Monday, October 25, 2010

Cliffhanger Blogfest

Brenda Drake has an awesome contest going on. Check it out here.

This is my submission: 500 words of a contemporary YA manuscript.  Warning: some foul language.

I went into my room with nothing on my mind until I realized my bed was empty.

"Carlos?" I called, pulling on a t-shirt and shorts and walking out into the hall. It was empty. "Carlos?" I yelled down but heard nothing. No scrambling in the kitchen, no water running in the first floor bathroom, nothing.

I turned to my mom's bedroom and my chest tightened. It was hard to breathe. The lights spilled onto the hallway from the sliver under the door. I ran and threw the door open. Carlos lay sprawled on the floor, his face down, and an empty vial of meds clutched in his hand. The white pills scattered on the floor. I fell to my knees beside him, my mind racing with prayers to all the gods I'd prayed to in the past: Jesus, Buddha, Allah, the fucking Universe.

Don’t let him die.

I rolled him on his back and with trembling fingers, touched his carotid artery. He was alive. I scrambled to the nightstand and took the phone. It wasn't until I spoke that I realized I was crying.

This was not the first time an ambulance was parked in front of my house, but it wasn't mom they were hauling away. It was my friend, my brother. I was ready to castrate the EMT who answered the call if he gave me any shit while Carlos fought for his life. He didn’t. And he didn’t protest when I gathered my things and jumped behind with them, unable to speak. I dared not to look into Carlos’s face while he laid there, the medics putting a line into him.

“What he take?” the medic asked.

I gave him the empty vial. I couldn’t talk. My heart was wedged in my throat.

Arriving at the hospital, they disappeared behind the door, past the unknown. Nothing good came from going through those double doors. The triage nurse, a tall lanky woman, came over to me and asked if I knew his parents. I nodded, took out my phone, and gave her the number.

I had met Carlos's dad once during report card pick-up. It was by chance that we were in the same room. Mr. Rodriguez was a short fat man with a high forehead and beady lizard eyes. Carlos didn't look at me during that encounter. His head was bowed low, his eyes examining the floor. He looked like a kid who had folded in on himself to protect himself from the beating that was to come. It wasn't a physical beating, but a beating of words.

"You are so fuckin useless," Mr. Rodriguez muttered loud enough for everyone to hear. "You're just like your bitch mother."

It was all I heard that day. We never talked about his parents. I never knew how he lived or what he was going through living there because I was too afraid to ask. I couldn't take away his pains. I couldn't take him away from his life.


  1. Thanks for participating! We've judged your entry. o/\o *high five*

  2. Oh, this made me sad. It also made me wonder why Carlos was supposed to be in her bed, why he tried to kill himself, and what the narratir would do about it.

    You use a lot of "was" statement which are passive instead of active voice. I struggle to steer clear if those as well. Its hard but there are stronger verbs out there that will ultimatly add impact to the piece.

    Good piece.


  3. To stand helpless by a friend in pain and in danger of death is something you caught perfectly. Bravo. Great job.

    Come check out my entry :

    Have a great week, Roland

  4. This was a good cliff hanger. I agree with Jodi on the overuse of "was", but this was a fun read. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thanks Brenda...I think. LOL.

    Hi Jodi and Cheree..thanks for your observations. I noticed it when my eyes opened to it. Funny how that happens. This is a first draft thank goodness.

    Hi Roland. I'm glad you liked it. I just left a comment on yours.


  6. Nice, smooth writing with nice details (beady lizard eyes). You crafted the scene well, so I saw what was happening, felt the MC's pain. And I wish I knew what happened to Carlos!

  7. Sad, but well written. Your description and scene setting added to the piece. Nice work. I, too, had a "was" problem in my ms. It took me forever to get rid of them, but once you do it will be much more exciting.

    Michael D.

  8. I'm very scared for Carlos and I don't want your MC to have to live without him. Already we know she is strong based on all she has been through. You give us backstory with action that moves the story forward. Loved it!

  9. Hi,

    I'm going to blast the *was* hate junkies because, yes it is a passive word, and restructuring of sentence will rid the text of some, at the same time quite a few manuscripts I've read during this blogfest - put before an editor - will see *was* inserted where previously there were none! Too often I've come across sentences that are not sentences - in that they convey nothing of value, and don't move the plot along. Whereas your snippet keeps reader adrenalin flowing and the plot moves along at a fast pace. Nice work ;)

    Critiquing is all very well, but blogfests on the whole are not the place to be seen wearing a "critique hat" - blogfests are a funtime thing for getting to meet new writers and to share work projects.


  10. Thanks everyone.

    I too like connecting with other writers during these blogfests. It's a great opportunity to link up.

    Thanks again.

  11. That was heavy. I liked the back story you gave amid the emergency...made me root for him to live. =)
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

  12. Aw, so sad! :(

    (But loved discovering your blog in the blogfest! ;) )

  13. Thanks Raquel and Marieke! I'm glad you found me too.

    Thanks for you comments. This was actually fun!


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