Wordy Wednesday (“The End Where I Begin, Chapter Six”)

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

Sorry things have been so wonky on the blog the past couple weeks. Break + holidays = weirdness. (I mean, look at this–I’m posting a Wordy Wednesday on Christmas Day. Who saw this one coming?) (*cough* Anyone with a calendar. Which apparently does not include me. *cough*)

For Christmas this year, amongst some other fantastic gifts (Kira sent me probably the comfiest, cutest scarf known to mankind), I got like fifteen new books (aaand some B&N gift cards, which I am already itching to use), vegan black “leather” boots and a jacket that I am super excited to wear as part of my costume for seeing the Divergent movie, and just about the coolest surprise ever–a full-size copy of the gorgeous Catching Fire IMAX poster, which my parents shipped from Thailand. We’re framing it. Because I am in love with the complexity and symbolism of this thing. So much.

Of course, though, the best part of Christmas isn’t the gifts, but getting to spend so much time with my family. 🙂 I hadn’t seen some of my relatives in a really long time, so it’s been nice getting to hang out with them again.

Two reminders:

1) You have until New Year’s to enter my 2nd Blogiversary giveaway, which you can access here. I’m giving away signed copies of books by the lovely and talented Ally Carter and Kat Zhang and I’d love to send one to you, so go enter!

2) I’m going on a social media hiatus from tomorrow through the end of my break from school, so I won’t be around for the next couple weeks. However, I’ve got an awesome guest post by an awesome fellow blogger coming your way to make up for it, so watch out for that next Wednesday. (If anyone super urgently needs to contact me while I’m on my hiatus, I will occasionally check my email, so feel free to send me a message. Just know I won’t read anything or reply unless it’s something, you know, important and time sensitive.)

Now, to the purpose of today’s post: Wordy Wednesday. Based on the most recent poll, the winning option for this week’s WW is a new chapter from my NaNoWriMo project, The End Where I Begin.

As always, a reminder that this has seen little to no editing and I’m still in the process of writing the novel, so there will be mistakes and inconsistencies and all that fun stuff throughout.

Read previous chapters:

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

**********

Chapter Six
A fish tank gurgles in the corner of the waiting room. It is the only sound. Macy Pen types silently on a tablet worth more than all the houses on my block in Riverhorn combined. Everything about the waiting room of office suite 4581 is sleek and expensive.

The lights are halogen rather than fluorescent. The floor is polished black marble. The door leading to the offices in the suite is made of swirling, dark mahogany.

I shift, uncomfortable in the baggy, dark green trousers and white button-down blouse that make up my school uniform. My shoe squeaks against the marble.

“It’ll be just a moment longer,” Macy assures me, even-toned, without looking up from her tablet.

My jaw aches and my fingers itch with the urge to touch it. I slide my hands beneath my thighs, let the pressure drive the urge out of them. When I looked in the mirror this morning, my skin was puffy and the purple of grape soda.
Ramsey is somewhere within this building right now. Hopefully nowhere near this office suite.

My pulse pounds in my wrist, skin pinched tight between my leg and the Identiband. Sweat gathers along my hairline. I’m glad I thought to braid back my curly, coffee-brown mop today, to keep it from frizzing as badly. My bangs are pinned back from my high forehead with a school-approved headband in place as an extra measure of restraint.

Macy Pen still looks at me like I am too feral a creature to sit in one of her waiting room chairs. Maybe the Clinic will change their minds about recruiting me because I could never look as polished and anonymous as the recruiting officers who visit the schools every year.

A latch clicks somewhere beyond the door beside the secretary desk. Macy turns, nods at someone, and looks back at me. She doesn’t smile. “Doctor O’Brien will see you now.” She presses something on her tablet and the mahogany door buzzes as it unlocks.

I walk with stiff legs across the waiting room, glance one last time at the goldfish swimming in lazy circles in the corner, and open the door. On the other side is a long hallway lined with doors much like the first one, green lights glowing above about half of them.

