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Burnt Matches. Chapter One.

by Winchester


This is something new I'm working on, as per usual. So I don't really know what to think of this, or where I'm going with this, or if it's any good and yeah.

Riley looked down at the bowl full of dry cornflakes and sighed. “Again? Seriously?” She wondered out loud, attempting to figure out how a family of four could go through a four litre bottle of milk in a day and a half. She took the bowl and poured the cornflakes into the bin instead of returning them back to the box, deciding to skip breakfast.

Her Mother came down the stairs as Riley was searching for the groceries list, cursing in Spanish and then wishing her daughter a good morning. “Mom, I think you forget that you’ve taught me fluent Spanish since I was adopted which was basically…” She pretended to think for a moment “birth, anyway we’re out of milk again, I was going to go and get the groceries” Riley told her Mum.

“How did we manage to run out of milk?” Her Mom wondered pulling a face somewhere between confused and disgusted, by Riley’s guess she’d probably planned to have the same breakfast she had. “Also, you need to pick up your Meds” She reminded her daughter.

Riley nodded, pulling the grocery list that had been stuck on the fridge the whole time. Grabbing a pen off the sideboard and scribbling ‘REMEMBER: ANTI-DEPRESSENTS’ in the remaining space. Remembering again, that she was the only person out of her Mother, Father and Brother who didn’t refer to them as her ‘Meds’.

She put the pen back, and headed upstairs – leaving a kiss on her Mothers cheek and running up the stairs to her room. On her way, she knocked on her Brother – Cristian’s door like she did whenever she woke up before him. He swore, his voice muffled by his pillow. “Definitely hung-over” She muttered to herself before turning into her room.

She picked up the first shirt and the first pair of jeans she saw, and threw them on – chances were that she wouldn’t see anyone she knew at the store, and if she did they wouldn’t say anything…the whole area thought she was boarder line psychotic because she took a few pills every day.

Talking of pills, the last two anti-depressants sat at the bottom of the bottle that Riley kept on her desk, she tipped them into her hand and stared at them for a moment. Part of her wanted to shove them in her pocket and throw them in the trash can on her way to the store, but she wasn’t going to get ‘better’ that way. She forced them down her throat, accompanied by the water from the glass that was still there from the night before.

She sat for another moment before gently brushing through her hair, the blonde curls that had been tight the day before fell loosely down her back – only to be tied up in a messy bun. Riley didn’t bother with make-up and left the room, giving Cristian’s door another knock and earning another line of profanities.

She ran down the stairs, and grabbed the shopping list and money her Mother had left out – shoving it into her pocket and shouting a good-bye to whoever was awake. Cristian appeared at the top of the stairs, his eyes still half shut. Riley turned round to look at him. “Just how smashed did you get last night?” She asked him, he’d asked her earlier on in the evening to leave the door open for him – knowing he’d be too drunk to open the door himself.

“Very” Cristian replied, Riley shook her head at her brother and laughed. He stumbled and managed the catch the family photo he knocked off the wall. The photo was more of a family joke, Riley was adopted by the Santiago’s a few weeks after she was born – she had been left with nothing apart from the name ‘Riley Austin’ and the dress she was left outside the hospital in.

The Santiago’s was a well-known Mexican family in the part of San Diego they resided, she was the odd-one out, her blonde hair and pale skin against their dark hair and tanned skin. Of course, they lost the good reputation when Riley ‘went off the rails’ as she once heard someone describe it.

The photo looked nothing like a family photo, it looked like Riley had just walked onto the set and they’d put up with her because they were too nice to say that she didn’t belong. Mr and Mrs Santiago stood together smiling, while Riley and Cristian sat back to back laughing.

Cristian adjusted the photo into its original position. “Go get some Anadin and coffee before Mum see’s you” Riley advised, picking up a hoodie from the back of the door and leaving the house. She put the hood up, but left it unzipped – and made her way to the store with her hands tucked into the pockets.

19 years and she still felt like she was going to get mugged in an area that wasn’t even dangerous.

It started to rain and she jogged the rest of the way – she just gone through the automatic doors of the shop when she collided with a dark haired boy. “Sorry!” She apologised suddenly, looking up at the taller, admittedly good-looking stranger.

