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Dark Corners, Bright Spaces: 1.1 (Luna)

by Carlito

Hi, thanks for reading! This is a first draft and I am looking mostly for big picture comments! I really want your thoughts about the characters, pacing, story arcs, structure, etc. I’m also working on achieving deep POV and would love your thoughts on both Luna and Peter’s voice (depending on who is narrating), where I can show more instead of tell, and where I may be able to achieve a deeper POV.

Please be honest!! I’m not easily offended!

Thanks so much


Chapter One


Twenty minutes remained in my final period technology class, and so far no students had come to the computer help desk with a forgotten password or messed up student email.

Jai and Wesley messed around at one of the back stations, as per normal. On slow days like today, our teacher advisor, Ms. Sharon, kept us busy by having us work on a personal project related to information technology to present at the end of the term.

I absentmindedly clicked around on the school-issued laptop computer I used for school, wishing I was allowed to remote into the desktop I built at home, just for something to do. I was still brainstorming what I wanted to complete my senior project on, but I wasn’t concerned. It was barely November. I had all year. Plus, I’d always been a favorite of Ms. Sharon.

“Luna,” Jared said from the back. “Has Ms. Sharon gotten back to you about whether we’re going to be working on all those chrome books for Arbor Elementary?”

He, unlike Jai and Wesley, was equally passionate about computers as me. We took all the same computer classes, but as much as he tried, he could never quite catch my grades which was why Ms. Sharon elected me as the student in charge in this class over him.

I clicked over to my email and did a quick search. “She did, but we still don’t have a clear answer. The district definitely wants us to help with some, but they haven’t specified how many. I think it’ll depend on how many computers at the elementary need to be replaced, which they’re still doing inventory on.”

“Man they’re not going to give us a lot of time to get organized if that’s the case.”

“We have a few weeks,” I reminded him. “And it should be a pretty easy job once we actually get our hands on the new computers.” All we were being tasked to do was set up the security settings and prepare them for students to use before they went over to the elementary school. It wasn’t going to be hard.

“Okay,” He said and turned back to his screen. Sometimes I wondered if he was trying to impress me by staying on top of every minute detail that happened at the help desk or if he thought I wasn’t up to the task.

Fifteen minutes left in the school day.

Someone rang the bell at our front desk, directing my attention away from Jared. Standing at the front desk was a guy I vaguely recognized. He wasn’t in any of my classes this semester and I couldn’t quite place him. I’d probably either had a class with him previously or saw him around the lunch room or something.

“Good afternoon,” I said. “How can we help?”

He looked me over top to bottom, as if he couldn’t believe a girl sat at the IT help desk. While I was used to this kind of treatment, I still had to refrain from rolling my eyes. It never got less annoying that in the twenty-first century it still came as a surprise that girls knew something about computers.

“I know you guys only work on school computers, but I was told someone here has a company called L.L. Technology and that they might be able to help with my personal computer.”

I stuck out my hand to shake. “Luna Lynch, L.L. Technology.”

“Oh.” He didn’t shake my hand and I let it fall back to my lap.

“What seems to be the problem?”

He took a second taking his laptop out of his backpack and I grabbed one of my fliers with my pricing from the pile and slid it towards him. Ms. Sharron loved that I started my own business last year and let me hand out fliers and take on projects for my business that were out of the scope of what we were supposed to work on during class time.

“It honestly might be nothing,” He said as he set the computer on the desk. “The antivirus I have on it is really outdated and I think it has some kind of virus or malware or something on it.”

“What makes you think that?” I grabbed one of the ticket forms from another stack and began to write down the information he provided.

“I don’t know,” He shifted his weight, “it’s just acting weird?”

“Anything specific you can think of?

“Nothing I can think of offhand.”

“Do you know what antivirus you have on your computer and the last time it did a scan?”

“Um, I think I have Norton but it expired like four months ago and I forgot to load a new version.”

“And when did you first start noticing issues with your computer?”

“Within the last couple of days really.”

I scrubbed down all of his answers. “Have you done anything recently that might have exposed you to a virus or to malware like clicking on a suspicious email, going to an untrusted site, watching porn, anything?”

He blushed. The number of computers I’d had to clean up after a guy swore up and down he didn’t watch porn, but also didn’t know how to properly clear their search history, could probably pay for have my college tuition alone.

“No nothing like that,” He said.

I stared, not quite believing him, but also not needing to press the point since the truth always came out without fail. If I knew ahead of time it could direct me a little and I’d have a better sense of what I was getting into, but not knowing the context wouldn’t be a detriment to my work.

“Okay,” I scribbled a few numbers on the ticket. “I can get a fresh version of Norton installed for this price, which is the cost of Norton.”

