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18+ Language Mature Content

Too Much Blank Space, Not Enough Vomit - Ch. 5.2

by Bullet

Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and mature content.

He walked out of the clinic several hours later with two pills and an informational pamphlet in his jacket pocket and Leah in tow. They were silent as they got into the Subaru; Rhys lit a cigarette and tried not to feel guilty about it, staring out of the window as they made their way towards the apartment. He stifled his tears as best he could, turning his head away from Leah occasionally to swipe a tear away. When they got to the apartment, he led the way inside and into the elevator, resolute in his silence. Ethan was in the kitchen when they arrived.

"How'd it go?" he asked as Rhys came in. Rhys let out a small "fine" without stopping on his way to his bedroom.

"Are you okay?" Ethan called after him.

"Don't want to talk about it,"Rhys said over his shoulder, then retreated into his bedroom and locked the door. It was time to get this over with. He pulled the prescription bag from his jacket pocket and extracted the two pills from their separate bottles, rolling them around in the palm of his hand. For some reason he hesitated, his other hand on his stomach. He remembered what Ethan had said. They couldn’t afford a baby, no matter Rhys’ feelings on the matter. After a minute or so, he took the first medication and swallowed it dry, then stuck the other in his mouth and swallowed it dry as well. The bleeding and cramping would start in a few hours, but for now he laid down on his bed and stared at the ceiling, trying to keep his thoughts together.

He woke up a little while later with a soft start, gazing blearily around the room. He didn't remember falling asleep, but Lip was sitting in his desk chair, watching him. Rhys sighed, turned his eyes back to the ceiling, and lit a cigarette.

"Something's up," Lip said, also lighting a cigarette. Darkness had gathered around them in the room, to where the cherries at the end of their cigarettes and their silhouettes were becoming the only things visible. "This sorta isolation ain't normal, even for you."

"Don't want to talk about it," Rhys sighed, his voice so soft it was barely audible. He took a drag off his cigarette so long and harsh it made his lungs burn.

"What happened at the clinic, dude?"

"God, what, did Ethan give you the 4-1-1?"Rhys groaned, not taking his eyes off the ceiling. "Nothing happened at the fucking clinic."

He was gonna say more but was cut off by his own groan as he grabbed his stomach. The cramping was starting, like a rusty knife had slid into his abdomen and was twisting his organs around. He resisted the urge to roll onto his side, forcing himself to breathe evenly through the pain. He realized he should really get up and put a pad on.

"Are you okay?" Lip was staring at him, eyes the size of dinner plates visible even in the darkness. Rhys struggled to sit up, turning on the bedside lamp and flooding the room in dim yellow light. He breathed in and out shakily through his nose, then hoisted himself to his feet and walked, a bit doubled over, towards his desk where he kept the pads.

"Dude?" Lip asked, still watching him. Rhys sighed softly as he bent over to get a pad from the package on the floor, standing up straight slowly. He glanced at Lip and sighed again.

"Turn around."

Lip knit his eyebrows together, but when Rhys made it clear he was about to drop his pants, Lip did as he was told. Rhys put the pad on as quickly as he could, pulled his pants back up, and hobbled his way back to bed. Lip had picked up the written instructions the Planned Parenthood nurse had given Rhys while Rhys wasn't looking. Rhys watched him, but was too tired and in pain to try and take it from him.

"That's private," he muttered, his eyes going from the piece of paper in Lip's hand to Lip's face.

"You're pregnant?" Lip said quietly after a moment, penetrating the silence that had fallen over the room. Rhys stared down at his knees.

"Not anymore," he muttered, laying down on his back again. He could feel Lip's eyes boring into him.

"Who's the dad?" Lip asked stiffly. Rhys rolled his eyes.

"Lip - "

"He has the right to know." Lip's voice was clearly restrained, as if he were forcing himself to be calm. Rhys sat up.

"Even if I knew who the dad was," he snapped, "this - " he gestured to his abdomen - "has nothing to do with him."

"How do you not know who the dad is?" Lip asked, exasperated.

"Keep your voice down!" Rhys hissed, throwing a glance at his closed bedroom door. "Jesus, Lip, I'm kind of in the middle of something here."

"I mean, come on, Rhys. How far along were you? It can't be that hard to figure out."

"I don't see why you care," Rhys pointed out, not looking at him. "You don't have any right to know who I sleep with."

