe. I'm 16 years old. My sister is dead. My sister is dead. Dead, dead, dead, dead. That dream wasn't real. It wasn't. Then why do I feel like it was?
Sitting up, I push a lock of the wild red hair that is now plastered to my forehead out of my eyes so I can glance around my room. Rosewood bed? Check. Blue comforter? Check. Two rosewood Bureaus? Check. Four ocean green walls, coated in pictures? Check. Everything is accounted for. With one last tired sigh, I pull back the covers, wiping away the sweat that has beaded on my brow. I climb out of bed, and my feet grow cold quickly as they reach the frigid ground, my pale limbs contrasting vastly with the dark wood.
Stepping over to my dresser, I quickly pull out some clothing before lightly stepping over and into the toilet connected to my bedroom. I close and latch the door behind me, and quickly glance about, taking in for the thousandth time the light blue of the walls that is disrupted only by photographs; images of cliffs, blossoming flowers, rippling waves, all taken by me in a better time, when my camera was my constant companion. Stepping over to the shower, I pull aside the seafoam shower curtain, twisting the silver knob residing within. The air is thick with steam before I finally step inside.
The water scalds my skin, stinging profusely, but my hand does not reach for the knob. And so I stand there, numb to the world, lost in my own mind, being pulled every which way by my thoughts. The realization of just how much time has passed doesn't come to me until I realize that my skin is no longer burning, and is instead frigid under the now cold water, after which I finally step out from under the nozzle. Wrapping myself in a towel, I wipe away a patch of steam from the fogged over mirror that rests over the sink.
A shell of a girl stares back at me, bluish green eyes that once were sharp gaze back at me, bloodshot and tired. Dark circles stain the skin beneath my eyes, vastly contrasting with my skin. Freckles splatter across my nose, my forehead. My cheeks, that were once pink, now remain pale; ghost white save for the freckles that also reside there. A few blemishes dot the surface of my skin, and my mane of hair lays limp around my shoulders. I raise a hand to my slightly crooked nose, which is a tad bit misshapen after it was reset by my mother when I broke it as a young girl. I rub at the blemish that resides there, but cease to care after a moment or two.
Tilting my head at the girl in the mirror, I attempt to force a smile onto her face. My full lips peel back, revealing far too few of my teeth. The smile seems cold and empty; a false facade that I know will fade away within moments. Icy water is carving frigid trails down my spine. My thoughts are carving frigid trails into my mind. My smile is a frigid slice across my ghastly features.
The mirror is shattering. Shards of glass are slicing open my bare feet. There's blood. So much blood. And in the mutilated remains of the mirror, Miren is staring at me. Her hair and clothes drip with water, blood and ocean mingling to create a raging river at my feet. This isn't real. This isn't real. My head is in my hands and my heart is in my throat and my mind has left my body. My name is Kendra Estelle Lowe. I’m 16 years old. My sister is dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. I really wish she'd find somewhere else to live other than my own head.
When I finally gain the courage to remove my head from my still shaking hands, the mirror has repaired itself. The river of blood is gone. The gashes in my feet are gone. Miren has vanished-- for now at least. However, my breaths still come in jagged waves, a rippling and raging sea of fear. Of guilt. Miren is dead and there's nothing I can do about it.
But for now, I can pull my hair from my face. Even though tiny curls spring free, even though it does nothing but reveal my haggard face, the sharp slice of my jaw, the squarish angles of my face, it is something I can accomplish. Next, I can get dressed. I can pull these shorts over my legs and this shirt over my head and these shoes onto my feet. I can continue to play pretend. Can continue to keep Miren in my head, and my fears in my heart, and my self loathing locked behind this bathroom door. I can keep my tears in my eyes, hide my frowns behind forced smiles, and guard my insanity with my life. I can’t bring Miren back. But I can stay alive, even if it means I’ll never live again. Which, i've discovered in the past year, are apparently two completely different things. And now, I can walk out that door. And face the morning as a shattered child hidden behind a face of stone.
My footsteps are heavy as they drag me out of my room, leaving the door ajar in my wake. The floor of the small hallway creaks it's hello on my way to my brother’s room. Yellow walls and an array of pictures guard me on either side, a cheerful view that does nothing to help improve my mood.
“William?" I ask as I open his door. "Will?" I continue as I walk into his room, where my vision is attacked by a mess of blues and greens and pinks. By the shelves upon shelves of books that Will retrieved from me soon after Miren’s death. The books that led me to live a thousand lives, pages that I once both lost and found myself within, the letters that entranced me, the endings that tore at me. I used to love reading before tragedy struck this family. Allowing myself to be torn away from reality with the simple turn of a page used to call to me, the allure of it much too great to ignore. But now, the thought of returning to my own sickening reality after escaping to a world of fairies and mermaids and heroes makes my stomach toil and my heart ache. So now, shaking away the dark drug of nostalgia, I force myself to look around the room, not seeing Will anywhere, at least not until I notice the small bundle under the covers of his race car bed. A small smile stretches across my tired face, as an idea pops into my mind.
