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Camera Roll: chapter one

by IMK


[int. ////room - night]

It's dark in the room. The only light is of the moon shining through the curtains. In the middle of the room is a dark figure laying up on the bed. The only sound is of owls in the distance, the noise echoing and losing itself in the woods outside the window. A moment of silence- and heavy breathing is hard. Louder, and louder, but slowly steadying, quieter, and quieter. A whispered “yes,” rings through the room. “I'll leave and be done with this place.” the words are coming from the figure, now identifiable in the dark as a teenage boy. The room looks rather bare, a dormitory, perhaps. The boy is silent for a few minutes, deep in thought.

If never before in his life had he been truly confident in an idea, he was now. The day had been the last straw. It would be the last time he would feel stuck, in a cage, with nowhere to go, no one to speak to. There were, of course, a few he might call his friends, but never like him. Never like him. No one was quite like Ezra. The curtains billow in the wind and the minute ticks in the red numbers beside his head, 2:37. He had been awake for around 19 hours now and had the plan of the century. He would leave, simple as that. And he would do it for Ezra. To find him, to bring him home. A sniffle is heard. The muffled drop of tears on a pillow. The boy cries close to silently. “No, don't go. Wait, wait, don't- DON'T LEAVE ME!!" A memory, a wish.

Determined, that was what he felt. He was going to show everyone that he was more than just a loner, more than “that kid,” more than “the boy with the girl's name.” he would show them. He would show them all. After all, he was Lavender Cromwell, and he would find his friend, and he would rule the world. He would spend two more weeks in this hellhole. Only that much longer, because never again would he step onto the campus of this school. These two weeks would be his last here. He could walk to the bus station from here down on the main road, he would take the bus to the trains, take a train to New Jersey. And then he would find Ezra. It didn't matter how he found him. But he would find him.

[ end scene ]

[int. Lavender's dorm room - evening]

A fortnight later, with an intense feeling of deja-vu, the boy was packed. his train tickets were booked. he had with him several changes of clothes, his toiletries, a phone, a laptop, the Chargers for both, headphones, a pen, an empty notebook, his camera, and all of the saved money he had been stocking up for a new one. Four hundred thirty-seven dollars. In a large duffel the boy's things had gone, and the next morning lavender Cromwell would be but a myth at this school.

Hours were passing, and Lavender was preparing to leave with a lingering feeling that he had done this before. As if it weren't his first time... but all the same, the boy is checking, and rechecking his supplies. To the list were added water, snacks, and a baseball cap, as well as his miniature speaker. He soon remembered his music player and brought that too. It was 9:45 P.M.- he would leave in less than 4 hours.

Ten minutes had come and gone, nothing had changed. Going over last-minute ideas, last-minute wonders, and he was getting nowhere. A walk might help. He should visit the kitchens, maybe. Maybe he would. He put his slippers on and left the room. A few minutes down the hall, and he heard a voice call out to him. “Hey, Cromwell!” It was Dean Evans, the kid in his English class that had asked him for a pencil. They weren’t all that familiar, so why…? “You should come down to the commons, Madison is there.”

He was torn. This was his last day, were his final hours, even. James was his friend and was one of the only people who would talk to Lavender when he moved in. Not as good a friend as Ezra, of course, but no one was Ezra. Even then, Lavender had come to care for James, even if just a little. “Sure, I’ll go,” he finally replied.

“Great, we’ll see you in the commons!” Evans said with an exaggerated bow, mocking their English teacher, who practically lived in the seventeenth century. The bow was a common joke between their classmates, so Lavender laughed, the way one does when trying to make a point of being calm. However, he cut himself off too abruptly and Evans felt a bit foolish like he was being judged. Lavender didn’t notice, or if he did, he brushed it off.

[int. commons - night]

The commons were empty with the exception of the group that invited him. The room had a gas fireplace, several armchairs, a shelf with books and board games, and two long tables. James was sitting in one of the armchairs across from some kid Lavender suspected was named Sawyer.

“Cromwell!” Sawyer called out from across the room. It was awfully familiar for someone who only knew Lavender in passing. James said nothing. “Madison has been telling me all about your drive to California. Also, James, that was total nonsense.”