I have never been inside an office suite of the Clinic before. The New Capital school district takes elementary students on tours of the public areas once a year in October, just before the Recruitment Assembly, but generally only government employees are ever granted access to the inner workings of the building.

Amelia will love to hear about all this once it’s over. I’ve been excused from school for the morning for this meeting, but as soon as it’s done I’m supposed to take the subway straight to NCH and return to class. I hope I’m back in time for lunch.

I turn to Macy to ask where I’m supposed to go, but her head is lowered over the tablet, fingers tapping, dark hair shielding her eyes from mine. I step forward and she still doesn’t say a word. With a deep breath, I make my way down the hall.

The second to last door from the end, on the left, is leaned open instead of latched shut. I raise a tentative hand to knock, but before I can touch knuckle to wood, it swings open.

A man stands on the other side. He is short, with thin black hair buzzed close to his scalp and a pair of reading glasses slipping down his nose. He wears dark brown scrubs and a white lab coat so starched it barely moves with his arm as he holds out his left hand. I get a flash of his Identiband—polished so that the light is almost blinding as it slips out from beneath his sleeve.

“Hello, Miss Dylan. I am Doctor O’Brien.”

I take his hand. My tongue feels thick. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

He gives a minute shrug and gestures to the shallow room behind him. “Please do come in.”

It’s at the sound of these words, the way the cadence of his voice curls around them, that I realize he’s the male recruiting officer from the Recruitment Assembly. The one who was new this year.

I didn’t realize recruiting officers also worked as scientists, and a scientist he clearly is as I follow him into the room.
His office is a small lab, more like a physician’s examination room than anything else. Plain white plaster walls contrast with the continuing black marble floor, and a stainless steel table, seemingly too thin to actually support the weight of a person, juts from the wall beside the door. Along the far wall is a row of glass cabinets, full with yellowing text books and polished steel medical apparatus. He walks to the sink and scrubs his hands.

“Please do take a seat, Miss Dylan.” He nods at the table.

I swallow and lift myself onto it. He slips on a pair of latex gloves and sits on the swivel chair beside the desk in the corner.

“Tell me,” he meets my eye and holds his gaze there, “how much do you know about why you are here today?”

I force a shrug despite the nervous tremor running down my arms. I wrap my fingers around the lip of the table to steady them. “Just what the secretary wrote in her message. You’d like to speak with me about what occurred at the Recruitment Assembly yesterday?”

He nods. “Precisely. However, what I’d truly like to learn is how much you know about that.”

“What do you mean?” The air in this room is cool and smells of antiseptic—sharp, bitter. I shiver.

“I mean, what do you know about Miss Ramsey Carp’s motives in attacking you at such a pivotal time in not just the assembly, but your life as well? The decision to accept or decline the invitation to join the Clinic is a big one—I know because I made it once myself.” He smiles, and the expression is so genuine I don’t believe it coming from him. “I understand that you were surprised to hear your name called by my partner, because you are only a year eleven, and we rarely invite anyone below the year twelves. But is that the reason Miss Carp attacked you? Was it out of jealousy? Or did something else provoke the attack?”

I can’t hold back the laugh that bubbles past my lips. “Believe me,” I say. He cocks his head. “The attack had nothing to do with announcing my name. Ramsey Carp is a psychopath, and she hates me because we used to be friends before she lost it.”

“You were once friends with Miss Carp?” He pulls a tablet off the desk and types something on it.

“Of course.” I lift my wrist. “Didn’t our Identibands tell you that?”

He looks up quickly at this question, eyes jumping from the tablet screen to my face. “Well, yes,” he stammers. “Of course. It’s just good to hear the words come from you, yourself, to verify.”

“Verify?” I squint. I wrap my fingers back around the table. “The Identibands record all our messages, our calendars, and are connected with our nervous systems—you know when my heart races because I’m excited or my palms sweat because I’m nervous. I was friends with Ramsey for eleven years—ever since year zero. That was back when they still called it ‘kindergarten.’ Surely you don’t need word of mouth verification that the crazy girl and I were unfortunately friends.”