"Gotcha!" I holler as I leap on top of the small boy lying beneath the covers. A small squeal and a thunderstorm of laughter are my reward.
"Kendwa! You's so heavy! Geroff me!" He hollers with a giggle. Will’s words are crumpled and garbled, too large for the eight year old's mouth, his many missing teeth stringing them together. But it just makes him all the more adorable to me. A small smile once more flashes across my face; there and gone as fast as lightning once I remember why I’m here. I begin to speak, trying to keep my voice from cracking; William doesn't know of how deeply this loss has affected me. And I plan to keep it that way. Semi-fake smiles and forced jokes, and a mask of bravery, these are the things Will now knows from me. Although he, of course, believes them to be genuine.
"Hey, Will. I just- I'm going to go visit Miren later, it's just... today's the anniversary of when she...of when she died. You gotta get dressed now, okay?" With a smile flashing across his face, he clambers out of bed, replacing his plaid pajamas with a fire truck shirt and blue shorts, before running over to where I rest my shoulder against the frame of his door. His small hand finds mine, another enormous smile gracing his face.
"Ready, Kendy." He beams. With a quick nod, I lead him out the door, quickly tugging him down the wooden stairs, glancing about the bottom floor of our house, all of which is one room. Over in the corner, our kitchen resides cold and empty, where my mother used to stand once she returned from her work at the nearby hospital. After Miren died, my mother lost a part of herself too, becoming uncaring and numb; using work as her only escape. She's almost always off on work trips nowadays, helping other families in need, even though the one that belongs to her is just as broken. While their pain is physical, ours is mental, but it still hurts just as much. At least she's doing something productive with her life. I don't even know where she is right now, yet I miss her, nearly as much as I miss Miren.
These memories, these jagged thoughts, bury the knives of my past in my spine as Will and I make our way towards the front door. A resounding crash sends my mind in every direction as it echoes through the house, and panic rises in my throat as I realize what this means. My father is home. His ceaseless pounding on the door continues as I quickly make my way across the room, towards the door, which creaks as I pull its large figure inwards.
The stench of alcohol floods my senses as he stumbles gracelessly into the room, his firm grip on the doorframe the only thing keeping him from collapsing to the ground. Unlike my mother, my father turned towards far less honorable methods in order to help drown his sorrows. Most of his waking hours are spent at the local pub, or upstairs, lying alone with his flask when he should be tucked away with his wife. The panic continues to rise in my throat. He's not supposed to be home yet.
Will’s life is already immensely difficult, so I try as hard as I can to keep him from seeing this; the mess our father, our family, has become. I've been pretty good at distracting him with books or tucking him away in his room when my father returns, but this time I am unable to keep him from the truth.
"Took yerr long enough, Miren." He slurs out in a drunken haze. And I freeze. Miren and I share the same red locks. The same freckled skin. But she's gone, and I'm still here.
His mistake pulls on my heart strings, reminding me of a time when my father would purposely pretend to confuse the two of us just to get on our nerves, or to coax a laugh out of us when the struggles of secondary school became too much. When the upcoming maths test was the most of my worries.
"Dad... its me. Kendra. Miren's dead." I say, holding my voice steady, staring up into his worn face. Will inherited his sharp blue eyes and wild black hair, but while Will's face still gleams with youth, my fathers is that of a man whose heart still beats and whose lungs still fill, but whom is truly dead beneath it all. I can hardly bear it.
"I know." A saddened whisper, a drunken slur. And then he stumbles onto the couch and collapses into what I can only hope is a dreamless sleep. My heart lurches. When Miren left, she took this family crashing down with it, tearing us apart, mangling us, drowning us. This family is just as dead as her.
"Come on Will, Miren's waiting." I say with a sad smile as the knives find their home in my heart once more. His small hand finds mine as we walk out the door, stepping around the newspaper. The date emblazoned in the top left corner screams for my attention. July 24th, 2015. Also known as the day Miren was declared dead. The headline was a little different that day, and now the memories of that day, and those prior, flash through my mind. The thoughts come fierce as a tidal wave, and I'm lost in myself.
Town of Liscannor Mourns Tragic Suicide of Local Resident; Miren Lowe, the headline had read. My sister disappeared without a trace on July 22nd 2014. She was seventeen years of age. Five feet, eight inches. 128 pounds. All of which was reported to the police. I was fifteen at the time. I remember it as if it were yesterday. Miren didn't come home from Aunt Milly’s that day. Or that night. My father had frantically called the police and reported a missing person. The first day, they turned us away. She hadn't been missing for at least 24 hours, they had said. Our pleading fell upon deaf ears, until exactly 24 hours had ticked away, agonizing in their sluggishness.
