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16+ Language Violence

The Sticks [Chapter One] - REVISED

by 4revgreen


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

(So I've been editing this after carefully considering feedback, and decided to publish it again as I'm happier with this version!)

  1. Present Day

I could barely squeeze through the masses of sweaty bodies that had been crammed into the room as they knocked against me whilst supposedly dancing, though I wouldn’t have called it that. Dancing is meant to have a purpose, a rhythm. These people were just jumping up and down to some ear rape sound that most definitely wasn’t music. It said nothing, there was no depth to it. Just noise. My head was already throbbing from the couple of cans of beer I’d drunk at home, the sour taste still dancing on my tongue.

As I pushed my way through the crowds towards the bar, I became aware of one of the regular security guards following close behind. His name was Tony, and we’d never got on before. He’d never explicitly stated why, but he’d since he’d never been fond of me and Starry sharing a kiss in the club, I’d assumed he had a problem with our sexuality.

“Have you not got another innocent girl to harass tonight, eh Tony?” I shouted at him over the noise, my voice startlingly more confident than I’d intended it to be.

His eyes were hidden behind dark shades, but I was sure he’d just rolled them at me. “I don’t like troublemakers in my club, and whenever you’re around, there’s trouble.”

“Ah, you’re no fun.” the words slurred together as I tried to turn away from him. He grabbed my arm and twisted me back in his direction.

“You already reek of alcohol,” his nose scrunched as I looked up at him, and I could see all the little hairs peeking out of his nostrils flutter. I inhaled deeply and then breathed right onto his face, stretching upwards in my tiptoes. He recoiled, but kept his hand wrapped firmly around my wrist.

“How’d you expect me to put up with this crap -” I waved my free hand around as if to gesture to the music. “Without drinking a little first?”

Tony’s expressio didn’t change. Even with his sunglasses on I could tell it was one of disdain. “If you cause even the slightest bit of trouble, I’m kicking you out and calling the police, got it?” the seriousness in his voice should have been a warning, but in my tipsy state I couldn’t care less. I laughed in his face before tugging my arm out of his grip and sliding onto my regular seat at the bar.

An over-exaggerated sigh escaped my mouth, and it probably would have echoed had the room not been so loud. William, the bartender, placed my usual drink down in front of me. I picked up the glass and raised it to him, as if to say cheers. He gave me his usual bright smile as he grabbed his teatowel and began to dry some glasses. William had been working at the bar for as long as I’d been going to it; we’d both been underage to start with, but no one cared. That was just always how it was round here.

“I don’t know why you still come here.” he said, having to shout over the new bombardment of synthesised noise that had started to play. It was something I recognized, maybe from an advert or something, and that just made my headache worse.

“I don’t know either,” I replied, swirling my drink around in its glass, watching the alcohol spin into a tiny tornado. I wished it could just suck me in, drown me now rather than when I’m aged sixty on some abandoned leather couch in a junkie’s flat, the place I was surely destined to wind up. “Habit, I suppose. I met Starry here.”

Someone else ordered a drink and William spun round to grab a glass and serve them with that smile of his, the one that never left his face. It made everyone feel special, welcomed. It could stop a war, for sure. Or start one.

“Starry wouldn’t want you to spend your life moping around places that play music like this. She would’ve hated it.”

He was right, and I knew it. If Starry were here, she’d be dragging me out to some obscure little bar that only played live music, performed by bands that were unheard of and full people dancing wildly in clothes that looked like they’d been made from curtains. She’d force me to dance, no matter who was watching, and would sing along with the bands, her voice outshining theirs. That was just how Starry was. Whenever she entered a room, she became the room. She hated the dullness that life could entail and promised herself she’d never fall victim to it. And she never did.

I took a sip of my drink. “Yeah, well, she’s not here.” I felt the alcohol burn away the emotions at the back of my throat. It tasted like pessimism, like misanthropy.