"I'm not asking for a name, dumbass, I just want to know how it's possible for you to not know -"

"Because I sleep with a lot of guys, okay?" Rhys sighed, burying his face in his hands. “I can barely remember yesterday, let alone 10 weeks ago.”

Lip stared at him, something Rhys couldn't recognize flashing over his face. Rhys collapsed onto his back again and began to cry, trying to hold in his sniffling and sobs. He shut his eyes tightly, sucking in a raggedy breath when the bed dipped beside him and then there was an arm around his waist, the warm body of Lip settling in beside him.

"You don't have to go through this alone," Lip said softly, his chin on Rhys' shoulder. Rhys only sobbed harder, shame and regret and sadness coursing through him all at once. He wanted to scream, wanted to push Lip away and make the other boy leave, wanted to be alone. Instead, he only curled onto his side so he was facing Lip and curled closer, gasping for air as Lip gently rubbed his back. Everything hurt, his abdomen and his heart, and with a shaky sigh he curled even closer into Lip's warmth and closed his eyes, drifting away into blackness. 

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641 Reviews

Points: 46598
Reviews: 641

Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:28 pm
Panikos wrote a review...

Heyo, thought I'd drop by for a quick critique!

As I've only read odd bits of this story, I can't comment much on the general trajectory of the plot, but this was definitely clear and enjoyable (perhaps that's the wrong word, given the subject matter) to read in isolation. As always, your writing is very accessible and easy to follow, and your dialogue is believable too. I think you dealt with the topic of abortion really well, too - you managed to create a sense of the weight and seriousness of Rhys's decision while also maintaining a sort of...detachment. It's like it doesn't feel real to him. There's no melodrama.

I agree with Bisc that you could push the Rhys and Lip interaction a bit further. I'd like there to be a clearer escalation of tension, which then peaks and settles. It's not easy to pinpoint why Lip stops nagging Rhys and decides to be supportive, instead - you could maybe push that argument to more of a breaking point, then have Rhys start to cry and Lip realise that he's gone too far. It'd make the scene feel a bit more defined, though the conversation you do have is still good.

Aside from these points, there's a few fluency errors I noticed:

He stifled his tears as best he could, turning his head away from Leah occasionally to swipe a tear away.

The repetition of 'tear(s)' seems unnecessary. I think you could say 'to swipe them away' and the meaning would still be clear.

Lip had picked up the written instructions the Planned Parenthood nurse had given Rhys while Rhys wasn't looking. Rhys watched him

There's a whole lot of Rhys here. I get that you've done it for clarity's sake, but it sounds clumsy. I'd try and rephrase it so you could get rid of at least one use of 'Rhys'. Even just separating them out a bit would help.

he only curled onto his side so he was facing Lip and curled closer,

Just another repetition issue, really. Standard stuff.

That's all from me! I enjoyed reading it. You could get a little more rising tension out of the scene, but it feels raw and real and very easy to follow. Your writing is so assured.

Keep writing! :D

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760 Reviews

Points: 33396
Reviews: 760

Sat Jun 01, 2019 3:44 pm
ExOmelas wrote a review...

Heyo, I return from my holiday in France to make a start on Team Tortoise!


He was gonna say more but was cut off by his own groan as he grabbed his stomach.

"gonna" is a bit weird here.


I'm worried again by the paying. If this is the pregnancy going away, then the events leading up to it seem to have added up to less plot significance than I thought. However, if the plot is Rhys dealing with the psychological effects of having been pregnant and then having an abortion, then that still works, since the events were necessary to lead to that emotional exploration. It just reads a bit more like a particularly interesting diary than a novel, with one thing happening after another without a definite thrust forward in plot, despite there being plenty of interesting events.

However, your depiction of those events is good. I like Rhys repeating that he didn't want to talk about it. Actually made me chuckle a little that he repeated the exact same thing. I think it would have been good to get a bit of Leah interacting with Ethan as they came in, but I think Rhys going immediately into his room makes sense. Lip might go a bit quickly from almost-slut-shaming to being a supportive friend, but I can see this happening when he thinks for a moment and realises Rhys is upset. Almost like his internal monologue would be shut up you idiot and give your friend a hug. Just might want to remark on that sudden change or make it a bit smoother.

Hope this helps,
Biscuits :)

ExOmelas says...

Oh also, might want to stick in a trigger warning for abortion? Just in case someone's been through that; I imagine it can be pretty traumatic

a little humanity makes all the difference
— Rosendorn