The second day, their search began. They were finding nothing, nothing, nothing, until suddenly, there was something. Miren's shoes were found by a tourist, located near the edge of the cliffs of Moher; undeniably hers, as the DNA testing confirmed. A note was also found, held secure by the shoes, which read in the scribbled handwriting only Miren could pull off, "I love you all very much, and I was happy. I just couldn't be here anymore. I'm sorry. I really am. Yours truly, Miren Lowe." Her body, which would have undeniably shattered against the rocks and waves, was lost to the swirling sea below. They said they wouldn't be able to find it, her body; the waters were too rough. The rocks, too jagged. She was gone. Dead. And she was never coming back.
I remember my father's face when the police officer came to deliver the news. His eyes had widened, his mouth had hung open as he repeatedly shook his head, the only words escaping his mouth punctuated by his cracking voice.
“She- she’s- dead? Sui-suicide? No. Not Miren. Not Miren. No. It can't be. It can't! Let me see her note! Let me see the fucking note!” His eyes quickly scanned the crumpled paper kept in a plastic bag labeled “Evidence”; I saw the despair in his face as he noted the stationery from her sketchbook that we all knew far too well, the shock on his face as he noticed that the handwriting was undeniably hers.
My mother, who had been silently listening from next to my father, immediately burst into tears when she saw the note, shaking sobs tearing her body apart as she sank to the floor and wept. My father had soon joined her, wrapping her in his arms as they cried silently together. The police officer gave them a moment of time before reclaiming the note, and alerting them that she would need them to report to the station within the next five days. A pitying smile, one last apology, and she had turned, closing the door behind her.
And me? I didn't know what to think. Didn't know what to do. I had pulled my knees to my chest as I shook violently, my eyes dry as I stared at the door. Waiting for Miren to walk inside. Hoping to hear the stairs creak as she dashed down them. Praying to hear her laugh, or to catch a glimpse of her through the windows. She wasn't gone. She couldn't be gone. She was at her friend's house. She was at my grandfather’s old house, swimming in the surf. She was visiting Aunt Milly. She was simply reading in her room. She was tucked away safely in bed. I sat there, frozen in time, watching, waiting. Expecting to see her any moment now. Any moment. But she never came.
I had sat there for hours, long after my parents had made their way upstairs without so much as a word in my direction, when the realization had suddenly hit me. Miren was dead. She was never again going to sing me awake, never going to help me with my studies, I would never get to hear another of her stupid jokes, and we'd never get in another pointless argument, there would be no more early morning runs, no more late conversations, there would be no more Miren. Then the tears had hit. I laid there, alone in the dark, sharp, jagged sobs raging through my body, until I had no more tears left to cry. My stinging eyes and racing heart stayed my constant companions throughout the night.
The creaking of footsteps on the stairs broke me from my daze the next morning, as my father; wild haired and tear stained made his way down the stairs, his collared shirt from the day before crumpled nearly beyond recognition. He seemed surprised to see me sitting there.
“Hey kiddo. How're you holding up?” He had croaked out with a sore attempt at a smile. I had simply shook my head in response, unable to voice the many emotions that were competing for my attention. And then he had enveloped me in a warm hug, as tears streamed down both his face and mine as we wept together, aching hearts and burning eyes. He had lost a daughter, I had lost a sister, and we had both lost a piece of ourselves. I'm not sure how long we had stayed there, enveloping each other in an embrace as he held me as if he never wanted to let go. But then he did. And what he said next broke my heart.
“Kendra… sweetie… your mother and I talked last night and we decided that it would be best if you and William stayed with yerr aunt Milly for a while, so we can figure a few things out. Then you can come on back and we can work through everything together. She'll be here in a few hours, so I suggest you pack up.” He managed to get out, a sad smile stretched across his face. I didn't know what to do. So I simply nodded.
“Alright. I'm gonna go check on yerr mom. Hang in there, sweetheart.” And then he was heading back up the stairs. The news had torn at my already shattered heart, sending more jagged pieces flying away, leaving me more broken than I thought possible. I had sat there, aching heart and racing mind, for I don't know how long, until I had heard light footsteps patter their way towards me as Will plopped himself down beside me on the couch, a huge smile etched across his face.
“Hi kendy! Can we watch some cartoons? Oh, where's Miren? Is she home yet? I made a picture for her and I want her to see!” He’d giggled out, pure excitement. And to this day, I still remember the bone chilling agony as my heart froze solid within my chest. They didn't tell him. He didn't know. He didn't know. A few more tears I didn't know existed had slid down my cheeks.
