Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Novel / Chapter » Narrative

18+ Language Mature Content

Too Much Blank Space, Not Enough Vomit - Ch. 6

by Bullet


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

    Rhys found it very hard to leave his bed over the next week or so, even to get high. Instead he laid in misery and dopesickness, shivering and nauseous, pouring sweat and staring unseeingly at the far wall, his mind blank and dark like a brand new blackboard. Ethan checked in on him occasionally, offering food that Rhys refused and asking repeatedly what was wrong. Today, however, a rainy Thursday, he let himself into Rhys' room, his silhouette a soft outline in the blue, dim light coming in through the window blinds. He was holding a piece of paper in his hand, practically vibrating with excitement.

"Rhys."

"What?" Rhys' voice was a bit hoarse from lack of use. He was curled up on the bed, his back to Ethan and his cover pulled to his shoulders.

"Exciting news," Ethan said giddily. "Guess what?"

Rhys sighed without turning around. Ethan continued anyway.

"A few weeks ago I saw that the art gallery was taking submissions for a showing of local artists. I submitted one of your pieces."

When Ethan went silent, Rhys turned his head to look at his brother over his shoulder. Ethan was staring at him, grinning broadly.

"And?" Rhys asked flatly.

"It got accepted!"Ethan was practically bursting with the news. "Rhys, your portrait's gonna be shown in the art gallery!"

Rhys stared at him, biting back a sigh. He knew he should be excited, happy even - this should be one of the greatest days of his life - but instead he just felt overwhelming nothingness and a sense of dread.

"Okay," he said eventually, and turned his head to stare at the wall again. He felt Ethan deflate, the energy he had brought into the room dropping to a significant low.

"Aren't you excited?" he asked, sounding crestfallen. Rhys felt his heart twist up and sink into his stomach.

"Of course I'm excited," he lied, talking to the wall. "I'm just tired."

He forced himself to sit up, drawing the blanket around him as he turned to face his brother again. "When's the show?"

"Two weeks from now," Ethan's smile slowly returned, creeping over his face. "They really, really liked it, Rhys. It's their top pick."

Rhys forced a smile, not meeting his brother's gaze. "That's awesome."

"We'll make it a whole day," Ethan went on, gaining his momentum back. "We'll go out to dinner, I'll make your favorite cake, we'll invite Leah and Lip along, we can all go to the show together.

Rhys smiled and nodded along, a bit amazed by his brother's giddiness. He didn't know how he felt about Ethan submitting one of his pieces without asking. His art was private, a coping mechanism, an extension of himself. To have it put on display was an act of revolting vulnerability he wasn't sure he was ready for.

He sat up, the cover falling off from around his shoulders to reveal his half tank binder. Ethan, in the middle of rambling about whatever, trailed off as his gaze fell onto the neat, red lines covering Rhys' ribcage and stomach.

"Rhys?" his eyebrows knit together, mouth forming into a firm, worried frown. "What the fuck?"

Rhys swung his legs over the edge of the bed and leaned over, plucking an oversized, off-white t-shirt from the floor and pulling it on. Ethan crossed his arms over his chest, his gaze settling into a stern stare.

"Explain."

Rhys sighed, burying his face in his hands with the heels of his palms pressed against his eyes. He had a pounding headache. "It's nothing, E."

"Bullshit," he could tell Ethan was fighting to keep his voice from rising. "You're hurting yourself. That's not 'nothing'."

"It's my fucking body," Rhys snapped, the end of his patience thin and frayed. "Why do you care so fucking much, you fucking creep? Why is everyone so fucking obsessed with what I do to this sack of fucking meat?"

"Because I don't want to see you in a fucking coffin like our dad, Rhys!" Ethan shouted, and the room grew still. Rhys could only stare, mouth slightly agape. Their father had died when Rhys was an infant, and even though Ethan remembered how and why, he never told Rhys anything about the man.

"Get out," Rhys said, his quiet voice filling the room. Ethan rolled his eyes and scoffed, turning towards the door.

"Whatever, Rhy. Kill yourself if you fucking want to. I can't stop you."