“Its fine” He smiled, before walking off – leaving Riley somewhat stunned. She to the back of the store first, where the chemist was, she was told that the meds would be ready in about fifteen minutes. She set off around the store, only realising when she was stood in an empty aisle that she felt someone was watching her. Riley looked around repeatedly but there was never anyone there.

She walked around the store with the basket in one hand and the list in the other, reading off the items she still had to buy out loud to herself. Even when she was in an aisle full of people she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was being watched. Suddenly, the boy she had crashed into appeared by her side.

For a moment they both stood side by side, before he turned to her. “Hey, do you know where the milk aisle is?” He asked. “I just moved here, my name’s Blaine”

He spoke quickly, and sounded nervous. “I’ll show you, this place can get confusing – I was away for a few years and I came back and felt like I’d never stepped foot in it before” She said, as she lead him to the aisle, Blaine laughed. “There we go” She said, pointing to the milk.

He thanked her and smiled. “I should really go” She lied, before spinning round on her heel and heading to the checkout. She kept looking behind her as the cashier scanned her items – Blaine stared blankly at the milk. There’s definitely something strange about him she thought, he turned away from milk and looked at her. Riley wanted to look away, but she handed the money over to the cashier with her eyes glued to Blaine – they were meters away from each other, but she could see sympathy in his eyes.

But why sympathy?

He smiled and walked away, she turned back to the girl – not much older than Riley’s 19 year old self who was asking if she needed help with her packing. Again, Riley was left with the feeling that someone was watching her. She shook it off as she packed the groceries, but still jogged home feeling more paranoid than usual, looking straight ahead and not daring looking down any side alleys.

Riley dumped the groceries on the table, right next to them was a bright green sticky note. ‘Emergency with the cat, we’ll be home in a few hours – Love Mom’. It must have been serious if everyone had to go, but Mrs Santiago’s over-sized cursive left no room to say what had happened to the family cat – Bartholomew. Riley shrugged, and reached into her hoodie pocket for her keys, but instead pulling out a small card that she was sure wasn’t there before she left.

You might want to talk. Blaine.

He’d left his phone number underneath, Riley stared at the card quizzically. How did he even sneak it into her pocket? Without thinking she picked up her phone and typed in the number, holding it up to her ear.

We’re sorry to inform you that this number is currently busy

“Give me your number, but don’t answer your phone. Smart” Riley mumbled to herself. She put Blaine’s number in her back jeans pocket and laid down on the sofa. The tiredness came too quickly after closing her eyes, she thought about how one day sleepless nights and nightmares were going to be the death of her.

Suddenly and all at once, the feeling of being watched returned once again. She laid there trying to mentally make it go away for almost ten minutes with her eyes shut before she realised the only way she’d feel safe is if the TV was on – and of course, the remote was on the other side of the living room.

She lifted herself up, but before she opened her eyes – she was pushed back down. Not roughly, it was gentle. She wanted to scream, but a cloth was placed tightly over her mouth. Within seconds it was completely dark.


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Sun Feb 24, 2013 4:40 pm
niteowl wrote a review...



Hello redvine! Overall, this is an interesting story. I definitely was not expecting the twist at the end. Wherethewindgoes pretty much got the grammar stuff, so I'm mainly going to point out some inconsistencies.

First off, you use some British terms, which is weird for a story that takes place in California. In America, the chemist is called the pharmacy and it's staffed by pharmacists. Also, she mentions Anadin, which I had to look up. It's only sold in the UK and Ireland. Some comparable medicines might be Excedrin, Advil, or Tylenol? Not sure how any of those help with a hangover though.

“I’ll show you, this place can get confusing – I was away for a few years and I came back and felt like I’d never stepped foot in it before”


This confused me because I didn't know if she was away because of her mental breakdown. There's no way she'd be in a hospital that long. Speaking from personal experience, inpatient stays these days tend to last a few weeks at most. A depressed person could probably get out sooner unless they're very psychotic. Or was she away for some other reason? It might be good to clarify at some point.

Overall, this is an interesting story. Good job and keep writing! :)




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Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:51 pm
Wherethewindgoes wrote a review...



This is interesting, certainly. I like the excitement in the chapter, and how you quickly caught the readers' attention.

There are a lot of sentence-level things I think should be changed:


Riley looked down at the bowl full of dry cornflakes and sighed.