Dr. O’Brien takes off his glasses and folds them into the lapel pocket of his lab coat. He rubs the back of his neck.
“Generally, that would be true.” His gaze darts around the room—anywhere but at me. “Except that when questioned, Ramsey Carp said she barely knew you. Despite all the information collected from both of your Identibands, she said she had only spoken to you once in her life. Last May.”

**********

71

Merry Christmas again, if you celebrate, and Happy Holidays in general if you don’t! Talk to you in the new year. 🙂

~Julia

Want to Write a Guest Post?

Heads up: I’m taking a general break from the internet and social media spanning from around Christmas through the end of my winter break (so the beginning of January) in order to focus on writing and relaxing before winter semester begins. Obviously I don’t want the blog to go silent during that time, so I figured this would be a good opportunity to let a couple other people share their thoughts and stories on here.

A guest post can be anything from writing tips to poetry to a funny story about something that happened to you to pretty much actually anything. It should range somewhere between 300 and 2,000 words and can be as informal or formal as you’d like. The sky’s the limit (I’d say outer space, but I’m still recovering from Gravity).

Interested? Email me your guest post at jbyerswriting@aol.com by the night of Friday, December 20th, and I’ll let you know when it goes up on the blog. Make sure to paste your post into your email, because I will NOT open attachments.

Other things to include in your email to me: One paragraph bio; any social media links (blog, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc) you’d like included in the post; a picture of you, if you’d like it to go with your bio. Let me know if you’d like me to edit your post for grammar or typos or anything before it goes up, because I’m always open to doing that, but it’s up to you, since it’s your work.

If you’re not sure whether I’ll accept your topic idea, email a basic proposal outlining what you’ll cover in your post by the night of Monday, December 16 and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible about whether or not you should take the time to write out the entire post. (Topics that I can already automatically assure you I will not accept: Porn, or anything even remotely resembling a shade of grey. An open letter about how much you love hamburgers. A clipping from your diary praising Kristen Stewart as an actress in a manner that is anything less than satirical.)

So, to recap: I’m taking an internet hiatus for about two weeks. During that time, I want to put up guest posts so you’re not left with an empty, depressing blog. And I’d love for you to write one (or more–I’m always open to more) of them.

If anyone really, seriously needs to get a hold of me during this time, I will occasionally pop in just to make sure the internet hasn’t exploded or anything, so I will still be around a little. But unless something major comes up, I’m not going to be posting anywhere myself, replying to emails, etc.

Send me them incredible guest posts!

 

~Julia

Merry Christmas!! (And a Book Review.)

Hey, I just wanted to let you guys know that I haven’t gone into a Christmas cookie comatose or anything (though I’m close), because I haven’t posted anything in a few days — In general, this blog is going to be biweekly, with a Wordy Wednesday every (you guessed it!) Wednesday and just a general update-you-on-my-obviously-so-interesting life kind of post every weekend. Every so often, I might do some extra things, but in general that’s how this is going to be. 🙂

In other news, I got some really awesome gifts for Christmas, including a bunch of Glee stuff (it’s my guilty pleasure) and clothes, but also a FOREVER LAZY (which is basically just glorified footie pajamas, minus the feet portion, with socks and a hood and a zipper in the back so you don’t even have to take it off to go to the bathroom) (yes, with all of our modern technology, this was the best we could come up with. Aren’t you proud of society?).

Oh, and I’m sure my mom looked just like this when getting it for me. I’m so positive.

I also got a total pillow. (It works surprisingly well.)

Books I was blessed enough to receive include:

Any opinions on which I should read first?

Now, speaking of books, I wanted to talk about my impressions of the YA realistic fiction novel The Beginning of After, written by Jennifer Castle.

Back a couple months ago, Jennifer did some publicity work with Figment, and I was lucky enough to be one of the people affected by it, meaning that I got a free ARC of the book because one of my stories had similar content to hers and got featured on the website homepage. (Read my story here.)

(ARC picture from Jennifer’s blog.)