“What's the matter, Kendy? Did I say something mean? I'm sowwy!” He had said, a frown marring his adorable features.
“No, Will. Don't worry it's-it's not you. It's just- oh god how do I say this? Will- do you know what suicide is?” His puzzled expression had been answer enough, and I still remember the erratic rhythm my heart began beating in my chest.
“Suicide is- it's when someone kills themselves. Okay? And Miren- Miren committed suicide. She's gone, Will, okay? We're never- we’re never gonna see her again, okay? She's dead. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry!” I cried, pulling him tight to my chest as he began to cry.
“But-but- why? Didn't- doesn't she wove us? I want Miren! I miss her, kendy! I want Miren!” He had screamed, tears ever streaming down his face.
“I don't know why, Will. She- she might've been sick, depressed I mean. I don't know. I thought she was happy. Maybe- maybe there was something I did…” I had finished with a sob.
“I don't get it. If she loved us, why'd she leave us? It's my fault, isn't it? I should've shared my toys! I should've given her my drawing! Then maybe she wouldn't have to be so sad!” He had sobbed into my chest as I held him tightly.
“It's not your fault, Willy. It's not anyone's fault.” I said, whilst simultaneously blaming myself with all I was worth. I'll never forget the exact moment my parents walked in, the look of panic that had spread across their tear stained faces when they saw the state Will and I were in. When they realized what had happened. The moment my parents realized that their daughter had just been forced to grow up far too fast.
“How… how could you not tell him?! How could you?! He… he deserved to know! And instead you wait, selfishly forcing your daughter tell your son that his sister killed herself? How could you put this on me? When were you gonna tell him, huh? Seconds before you sent us away? So you could leave Milly to take care of him? I can't believe you!” I had carried Will’s crying form upstairs, past my bewildered parents, where I then packed a bag for both William and I. Aunt Milly arrived shortly, and Will and I had left our parents with little more than an “I love you”.
It was only meant to be a short stay just a little while to allow my parents to gain their bearings. Instead it lasted many months, Will and I only going back to live with my parents this summer. Aunt Milly took good care of us, and we stayed in the loft above her store; her home. Aunt Milly is my father's sister, who owns a small shop in the center of town, filled with her own paintings and drawings. I fell in love with the place as a young girl.
Will also enjoyed our new home, and being too young to recognize or deal with the grief of losing Miren, he moved on quickly, often forgetting that Miren was gone, questioning her whereabouts. He missed her, but he didn't completely understand. I, however, was not quite as lucky. About a week into school, Miren made her first appearance. She had walked into the room, clothes dripping with water, blood oozing from her shattered bones and torn skin. And the screams that echoed from my lips made the walls shake. And I fell to my knees and wept. Begged for her to leave. To forgive me. But she had remained silent. Watching me.
That was about the time I payed my first visit to doctor Jen andrews, the American woman who ran a small psychiatric facility just outside of town, thanks to my Aunt Milly. The time that my sleep became punctuated with nightmares. The time that I forced all of my friends out of my life. The time I realized that I was completely and utterly broken. The time I realized that the only way to survive was to fake my way through life. The time I realized that my parents were no longer my parents and I was no longer me and Miren was no longer Miren, but was instead a twisted figment of my own mind. The time where antidepressants and therapy sessions and meaningless tutoring and complete and utter emptiness claimed every hour of my day.
My parents visited less and less as the months stretched on. They tore themselves from my lives with such vigor that they may as well have been dead. Knowing that three of the people I loved more than anything else in the world had willingly removed themselves from my life shattered me more and more as the days grew on. I don't believe i'll ever be able to forgive them. Especially since they only welcomed us back into our home after the school year ended.
I still go to my weekly therapy sessions, my aunt Milly picking me up every Wednesday at 2:00 precisely. She otherwise checks in occasionally, but other than that, I'm left to my own devices. I'm left to take care of Will. Left to buy groceries with the paychecks mom sends home monthly. Left to remind myself to take my antidepressants. Left with no friends after I pushed away all those who cared for me. I'm left with no joy, no parents, no childhood, no sanity. It would be far too easy to say that I feel invisible. Instead, I feel painfully visible and entirely ignored.
Will's grip on my arm tugs me from where I was trapped within my own memories and throws me back into the present day. I don't realize I'm crying until I feel the tears slicing damp paths down my face. Crying seems to be an activity I partake in a lot lately. I quickly steel myself once more, forcing the tears from my face with a brush of my hand before Will has a chance to see them, as I glance back at our small cottage, which looks like something out of a fairytale. My eyes drift along the green strands of ivy that spiral their way along the stone walls, all the way to where their flowers coat the roof. Drag along the tall grass that surrounds it, keeping it nearly hidden behind a blanket of foliage.