“No, it wasn’t! I swear, her sister was a princess!!”

“So what was her sister?”

“The Wicked Witch of the East!!!”

Ah, The Wizard of Oz… Lavender slightly regretted accepting Evans’s invitation.

“Wait,” said Evans, “you drove to California? When??”

“A year and a half ago.”

“You did it by yourself??” No, he hadn’t.

James interrupted, “Yeah. Makes me want to do it. You’ve watched the movie version, right, Lav? Her sister is a princess, right?”

“I’m not sure.”

“WHAT! You’re the resident movie nut at this school! How do you not know?? Or am I just going insane?”

“Well, it’s a film based on a mediocre children’s book that was then also turned into a musical… why should I know anything about it?”

“MEDIOCRE?”

Lavender settled down into the couch facing James, smiling in what he thought was an artful fashion, and choosing to say nothing.

“Did you even have a childhood??” James continued, “Next, you’re gonna start calling the Disney movie adaptations mediocre!”

“Of course not!” Lavender scoffed, “How could you say that? Disney adaptations are some of the best things to happen to this world! The colours, the scenery, the historical accuracy could have been researched a bit more, it's a little bit off, but the execution is amazing!”

“So you’re just gonna sit there and tell me that the Wizard of Oz is mediocre?”

“It’s a musical, it’s not all that good,” Lavender was seriously reconsidering his choice of friends.

“Oh, and the Disney adaptations aren't musicals, right, definitely,” James had a sarcastic look on his face as if to say, “Very funny, Lavender. I am very amused.”

Eventually, the topic veered off of Disney and musicals, and the discussion turned to small talk about different types of movies and cartoons.

Lavender was becoming paranoid. Time was passing quickly, but the boys still had no sign of stopping the conversation. He began checking the clock, first every ten minutes, then every five, until his eyes flitted back and forth between the boys and the clock non-stop.

“What’s up with you, Cromwell?” Evans had asked. They had noticed. His palms felt sweaty and he wiped them against his thighs.

“Oh, um, nothing! I was just planning to call my sister!” Lavender lied. He didn’t have a sister.

“At this hour? I didn’t even know you had a sister and I’m like your only friend,” James inquired. He didn’t have a sister. The clock ticked. Of course, the others were only asking Lavender these questions out of boredom, for lack of anything better to say.

“She’s just studying in California at the moment, she’s getting a degree in mathematics.” No, she’s not! She doesn’t even exist! In his head, Lavender was sure that this was it, it was finished, any second they would figure out that he was running away.

“That’s cool! Where is she studying?” think, think!

“Stanford! She’s staying with our uncle. That’s why I went for that drive a year ago,” okay, okay, it’s okay. His voice was slowly becoming steadier, the wavering was settling. The panic was subsiding. “I should probably leave, I did promise to call her after all.” The excuse was flawlessly delivered. He almost gave himself a pat on the back. Lavender made to stand but was held back.

“Hey, are you going to the school’s Film Festival after the holidays?” Sawyer called out. The film festival! It was an annual production organized by the student council where students could submit their live-action or animated short film projects. It was the only thing Lavender had ever been recognized for, and it wasn’t even to his face. Lavender enjoyed making films. Silent films, sometimes in black and white, no dialogue whatsoever. Not a single word was spoken in that film, and he was still the first freshman to have placed in the festival. Nobody else knew that though. Well, James knew. And Ezra, because he had, after all, been the one in the film. Not even James knew that.

James intervened, “You do know that Lavender won last year?” 

[pause]

“Wait, that was you? The one under that weird name?”

“You mean his alias?” James said, grinning. Lavender was feeling betrayed, although why exactly, he wasn’t sure, as he had never told James to keep his mouth shut.

“Uh, yeah, that was me.” Lavender waited for the onslaught of praise.

“That’s amazing! Everyone loved that film! I could have sworn I heard some of our classmates sobbing when it finished,” Sawyer said.

The latter comment left him flushed. The only people who had acknowledged his work to face before were his family, Ezra, and James. Still, he felt uncomfortable, as if the praise was said out of a sense of obligation. Now there was an awkward pause.