The noise that surrounded me was too much, almost suffocating. Whoever made these songs had no regard for the beauty that music could create, only the money. A waste of music, made purely to be sold - monetised sound. For a moment it seemed as though the room was spinning, but it righted itself when I raised a hand to my forehead and slapped myself, hard.

“Are you okay?” William asked, filling a glass with something and handing it to the person next to me. They shoved some coins across the counter and buggered off. “Castle?”

I looked up at him. He was tall, skinny and had these dark brown curls that could sweep anyone off of their feet. Our eyes met, and looking into them I realised he’d have no trouble finding love in a place like this, or anywhere really. He had girls and boys trailing after him like the plague, he just didn’t know it. I’d never been at risk from catching this plague, but I had been in contact with something much worse. I’d been vaccinated against it now, but not by choice.

“I think you should go, and stop drinking. You shouldn’t come here anymore. It’s not good for you.”

“Then what is good for me, William?” I snapped, my stare having ensnared him. He couldn’t look away. “Everywhere reminds me of her. It’s not like I can’t get away from it.”

He leant forward, resting his arms on the polished wood of the bar. “You can get away from it. Go take the first train you see, get off at the last stop, sleep in a rundown B&B - like we used to when things got too much. Go to a festival, transfer to a university in Wales or Scotland or even further. There’s no shame in running away, Cas.”

I knocked back the rest of my drink and motioned for him to pour me another, pretending I hadn’t acknowledged his words. He obliged, still smiling as he handed it to me.

“Cas, answer me for God’s sake!”

“Where do you propose I get the money for this train ticket then, genius? Or was that you volunteering to pay for me?” I downed the drink in practically one gulp, gasping for air as I slammed the glass back down on the counter and motioned for another. “I don’t know if you knew but I don’t have a job anymore.”

“Amy said something about that - you flipped a few tables over and swore at your regular customers before storming out, or something.”

My eyes widened as he handed me my third drink. “Please don’t tell me Amy is here or I will smash this glass and use the shards to slit my wrists.”

“She was in earlier with Niamh and that lot. And don’t say things like that, it’s not funny.” the corners of his mouth twitched as he broke eye contact and turned to the side. Following his line of sight, I could see that he’d motioned for Tony to come over. “I think I’m gonna get someone to take you home, okay Cas?”

The tone of his voice was genuine - he was concerned for me. But I didn’t need anyone else to be concerned for me. I was sick of people caring about me, thinking they knew what was good and bad for me, what I should and shouldn’t do. Deciding when I needed to go home and when I needed to leave the flat. I was an adult, and I knew my own damn mind. The only person who knew it better than I did was dead. A familiar hand took a firm grip on my shoulder, and when I looked up, Tony was looming over me.

He cleared his throat before speaking. “You need to leave.”

“Why? I’ve barely been five minutes and I haven’t even finished my bloody drink yet!” I snarled, slowly rising from the leather stool and turning towards him. He was easily a foot taller than me, and probably twice my bodyweight in his muscles alone. Not a man to be messed with - I knew that from previous experience. That’s what they’d all be thinking - She wouldn’t fight him, it’d be a death wish. A death sentence. She’s not that stupid. “All I’ve been doing is sitting here and talking to my friend. Is that a crime now?”

“I warned you barely five minutes ago. No trouble, or you’re out. You’re coming with me right now.”

“No I’m not, I haven’t done anything yet!” pulling away from his grip, I grabbed my glass. In a split second decision, I’d thrown the glass over William’s head into the bottles that lined the bar behind him. The sound of the smashing glass was barely even audible above the noise, and it left a wet stain on the wall. William ducked, and when he straightened back up his smile had faded into a look of fright. No one had ever looked so scared of me before.

Tony went to grab me, but I spun round and socked him in the nose as hard as my fists would allow me before he could. He was a little stunned, stumbling backwards as I came into contact with his face. Before I could do anything else I had been wrestled to the ground, my own nose now dripping blood. Tony was holding me down with one hand, and wiping his nose with his other. The back of his hand came away bloody.

“Snap!” I yelled, twisting my neck to show him my nose. A warm droplet rolled off of my cupid’s bow and dripped onto the ground, and I watched as another followed suit.