When I was younger I believed our home was magical. I often searched for fairies fluttering by the flowers, or waited in the grass for hours, longing to see an imp scurry by. Miren always assisted me in such endeavors, even after she outgrew the practice, or could be finding better entertainment with one of her many friends. Even now, she stands among the green of the earth, tears of blood spilling from those blue orbs in her skull. I attempt to wipe her away from my sight, but she remains, chasing the breath from my lungs as she bends to retrieve a rusted toy car from the dirt. She brushes the soil from it, slowly spinning the wheels with her crooked fingers.
“Ready to go, Will?” I say, turning from where my sister is dallying.
“Mhmm. I'll race yah!” He cries, as his tiny legs begin to pump him forward. I begin to chase after him, and we to race onwards in silence, my muscled legs pushing me onwards, a well oiled machine. The landscape blurs together into a mix of greens and blues as my feet repeatedly stomp against the compacted dirt road, the sky beginning to lighten as the sun awakens. My breath comes fast and strong as Will and I dash down the path upon which I’ve run nearly a thousand times before, although previously I was typically accompanied by Miren on our near-daily traverses into the shops. Just as my breath starts to become labored, we reach the town border.
Welcome to Liscannor, Ireland! the sign reads in large letters, welcoming the tourists as we slow to a walk along the footpath, where the dirt road meets concrete.
“I beat yah, Kendy!” Will shouts with a triumphant whoop.
“So you did, Will. Looks like I owe you some sweets!” I say, forcing cheer to make my words dance for him whilst we continue our walk along the path. Shops and inns smile down at us whilst we walk, and a few cars dot the road. It's too early for a majority of the crowds to be out and about, seeing as the sun has just barely risen to its place in the sky, but I know that within minutes the streets will be buzzing with life. I cringe when the smell of liquor fills my nose as we pass the pub where my father drinks his life away. Will and I quicken our pace.
When we reach the trail, we are ready to complete the long run that will lead us to the Cliffs of Moher. The privacy this path provides from the prying eyes of visitors completely makes up for the extra distance it adds to our traverse. When we begin to run, my footsteps beat alongside my heart, and the wind tousles my hair, splaying it about me as it dances in the wind while my legs pump me forward. When I run, I fly; a gift that William, Miren, and I all inherited from my father. His school mates used to call him Lighting, because he could be there one second, gone the next, legs pumping him forwards faster than the speed of light.
Before long, we arrive at the beginning of the main path along the cliffs, which stretch on for many miles. The cliffs hold the type of beauty that steal your breath away, holding it captive and leaving you gasping for air, mouth hanging open as you try to take in the fact that this is real. That it's happening. That this type of beauty is even able to exist. Atop the flat, grassy area you can look out over the ocean, the grayish, rocky cliffs extending on for miles and miles on either side, jagged drops down to the rugged blue and white foaming waves crashing below.
The water sings me a lullaby as the wind whistles a tune in my ears. The salty smell of sea air is everywhere, wrapping me up in a blanket of comfort. Looking down, I see the blue waters crashing against the stones thousands of feet below me. Although this place caused so much tragedy, it gives me so much happiness. People strut about around us, different accents and tongues spiraling together to create a massive symphony of beauty, of life. Most of them probably came to watch the sun rise over the ocean.
Tourists are a part of my life, and I've come to embrace the presence of diversity, of people who flit in and out of my life in the span of a few days. Will intertwines his hand with mine, and we walk in silence along the path. I'm lost in my thoughts when I collide with something solid and collapse backwards onto the rocky path, my hands scraping the rough ground.
"Watch where you're going!" A distinctly American female voice echoes down to me. I glance up. Blonde hair cascades down her slim shoulders, and she glowers down at me as though I've just committed the crime of the century. She makes no move to help me up. I'm not sure why I ever expected her to.
"I'm ever so sorry. Please, forgive me for looking away for one bloody second. I'm just a tad bit distracted, is all." My words drip with sarcasm, bleed with anger, brought on by her harsh reaction to a simple mistake on my behalf. I don't need this right now. I clamber to my feet.
"Oh shut up. It's not my fault you're too stupid to keep your damn eyes open!" She snarls out. Maybe this is good. I've been needing to blow off some steam.
"Today's not a good day. I'm trying to take my brother to see my sister, so excuse me for not paying complete and utter attention to you!" I shriek, balling my fists at my side. My heart speeds up, and I know my face is flushed a bright red, most likely vastly contrasting with the rest of my pale skin. A few confused onlookers, including Will, stand around us, wondering what's occurring.