The Beginning of After tells the story of Laurel Meisner, a girl who’s pretty much perfectly normal in every way until one night when her neighbor decides to take her parents and younger brother out for dessert after dinner, and they get in a car accident. They never come back. The neighbor’s in a coma, and his wife, Laurel’s parents, and her admittedly sweet younger brother Toby are all dead. Gone. Forever.

This all happens in the first few pages, and then the entire rest of the 425 page book details Laurel’s life after the accident.

As someone who’s experienced grief firsthand — albeit not nearly as horrible as Laurel’s — this story felt especially poignant to me, and I found myself tearing up several times throughout. If you’re quick to reach for the tissue box, you’ll definitely need it while and after reading this one. It touches on all those different questions we’d rather never have to ask: What happens when we’re gone? What happens when our family’s gone, and we’re the only ones left? What happens, what happens, what happens?

I don’t want to give away much of the plot, because the content of The Beginning of After is every bit as interesting as the title, but I do want to say that where a lot of books about teenagers and grief fall flat, this one rings true. Of course there are those moments when it feels a bit fake, a bit forced, but maybe that’s just because that’s how Laurel’s feeling then — she feels fake. She feels forced.

She feels numb.

This book isn’t about death, but rather what happens to those who are left behind in the aftermath. It’s not about grieving, but rather its effects on who we are and who we become because of it.

It’s a story that feels so real, you’ll want to mourn the loss of Laurel’s family right along with her, just because it reminds you how fragile life truly is, and how easily you could lose everything you cherish also.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it an 8.

And now, back onto the happy-cheery-Christmas topic for another couple seconds. 😉 This is basically how my dog Sammy’s Christmas went:

  • Got toy. Liked toy. Chewed on toy.
  • Toy made squeak sound. TOY MUST BE ALIVE!! Must rip toy open and kill it!!!!
  • Toy is open. Toy’s stuffing and squeaker are all over the floor. Toy is dead.
  • Victoriously carry dead toy around for all to see.

It was adorable and frightening at the same time.

So what were some of the things you all got for Christmas? Any funny stories about your friends and families?

Happy birthday Jesus!!!! 😀

~Julia

First Ever WORDY WEDNESDAY! (“Shine”)

So from now on, I’m going to post something writing related every Wednesday, be it a story, or writing tips, or a story ABOUT writing tips… whatever. 🙂 The point is, it’ll be writing related, and it’ll be awesome, and it’ll be coming to you every Wordy Wednesday! (Five points for cheesy names?)

This week, it’s story time! I wrote this back a couple years ago and it’s called “Shine.”

