Saturday, February 19, 2011

Submission Saturday
Paranormal First Chapter

We only had one entry this week again. :( But we're happy to post Serena's first chapter to her story Whisper!

Here's how it works: After reading the chapter, tell Serena what you think about it and if you have any suggestions for improvement. You can write as little or as much as you want. However, unnecessary, negative comments will be deleted. If you already know how to critique first chapters, go for it! If you need a little help, here's a sample outline you can use if you want:

Initial Reaction:
Do you get the setting?
Get a feel for the character(s)?
Do you see the plot forming?
What do you like about it?
Anything you think needs to be improved on?
Any errors or anything writing-wise that you noticed?
Any suggestions?

Remember: Your comments can be on anything. How much you loved it, only the writing, only the story, only the characterization, etc. Or everything all together.

Whisper by Serena LeClair (The following chapter is copyright to Serena LeClair.)
Chapter One
“Jennie, let’s go! Get a move on! Enough of this stalling!” Richard Green stood at the foot of the long, winding marble staircase and shouted up at his daughter. His usually stiff white collard shirt was wrinkled and untucked, his eyes bloodshot, his chin sprouting a 5 o’clock shadow. He rubbed the top of his shiny, bald, head and heaved a gusty sigh.
“Dad, I told you, I’m NOT GOING!” Jennie threw open her bedroom door at the top of the staircase and stomped over to the landing.
“Jenifer Charlotte Green, you get down here this instant!” Richard growled, clenching his fists so his knuckles turned white, his tired face now beading with anger-sweat.
“NO, dad! I’ll move in with Kaitlyn if I have to! But I am NOT LEAVING!” And with that, Jennie spun around on her heel and thundered back across the hallway, retreating to her bedroom and slamming the door shut, sending the last family photo, not yet in a moving box, crashing to the floor.
Richard groaned, and set down the heavy black leather suitcase he was holding. With a long, slow exhale, he started up the stairs two at a time, until he reached his daughter’s bedroom. He clenched his fist, ready to deliver a loud, hard knock, but thought better of it, and tapped softly on the door instead.
“What do you want?” came Jennie’s muffled voice from the other side of the door.
Richard sighed again, and picked up the shattered remains of the glass frame of the family photo.
“You can’t make me go.” Jennie insisted.
After a pause, Richard said, “I know.”
There was another long pause, in which Jennie’s light sobs could barely be heard.
Finally she spoke.
“Do you think mom would have wanted this?”
Richard did not respond right away.
He decided to try a different approach. In a calm, collected voice, he said to his daughter, “Jennie, honey, please come out so we can at least talk about this? I’m not going to force anything upon you, I just want to talk.”
Finally, the lock clicked open.
“Fine. Come in.” Jennie grumbled.
Richard tentatively set foot in his daughter’s bedroom; taking in all of the familiar sights that he knew he would never see again.
The light pink walls that Jennie had requested for her fifth birthday.
The corner by the window where Jennie had stared out of many Christmas Eves, searching the skies for Santa Claus.
The faint pencil marks on the doorframe where Jennie’s height had been marked every year.
Even the far back wall, by which Jennie had taken her first steps.
Richard tried to quell the sea of emotions he felt swirling around inside him; hurt, guilt, fear, nervousness, anxiousness… loneliness.
He slowly walked over to Jennie’s bed, which was to be sent to the new house separately, and sat down next to her.
She was curled up in a tight ball, her knees to her chin, her arms wrapped around her legs. Richard placed a warm hand on her daughter’s shaking knee, but she jerked away.
“Jennie, please try and understand.”
But Jennie didn’t respond.
She just squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head. A few tears fell from her green eyes as she leaned over to the side of the bed to pick up a necklace that was lying on the carpet.
It was a small locket, hanging from a long, gold chain with a delicate pearl at the clasp. She opened it up, and stared at the picture inside.
It was of a woman. The most beautiful woman Jennie had ever known. She had smooth, fair skin, soft, fluffy brown hair, and shockingly green eyes; all features of Jennie’s own. But the woman in the picture was not Jennie.
It was her mother, Sarah.
Dead by the time Jennie was four years old.
This was her home.
This was where she and Jennie had lived four of the happiest years of their lives together.