"Oh just shut it! your sisters got all the time in the world-" she's about to finish, but I cut her off with a shove.
"My sister does not have all the time in the world. In fact, she has none, and whatever time she did have was far too short. I'm trying to take my brother to visit her goddamn grave! These are the cliffs she jumped from, just a year ago, so sorry for not being fully attentive to you. Now, get out of my way." I say, my voice steady, yet made of ice. With a sigh of anger, I grab Will's hand and start walking away, before she calls after me.
"It's no wonder she killed herself! If I had a sister like you, I'd jump too!" My hands curl back into fists, and the beating of my heart fills my ears; a storm raging within me as I try to even my breaths. Think of Will. Think of Will. Miren wouldn't want this, Kendra, she wouldn't. I take a deep breath. Miren’s not here, as this lovely lady every so kindly just pointed out.
I spin on my heel and storm back towards her, noting the smirk residing on her perfectly done lips. Screw her. My fist flies through the air and collides with her jaw, knocking her back. I shake my hand out, pushing the pain from my bleeding knuckles.
"Don't you ever talk about my sister again." I say, flames pouring from my mouth. I leave her on the ground, a bruise coloring her check and jaw as she looks on in shock. People part in front of me, whispers fluttering around my head as I tow Will along. I shouldn't have done that. But I'm glad I did.
I simmer in my anger as we tread along, glad that the girl didn't make another comment, as I'm not sure if I would've been able to hold back from beating her completely senseless. It allows me to vanish into the sea of tourists. Hopefully if she calls the police, I'll be long gone. Long gone. My heartbeat is in my ears. My cracked knuckles drip with blood. Long gone. Miren wouldn't have allowed me to punch her. She would've held me back. Talked the situation out. But if I eventually snapped, she would've calmed me down. She would bandage my hand and sing or laugh my anger away. But Miren is long gone. Long gone.
Finally, we reach Miren. Her stone takes my breath away every time I see it; cut obsidian, jet black and shining, the carvings on it depicting a scene of the stars and moon glimmering over crashing waves that reside below. After a plea sent by aunt Milly to some town officials and a few others, we were finally given express permission to place this grave here, in memory of Miren, along with a commemorative plaque for all the others who lost their lives here, whether it be purposely or accidentally. The plaque resides a few feet away from the Miren’s stone, which reads in a flowing script, Miren Cecilia Lowe, and below that, Forever in our hearts, rest in peace bláth dóiteáin. 1997-2015. My heart aches when I read bláth dóiteáin; fire flower. My father's nickname for his eldest daughter.
“Because Miren, you’re pretty, like yerr mother, but you've got fire in your blood. Just like yerr sister. Right, Kendra?” He would say, with a smile and a hug. I push the memory from my mind.
The stone is surrounded by small shrubs, which are flowering with lilies and other beautiful wildflowers, providing Will and I with some privacy. I fall to my knees, in front of the stone, and am about to talk, to tell Miren what's been happening with me and with the world, just like Will and I do every week when we visit her, but something seems different all of a sudden. It all just seems so completely new; an open wound that slices itself into my chest. That labors my breath so much that I can't help but shake. Will’s hand finds it’s way to my shoulder, but when I look to seek comfort in his face, i’m instead greeted by a creature of fire and ash and bone.
A creature whose skin is melting and whose bones are charred and who has a mountain of ashes growing at their feet. A screech escapes my lips, as I tumble backwards, scrambling to escape my own demented mind. This isn’t real. This isn’t real This isn't real. I’m seeing things. The meds didn't work today. That's okay. It happens often. This isn’t real. I’m seeing things. Just like I see Miren everyday. Just like every other creature or insane image that fills my vision daily. Not real. Not real. Not real. Slowly, Will’s body becomes his own. And reality hits me with the force of a hurricane, cutting through me and destroying me and suddenly whatever stitching that's been holding my fake smiles and forced laughs and my false sanity together over the past year falls away. A scream escapes my lips and I slide down onto the ground, shaking like a leaf. Tears slice their way down my face, leaving my eyes raw as I convulse with sobs.
It's all my fault. I should've noticed something was wrong. Miren was my best friend, my confidant. I had to have been blind to not see that there was some sadness eating away at her that forced her to throw herself off of that cliff. I can't stop crying. I'm laying there for what feels like hours, Will's voice echoing about in the recesses of my mind, but it's just that; an echo. He's so far away yet he's sitting right next to me, confusion and fear evident on his small features as he tugs repeatedly on my arm. I fight through the sobs in order to clamber back onto my knees, resting my head against her gravestone, when I know, deep down, I should be resting my head against hers. My body shakes and I can't stop the sobs from coming, shaking me, destroying me.
