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Real American Woman, ch. 4

by AyumiGosu17


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language and mature content.

Chapter Four

September 4, 2013

Time goes by when you don’t think about it. I can’t believe it’s been almost a month already. Two weeks ago school started; three weeks ago I got the initial news that something is wrong; one week ago, I was back in the hospital for even more damn tests.

The initial ultrasounds were inconclusive. The second ultrasounds were inconclusive. The blood work came back good. But there’s still something unknown inside me, something that the doctor is concerned about; the way things have been going, I think he’s just as fed up as I am and just wants to figure out what the hell is wrong, if it’s anything at all. I know my arms can’t take much more abuse; the bruises from those needles are bigger and sorer than before. It’s hard to do my job because it hurts to reach in order to clean and organize or file paperwork, and it hurts to carry my clipboard in tucked arms. It’s even a little alarming that I can still see where they stuck me with that enormous needle, leaving a cut half a centimeter thick on my arm.

Thank God I find out everything tomorrow. Finally. I guess it’s real when they say the “third time is the charm.” And I know it won’t be rescheduled again, or they would have told me that when they called me. But no, I’m actually getting a sense of relief because the nurse told me, “We got the CT results back. When can we see you?” and she sounded happy. Now I’m wishing they had done the CT scan first…

I’m so anxious, I can barely stand it. I’ve realized that I may have overreacted at first, but there is still that nagging thought that something is wrong. Jeff is getting anxious, too. After our long conversation yesterday, I do feel slightly guilty, as if my mood has soaked into him and taken over his usually stoic, stable, strong mentality – speaking so frankly on the way home from Montgomery, I got see my own emotions mirrored back through him.

I was driving down the highway, more like coasting at sixty miles an hour. The sky was unusually blue, with spontaneous sun showers leaving a sheen over the fields of the cattle country. My mind had shifted toward those nightmares again.

Jeff interrupted my train of thought with his lush, baritone voice. “What’s the matter, babe?”

I glanced at him. His chocolate eyes seemed to be looking right through me, dissecting every part of me into the finest of details. I sighed, answering him softly, “The usual… Money. Time. School… Children.”

He nodded. “I know. At least I’ve got this, and I feel pretty good about it. It may be a drive, but twelve bucks to fix instruments is a hell of a lot better than flipping pancakes for seven-fifty an hour.”

“I know. You’d be happier too. It’s at least related to your degree.” But what about mine? Will I even get it?

“It will be fine for now. I won’t be miserable, it will look good on my resume, and it can give us a little more stable an income for the next nine months, until I figure out what I’m gonna do.”

“Are you still thinking about Mobile?”

“If I don’t get New Brockton, yeah.” He paused. I could feel him watching me. “Or…if you’d rather me stay here, I can try to get my Master’s at Troy. I’d rather not, because I feel confined here, you know that. Or we try and move a little closer to Montgomery so I’m not driving a hundred miles every day to go to work – “

“No. No…”

“I say that because I know you’re worried about Mobile. You don’t want to go –“

“No, I want you to go to Mobile!” I sighed, fighting back the tears that were blurring my vision. “I want you to go to Mobile and be happy. I want to go to Mobile and get out of this backwoods hellhole and actually have a chance at something. Dr. Allard and Dr. O are the only reason I’m even still here! I’m staying for them, because I respect everything that they’ve done for me so far.”

He was quiet.

“I want to go to Mobile. It’s a change of scenery, we can start over, you can get your master’s degree, and I can get involved in the opera. But I can’t. I don’t have the money.

“How long do you have left?”

“Three years. The way that my schedule looks now, I won’t even intern until August 2016, at the earliest. It could be 2017. That’s four!”

“You still have loans that you can use, and Dr. O will keep giving you scholarship money – “

“My loans will run out. I changed my major so late that I’m going to max out my available hours. Once I hit 180, I’m done. I can’t get any more financial aid. I’m going to have to pay for my last year out of pocket, and that’s something I know I don’t have.”

He touched my hand, not putting any pressure down so I wouldn’t veer. “Baby, it will be alright. That’s why I’m looking for a job. I will have the money to pay for you to finish school if I have to. Maybe with this job…I can even get enough money to get us a house, if not here, then in Mobile, and have it ready for when you come down.”

