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Unlucky 13 - Chapter 19.1

by Liberty


It was around noon time when I arrived at school because I had an appointment at the ophthalmologist. Apparently, my eyes are ready to get glasses. They'll be ready by next week. I grunted as I stepped into the cafeteria for lunch. Imogen and Maryam waved from the other end, and I jogged right to them, not bothering to get lunch because I already had a burger from Wendy's.

"Hi! Where were you? We started getting worried!" Maryam said shrilly.

"At the eye doctor." I replied dully. I didn't know why I was feeling so down, but I was. And it was to remain a mystery.

"You're getting glasses?" Maryam asked. I nodded.

"Happy birthday, by the way." Imogen chirped, Maryam doing the same. That cheered me up a little.

"Thank you." I said, smiling warmly at the two.

"We have something to tell you." Maryam said, her voice barely audible.

Imogen nodded. "We found out about Ella's... secrets. They spilled. And badly. In front of everyone."

As if on cue, Ella, from her spot beside Maddie in the middle of the cafeteria, looked at me, eyes narrowed. Rolling my eyes to the ceiling, I urged them on. I need to hear something that'll satisfy my heart. It was too heavy to bear anymore.

Maryam started, "Ella had a diary. And she writes everything in it. Everything that's on her mind. Every possible -"

"Okay, okay, I get it." I chuckled. "Continue."

"Yeah, well, some idiot got into it and read everything. Apparently, the idiot had it for a while. Then, the idiot posted everything about it on Instagram. Haven't you seen? I'll just sum it up for you - Ella's parents had a divorce. She lives with her dad now. He never liked it that El rode horses, so he made her stop. She was forced to. And then... Oh, Imogen, you continue. It's to horrible." Maryam finished.

Imogen sighed, "Ella's mother passed on."

My jaw dropped. "What?" I yelled, pushing my chair back and jumping up. "When?" I shouted.

"Jules, come down here, stop, you're making a scene." Maryam said, and I was. Many looked at me curiously.

I slowly sat down, shaking. "How?"

"Grief." Imogen answered. "She already had cancer."

My heart skipped a beat, and ran up to my throat, causing a lump to rise. "And she told us none of this?"

Maryam shook her head. "None of it. And she wrote that she was ashamed of it all."

"I think me and Ella are fair and square now. We both have deceased parents, and... complicated situations." I said flatly. No one said anything. It was too scary to. But the noise in the rest of the cafeteria was deafning. I switched on my phone and checked all the Instagram posts. I scrolled down and saw the long post that summed up poor Ella's life. It was by someone called Invincible. The post even mentioned why Ella left me and Maryam.

She was ashamed.

Suddenly, I felt a hole in my stomach. Did she really never think of us as friends? Did she really never trust us? Me and Maryam always trusted her with our secrets. If she didn't think of us as friends? Why bother act as our friends?

I got my answer...

She would have been alone.

I wiped away the tears that I didn't see coming, suddenly stood up, and marched out of the cafeteria. Shaking, I ran to my locker - thankfully, there were no teachers in sight who would stop me. Not even Mr Hikings. Since I had Art, Science, and Gym next, I kept those books and essenials in my bag, and put the rest of my books in my locker.

Aching all over, I looked at Ella's locker, beside mine, and thought of all the times we laughed and giggled over silly things. Tears fell and I didn't do anything to stop them this time.

Rrrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnng!

Students filled the hallways and I wiped my face with the end of my sweater. I should go say something to Ella. My heart slowed down a little, but it was now racing instead of sprinting. "What happened?" a deep voice said. I whirled around. "Sorry, didn't mean to scare you."

"N-nothing." I stuttered, looking at Duncan dead into his gray eyes. "I... Just thought of some stuff."

"If you ever want to talk about it, you have my number." he said smiling.

I nodded jerkily and smiled back. "Thanks, but I'm good. Yeah, I do. Yeah." I stumbled over my words. What I heard just a few minutes ago was still whirring in my head, and it was hard to recover from it.

"You have Art next, right?" he asked, moving back so we could walk together to our next class - it was obvious by his body language.

"Yes."

+++

The day passed quickly, and soon I was walking home. I didn't get a chance to even look at Ella that day. "Someone looks upset." Grams commented as soon as I entered the kitchen.

"Ella's mother passed away. She had cancer and her husband divorced her. Ella lives with her father, and made Ella quit riding." I blurted. As soon as the words left my mouth, I felt a heavy weight lift from my shoulders, and into the air. I dropped my bag against the wall, and grabbed a glass of water. Grams still hadn't said anything, she was in shock, she had froze.