"Miren... Miren... Miren. I need you. I need you. Miren. Miren. Miren." my voice is a whisper of broken glass. It's never been this bad before and I need my sister more than ever. Because I’ve gone insane. Because I'm broken. Because I see blood and monsters and death where there's none. But I can't have Will seeing me like this; broken. Gone. I pull my phone from my back pocket and dial the number in, before hitting call.
"Aunt Milly?" I ask when the phone picks up.
"Kendra? You sound terrible, dear. What is it?” She's quick to respond.
"I- I just need your help. I'm visiting Miren and it's the anniversary of her death and I just... I really just need to be alone with her. Could you please come by and grab Will for me?" I ask, my voice cracking towards the end.
"Of course, dear. And I'll bring that flower arrangement that you usually pick up for her from the florist, too. I'll be there in 10 minutes." She finishes. The line goes dead. I turn to Will, still struggling to keep my sobs held in.
"Will, I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry that you had to see me like that. It's just... I miss Miren more than anything, ya know? Why don't you talk to her for a bit before Aunt Millie comes to bring you home?" I ask with a weak smile. Again with the fake smiles.
"It's okay, Kendwah. I miss Miren too. Miren, if you's listening, I love you. And Kendwah does too, and so do mommy and daddy. I don't know why you weft us, but I bet it's for an okay reason. I miss you so much Miren, but I think we're okay now, even without you. Mommy and daddy are acting weird, but Kendy said it's just because they love you so much that they can't figuwe out what to do with themselves now that you is gone. I love you too, don't worry. Kendwah and Aunty Milly are taking gweat care of me. Talk to you soon! Bye bye, Miren." and then he's standing up, a frown pulling his lips down as I tackle him in a bear hug.
My hands dig into his small back, clinging to the one little boy who has been my lifeline. My anchor. The one bit of good left in my shattered world. The little boy who kept me fighting. Who kept me from succumbing to that dark angel on my shoulder, who begged me to join Miren in her home on the ocean floor. Pleaded with me to take my life. The dark angel that fills my dreams and comes to me, wearing her skin, showing me monsters I know can't exist. And so my palms stay clenched in his shirt, his hands stay bunched in my hair, and his tears continue to mix with mine as together we weep for the things we've lost.
"Kendra? I'm here to take Will home, honey. I already told your dad that you two will be spending the night with me. Take as long as you want, dear." Aunt Milly's voice tentatively cuts into the silence between William and I, which, up until this point, had only been broken by the background noise of those coming to behold the beauty of the cliffs.
"Okay, Mill. I'll see you later, Will... I Love you. By the way Mill, I might be out kind of late tonight. I really just want to be alone with Miren for a while, okay?" I ask.
"Alright, dear. I'll just leave the flowers here, alright? I'll see you soon, be safe. I love you." She smiles and then her and Will are off. I'm finally alone with my sister, and right now all I want to do is sleep next to her, lay my head down on a pillow next to each other and drift off in the comfort of each other's arms. But this will have to do. For some reason, the only good sleep I am ever able to obtain is here, and after many, many nights of little to no sleep, I'm very much in need of a rest, no matter what time of day it is. I lay my head upon a pillow of grass and let myself float away, the blackness of sleep welcoming me with open arms as the sun continues to rise above the ocean.
"Do not stand by my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep," the voice, like a thousand stars in the sky pulls me from my, for once, dreamless sleep. "I am a thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond glint on snow," I'm nearly fully awake by now, gazing up into a swirling sea of stars, confusion muddling my mind into a raging storm as the lilting voice sings the sorrowful tune.
"I am the sunlight on ripened grain, I am the gentle autumn rain. When you awaken in the morning's hush, I am the swift uplifting rush." The song continues on, and here laying in the night, listening to the heavenly lullaby my mother used to sing, I finally feel as though everything will be alright. "Of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. I am the soft stars that shine at night."
The voice heavies my eyelids with the poison of sleep, but the final verse of the song makes my eyelids snap open, quick as lightning. "Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there. I did not die." the voice finishes with a note of eternal sorrow, and the whole world seems to cease as I rise to my feet. Over the brush surrounding Miren's grave, I can make out a flowing waterfall of red hair, and the outline of someone, a girl around my age. She wears no shoes, and she's just barely twenty feet away. Then I see what she's holding in her hands. A note.
The world is a blur as I rush forward, terror in my mind, fear in my heart, the wind singing in my ears, telling me I'm too late. The girls muscles tense as she prepares to launch herself over the edge. It's one thing to hear about someone's death, like what happened with Miren. To imagine it. To live through it every night in my dreams. But I can't watch this happen, not in real life. I can't let it happen. Then it will truly be my fault. Fear strangles me with its icy grasp as I rush forward into the night. She's running towards the edge now, preparing to fly off of it. I'm just a few feet away. So close. Not close enough.