“William, call the police.” Tony instructed, and although I couldn’t see from down on the floor, I knew William had obliged.


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Wed Mar 18, 2020 5:59 am
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EternalRain says...



Heya! Just reading over the previous chapters before reviewing, and I decided just to leave a short comment -

this is a really good start! I love how you're balancing the information about Starry - there's not too much info spilled around, which keeps me wanting more, but I love how present Starry is and I can tell, while Starry is dead, that she will be an important character throughout the book.

Excited to read more!




4revgreen says...


Thank you :-)



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Tue Mar 17, 2020 10:37 am
Necromancer14 wrote a review...



Hello 4revgreen, nice beginning! It was an interesting first chapter with a cliffhanger.

Here's my review:

The first thing I noticed was that it said "1. present day." That's an interesting approach to a book. You're starting with the afterthought, and maybe this is one of those books that have flashbacks, which, by the way, is one of the most effective ways to build suspense. the reason is because you can have a cliffhanger at the end of your first chapter, and the reader has to wait several or more chapters before it's resolved. The other thing the flashback does is you know something happened to Starry, and now you want to read more to find out, so this is a very effective first chapter.

"He’d never explicitly stated why, but he’d since he’d never been fond of me and Starry sharing a kiss in the club"

"He'd since he'd never"? I think your missing a word or two here.

I think the personalities are pretty clear, you did a good job there. You can definitely see that the main character is very sullen and cranky after whatever happened to Starry.

Well, there's my review! I hope it was helpful.




4revgreen says...


Thank you so much for the review, and thank you for spotting my typo XD



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Fri Mar 13, 2020 6:51 pm
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Liberty wrote a review...



Hey 4revgreen!

Hope you're doing well. I’m here for the review you requested for. Let’s dig right in, now, shall we? Alrighty~

So, since this is a first chapter, I can see why we don’t have much of anything happening - only Castle (cool name, by the way, it’s super interesting!) who’s depressed, and we see William, the bartender, who’s genuinely concerned about Castle and the death of her girlfriend. That’s sad. =(

I hope we get to know how exactly Starry died in the later chapters. That would do a lot of explaining. If it were a natural death, then Castle wouldn’t be so sad about it. If it were suicidal, then yeeeaaahh, that explains a lot. ._.

Well, now, with a couple of your sentences, we know that Castle has been constantly coming to the club, and honestly: Castle, that is not good for you. ;-; I’m crossing my fingers, hoping she gets into therapy or something that would help her out.

I only ever caught the plague once, having been infected by Starry. And now I’ve been vaccinated.

This bit. It’s so good. I can’t even express how good. Castle describes love as a plague which is… Okay, I don’t even know how to describe what I’m trynna say, but this is such an outstanding line! “And now I’ve been vaccinated.” Ah, that’s great.

In a split second decision, I’d thrown the glass over William’s head into the bottles that lined the bar behind him.

I’m not even gunna lie, but I actually flinched at that. Castle needs a hug, obviously.

Before Tony could grab me, I spun round and socked him in the nose as hard as I could.

Ouch. Castle you told yourself he’s not a guy to mess with but you still… omg.

And now she’s being carried away. Not good. Either she was super drunk and she did that (which doesn’t seem likely because, ya know, she wasn’t drinking for long and she sorta kinda chucked her glass away, lol) or she still is super upset about Starry’s death. Speaking of, I wonder how long it’s been since her girlfriend’s death?

Well, I’m done with my review! Hope this helped in some sort of way. ^-^ If you have questions of any sort, feel free to bring ‘em at me. :) I’ll get to the next chapter when I can.

And as always…

Keep on writing!

~Hedwiggle Potter




4revgreen says...


Thank you so much :-) This honestly made me smile, you're so sweet!



Liberty says...


Aye, anytime! =]



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Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:19 am
Kassiani wrote a review...



Hey there, 4revgreen (cool username, by the way)! As promised, I'm here to review.