Hmm. Are you sure this is the most exciting line with which to start? Perhaps you could begin with something about her medical condition, which seems to be a central aspect of her life.

Her Mother


"Mother" shouldn't be capitalized. "Mom", "mother", and "mum" (or, for that matter, "dad" or "father") should only be capitalized when used as a proper noun, i.e. in place of the character's name (I talked to Mom). When it is her mom, it shouldn't be capitalized.

since I was adopted which was basically…” She pretended to think for a moment “birth


There should be another ellipsis or a comma between "moment" and "'birth'".

anyway we’re out of milk again, I was going to go and get the groceries” Riley told her Mum.


There should be a comma after "groceries." Also, "Mum" shouldn't be capitalized.

Her Mom


"Her" shouldn't be capitalized; pronouns in dialogue tags don't need to be capitalized.
Also, "Mom" should be lowercase as well.

wondered pulling a face somewhere between confused and disgusted, by Riley’s guess she’d probably planned to have the same breakfast she had.


Both the clause before the sentence and the one after are independent, meaning the comma should be a semi-colon or a period.

“Also, you need to pick up your Meds” She reminded her daughter.


Firstly, put a comma after "Meds" to correctly punctuate the dialogue. Also, "Meds" shouldn't be capitalized, and neither should "She."

Grabbing a pen off the sideboard and scribbling ‘REMEMBER: ANTI-DEPRESSENTS’ in the remaining space.


This isn't a complete sentence. Either combine this one with the previous one or change "scribbling" to "she scribbled" (adding a comma before "she"). Also, that should be "DEPRESSANTS."

Remembering again, that she was the only person out of her Mother, Father and Brother who didn’t refer to them as her ‘Meds’.


Neither is this. Either combine this with the previous or next sentence or change "remembering" to "she remembered." Also, the comma after "again" isn't needed. Also, "Meds" shouldn't be capitalized.

She put the pen back, and headed upstairs


No comma is necessary.

On her way, she knocked on her Brother – Cristian’s door like she did whenever she woke up before him.


That should be "brother" with no capital letters. Also, an em-dash is used for a break in a sentence - like this. This sentence does not need one; it fine simple as "she knocked on her brother Cristian's door."

He swore, his voice muffled by his pillow. “Definitely hung-over” She muttered to herself before turning into her room.


Firstly, there should be a comma after "hungover" (which is one word). Also, "she" shouldn't be capitalized. Also, you might want to consider putting the dialogue in a new paragraph.

She picked up the first shirt and the first pair of jeans she saw, and threw them on


The comma here isn't necessary.

boarder line psychotic because she took a few pills every day.


I think that would be borderline which is one word and has no "a".

the last two anti-depressants sat at the bottom of the bottle that Riley kept on her desk, she tipped them into her hand and stared at them for a moment.


This is a comma splice; the comma here should be a semi-colon or period, or a conjunction such as "and" should be added after the comma.

She sat for another moment before gently brushing through her hair, the blonde curls that had been tight the day before fell loosely down her back – only to be tied up in a messy bun.


This is also a comma splice. The comma after "hair" should be a period or semi-colon, or a conjunction should be added. Also, the dash probably should be a comma.

She ran down the stairs, and grabbed the shopping list and money her Mother had left out – shoving it into her pocket and shouting a good-bye to whoever was awake.


The comma here isn't necessary. Also, the dash here should probably be a comma.

“Just how smashed did you get last night?” She asked him, he’d asked her earlier on in the evening to leave the door open for him – knowing he’d be too drunk to open the door himself.


This would also be a comma splice. Also, when "she" is right after the dialogue, it shouldn't be capitalized.

“Very” Cristian replied, Riley shook her head at her brother and laughed.


Firstly, the dialogue needs a comma at the end, inside the quotation marks. Also, this is a comma splice as well.

The photo was more of a family joke, Riley was adopted by the Santiago’s a few weeks after she was born...


And...this would also be a comma splice. Also, that should be "Santiagos" with no apostrophe: it's plural, not possessive.

The Santiago’s


No apostrophe here, either.

The Santiago's was a well-known Mexican family in the part of San Diego they resided, she was the odd-one out, her blonde hair and pale skin against their dark hair and tanned skin.