And this was also the home where Sarah died.
That was why Jennie couldn’t just pack up and leave.
Richard seemed to be thinking the same thing, because when Jennie looked up at him, she saw tears falling from his eyes.
“You are just like her.” He whispered, looking down at Jennie’s face. With a loving hand, he brushed back her hair and tucked it behind her ear.
“Do you remember her at all?” he asked.
Jennie shook her head no.
Slowly, she lifted the locket, and placed it over her head. It landed perfectly, just a few inches below the base of her neck, nestled right next to her heart. She took one more look at the picture, and then closed the locket softly, with a faint click.
Richard watched her stoke it mournfully and reached down to grab her hand, holding it tightly in his.
“It’s all I have left of her.” Jennie said quietly.
Richard nodded.
Suddenly, with a burst of anger, Jennie shot up from the bed.
“HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO HER!? To me! To our family!?” Jennie yelled.
“Jennie, please calm down…”
“NO DAD! Mom DIED in this house, and you are just going to leave it!? ABANDON her!?”
“Now you listen here, I am not abandoning her, Jennie.” Richard tried to keep calm.
“Yes you are!!! Dad, stop pretending like you are doing this for me, or for us. Because we both know that’s a lie. But that’s what you tell yourself every night so you can appease your ego and get some sleep. You tell yourself that moving away from here will be ‘healthy’ for me. You say that doing this will help me ‘move on with my life’ but what you forget to mention to yourself is that YOU ARE A COWARD, Dad! You became a coward the day she died, when you realized that you would have to take care of me ALL BY YOUSELF, but the reality is, YOU CAN’T DO IT!!! You can’t-“
“NOW THAT’S ENOUGH!!!!!!” Richard screamed, jumping up from the bed.
“Jennie, I am AT MY LIMIT with you. Despite what you think, I am doing this for you! And despite what you think, I RAISED YOU! ON MY OWN! Since you were four years old! You think this is easy for me!? I loved your mother just as much as you did! Now you WILL march right down those stairs and get into that car RIGHT NOW or so help me God!”
Jennie stood frozen to the spot, her feet glued to the floor. She was definitely one to let her father know when she was angry, but usually he just sat there and let her vent.
She was shocked that he had blown his top like this.
Richard was still fuming, his eyes squinted and his lips pursed.
Without a word, Jennie stared at him.
Their eyes held onto each other as though they were part of a magnetic connection. Tension flowed between them like a stream of emotions.
Finally, she whipped around and tramped out of her room, down the hallway, and down the stairs and out the door.
Richard stood alone in the cold, empty room by himself for a while, wondering to himself how he was ever going to get through this one.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The car ride to the new house was long and silent. Jennie leaned against the cool glass of the car’s window and watched the trees go by in a flurry of color. It took a few hours to get from southern Oregon to their new home in northern California, but once they pulled up to the only house on the block with a moving van parked in the driveway, Jennie stayed buckled in, arms folded across her chest.
Richard got out of the car as quickly has he could, a smile slowly spreading across his face as he viewed their new home. The house sat on top of a gentle, sloping hill, with a large oak tree next to the gravel driveway, and two more lining the sidewalk that meandered in front of the manicured green lawn. The house itself was a two-story building, painted grey with a strange peach trim, juxtaposing the overall dreary vibes the house gave off. A sloping roof was dripping with leftover drops of the recent rainfall, and a set of low stairs led up to the peach painted front door of the house. All the curtains were drawn, and a single potted rosebush sat just below the first story bedroom window.
“Jennie, get out here and look at this! What a beauty.” Richard tilted his head back and smiled.
Jennie still sat in the car.
Richard hopped up the front steps and stuck his key in the lock of the front door.
It clicked open with ease.
“Jenifer!” he called, “You’ll really want to see this!”
Not willing to take anymore yelling, Jennie unbuckled her seatbelt and threw open the door of their rusty old Chevy. She zipped up her green jacket all the way to the top and flipped up the hood, rubbing her cold arms. She looked up at the sky, “Dad it looks like it’s going to rain again.” She said as she stared at the bleak, grey clouds.
“Yeah, it does that a lot here.” Richard’s voice echoed somewhere from inside the house, “But we’re so close to the ocean!”