I pointed to the top number I wrote down. “I charge $25 an hour for students. I don’t expect the download, running the scan, and taking care of whatever problems that come up will take more than an hour or two. However, if it looks like there is a virus or a more serious problem, I’ll text you and ask how you’d like to proceed and what the cost will look like at that point.”

I pointed to the bottom number. “All together, this is your total as of now based on the cost of the new Norton and two hours of work max. I take a half payment at the time I start, and for it to be paid in full when I’m finished and adjusted for how much time I actually spend on the computer.”

“That’s fine. Do you think I’ll have it back by tomorrow?”

“Assuming it’s as simple as I think it is, just a basic virus scan and probably some cookies or spyware to clean up, yes. If it turns out there’s a virus, depending on how complex it is, it may take me some time to figure it out, but I’ll stay in communication with you either way.”

I slid the ticket towards him so he could finish filling in all of the critical information like his name, phone number, and address. I was always so bad at remembering to ask customer’s those questions. It was so much easier having them fill it all out themselves.

“What do I do at school tomorrow if it’s not fixed?” He asked, looking over the paper I gave him again.

“It probably will be, but if not you can always stop by the help desk tomorrow morning and pick up a school computer to borrow. Do you need to grab any assignments or anything off of it that you’ll need by tomorrow?”

“No, that’s fine.” He filled out the rest of the ticket.

“I have two other computers in my queue right now, but I should be able to get this done tonight too, but like I said, I’ll keep you posted on what I find.

“Okay cool.” He slung his backpack over his shoulder and grabbed his wallet from his back pocket, handing over the first half of the payment with crisp bills.

Not a lot of kids carried around cash, let alone fresh, crisp cash in a leather wallet. As soon as he walked away, without so much as a thank you, I glanced at the ticket he finished filling out to see where he lived.

I knew most of the streets and neighborhoods in the area because I rode my bike around so much going to help my customers. I recognized his street as being a part of the Fox Stone neighborhood and I had to laugh. Fox Stone was one of the nicest neighborhoods in the township.

“Who was that jerk?” Jared asked. He must have heard enough of our exchange to care.

I never actually got his name, so I had to look down at the ticket he filled you. “Peter York,” I said.

“Man, I would have said he’s on his own with that attitude.”

I shrugged. It didn’t make it okay, but I was used to people doubting my abilities because I happened to be a girl. “I have a business to run. If I turned away every asshole, I wouldn’t have a business.”

The bell rang. Jai and Wesley stopped play fighting, snatched their bags, and were out the door in five seconds flat.

I put the ticket in my laptop case and carefully packed my laptop inside.

“Need any help?” Jared asked as I put my backpack on and strapped my laptop bag over one shoulder and across my body.

“No, I’m fine, thanks though.” I’d hold Peter’s laptop loose until I got home. “I’ve got to catch my bus, so see you tomorrow.”

“Bye Luna, good luck with that computer.”

I smiled his direction as I headed out the door and into the congested hallway. I always hated the end of the day when I had to leave the nice, quiet computer help desk and be thrusted back into the swarm of my loud, at time obnoxious classmates fighting their way out the doors.

I had to stop by my locker to grab my coat and had to shift my backpack, computer bag, and stray computer around. Someone bumped into me, no doubt an accident in the rush to the buses, car line, and parking lot.

My bus was always the fourth one in line - 7793. A slight bite in the air nipped at my cheeks as I boarded the bus and said my customary hello to Mr. Tom, our driver.

Most seniors sat in the back. I took my usual seat in row 29 and waited for my friend Savannah to show up. She lived down the street from me and we became friends mostly due to proximity.

The bus filled up with the usual overly loud classmates I tried to avoid in the neighborhood as much as possible. If I wasn’t out on my bike drumming up business, I preferred to stay inside my house to avoid the drama.

Savannah slid into the seat beside me and jammed her backpack down between her knees, accidentally ramming me into my laptop bag that I had against the window. “What a day,” She sighed.

“Hey Savannah, you coming over later or what?” Someone from the back row called out.

She turned in her seat and yelled, “Shut the hell up Jaiden. No one wants to be with you so stop pretending.”

Jaiden slunk back in his seat while the back half of the bus collectively let out an “ooooooooh”.

“Language in the back!” Mr. Tom called back. Nothing got past his ears.

“Are you working tonight?” Savannah asked me as the bus pulled out of the parking lot.

“I’m always working.” I reminded her. College wasn’t going to pay for itself.

“Can I come over later if my mom’s boyfriend comes over? I truly cannot stand him.”

“Of course,” I said. “You know my parents never care.” She usually came over a few times a week, whenever things got too intense in her house.