I sighed, kissed her forehead, and walked up to my room. I met Mum halfway up the stairs, and she greeted me, embracing me. "Why so glum, chum?" she asked, worried.

I sighed. "Just ask Grams."

She raised her eyebrows at me and walked away. I curled up in my bed and squeezed my eyes shut. It was too much to bear. Soon, I fell asleep.


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377 Reviews


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Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:15 am
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seeminglymeaningless wrote a review...



Hi there! I saw this chapter in the Green Room so thought I'd stop by. You seem to be an established author and reviewer and your writing style for your age is amazing, kudos!

Obviously I've dropped into your story without knowing anything, as one may do in a bookstore and flip through to a middle chapter, so keep that in mind for my review.

>> Story-wise
+ Teen dramas can be tricky to write, getting the balance of what is momentous and what is everyday occurrences. Starting off with what the main character thought was a real drama (getting glasses) and then facing a greater drama of her ex-friend's secrets being spilled to the whole school is a good juxtaposition, but could be focused on more. Does the main character like or dislike the idea of getting glasses?

+ Be careful of dating your story. It's easy to write stories with popular culture and technology interspersed. It's harder to change recognisable things into items that could be used years to come. For example, Instagram. There's no telling how long it will be popular for. Imagine instead if your story mentioned Vines. So attribute the actions to generic social media instead, to avoid those issues.

+ There's a little bit of fluff sort of writing. Consider what scenes are important and which are tacked on or need to be reworked. Does the main character need to walk to class with Duncan? Is the grandmother's response realistic? Why organise a doctor's appointment on the main character's birthday? etc

>> Style-wise
+ You do a lot of telling, mainly by using "ly" words. Shrilly, dully, warmly, jerkily etc. In moderation, "ly" words are great additions to a story to describe what is happening. However, when overused, they become repetitive, even though they are different words. Basically they become a lazy sort of fall-back. If you take the time to flesh out the word, I think it'll help the depth of your narrative.

Eg: Maryam said shrilly.

"shrilly" implies high-pitched. This already contradicts the use of "said", as shrill can also mean a cry. So either replace "said" with "cry" or rework "shrilly".

Eg: There was a shrill edge to Maryam's voice.

+ First person narration can be hard to pull off, as you're basically restricting the amount of knowledge to one character and that character needs to be fed information by infodumps through other characters. As a reader this can be difficult to follow/process if a lot of information is dumped at once, especially if another character spends a literal paragraph explaining things. I think you need to break up the explanation of Ella's secrets a bit more and have the main character exploring her feelings for each tidbit, especially as her explosion seems unwarranted.

+ This took me a while to learn as a writer, but Imogen sighed, "Ella's mother passed on." isn't technically possible. You can't really sigh a sentence. So any speech tag that doesn't involve actually speaking shouldn't be followed with quotation marks.

Eg: I smiled, "Yes!"

Would be incorrect, as you can't smile a yes.

Eg: "Yes," I laughed, "Of course!"

Is also incorrect, as you can't laugh sentences.

Eg: I smiled. "Of course!" Laughed and said, "Yes!"

Is fine.

>> Final Thoughts
You're clearly a fluent writer and you'll be going places, I'm sure. I hope this all helps! Cheers, Jai




Liberty says...


Thanks for the review! Definitely helps! :D



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Sorry, double post.




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JabberHut wrote a review...



HOLY WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT

omg Ella how have you kept all this stuff SECRET?? This is the kind of stuff that happens over several MONTHS and she didn't tell her friends at all?! why?! How is she so strong for so long??

I guess she kept herself busy with horseback riding and hanging out with her friends? D: I imagine she'd have shown hints of not wanting to go home at the very least, then. Maybe she's the kind of person that doesn't like to talk about herself?! So she always evades any personal questions along those lines, not wanting to talk about it but instead wanting to forget about it?

And I guess Maryam wasn't a good enough friend for Ella, so she started hanging out with Maddie instead, who is probably very good at keeping her friends busy. Poor Maryam, though, if that's the case. :( And IMOGEN is getting a really bad impression of Ella since she has no idea what Ella was like before she would hang out with Maddie.

Ella's mom was diagnosed with cancer, and then her dad divorced her. And then her mother lost any amount of custody for Ella, so her mom literally lost EVERYTHING before passing away alone. That is such a tragic story and I am so upset with Ella's father. Did he divorce her because she had cancer and didn't want to help with all the medical bills and things? Or did her mom force Ella and her father away from her now-complicated life so Ella could live a happy life without her? I feel like it was the former, but that's just going off the fact taht her dad didn't like Ella being in horseback riding either. That alone makes him sound rather selfish or at least irrational.