This was a short chapter and not too much happened—you seemed to mostly be setting things up/introducing us to Castle (and Starry, at least by mention)—so I don't have a ton of notes yet, but I do have a few.

First, here's what I liked: I think you did a good job handling the exchange between Castle and William. Their dynamic intrigues me. I can't tell if there's a romantic spark between them or not. Sorta seemed like Castle was into him when she was describing his appearance, and his concern for her felt affectionate, but I like that you left it ambiguous. I'm curious to know more about them.

I think you managed to illustrate Castle's devastation over Starry pretty well. Occasionally it slipped into territory that felt a little melodramatic? But, then again, she's young and she lost her (first?) love—some intense emotions are to be expected. I also liked that you gave the reader an idea of Starry's personality. The exchange between Castle and William about Starry's taste in bars/music, while brief, was a nice, subtle way of clueing the reader in on what kind of person this girl was. That's especially important since Starry's dead and therefore can't really establish her own personality, at least not yet (I looked ahead so I know how you're structuring this, i.e. the use of multiple timelines), so it makes sense that you gave us a taste of what she was like through the remembrances of those who knew her. It also helps your reader get more invested (both in Starry herself and in Castle's longing for her).

As for what could use improvement, I thought the ending—Castle being approached by the security guard, then getting in a fight with him(!)—felt a little sudden. I guess that might've been deliberate on your part to emphasize the chaos of the moment and Castle not thinking her actions through, but it would've been nice to have a little more build-up, perhaps more of a back-and-forth between Castle and the security guard before things escalate. It also wasn't entirely clear to me why Castle was being ejected. Was it really just because William didn't think she should be spending her time at the bar? Or because he felt sorry for her? Or because he thought she'd had too much to drink? I understand he was concerned for her and didn't think she should be wasting her time there, but it seemed like a strong reaction to summon the security guard and have her taken away. I would've liked some more justification for that.

I'm not sure how I feel about this being your opening chapter. On the one hand, it introduces us to Castle and her feelings for Starry, and I like that you're kicking things off with Starry already dead. Kinda sets an offbeat, morbid tone for the rest of the novel—as in, communicating to the reader that this is a story of loss more than of love. At the same time, it was a little bit underwhelming. There was a dryness to it, and it didn't grab my attention the way I would've liked. I think because you spent so much of the chapter focusing on establishing the key facts (Castle loves Starry, Starry is dead, Castle is sad), all the other stuff—the action, the dynamic between William and Castle, even the chaotic club setting—was relegated to the background. And that's unfortunate, because I think some of those peripheral details, if utilized, would've made for a more attention-grabbing first chapter.

For example, you could've set up the drama with the security guard right at the beginning—maybe he starts hassling Castle to leave, she ignores him and keeps drinking/chatting with William, and the rest of the chapter has this thread of tension running through it as the security guard looms nearby and William vacillates between engaging with Castle and trying to get her out of there. It could end with the same confrontation/escalation, but then it makes more sense because it's been set up well in advance and it feels like an "earned" payoff. That's just one idea, but something like that would inject the story with an element of suspense and the promise of action—enough to keep the reader's attention.

That's not to say I found this chapter boring, because I didn't, but I do think it could've used more energy. The reader should sense that it's building toward something. Instead, it's written in such a way that the action at the end feels tacked-on and out of sync with the quietness that came before it.

Anyway, onto some specific comments...

Present day

I'd maybe center this and capitalize the D in "day." Gives it more of a proper heading look.

The club was busy; Saturday nights were always busy. Busy busy busy.

I don't love this opening line. It's not a requirement, but I must admit that I want novels to hook me right from the beginning. This... does not do that. It also doesn't really tell me much about the story or what's going on. Like, yeah, I now know the setting of this chapter is a club, but there's a million more interesting ways you could establish that. And oh, the club's busy? Well, I would've already assumed that (don't know about you, but when I picture a club, I envision a popular, high-intensity place, not a ghost town). And do we need to know it's Saturday?

