I recently remarked on Twitter that I believe myself to be functionally or physically unable to write something that doesn’t turn depressingly violent at some point. I offer the following as proof.
It’s an excerpt from an as-yet-unnamed project, that was written half as a joke. Twilight-knockoff vampire YA romance garbage. I said to myself “I bet I could do that,” and so tried. Everything was going swimmingly, for about 6,000 words or so. Then this happened.
Part of me says “Okay, experiment made, experiment failed, delete this thing, please.” Part of me says “Strip that chapter, try again.” And a third part says “C’mon, man, now we’re getting to the good stuff, keep going” even while that same part acknowledges I just destroyed my theoretical target audience and would only be landing myself in the same bin of shame and lonliness that I normally reside in.
I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really feel like I have much in the way of control over my characters. I have the ability to nudge, at best, at least at first. Once they wake up and start finding their voices, even the nudging starts looking very obvious, the real world equivelent of Finn the Human grabbing his figurines and saying “Now kiss.” They just do what they’re going to do, and my plucky, love-struck, awkward, overweight, clumsy loner who is ever-so-irrisistable to a thousand year old fabulously rich vampire decided it was time to scalp a bitch, I guess.
So… Yeah. Here it is. Any suggestions on what to do with it? Pretty please? Drop ’em down below!
“Looks like someone had a little too much fun last night!”
The screechy singsong voice belonged to Helena Sims, Queen Bitch of Tahoe High. She was everything people like me hated: Cheerleader, hopelessly skinny with an amazing thigh gap, rich, blonde. Privileged as all hell, and quick to remind others about it. The world existed to serve her, and anyone who wasn’t on board with that program had a target on their back.
Today wasn’t the best day to attempt to mount a counterattack. I’d slept late, woke up groggy and feeling like hell. I knew I’d slept, overslept even, and still felt exhausted. As good as the time with Dmitri had felt, I was paying for it, now.
I’d crammed myself into an old turtleneck that morning, one that was a size too small but proved useful in other ways. Most of the guys would be busy staring at what it did for my boobs, and the girls would be too busy making muffin-top comments; that plus the high collar would keep eyes away from my neck. I’d been right; Dmitri could give one hell of a lovebite, and good as it felt, keeping eyes off the marks was goal #1.
My head was throbbing, my eyes burning; even the low-impact lights the school had put in to make sure none of the ultra-special kids suffered any migraines from overexposure to UV or whatever weird radiation they claimed was around were a little much. The sun coming in my bedroom window had felt almost lethal until I snatched a pair of novelty shades out of the back of the closet. I was still wearing them, goofy looking things with red bowties at the temples. They were pulling double duty, keeping the light out and hiding the bags under my eyes. I looked like hell, and felt worse.
All that camouflage, all ruined just because Helena couldn’t keep her trap shut and her Bitch Radar focused on someone else for this one day. Given how things had been going, I wasn’t surprised; I was due for some bad luck, given how well things had been going lately.
“Oh, and it looks like she’s been struck deaf as well as blind!” The voice was like an icepick, digging past my eardrum and directly into my brain. I clenched my fists so tight I could feel all the blood pooling in my wrists, and my nails digging into the meat of my palms.
Somebody should shut her up, I remember thinking. Almost immediately after: Somebody? Nope. Me.
I turned, other students backing away while I did, not wanting to be in the impact zone. Helena was there, five feet away, leaning against her locker with one leg cocked against it, a sucker in her mouth – and how the hell did she stay so skinny, anyway? I never saw her without something in her mouth – and a sweetly vile smile on her lips.
“Oh, poo,” she pouted. “Maybe it can hear after all. Maybe struck dumb, instead?”
I didn’t feel right. Not just sick or exhausted or wishing I was anywhere else. I didn’t feel like me. I didn’t feel like poor little orphaned Danita, who’s primary goals in life were to find the next sweet shop or episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians. I felt like someone else, something else, someone strong. Like an old Greek goddess or something. Nemesis, maybe; I always liked her. I stood up, pushing my shoulders back and took a step towards her.
“No such luck, Helena.”
My voice wasn’t quite right either. Part of it was the bit of a sore throat and the workout I’d been giving my tonsils last night, but that wasn’t all. There was a strength there that hadn’t been there earlier, a certainty that I was in the right and things were going to go my way.
There was a certain savage glee in watching Helena drop her leg and flatten against her locker. I didn’t even know she was able to look scared, let alone of someone like me. I was in range, now, and one of my hands shot out and grabbed the stupid frilly neck of her stupid frilly cheerleader’s costume, dragging her close enough that I could see myself reflected in her big dumb blue eyes.
“Buuuuuuut,” I drawled, feeling my lips split in a grin that looked evil as hell in my head. “I’ve got a special going on getting your ass kicked, if you’re interested.”
Helena began to blubber, whipping her head back and forth, scratching at my arm with both hands. She wasn’t doing much – the sweater was pretty thick, and Helena, despite all her other girly traits, had never been good at keeping nails, biting them instead of a donut – but her breathless little meeps and panting was starting to attract attention.
“Guess not. So how about you keep your mouth shut in the future, Twiggy?”
I shoved her, making her rebound off her locker and slump to the floor in a little glitter-covered ball that hopefully would never rate a Lisa Frank sticker. She glared up at me, though missing most of the spite that she usually had at the ready, and blew her hair out of her eyes.
“Jesus, bitch. Just because you got some dick doesn’t mean you have to act like one.”
That was it. I saw red. Next thing I knew three other kids were pulling me off her and I had a chunk of her hair in my hand like some kind of trophy. Helena was balled up, hands splayed over her head while her minions surrounded her, forming a human shield to keep me away from her. Before they closed ranks, I saw the damage I’d done; a ragged flap of something I thought was her scalp was hanging over her eyes, and her previously perfect hair was sticking up like a bad Flock of Seagulls impression, frozen in place with rapidly drying blood instead of hair.
Something about it broke whatever had come over me. The sight of the blood, probably, since it was more than I’d ever seen, at least up close and personal. Part of me was scared at what I’d done; little old me, practically scalping the head cheerleader, over just another snarky remark? On the other hand, it felt good. Savage, insane, but good. Part of it was just sticking up for myself. A person can only hear the fatty-fatty-two-by-four catcalls so often before the urge to beat the living hell out of somebody surfaces after all. I bet any kid in high school can tell you that. But there was also another sense of satisfaction, the same happiness I got when something I was scribbling on came out just right, or when a book ended the way I wanted to, or when a cake tasted just the way I expected it to when I finished frosting and chilling and eating it.
A feeling of accomplishment, of being right.
Somehow, that was worse than what I’d just done. I shoved against the guys who had hold of me, breaking away. I let Helena’s hair fall from my fist and drift to to the floor, gluing themselves there by the bloody roots. I doubted the janitor was going to have much fun trying to clean that up. I made a break for it.
Somehow I knew this had to do with Dmitri. I’d gone twelve years in the halls of education, first as the bookish and weird girl, the last two years as the orphaned fat girl, and had never done anything like this. Not even close. Only one thing was different.
Besides, Dmitri would know what to do. Wasn’t the whole world his classroom? I hoped he’d been studying up, because his girlfriend was about to turn out to be a whole lot crazier than he expected. But somehow I knew he’d understand.
I ran. I had to find him.