_________________________________________________________________

   I lie in bed with my eyes open. I’m awake… maybe. I haven’t really decided yet. Outside I hear an engine revving as my idiot neighbor leaves for work. We’re the same age, but I swear I’m at least twice as mature as him. Then again, he’s the one with a job.
Touché.
I roll over and try to go back to sleep, but then I sense movement in the house. By the soft footsteps I can tell it’s Mom. My door creaks open. I pretend I’m asleep, but Mom’s always known me a little too well. “How long have you been up?” she asks. I try to hold onto my façade of sleeping for a moment longer, but she doesn’t leave, which means that she knows.
“A few minutes.” I finally let my eyes flutter back open. She’s standing in pink cotton pajamas with her hands on her hips.
“It’s summer. You’re supposed to sleep in,” she says, like it’s my fault that I’m awake. A slight smile flits past the corners of her mouth, but otherwise she is stony, and it only lasts for a second. I sit up a bit.
“Believe me, if it was up to me, I’d sleep the entire day.”
I shiver. She looks at my window where the first faint signs of dawn are creeping in, throwing light across the snowy carpet. She steps around my bed so that she can stand in it. She closes her eyes for a second. Just a second… and I know that she’s hurting.
I roll the rest of the way out of bed and stretch. I’m aware of a collection of macramé bracelets sliding up and down my arms as I flex them. “Do you want some tea?” I ask.
“Thank you,” she says in response. I leave her standing in my bedroom, soaking in the first rays of sunlight. It’s a new day, but it feels like the shadows of the past are all that the new sunrise brings with it. Not hope, not strength… just memories of experiences I’d rather never have experienced in the first place.
I set a kettle on the stove and start grabbing out supplies to make breakfast. Egg beaters, a fresh red pepper, shredded cheese, ham, and chopped nuts. I turn on another burner and begin on omelets. Mom comes down just as I’m finishing the first of them and I hand it to her on a plate. She nods, gives me a faint smile, and goes to sit down in the breakfast nook. A moment later, my father comes trooping down the stairs. “Good morning!” he calls to no one in particular.
“Omelet?” I offer.
“That’d be great. Thank you, Olivia.” He sits down opposite Mom. She doesn’t meet his eye, but it’s not his fault. I set a plate in front of him, and then go to finish the apricot tea. By the time my little brother has followed the smell of food into the kitchen, I have breakfast and a smile waiting for him.
Dad checks his watch as Cameron takes a seat and dives into his food. “Sorry, all. I have a meeting at 9:30, so I need to go now. Do you want to go out for ice cream tonight, though?” He looks hopefully at Mom, who glances up.
“Sure, Richard.”
He takes this as a good sign, kisses me and Cameron on our foreheads, and leaves. Mom watches after him, seemingly in a daze.
“It’s not his fault he’s so cheery,” I say, forcing a smile that comes out more like a smirk. Cameron looks confused. Mom frowns and stands up from the table. I realize she’s barely touched her omelet, and I look at her in worry.
“I’m just not very hungry right now,” she says before I have a chance to ask.
My eyes follow her out of the room, and I know she’s going back to bed. A tear prickles the edge of my eye and once again I wonder why it has to be her; why it has to be my mom who has to go through this.
“Hey, Olivia? Brandon invited me over to his house this afternoon. Can you take me?” Cameron breaks into my thoughts.
“Yeah, of course,” I tell him. I collect up the breakfast plates and rinse them off in the sink. “What time do you want to go over?”
He squints through the sun, now blindingly bright. “At 1:00.”
I had been planning on going to the mall with my friends at that time, but I don’t tell him that. “Okay.”
I shield my eyes from the sun so I can get a good view of my brother, and for the first time I realize how young he is… how very young…

___________________________________

So yeah. I write a lot of kinda-slightly-maybe depressing stuff dealing with cancer and car accidents, but I also enjoy humor and suspense, so I’ll try to give you something different every week. Maybe even some poetry and songs? Yes?

In other news, this time next month I’ll be attending the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City!

And just thinking about it makes me go like:

… But only internally so I don’t get odd looks. (Okay, honestly, when do I not get odd looks?)

In other news, Christmas is right around the metaphorical corner! What are you guys asking for? (And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, at least you can enjoy this.)

~Julia

I am a Crazy Cat Lady

So as a brand new blogger, I feel the need to introduce myself to whomever out there might be reading this (hi Mom): My name is Julia. I am seventeen years old. And I am a crazy cat lady.

Tada.

I say this not because I go around doing this, because I don’t (or at least not in public), but because – now here comes the depressing part where you all go “AWWW! THAT SUCKS!!” – my cat Jesse died a few weeks ago, and now my other cat Willy is really sick with seizures and might not live that much longer.

I found out yesterday night at around 11:00 PM and I’m currently skipping a Christmas party I really wanted to go to because I don’t want to leave him alone, because I have a massive fear of being alone, myself, thanks to an unfortunate zip lining experience in Costa Rica over the summer (word to the wise: don’t take me zip lining ever again, emphasis on the EVER). So while I have a perfectly justifiable reason to leave Willy by himself for a few hours, involving spiced cider and Christmas cookies, I just can’t make myself do it.

So instead I decided to make a blog. (Aren’t you all so happy?)

And yeah. That’s basically my intro post. Let’s recap:

  • My name is Julia.
  • I am seventeen years old.
  • I am a crazy cat lady.
  • And I am terrified of zip lines.

Such pertinent facts. 🙂

… And now that I’ve basically just rambled on and on and made a humungous fool of myself, I’m going to go back to watching cute kitten videos on Youtube.

Byeeee!

~Julia