Honestly, you could probably get away with striking that sentence entirely and just starting with the next one: "I could barely squeeze through the masses of sweaty bodies as they knocked against me whilst supposedly dancing, though I wouldn’t have called it that. Dancing is meant to have a purpose, a rhythm. These people were just jumping up and down to some earrape sound that most definitely wasn’t music. It said nothing, there was no depth to it. Just noise." This is a much more interesting opening. It paints a picture, it gives me an idea of what's going on, and it doesn't spoon-feed me information. I have to figure out for myself where this is taking place, but it's easy to guess that it's some kind of club (and then confirmed when Castle arrives at the bar).

I slid onto my regular seat at the bar after wrestling through the crowd and sighed heavily, an over exaggerated sigh

Stick a hyphen in "over-exaggerated." Also, "sigh/sighed" is repetitive—maybe try, "...and gave an over-exaggerated sigh." Simpler that way.

“I don’t know why you still come here.” He said

Whenever someone speaks, you don't need to capitalize the first letter in the following dialogue tag (even if the dialogue ends with a period/question mark/exclamation point). So, in this case, the H in "he" should be lowercase.

“I don’t know either,” I replied, swirling my drink around in its glass, watching the whirlpool of alcohol appear.

"Watching the whirlpool of alcohol appear" is such an odd sentence. There's gotta be a better way to describe that.

drown me now rather than aged sixty on some abandoned leather couch in a junkie’s flat; the place I was destined to wind up.

Incorrect semicolon.

she’d be dragging me out to some obscure little bar that only played live music, and the bands were all unheard of.

I don't like the "and" after "music." Maybe try, "she’d be dragging me out to some obscure little bar that only played live music, performed by bands that were all unheard of."

“Yeah, well, she’s not here.” I felt the alcohol burn away the emotions at the back of my throat. “And she never will be again.”

Laying it on a bit thick, eh? We get it: Starry's gone, Castle is sad. You don't need to add "and she never will be again"—that sort of thing is what tips this story toward melodrama.

The noise that surrounded me was too much, suffocating me with combinations of notes that should never have been allowed to be strung together. Whoever made the songs they played in here had no regard for the beauty that music could create, they just made it loud with jumbled up meaningless words or no words at all. An abundance of music. Just sound. Lots of busy busy people and sound that didn’t stop.

I like what you're getting at here—Castle's distaste for the superficial music of the club, which dovetails nicely with what you seem to be suggesting about Starry's indie preferences—but I feel like this is overly wordy and kinda clunky. Try simplifying. It's also a bit redundant since Castle already expressed her feelings about the music at the start of the chapter.

He was tall, skinny and had these dark brown curls that could sweep anyone off of their feet as they swept across his eyes. Our eyes met, his hazel irises no match for the icy stare that mine gave out.

"Sweep/swept" is repetitive. So is "eyes." And sweet Jeebus, "his hazel irises no match for the icy stare that mine gave out" is very cheesy. I feel like I've stumbled into a bodice-ripping Harlequin romance with Fabio on the cover...

He had girls and boys trailing after him like the plague, he just didn’t know it. I only ever caught the plague once, having been infected by Starry. And now I’ve been vaccinated.

Bleh. Don't get me wrong, I like the irreverence of comparing falling in love to catching the plague. It's cute, it's funny, I dig it. But there are several issues here. For one thing, you compare the girls/guys interested in William to the plague, then Castle's feelings for Starry to the plague? Those are different things?? So the metaphor is confused. THEN, you say, "I only ever caught the plague once, having been infected by Starry. And now I’ve been vaccinated." Remember what I just said about cheesiness? Well, you can file this under "cheesy quotation #2 ." (And vaccinated from... the plague? What?)

“Everywhere reminds me of her. Home reminds me of her, uni reminds me of her, my clothes, the birds, the trees, the wind, the moon and the fucking stars. I can’t escape her, even in death.”