“You’re the best.”

Mr. Tom pulled into Treasure Knoll Mobile Home Community. Home.

We rumbled past the rows of single and double-wide trailers to the first stop at the back of the property to let out the first batch of people, myself and Savannah included. Then he’d loop around and drop everyone else off near the front of the property.

Free from the ears of Mr. Tom, Jaiden gave it one more try and said, “You know you want this Savannah.”

She shot daggers from her eyes. “Don’t make me knock your teeth out in front of all your stupid friends.”

The friends still hanging around Jaiden laughed while he smirked and motioned her closer. “I’d love to see you try.”

It was far too cold to be hanging outside giving any attention to this jerk. Savannah glared at him and before she could lunge and actually do some damage, I grabbed her arm and marched down the street the opposite direction towards our houses. The guys were still laughing and hollering behind us but thankfully didn’t follow.

“What’s his deal?” I asked her once we were a safe distance away. He’d never given her this much trouble before.

“Same old, same old,” She grimaced. “He heard me ask Amara if I could come by if I need to, and for unknown reasons he seemed to think I was talking to him.” Savannah had a nice rotation of people in the neighborhood she could turn to.

We turned the corner down our street. Her mom was standing on the front stoop of their single trailer chain smoking cigarettes even though it was cold outside. One of Savannah’s little sisters had asthma, so they tried to keep the smoke out of the house.

Savannah sighed, “I’ll text you.” She walked up the porch steps and let herself in without her mom saying so much as a word.

Our single trailer was five down from hers. I walked the rest of the way on my own and let myself in with the key I kept in my computer case. My mom’s car sat in the driveway, it was her day off, but my dad and brother wouldn’t be off work until later.

I locked the door behind me and stepped into our combined living room/kitchen. My mom was stretched out on the couch watching her favorite afternoon talk shows.

“Hey mom,” I kicked off my shoes.

She immediately sat up. “Hi baby! How was your day?”

“Fine. I got another computer to work on.”

“Oh, that’s great! How much are you going to get for it?”

“It’s a student, so a little less than my normal rate, but it’ll be a decent amount.”

“That’s good, that’s good. Anything yet about the scholarship?”

I shook my head. “They’re announcing the semi-finalists next month, so I probably won’t hear anything until then.”

My shoulder started to ache from carrying my computer bag across one shoulder, so I excused myself to drop my things off in my room. I turned down the short hallway to the right of the door, past the smaller of the two bedrooms on this side of the house and the bathroom, to my room at the very end of the hall. I got the bigger of the two “kid rooms” because I used to have to share with my older sister Lacey, and when she moved out I never switched with my brother.

I dropped Peter’s computer on my desk and set my backpack and computer bag next to my bed. I had one small window that overlooked the street. The house across the street from ours was a single mom with a young daughter who never caused any issues. I thought the people in the house on the other side of her though were selling drugs or something because they always had people coming and going out of there, but that wasn’t my business.

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19 Reviews

Points: 1115
Reviews: 19

Sun Nov 22, 2020 4:57 am
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MadilynReads wrote a review...

I loved the character building and dialogue of your piece! Luna is a pretty relatable character and everything is pretty realistic. One thing I was confused about was the layout of the computer room, is it a normal classroom or some sort of office/help desk. Just a little hard to make a mental picture, however, the characters are amazing! A few minor tips that I watch out for when I write, try not to emphasize too much how loud and obnoxious the fellow students are, this is very tempting to describe because of personal experience, but it detracts from the fact that Luna likely expects everyone to already understand the annoyance level of school. Also unless the person bumping into her is part of the plot, just make it shorter, less of an event, maybe like, “someone bumped into me on their way out the door” or something. If that is an important part of the plot though, that is a very good way to help readers remember it when it comes back up. Over all, I love the characters and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Carlito says...

Hey Madilyn!! Welcome to YWS and thank you for the review!!
I almost always have to go back and add more description when I edit and I'll definitely add in more detail about what the computer room looks like :)

Would you like me to tag you when I add more chapters?

MadilynReads says...

Yes please!

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Tue Nov 10, 2020 5:20 am
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Mea wrote a review...

Hi Carlito! I'm finally here for a review on this (and I'm frankly shocked it's still in the Green Room haha). I know this is a first draft so I probably won't be too nitpicky and will mostly give you reader reactions.

So first off, this is interesting, because I was super excited when I heard your pitch for this story because you know, I'm a computer girl myself, but even just from this chapter it's already clear to me that she's actually fairly far out of my area of expertise - I'm a Computer Science major while she's definitely more on the IT side. So while I'll keep an eye out through the story for anything that seems off, I'll also probably be learning some stuff.

