Chapter 1....take 2


Written on Wednesday, April 09, 2008 by haleigh

So in thinking about characterization, I realized I did not know my heroine well enough to continue writing. So I decided to crawl around in her skin for a while, and this is what came out. I'm reading this book called "Setting and Description" (yes! A whole book devoted to how to show, not tell!) and I think I took it to far.

Shae McCrary let her head fall back, closed her eyes, and waited for the beat of the music to seep through her, to fill her until her entire body moved in a timeless rhythm. Strobe lights flashed, their cadence matched to the music, illuminating the backs of her eyelids for a brief second before snatching it back away, as if even her own body lit up from the inside in time with the music. The bass drummed under her feet, pushing her into movement, her hips swaying first left and then right, her arms drawing over her head without any conscious effort on her part.

Sweat cooled on the back of her neck and her chest. Her face felt flushed, though that could have been the exertion or the vodka. Thump, thump, thump. Her body moved and all of it faded: the close press of other bodies, the dull roar of voices straining be heard above the music, the scent that stuck in the back of her throat of someone near her wearing too much perfume.

It was here she could turn her mind off, empty it, let the stress of the day drain out of her in time to the latest pop icon up on the stage. Let the alcohol thicken her blood and dull the reminders of just how badly she had fucked up her life.

It wasn’t working.

Hands skimmed her waist and she opened her eyes. Marc? John? Whatever he had said his name was, he was cute. Flashes of light illuminated surfer hair and green eyes. He smiled and his hands slid to circle her rib cage. Maybe that’s what she needed tonight. He looked like he could get the job done.

Matthew, maybe?

She realized what he was going to do a second before he did it, his head dipping and his lips touching the side of her throat. She sighed, snaked her arms around his neck and let the first languid tendrils of heat slide through her.

But her mind refused to cease its torment. Snippets of words replayed themselves over and over again. One week....salvage your career...facts, not conjuncture....find yourself in Sheboygan writing the local gossip column about who gave Big Bertha the bad perm!

The beat changed, the music shifting into something with Latin undertones. It didn’t matter. She could plunk herself into a vat of vodka, flood her body with music so loud it burst her eardrums or have mindless, anonymous sex with whatever-his-name-was. It wasn’t going to change anything, but pile on more consequences of one stupid decision made after another. She smiled at her date and stood on her toes to yell ‘thanks for the dance’ into his ear.

He made a grab for her hand as she turned and walked away. She dodged him, but it wouldn’t have mattered. The crowd swallowed them each, sweeping them in opposite directions. It propelled her through the mass, past sweaty bodies and waving limbs. Someone’s elbow landed in her ribs - a twenty-something in a tube top who didn’t miss a beat. Shae skirted a bare shoulder and a leather-covered knee before spilling out the door into the chilly, laden air of Manhattan.

A taxi flew past, a yellow blur, shooting a wall of water toward her. She jerked back, one foot in mid-air, and somehow managed to not get sloshed. The air was still heavy under the weight of the storm that had passed through that afternoon, mist clinging to her bare arms, and warm, choking steam puffing up from the subway grates.

She walked West, sticking close to the buildings to avoid the wake caused by taxis taking advantage of the abandoned streets to fly from one red stoplight to the next. Or as abandoned as the streets of Manhattan could be, even at two in the morning.

Her head spun, after effects of the alcohol, as she put one foot in front of the other. A jacket would have been smart, or telling Analise she was leaving, or even getting into a taxi herself. But her apartment was only a few more blocks. She stepped around a group of laughing girls who looked too young to be out on a school night. Jazz music poured from a bar, and patrons still swaying to the beat cluttered the doorway to smoke.

Two more blocks and she was inside. As soon as the door to her building’s foyer locked behind her, she slipped off her heels. She went barefoot up the three flights of stairs and once she made it into her apartment, sank back against the closed door.

If she lost this job...

She straightened up and pushed at the fear trying to clog her throat. That wouldn’t happen. It couldn’t. She dropped her shoes on the floor, pulled her ID and money from her bra and set those on the table bedside the door.

She just need a plan. She stripped her slinky, silver top over her head as she walked to the bedroom and let it fall on the floor. Her jeans followed, then her jewelry. A plan that could salvage both her career and her reputation. She yanked on a pair of men’s boxer shorts and a tank top and piled her hair on top of her head. A plan that wouldn’t send her scurrying back to Wisconsin, her tail tucked between her legs, investigating abandoned jet skis on Lake Michigan.

She flipped on the stereo in the living room and grabbed the plastic bottle of cranberry juice out of the fridge. There was still a bottle of vodka somewhere in the back of her freezer. Bag of peas, pizza, pork chops she had bought on sale in an effort to learn how to cook, French fries, there it was. A half-full bottle of Stoli’s. She poured both into a plastic cup - almost half and half - and took a swig.

A plan...

Bad feng shui, that was the problem. The couch should be under the windows and the TV should definitely be against the far wall. Better lighting there - no glare. She refilled her cup and carried it around while she pushed the couch. The wooden foot caught the edge of the rug. She grunted as her stomach hit the armrest, her body’s momentum continuing despite the couch’s abrupt halt, the contents of her cup sloshing over her hand.

“Stupid rug,” she muttered as she strained to left the edge of the couch. Maybe she just needed a new rug. This one was beige with deep red flowers - she must have been in a much better mood when she bought it then she was now.

It took two more drinks and the armchair against three different walls before she could close her eye without panicking. She crawled into bed and pulled the down comforter to her chin. Tomorrow, she’d come up with a plan.

Description to the point of boredom?

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