I lowered my hand and rested it on his leg, letting our fingers lace together. “I don’t even know if I’ll finish anyway…”

“Why do you say that?”

“You know what I want.”

He nodded slowly, pausing. “I know. And who says we can’t?”

I glanced at him. “Until I find out what’s wrong with me, everything. I don’t even know if I can have kids, and even if I can, there goes all the money. We don’t even have enough right now to get started, if we wanted to. We’re barely making enough to cover our bills! I don’t know if all of the medical appointments would be covered by my mom’s insurance; I may be her dependent, but then I’ll have my own dependent. We already can’t afford your hospital bill, as shitty as that was, so what makes you think we can afford payments on a birth? Twenty, thirty thousand dollars? And the clothes and toys and food… You’re talking about upgrades every six months, as fast as they grow. Kids are expensive, Jeff!”

“True…”

“And all the time… I’m sure my folks will be more than happy to help, but kids require a lot of time, especially from their parents. I wouldn’t be able to juggle a child, school, and Farmer’s all at the same time and be successful at any of them. I’d have to drop one, or both, and I can’t go to school without a job to help pay for it!” A tear ran down my cheek.

“Pull over.” He said firmly.

“What?”

“Pull over.”

I sighed, gently putting on the brake and coasting over the margin into the emergency lane. The SUV finally rolled to a stop, and I put it in park and turned on the flashers. I sat still, Josh Groban singing lightly over the stereo system. Jeff touched my cheek, wiping the tears away with deft fingers. “I’m going to keep working. I’m going to keep searching for a better job; hopefully this one will work out. And you’re going to make it. You’re going to keep going to school, and selling furniture, and smiling. I know I don’t say this often, but…God will let things work. He will take care of us as He sees fit, and we will survive. And we will have that family we want. It may not be right now, but it will happen. Okay?”

I nodded, trying so hard not to break down and bawl like an infant. My hands were shaking, I could feel my lip quivering, and my glasses were streaked where my lashes painted my tears upon the lenses.

“Come here.” He wrapped an arm around my shoulders and pulled me across the console to lean against him. When my cheek rested on his shoulder, his heart under my ear, I finally let go.

Jeff held me for several minutes, just letting me cry to Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” as a light rain fell on the car again. As I finally settled down in the safety of his embrace, he tapped my shoulder. “Look. There’s an eagle,” he whispered. When I turned my exhausted gaze to the sky, I saw a bald eagle circling the open fields, balancing on the gentle winds.*

*In Native American folklore, the Eagle Totem is a symbol of strength, courage, wisdom, and balance, like a symbol of hope.


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1313 Reviews


Points: 23286
Reviews: 1313

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Sun Sep 29, 2013 3:46 pm
Hannah wrote a review...



Ooh. So even though we still haven't gotten any kind of revelation on the stress that's been described and has been piling up, we're definitely satisfied with this chapter. We know results are coming next, and in the mean time we get a scene with more of what we wanted last chapter: Jeff.

I don't know. Maybe it's just me because I'm at a similar point in my life where I worry about how much money I'm making and if I can pay off my loans in time, etc. It feels like a puzzle to me, and I like pondering it, so I like hearing all the itty bitty pieces of this real stress. Like things that seem arbitrary that can still be so frustrating like a limit on loan hours or something like that -- really strong details to bring in.

I did get a little shaky with you toward the end though. Having "You Raise Me Up" playing was kind of cheesy -- even if it did happen. If it really did happen, did you think about it? Did you think about how it was lame, but at the same time the music still did genuinely work through you? Sometimes it happens like that. You can consider adding that self-awareness to avoid cheesiness, or take out the title altogether.

I also don't think you need to have a footnote like you do here. Either the information is important enough for the speaker to include in the narrative because she's already very familiar with it, or we as readers can just get the FEELING of it in the idea of a bird floating on wind, you know?

Hope this was helpful! I'm moving on~
Good luck and keep writing. (:




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Mon Sep 23, 2013 11:25 am
Twit wrote a review...



Hi Ayumi!


The blood work came back good.

‘Came back good’ sounds a bit awkward.


But there’s still something unknown inside me, something that the doctor is concerned about; the way things have been going, I think he’s just as fed up as I am and just wants to figure out what the hell is wrong, if it’s anything at all.