I found the start fairly slow the first time I read through this last week, but then when I came back today it read okay now that I'm more settled. I felt like the bus ride home was especially slow, since it's such a normal activity and was relatively uneventful except for the exposition.

My impression of Peter was vague but overall positive. I don't really get why Jared called him a jerk. Other than the double-take-because-girl/not shaking hands thing, it mostly just seemed like he was socially awkward and uncomfortable, honestly like how I am every time I go to buy something or get a service done somewhere new, and like he was rushing through the interaction because he was unsure of himself. So if he's supposed to come off as a jerk, it might need to be a little stronger.

$25/hr seems pretty high, especially for a discounted student rate - I wonder how she gets a lot of business. Then again, I'd expect it's still cheaper than going to an actual repair shop. I also thought it was pretty funny that Peter's response when asked what's wrong is just that it's being weird, because that is such an unhelpful but also extremely typical response. I'm a bit surprised Luna didn't press further so she could at least get an idea of what Peter's expecting her to fix. Even though she can look at the computer herself later, she'll have a hard time narrowing down the problem without at least knowing what apps he was using when he noticed it was being weird. The more information she can get, the more time she'll save.

I like Savannah's spunk. She reminds me of Liz, actually, plus a bit of Cherry. I'll be curious to see what her role is going forward.

Well, I don't have too much else to say here. This is getting off to a nice start, though I'm not quite feeling the focused direction yet. Can't wait to see more of Peter! (And to find out what's wrong with his computer... it probably says a lot about me as a tech person that that's the most interesting problem in the novel to me right now lol.)

Carlito says...

Thank you <3
100% agree it starts slow and there's a lot of exposition. When all else fails in a first draft - meaningless dialogue or endless exposition :p

Fabulous notes so far!!

Savannah as a combo of Liz & Cherry. Now that you say that.... she... might be??

And oh don't you worry, the thing that is wrong with Peter's computer will be QUITE important to the story ;)

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Mon Nov 02, 2020 12:44 pm
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IcyFlame wrote a review...

Hey Carli <3

I'm going to try ticking this off my to-do list today! I'm not sure when I'll get to part two, but it's definitely on my radar. NaNo slows down all of my other reviewing.

I'll try and focus on the big picture stuff as requested, but I'm going to mention a couple of other little things (that I'm sure you'd catch in an edit, but just in case)

I absentmindedly clicked around on the school-issued laptop computer I used for school,

A school issued laptop computer for school is a super long winded and repetitive description ;)

All we were being tasked to do was set up the security settings and prepare them for students to use before they went over to the elementary school.

Wow, don't they pay people to do that professionally?

“I know you guys only work on school computers, but I was told someone here has a company called L.L. Technology and that they might be able to help with my personal computer.”

I stuck out my hand to shake. “Luna Lynch, L.L. Technology.”

“Oh.” He didn’t shake my hand and I let it fall back to my lap.

This is some good character building for Luna.

“And when did you first start noticing issues with your computer?”

“Within the last couple of days really.”

He noticed issues but he can't specify what they are? That seems a little odd!

I never actually got his name, so I had to look down at the ticket he filled you.

I think this should be 'filled out'.

Ok, so big picture comments. The start was a little slow, but I liked the little interesting nuggets of information you were starting to slip in, like the owning her own business. Luna's voice isn't super unique yet, although I could see the start of her personality forming in the last few paragraphs so hopefully it's bit clearer in your second section.

I got a bit confused having a Jared, Jai and Jaiden introduced all in one chapter. The names were very similar and especially Jai, who didn't have any key moments in the chapter, kind of got lost in the sea of names. If you're not tied to these names, perhaps you could change Jai?

I already like Savannah's character though! She was the one that really stood out for me, threatening to punch a bot in the teeth! More of her please <3 It was also really good for Luna's character to be around Savannah I think, as it helped with the contrast between the two of them.

Overall a good first draft, if a little slow at the beginning. I'm looking forward to reading Peter's PoV because he didn't really get much of a chance to shine in this part.

Hope this helped <3


Carlito says...

Wow, don't they pay people to do that professionally?

They honestly might, I was trying to think of things to keep them occupied in this class :p (But also the class might also set the computers up to get experience).

100% agree that it starts slow and Luna's voice is flat.

And 100% agree on all the character names. I think I was just throwing people in the mix to see who sticks and ends up being important :p (and literally didn't even notice I had a Jai and a Jaiden lol)

I'm glad you like Savannah so far! The story will pick up, I promise :)

Thank you for reading!! <3

He who knows only his own generation remains forever a child.
— Cicero