"Wait! Please, stop!" I scream with a broken heart as one of the girls feet leaves the ground. My voice seems to startle her, and her step falters, and I know what I must do. I dive forward and grab the girls flailing arm, catching her mid fall, my skin grating harshly against the stone, every muscle in my body screaming in protest. Our hands lock together and I manage to lock my foot around an outcropping of stone, half of my body hanging precariously over the edge as the girl dangles from my grip. I glance over my shoulder back at my feet, which have become my sole lifeline. I might die. My grip is slipping. I have to do something, anything.
"I'll get us out. I promise... i'll..." I begin, but then I see the girl's face. "Miren." A shattered heart. A broken voice. Someone's screaming. It's me. Why is it always me? Then it hits me. I'm dreaming. Just like every night.
"Kendra... let go." Time freezes. Tears on my face. Salty tears mixing with salty air. Stars in the sky, glimmering. Waves crashing far below. My foot comes loose of its hold, and I'm sliding, Miren's weight dragging me down. A goddess, a phantom, my sister, a dream. And then the pull of gravity drags reality away, and I'm left spiraling downwards through the air.
The icy rush of the wind cuts into me as I somersault down, the stars and cliffs blurring together to make one picture of beauty, of sadness, of death. Is this how Miren felt? I wonder to myself, just as I wonder every time I wake screaming from a nightmare. Was she scared, regretful, wishing she could return herself safely to the ground, or was she content with the fate she chose for herself? The ocean grows closer, the water seemingly rushing upwards to greet me, to catch me in its silky palm, to twirl me away beneath the waves until I'm nothing but a memory. But that won't happen, because now it's time for me to wake up.
Except I don't. My breathing becomes frantic, and I reach down, pinching my arm. It hurts. It hurts. A frantic though shoots through my mind. This isn't a dream. This is reality. And now I'm going to die. As soon as I hit that water, life will leave me, and my body will be snatched up by the waves, dragged down and left to sleep on the ocean floor eternally.
That wasn't the real Miren. Just the twisted version of her that my mind forces me to see. Usually I can pull my visions apart from reality, but this time was different. Maybe… maybe it was because I didn't want to know. Maybe… I want to die. My thoughts quickly dart to Will as the ocean grows ever closer. Once the police figure it out, they'll think that I chose to join Miren in her watery fate. Is Will going to believe I left him, abandoned him? A single thought slices through my mind, sharp as a knife. Will is going to be alone. He may go just as crazy as me. I'm going to die. I don't want to die. Will is going to be alone.
Then I drop into the ocean, soft as a feather, sinking beneath the surface of the waves, salt burning my eyes. Why aren't I dead? I should be dead. Fear claws at me, and I scream at the top of my lungs, forgetting my surroundings. The salty water about me takes its opportunity and rushes down my throat, swirling into my lungs. I'm coughing and trying to breath but the urge is only bringing more water in and I'm on fire. My lungs scream for air, and I try hopelessly to paddle to the surface, the rough surf tossing my lifeless body like it's nothing. There's water, swirling around me. Burning in my lungs, in my body. Blackness is fighting to claim my vision. And then the water takes me away.
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Old 11-20-2016, 05:00 AM View Post #2 (Link)
DeepCrystal (Offline)
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This is my first review in many many months so bear with me.

This was a very long chapter and I did have to read bits of it at a time. I recommend separating the paragraphs? Just so that it doesn't look like a daunting thread mushed together.

The first line was a brilliant hook, I must say. It set the melancholy tone for the rest of the chapter perfectly and that can be very difficult to achieve for some people. I can relate to this Kendra, immersing myself in and out of the reading material I am exposed to. Given that fact, I was ready to give the poor girl a hug or even a shoulder to cry on. I know what it is like to lose someone and it is gut-wrenching! And this girl is forced to be a bit of a mother figure with a drunk father and an absentee mother on top of it all? That is a lot of weight on a sixteen-year-old. And the ending? Oh, my...intense, intense, intense. Though, considering this was placed under the "Fantasies" category, I am assuming that there is something more to what is going to happen to Kendra.

Now, in terms of critique, like I said above, you should separate your paragraphs and it also makes it easier to proofread and enjoy. I enjoyed the use of imagery in your dialogue, and I like how you show how this tragedy affects Kendra psychologically, however I do hope to see more of how her depression affects those around her. Is she more irritable? Is she too distant with her friends? Does her depression have an affect on her father? Does her own depression somehow worsen his own?

All things to consider. Have a great day!

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever--Mahatmas Gandhi

Dreaming your life away brings no solace; what you choose to make a reality is where true solace lies.--DeepCrystal
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