I feel like Ella's mom is the most tragic story in this whole novel so far. And the fact that this wasn't hinted or foreshadowed at all really punched me in the gut as much as it did for Julia. BUT! I feel like Julia's mother could potentially fill in as a pseudo-mother for Ella, which would be an awesome way for this all to tie together. Julia already hinted about that in this chapter, saying how both she and Ella now have deceased parents and complicated lives. Imagine if they found a solution together to live happily again!

What a sucky way to spend your birthday. :( I feel like Julia's mom and Grams would have something planned for her, like a cake or favorite dinner or something. But instead, she found out she needed glasses and that her ex-best friend went through a difficult time alone for months if not years. It's so sad to think about. I feel like Julia would feel a mixture of all sorts of depressing emotions as well as a bit of betrayal because Ella didn't trust her with any of that after everything they've been through. And OMG I just remembered, the start of this novel! Julia made a quip about not having a mother. ...How did that make Ella really feel? What a stab in the gut for Ella when Julia selfishly reminded them she had no mother. Apparently, neither did Ella.

Is that why Ella is so angry with Julia? Was Julia being a bit selfish on the mother subject, and now Ella's even more angry because Julia was absent from her life? Or is Ella being selfish now, searching desperately for attention to distract her from the way her life turned upside down? How is this friendship going to fix itself?? And how is Julia's birthday going to get betteR IT HAS TO GET BETTER SHE'S FOURTEEN NOOOOOOW. ;_;




Liberty says...


Lol, I just noticed how much clearer I have to make things. Ella's dad was beig selfish. He never like horses, and he didn't give a crap for Ella's mom's meds and all. And living with a selfish father really sucked up Ella's joy. She would stay away from home because she rode. And then poor Ella became as selfish as her father.



Liberty says...


Thanks for the review by the way!



JabberHut says...


omg that's so tragic! And I freaking love how this storyline was hidden beneath all the happenings, progressing behind the scenes without us really knowing at all. You gave us these little nuggets, hinting at Ella's progression through her negative transformation, and it's awesome how it just hit us with this punch to the gut. I never would have GUESSED, though, that it was because of conflict between her parents! It's all so tragic!



Liberty says...


So it's fine? Not too harsh?



JabberHut says...


Harsh is fine! As long as it makes sense leading up to the Big Reveal. :D

And I kinda like the idea of Julia gaining a mother while Ella loses one. I can already see this friendship getting patched up as a result, however it may play out.

I would probably ensure that there's enough clues regarding either the divorce, Ella's broken family, OR just her general secretive nature. We were led to believe Ella and Julia were really close, but there are certain behaviors to make note of if someone is thwarting any personal questions or feeling uncomfortable during certain topics, even having special insight on issues she probably normally wouldn't have. I wasn't really given any sort of insight on Ella's family, so it never occurred to me that this could be the reason for her transformation. And of course, the only really good time to show any sort of hint for her family is either the very beginning when Julia's at school or through a text conversation, and I don't think her text convos really touched on Ella's family at all.

I guess as you read or think through your novel, try ALSO considering Ella's point-of-view and her relationship with Julia (and Maryam). You don't need to WRITE in her point-of-view (a second PoV isn't really needed since this is still Julia's story), but just think about where ELLA'S at and how she's feeling in certain scenes or points of time. There's clearly a timeline of events in her own life that's affecting Julia just as much as Julia's life is affecting hers, and Julia is kind of the Nancy Drew here, trying to solve the mystery of what's wrong with Ella.



Liberty says...


Ah, I see. I'll be bugging you more when I get to draft 2. :p

Also, what about the pacing?? I feel like I'm rushing and sometimes I feel like a snail...



JabberHut says...


No problem! Bug away! :D

Generally, the pacing goes a bit quick, but I feel like it wasn't too glaring here! There was a lot of new information to take in, but you slowed down in the second half to allow Julia to think it all through with us. It's certainly a style choice as to whether you wanted to slow down the conversation a bit with Julia thinking through each new fact, to allow us to watch the progression of emotions through the Big Reveal of information. I'm a drama pig and love drawn out scenes like that, to drown myself in the characters' emotions. But it's not really necessary.

The pacing here was not as bad as you probably fear. Like I said, the fact that it slowed down in a way that allowed Julia to think things through was super helpful -- the bit after lunch, Duncan, and her journey home. Admittedly, I thought the very end would lead Julia into texting Duncan for a third party perspective and to allow even MORE piecing together of what she's learned, but I imagine that will come up later anyway. :D



Liberty says...


Okay, thanks! <3




The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.
— Fabienne Fredrickson