He left the room, slamming the door behind him and making Rhys flinch. Rhys spent a long while after that sitting on the edge of his bed and staring into his palms, suddenly reminded of the hospital. Eventually, he laid down and went to sleep.


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
641 Reviews


Points: 46598
Reviews: 641

Donate
Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:54 am
Panikos wrote a review...



Hiya, LordStar. Just popping in for another quick review.

Small nitpicks:

Today, however, a rainy Thursday, he let himself into Rhys' room, his silhouette a soft outline in the blue, dim light coming in through the window blinds. He was holding a piece of paper in his hand, practically vibrating with excitement.

"Rhys."

"What?" Rhys' voice was a bit hoarse from lack of use. He was curled up on the bed, his back to Ethan and his cover pulled to his shoulders.


This is a finicky point, but this story seems to be told in third-person limited, with Rhys as the viewpoint. If Rhys has his back to Ethan, how does he know what his silhouette looks like, or that he has a piece of paper in his hand? He might be able to hear the floorboards creaking as Rhys comes into the room, but visual description doesn't really fit.

"It's my fucking body," Rhys snapped, the end of his patience thin and frayed.


I'm not sure the bit in bold is necessary. It's kind of obvious from the dialogue that his patience has run out.

Regarding my general critiques, I think this chapter does a great job of exploring Rhys's depression and listnessness after the abortion. However, I would've liked the issue to be more explicitly present in his thoughts. Also - Ethan knows about the abortion, doesn't he? He seemed to, in the previous chapter. So I don't really know why he keeps asking what's wrong. That seems a bit shortsighted and insensitive of him - surely he must be able to tell that the abortion has unsettled Rhys a lot. I don't get why Rhys doesn't call him out on this at any point, even if it's just with a snappish 'what do you think is wrong?'

As with the previous chapter, I don't think you exploit and develop the central conflict of this chapter quite enough. When the self-harm comes up, the issue is dropped pretty quickly, and I can't visualise what the long-term effect of this argument will be. It's always tricky to write about characters when they're in the grip of depression or grief, because they tend to be passive by nature, which turns the plot more reactive than active. Hopefully this gallery showing is going to be an important development that changes the course of the plot. I also hope that the self-harm issue comes back in some meaningful way, because I can't imagine that Ethan would leave it alone.

That said, I still enjoyed reading this and like the grim reality of it. Rhys's response to the abortion feels fitting, and I hope it will continue to shape his actions. I gotta feel sorry for Ethan, too, even if he's not handling things that well. It's so hard to watch people hurt themselves and know you can't really do anything about it.

Keep writing! :D
~Pan




User avatar
760 Reviews


Points: 33396
Reviews: 760

Donate
Mon Jun 03, 2019 4:32 pm
ExOmelas wrote a review...



Much green room many review!

Nit-picks:

When Ethan went silent

This phrasing makes it sound like Ethan is quiet for a particular reason, rather than just having finished what he was saying. Let me know if that doesn't make sense.

He felt Ethan deflate, the energy he had brought into the room dropping to a significant low.

This isn't a nit-pick, but this is the kind of moment where I would describe someone as "going silent". I really like the way you've put it though!

Overall:

I'm not sure this makes sense as the end of a chapter. We're just starting to open up the emotional issues that Rhys is dealing with as a result of this chapter's event, so it seems like there should be more development to come here. Maybe they could have an argument about this, and Ethan would be able to justify himself. Rhys seems a bit less mad at Ethan for this than I'd expect, which could be because he's struggling to feel anything particularly strongly at the moment, but I just sort of feel like this conflict is being brought up and then left. I guess it could come back up later, but there doesn't seem to be a hint that he wants to bring it up.

I think this is a really interesting development, that could alter Rhys's life quite significantly. I'm curious what the piece is, and who will be affected by it, so that's good for hooking me into the next chapter.

This feels both connected and disconnected from the previous chapter. Rhys's mood seems to be determined by the abortion, but the events of the chapter seem to be a whole new arc. I can't put my finger on what it feels like. Maybe slice-of-life? Maybe a soap opera except less ridiculous? I realise I'm saying the same thing again really but I thought I'd try a new way to explain myself.

Hope this helps,
Biscuits :)





Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open.
— Sir James Dewar, Scientist