Repetition of ‘just’, suggest delete bolded.


I know my arms can’t take much more abuse; the bruises from those needles are bigger and sorer than before.

‘Sorer’ doesn’t sound right, but ‘more sore than before’ sounds too similar. Suggest reword; perhaps something like ‘bigger and more sore than ever’.


It’s hard to do my job because it hurts to reach in order to clean and organize or file paperwork, and it hurts to carry my clipboard in tucked arms.

Repetition of ‘it hurts’ and ‘to reach in order to’ sounds awkward. Suggest reword.


It’s even a little alarming that I can still see where they stuck me with that enormous needle, leaving a cut half a centimeter thick on my arm.

I can’t visualise a cut half a centimetre thick—do you mean it’s that deep or that wide? Would a needle really leave that much of an opening?


Thank God I find out everything tomorrow. Finally. I guess it’s real when they say the “third time is the charm.” And I know it won’t be rescheduled again, or they would have told me that when they called me. But no, I’m actually getting a sense of relief because the nurse told me, “We got the CT results back. When can we see you?” and she sounded happy. Now I’m wishing they had done the CT scan first…

The ordering of this passage feels strange. I think it would be stronger to show the phone conversation with the nurse and then her feelings of relief, because the phone conversation is a strong definite THING, and reporting it almost as an afterthought weakens it. The thoughts should come as an accompaniment to the event, not the other way round.


After our long conversation yesterday, I do feel slightly guilty, as if my mood has soaked into him and taken over his usually stoic, stable, strong mentality – speaking so frankly on the way home from Montgomery, I got see my own emotions mirrored back through him.

Consider removing a few adjectives; these kind of mean the same thing, and with the alliteration, it feels a bit much.


I was driving down the highway, more like coasting at sixty miles an hour.

The bolded part feels tacked on. Suggest reword or delete.


Jeff interrupted my train of thought with his lush, baritone voice. “What’s the matter, babe?”

This description feels a bit awkward. ‘Lush’ refers to more tangible things, like material, and having an impersonal description like ‘baritone’ in the fourth chapter feels off. By this point, we should be getting to know Jeff like Audra does, and as she knows him so well, she wouldn’t hear his voice and think ‘Yup, baritone’, she’d just recognise it as Jeff’s voice. Same later on with ‘chocolate eyes’, which is rather a clichéd description anyway.


He nodded. “I know. At least I’ve got this, and I feel pretty good about it. It may be a drive, but twelve bucks to fix instruments is a hell of a lot better than flipping pancakes for seven-fifty an hour.”

It’s not clear what ‘this’ is. What’s he got?


“It will be fine for now. I won’t be miserable, it will look good on my resume, and it can give us a little more stable an income for the next nine months, until I figure out what I’m gonna do.”

Suggest delete ‘an’.


“No, I want you to go to Mobile!” I sighed, fighting back the tears that were blurring my vision.

With the exclamation points and the tears, ‘I sighed’ feels too tame.


He touched my hand, not putting any pressure down so I wouldn’t veer.

Sentence feels unfinished; suggest ‘so I wouldn’t swerve the car’.


“Pull over.He said firmly.

End dialogue with a comma and begin the tag with a small letter.

---
Hi!

This was well written and easy to read, and the dialogue was real and true to life. ^_^ The writing was a little bland in places, and could be spiced up with vivid description and sensory imagery. Right now it’s rather bald because you’re just focussing on the narrative and character thoughts—those are all great, but taking time to show us the world around them and how they react to it will make the story even better.

In places, the structure felt a bit backwards. Like the bit when Audra’s talking about the phone call from the nurse—she tells us how she feels about it, and then tells us about the actual event. It’s the same with the whole last chunk of the chapter—she talks about how the conversation with Jeff made her feel, and then shows us the conversation with Jeff. It would be better, stronger, and more streamlined to show us things as they happen—show us the important events and then give us Audra’s reaction. The way this runs feels backwards; when Audra mentioned ‘our long conversation yesterday’ it felt like I’d missed something in the previous chapters, like it was something that had already happened, not something that was about to happen.

PM or Wall me if you have any questions!

-twit





Half the work that is done in this world is to make things appear what they are not.
— Elias Root Beadle