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Chapter 2 (part I)

by Bita

Alexis was standing behind Nayomis’s door exactly at 12pm on saturday. He rang the doorbell and was looking around. Nayomi and Nixon lived in a luxurious apartment building with really tight security. Nayomi had to tell the guard at the door that she was getting a visit so they would let Alexis in. The hallways had white walls and white marble floors, the hallways were sparkling clean and smelled a bit like chemicals. The doors were wooden, big and dark brown. Every door had a doorbell with a camera.

Nayomi opened the door and Alexis' observation came to an end.

“Hi” Alexis said, feeling a little nervous. Afterall it was his time at a girl's house. Even though the only thing they were gonna do was studying he still felt nervous.

“Come on in” Nayomi said, “would you like some coffee with cookies? I was just making some for myself” she continued.

“Yea I would like some” Alexis said, staring at Nayomi. He was still surprised at how different she was. It was like she had different personalities for different people and places. At school she was cold, with her brother she was quiet, as if her brother was a stranger. And now she seems relaxed, nice and almost friendly.

“What are you staring at?” Nayomi asked.

“How come you're so different at home and at school? I’m sure if you acted like this in school you’d be popular and have friends?” Alexis said.

“I don’t want to hang out with those people, the only reason they’d hang out with me is because they wanna associate themselves with someone that comes from a rich and well known family. I don’t wanna be used” Nayomi said as she was pouring the coffee.

“You know not everyone is like that, not everyone is out to get you or wants to use you” Alexis said.

“Look who’s talking, if we weren’t in the same class I would think you’re popular with lots of friends. But you don’t have any friends either. Why don't YOU make any friends?” Nayomi said, she started to get irritated. Alexis didn’t say anything, afterall she had a point, he was the last person who could criticize her for not making friends.

They sat down at the dining table and drank their coffee and ate their cookies. Alexis' attention was caught by a picture that hung on the wall. It was a family picture of her, Nixon and Nayomi’s parents. Nayomi looked exactly like her mom, she had dark brown hair with big light brown eyes, Nayomi’s skin was just a little darker than her mother’s. Both her parents were tall which explains why Nayomi is tall herself. That was the first time that Alexis really looked at Nayomi and observed her. Her hair was until her neck and she had bangs. She was tall, it was hard to see her body type since she always wore oversized clothes. “I guess she’s kinda cute” Alexis thought.

Nayomi noticed Alexis staring at the picture.

“Just a family picture” she said.

“How did they die if I may ask?” Alexis asked, trying to sound empathetic.

“My parents died in a car crash when I was 5 years old. Nixon's mom died of cancer when he was 10 years old. After our father died, Nixon inherited the company and became my guardian.”

She became soft spoken again when talking about Nixon, her head was down as if Nixon was there and listening. As if just talking about Nixon made her somehow uncomfortable.

“Wait… the oversized clothes, the fidgeting fingers and becoming a totally different person around Nixon. Maybe she wasn’t trying to act innocent around Nixon. Maybe she becomes so uncomfortable around him that she doesn't even wanna look at him and that's why her head is always down” Alexis started to connect the dots, “But this is Nixon we’re talking about, he seemed so nice and everybody loves and respects him. Could he actually be abusive at home? No that’s not possible…. But then again, why did she insist on meeting on a day he wasn’t home?”

“Come on, let's get started” Nayomi said.

For the next 3 hours they worked on their project, Alexis did the most thinking and came up with all the ideas, he was the top of the class and could become a little controlling during group projects, he was worried they wouldn’t get the highest grade so he preferred to do all the work himself. He would observe Nayomi during these 3 hours looking for some signs that would prove his theory of Nixon being abusive. He couldn’t find anything and was hoping he would never find anything. He didn’t want to believe that Nixon was abusive but he knew there was a possibility that he was.

It was 4 pm and time for Alexis to go home.

“Well we’re done with half of it, it’s easier than i thought” Alexis said, following a sigh of relief.

“You know next time we can work in the school library” Alexis said but then got reminded what happened to him last time he was there, “or at a cafe or at my house” he continued.

“Sure, your house sounds nice. We can work on Monday again since we finish school early” Nayomi said.

“Well see you on monday” Alexis said and left. He was walking towards the bus station when Robert appeared in front of him. Alexis' heart dropped when he saw Robert, his heart started racing, his footsteps got faster along with his breathing, “what’s he doing here? Did he follow me? Wait… does he know where Nayomi lives? Is he gonna do something to her? But he will never be able to get inside the building with the tight security it has”, as Alexis was deep in his thoughts Robert walked past him without doing anything or saying anything. He acted like Alexis didn’t even exist, “maybe he didn’t notice me, but it’s impossible that he missed me. We almost bumped into each other”, Alexis thought to himself. He wanted to text Nayomi, but he didn’t know what to text her.

#Hey, Robert is in your neighborhood so be careful# or #Just so you know Robert is in your neighborhood#

But it all seemed pointless, Nayomi wasn’t scared of Robert, Alexis was. And he was just projecting that fear on her. He felt embarrassed by how a girl stood up for herself in front of Robert and his friends but he couldn't, partially because he didn’t want to get in trouble with school and cause troubles for his parents and partially because he had no balls to go against Robert and his friends.

“Pathetic” he mumbled to himself. Alexis got on the bus and the thoughts of Robert quickly got replaced by Nayomi.

Alexis thought about Nayomi on the bus ride, he thought about her offering him coffee and cookies and smiled for himself. It made him feel special, the fact that he got to see a side of Nayomi that no one at school has seen, or the fact that he’s probably the only person from school Nayomi has offered coffee and cookies to.