Another comma splice here.

Of course, they lost the good reputation when Riley ‘went off the rails’ as she once heard someone describe it.


There should be a comma after "rails."

"Go get some Anadin and coffee before Mum see’s you” Riley advised


"Sees" doesn't need an apostrophe either; also, the dialogue needs a comma at the end.

She put the hood up, but left it unzipped – and made her way to the store with her hands tucked into the pockets.


The dash here isn't really used correctly. Perhaps make it a comma.

It started to rain and she jogged the rest of the way – she just gone through the automatic doors of the shop when she collided with a dark haired boy.


...Not really here either. That should probably be a period or semi-colon. Also, I think that's "She had just gone...'

“Sorry!” She apologised suddenly, looking up at the taller, admittedly good-looking stranger.


"She" shouldn't be capitalized.

“Its fine” He smiled, before walking off – leaving Riley somewhat stunned.


There should be a period at the end of the dialogue. Also, there shouldn't be a comma after "smiled." Also, the dash here should probably be a comma.

She to the back of the store first, where the chemist was, she was told that the meds would be ready in about fifteen minutes.


She went to the back of the store, I think.

This is also a comma splice.

when she was stood


That should be "when she stood" or "when she was standing."

Riley looked around repeatedly but there was never anyone there.


"Repeatedly" needs a comma after it.

I’d never stepped foot in it before” She said, as she lead him to the aisle, Blaine laughed. “There we go” She said, pointing to the milk.


Firstly, there should be commas at the end of the dialogue and "she" should be lowercase. Also, the comma after the first "She said" should be a period.

“I should really go” She lied


This also needs a comma at the end, and "she" shouldn't be capitalized.

There’s definitely something strange about him she thought, he turned away from milk and looked at her.


This would be a comma splice as well. Also, there should be comma after "about him."

He smiled and walked away, she turned back to the girl – not much older than Riley’s 19 year old self who was asking if she needed help with her packing.


This sentence needs a few changes. Try something like "He smiled and walked away. She turned back to the girl, not much older than Riley's nineteen-year-old self, who was asking if she needed help with her packing."

Riley dumped the groceries on the table, right next to them was a bright green sticky note.


This is also a comma splice.

what had happened to the family cat – Bartholomew.


The dash should be a comma.

Riley shrugged, and reached into her hoodie pocket for her keys, but instead pulling out a small card


The comma after "shrugged" is unnecessary. Also, the word "but" after the second comma should be deleted, or "pulling" should be changed to "pulled."

He’d left his phone number underneath, Riley stared at the card quizzically.


Comma splice again.

Smart” Riley mumbled to herself.


There should be a comma after "Smart."

The tiredness came too quickly after closing her eyes, she thought about how one day sleepless nights and nightmares were going to be the death of her.


This is also a comma splice.

She laid there...

That should be "She lay there.

...the only way she’d feel safe is if the TV was on


If the TV was on.

and of course, the remote was on the other side of the living room.


There should be another comma after "and."

She lifted herself up, but before she opened her eyes – she was pushed back down.


The dash here isn't needed.


It seems that the main problems here were dialogue punctuation and comma splices. Dialogue should be punctuated with a comma, and pronouns in the dialogue tags should be lowercase, for instance:

"Hello," he said.


as opposed to

"Hello" he said.

"Hello" He said.

"Hello," He said.


which are incorrect.

A comma splice is when two independent clauses are separated by a comma. For instance

He talked to his friend at ten, later he went to the store.


"He talked to his friend and ten" and "later he went to the store" are complete sentences by themselves, and should be separated by a period, a semi-colon, or a comma and a conjunction.

Here's an example from your story:

Talking of pills, the last two anti-depressants sat at the bottom of the bottle that Riley kept on her desk, she tipped them into her hand and stared at them for a moment.


"The last two anti-depressants sat at the bottom of the bottle that Riley kept on her desk" and "She tipped them into her hand and stared at them for a moment" are both complete sentences, and need a conjunction, period, or semi-colon between them.

Other than that, the writing style's good. The character is really interesting, with her medicine and reputation as crazy. Good luck with the rest of the story!





But even the worst decisions we make don't necessarily remove us from the circle of humanity.
— Wes Moore, The Other Wes Moore