Back to melodrama with this bit. Again, I like the idea: I can understand how Castle feels reminded of Starry everywhere she goes, and how that must take a toll on her. Still though, the way this is worded... I mean, for one thing, do people really talk like that? It's just one of those lines that sounds like something an overly dramatic sixteen-year-old would write on their WordPress blog, right before quoting Catcher in the Rye. In other words: I do not like it.
You could maybe just say, "Everywhere reminds me of her. I can't get away from it." Short, simple, to the point. Gets the message across without all the performative anguish.

Anyone else would be in tears by now, but I’d forgotten how to cry a long time ago and I wasn’t planning on remembering anytime soon.

Would anyone else be in tears? I dunno, I feel like nothing's really happened in this chapter that warrants crying? Like, yeah, she's talking about Starry, but I feel like it's still a reach to say that anybody in her position would be crying, especially when she's in a public place. Even the most tear-prone people would probably be able to hold it together.
Also, "time" is repetitive, and "I’d forgotten how to cry a long time ago and I wasn’t planning on remembering anytime soon" is... a little much? It's not bad, per se, but it does feel, again, like you're laying it on pretty thick.

So, overall, I think you've got some interesting things here. It wasn't the flashiest chapter—far from it—but you managed to establish some key facts about Castle/Starry and their relationship without making it too exposition-y, and that's cool. I would've liked a little more action or tension or suspense—really, anything else besides "Castle reminisces about Starry and complains about the club music"—buttt I don't think that's the end of the world. It may not have been the most attention-grabbing first chapter, but it also wasn't a snooze-fest, and the good news is that it's definitely improvable. Meaning: it's got a lot of potential. And that ain't nothing.

I'm looking forward to reading the next installment. Hopefully I'll post that review soonish. Bear with me. :P




4revgreen says...


Ahhh thank you so much for this, it's honestly been so helpful. Obviously this is only a first draft so I haven't yet gone through and edited/re-worded it, I'm just trying to get the story out. But your critiques have really made me realise where my weaknesses are so I'm gonna spend a few hours editing today.



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Sat Mar 07, 2020 7:20 am
Tawsif wrote a review...



Hi, 4vergreen!

This is not a bad start for a novel at all. The tone that you used in this chapter is dripping with depression of the MC for the loss of (possibly) a friend, Starry. The depression was genuine, you did a good job here.

Just a few points.

"He said, having to shout of the new bombardment of synthesised noise that had started to play.'

You probably missed a 'because' after 'shout'.

'I wished it could just suck me in, drown me now rather than aged sixty on some abandoned leather couch in a junkie’s flat; the place I was destined to wind up.'

This was a fantastic line. You used the imagery of whirlpool, and also the deep frustration of the MC in wanting to be sucked in by the whirlpool. It was brilliant, thought-provoking for me. But I think there might be a grammatical issue here. '........drown me now rather than when I'm aged sixty on some abandoned leather couch in a junkie’s flat.' This is probably more accurate grammatically (though I'm not sure. Do tell me your thoughts about it).

You criticized the loud, meaningless music of the club in a number of places. I liked the criticism in the opening, but in the middle, when you say, 'an abundance of music', it read a bit awkward. Abundance means being present in large quantity, and I get what you tried to mean. But maybe something stronger, like 'waste of music' or 'dissipation/squandering of music' could be more interesting. (This is just the way I'd write it, a personal suggestion, that's it!)

'I only ever caught the plague once, having been infected by Starry. And now I’ve been vaccinated.'

This was another striking use of metaphor. But once again, if I were the writer, I'd write this: 'I only ever caught the plague once, having been infected by Starry. And now I guess I’ve been vaccinated. Forcibly.' I'd italicize the word 'vaccinated' as well. This way, the metaphor gets deeper into the readers' minds. Also, it would tell the readers that the MC had actually lost her friend somehow.

Though nothing much happened here, I loved this piece (and felt a little depressed myself!). Would love to read the next chapters.
Keep writing!




4revgreen says...


Thank you so much for the feedback, it was actually incredibly useful and I'm grateful :-)



Tawsif says...


You're welcome, pal!




No one is perfect; not even your reflection.
— Chalkboard Words