His happy and proud expression turned into a worried expression when he thought about Nixon and the fact that he could be an abuser despite his reputation in the community and how kind he seems. 

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551 Reviews

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Reviews: 551

Thu Jun 09, 2022 7:46 pm
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RandomTalks wrote a review...


RandomTalks here with a short review!

I skimmed through the first chapter of your novel to get a proper idea about the story. So far, I really like the way you have been developing the characters and their stories. The main character's stream of thoughts is very clear and it helps us get a real sense of his personality. There was a lot of angst in his narration but I really like the moments where we get to see the soft and vulnerable side of him as well.

For example, there was a scene in the first chapter where he went to pick up his sister from school and she was enthusiastically recounting her day to him. In that moment, Alexis draws certain comparisons between the two of them and we can see his love and affection for his sister when he pats her head gently. Moments like these really humanizes your character and highlights the dynamics he shares with other people as well. I feel like you could focus on these side characters as well instead of just running with Alexis's thoughts and the events that involve the repeating characters of the story.

Your narration is mostly direct and easy to follow. However, it can feel a little monotonous at times especially because of the lack of space between Alexis's thoughts and observations. For example, here:

The hallways had white walls and white marble floors, the hallways were sparkling clean and smelled a bit like chemicals. The doors were wooden, big and dark brown. Every door had a doorbell with a camera.

I see that Mailice has already pointed this out, but it is a recurrent theme in your narration. This section mostly deals with some much necessary description, but the way you have written it, it feels a little bland and objective. The descriptions are a little repetitive, with some words like 'hallways' and 'doors' being used twice , sometimes in the same sentence. Here, you can go into the finer details of the descriptions and really play around with some adjectives to actually engage the reader's imagination. Otherwise, it makes for a rather still and plain picture that does not leave any significant impression on the readers.

I like the way you have been developing Nayomi's character and her relationship with Alexis as well. She is a strong and intriguing character that makes the readers want to know more about her. I liked the way you have established the different side of herself that she reveals to different people; however, I think you could have done it in a less obvious way. It was interesting to see Alexis connect the dots in his own words, but I think subtlety would have made this new development even more impactful. For example,
As if just talking about Nixon made her somehow uncomfortable.

I liked this sentence because it wasn't a direct physical observation that seemed to have been put there simply for our benefit. Rather it was an assumption that Alexis made almost hesitantly while observing her behaviorisms. It feels far more significant than the stream of conclusions Alexis draws in the next moment. You have probably heard of the expression, 'show, don't tell'. And here, I think it would have worked better if you had shown us the subtle signs of Nayomi living in an abusive environment, rather than having the main character tell us that her brother might be abusive.

I liked the way you had built it until this moment, especially the little details like her not wanting to call Alexis over when her brother was at home. These details might not be as obvious as the major character change she has around her brother, but they are far more profound in the way they give us an idea of the paranoia that she might be living with.

Mailice has already commented about the writing, so I am not going into that. I do think that you would benefit from spacing out the narration a little instead of just running with the MC's thoughts. You can include some descriptions or perhaps cover some scenes that are not directly related to the plot of the story but for helping us better understand the characters. Otherwise, it feels like every sentence of the story is there to move the plot along and it might not make the ride all that enjoyable or meaningful for the readers.

That's all!

I hope this review was somewhat helpful. And I hope that I get to read more chapters from you as well!

Keep writing and have a great day!

That's all!

Bita says...

Thank you! I appreciate the feedback. It really helps a lot.

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Tue May 24, 2022 4:16 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...

Hi Bita,

Mailice back with a short review! :D

Let's continue where I left off in the last review! :D In contrast to the previous part, I noticed something here, especially because it's not just dialogue that we have; you kind of have a little problem keeping the story alive once you get to longer pauses. It's still got that style that I described in the last review, but it's clearly noticeable that sometimes you fall into a bit of a valley when you read some things for a longer time.

Alexis was standing behind Nayomis’s door exactly at 12pm on saturday.

Firstly, you can see some small spelling mistakes here, like with the upper and lower case spelling. I think it really helps to just read over it after mam is done, especially because this is the very first sentence in the story.

He rang the doorbell and was looking around. Nayomi and Nixon lived in a luxurious apartment building with really tight security. Nayomi had to tell the guard at the door that she was getting a visit so they would let Alexis in. The hallways had white walls and white marble floors, the hallways were sparkling clean and smelled a bit like chemicals.

I'm also jumping right on here, to the rest of the section, because you manage to somehow fall too much into a simplistic and passive way here that makes the explanations boring. You manage here not to directly build up the tension that you already do with the characters and the plot so far. Because we are still in the first section, I think you scare away too much new readers because of the way you write. I would recommend you to go a bit further into the narrative, to describe it, especially in combination with the characters, or to go deeper into the adjectives to make it more vivid. Here it seems as if you have been writing for a long time and have lost energy, which is how this section came about.

Later on, you sometimes notice that you've lost a bit of "air". It's not directly a problem, but it seems as if you're not directly experiencing something new.

From a plot point of view, I like the development of going a little deeper into the backstory, but we have two things that are important in writing; the story and the writing. And the writing really seems like a big swell here and that also gives me a strange feeling when I read it.

For the next 3 hours they worked on their project,

Here I would write out the "3".

All in all, it's an interesting story, but it still lacks a bit of that polish that gets the whole thing rolling. But I think you're only at the beginning of your writing career, so I think you should just keep writing! :D

Have fun writing!


Bita says...

Thank you so much for the feedback!

The adjective should reinvent the noun.
— Leslie Norris