“Yeah, not like it will ever be warm enough to go swimming.” Jennie muttered under her breath.
“Come on in and have a look, Jen!” Richard said excitedly.
Jennie huffed, and started toward the house, her red Converse sneakers slapping and splashing in the puddles on the sidewalk as she went. Just as Jennie was about to enter the house, she looked up at the sky with regret one last time. Just then, she caught a glimpse of something that froze her blood faster than the chill in the air. Peeking out of the only window on the second floor that was open, was a little girl, appearing to be about the age of six. The girl had a head of curly blonde hair, adorned with a pink bow. From what Jennie could see, she appeared to be wearing a pink dress.
Her eyes were black as coal.
“Uhh, dad? Is there anyone in this house?” Jennie called.
“What? No, of course not!”
“Well, did one of the movers bring his daughter along or something?” Jennie diverted her gaze from the window to look at her father, but he was preoccupied, when she looked back up at the window, the girl was gone.
Jennie’s eyebrows collided together in confusion, but her eyes stayed fixed on the window.
“Must have been my imagination. Yeah. That’s it, of course.” Jennie thought.
“Jennie! Come see your room!” Richard called.
Jennie finally tore her gaze away from the mysterious window spot, and went inside the house.
“Dad, where are you?” Jennie ask-yelled.
“Upstairs, sweetheart.”
Jennie stood in the foyer for a second, taking it all in. She observed the spacious, cold living room with its mahogany wood flooring and bare, white walls. She walked around the corner and glanced over the kitchen. No tables, no chairs, no lamps, no decorations. Just white walls. Plain, naked white walls. A division in between the kitchen and living room was a staircase, with an old fashioned cupboard underneath. Jennie opened it up, and a spider fell from the ceiling.
“If you want, we can put your bed in there.” Richard joked, leaning over the banister of the stairs. With a laugh, he started back up, toward where Jennie figured her bedroom was.
“Harry Potter, much?” Jennie said to herself, shutting the cupboard door.
She stopped at the foot of the stairs, and stared.
She just stared.
These stairs were nothing like the beautiful marble ones she left behind in Oregon.
These were white, just like everything else in the house.
Once Jennie finally got to her bedroom, she paused again, just outside the door.
Something didn’t feel right.
Not right at all.
Like that feeling she got when she was watching a scary movie. That feeling of total silence, RIGHT before the killer popped out and slit everyone’s throats.
That feeling of suspense.
That feeling of utter and total apprehension and anxiety.
Jennie took a deep breath and opened up the door.
“Oh my God.”
The room she had just entered was the exact same room in which she had seen the little girl staring out of the window.
And sure enough, there the window was.
It was a big, floor to ceiling picture window with no curtains.
“We can definitely get some nice drapes to hang if you want to.” Richard said, from behind her.
Jennie was speechless.
She still felt restless; like she wasn’t sure she should take any step further into the room.
“Come here and take a look out of this window, Jennie!” Richard stood right in front of it, hands clasped behind his back.
Jennie slowly and uneasily walked toward her father.
Just then, right as she got to the window, RIGHT in the spot where she thought she had seen a little, black-eyed, blonde girl, a sudden chill came over her.
She felt just as though she had stepped into an icy cold shower. A rush went from the top of her scalp, down her spine, and to the tips of her toes, sending all the hair on her body to stand up on end, and goosebumps to prickle up on her arms and legs.
The cold radiated from the surface of her skin to the marrow in her bones, freezing all the blood circulating through her veins.
Jennie gasped, her eyes rolling back in her head, and her knees buckling.
She let out a shriek, as the chill seemed to paralyze her legs.
She tried to catch herself, but fell backwards, just barely above hitting the floor, when Richard dived down and caught her.
“JENNIE! What the hell happened??”
Richard shouted, jerking Jennie back up to her feet.
She caught her breath in her chest, and gasped at how she felt.
She could feel the cold starting to die down, but she still knew that that was no accident.
Something was not right.
There was some sort of negative energy in this room.
Something that was possessing it.
Something that was not normal.
Something was there.
And it wanted her gone.


Serena said...

Ahhhh! No way!!!! This is so exciting!!!!!!!!!!!
:) :) :)