“Who was the guy in the film?” Evans asked. Lavender had almost forgotten he was there.

James perked up, “Yeah! Who was that?” [beat] Lavender felt like he was burning up.

“Oh, no one,” he managed to say, and it was obvious to James that Lavender was anxious, more so than James expected. James had asked the same question before and had been brushed off quickly, but this time the added audience made Lavender seem even more stressed.

“What kind of person goes on a drive like that at two-thirty in the morning with just nobody,” Sawyer asked obtusely, ”and there was so much going on it couldn’t have just been a five-minute drive to McDonald’s.”

James thought Sawyer was pushing it too far, Lavender was visibly distressed. Lavender was strange. James could never tell what he was thinking. Lavender was an enigma, a puzzle James couldn’t solve. Lavender was rather quiet, he rarely hung out with anyone, and yet, here he was. But why? What was special about today, that Lavender decided to join them?

[end scene]


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2875 Reviews


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Wed Dec 01, 2021 6:10 am
HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm here to leave a quick review!!

First Impression: This was quite something here. For the most part, I really enjoyed this first chapter. I think its been done really well here and its got pretty much everything that you could want from a first chapter.

Anyway let's get right to it,

It's dark in the room. The only light is of the moon shining through the curtains. In the middle of the room is a dark figure laying up on the bed. The only sound is of owls in the distance, the noise echoing and losing itself in the woods outside the window. A moment of silence- and heavy breathing is hard. Louder, and louder, but slowly steadying, quieter, and quieter. A whispered “yes,” rings through the room. “I'll leave and be done with this place.” the words are coming from the figure, now identifiable in the dark as a teenage boy. The room looks rather bare, a dormitory, perhaps. The boy is silent for a few minutes, deep in thought.


OKayy....an interesting setup here. I like how you set this scene nice and slowly, just sort of quietly bringing on this light sense of mystery as you introduce this person and describe the surroundings. Its an interesting opening paragraph here and so far I like this.

If never before in his life had he been truly confident in an idea, he was now. The day had been the last straw. It would be the last time he would feel stuck, in a cage, with nowhere to go, no one to speak to. There were, of course, a few he might call his friends, but never like him. Never like him. No one was quite like Ezra. The curtains billow in the wind and the minute ticks in the red numbers beside his head, 2:37. He had been awake for around 19 hours now and had the plan of the century. He would leave, simple as that. And he would do it for Ezra. To find him, to bring him home. A sniffle is heard. The muffled drop of tears on a pillow. The boy cries close to silently. “No, don't go. Wait, wait, don't- DON'T LEAVE ME!!" A memory, a wish.

Determined, that was what he felt. He was going to show everyone that he was more than just a loner, more than “that kid,” more than “the boy with the girl's name.” he would show them. He would show them all. After all, he was Lavender Cromwell, and he would find his friend, and he would rule the world. He would spend two more weeks in this hellhole. Only that much longer, because never again would he step onto the campus of this school. These two weeks would be his last here. He could walk to the bus station from here down on the main road, he would take the bus to the trains, take a train to New Jersey. And then he would find Ezra. It didn't matter how he found him. But he would find him.


Okayy...so that was quite a bit of a monologue there. I think you do a good job of balancing this bit of exposition such that its not too much so that it becomes boring, but there's enough for us to get a decent idea of what's going on and then get invested in this boy's aims. Its a good start so far, and already I am definitely hooked soo...that's also a good thing.

A fortnight later, with an intense feeling of deja-vu, the boy was packed. his train tickets were booked. he had with him several changes of clothes, his toiletries, a phone, a laptop, the Chargers for both, headphones, a pen, an empty notebook, his camera, and all of the saved money he had been stocking up for a new one. Four hundred thirty-seven dollars. In a large duffel the boy's things had gone, and the next morning lavender Cromwell would be but a myth at this school.

Hours were passing, and Lavender was preparing to leave with a lingering feeling that he had done this before. As if it weren't his first time... but all the same, the boy is checking, and rechecking his supplies. To the list were added water, snacks, and a baseball cap, as well as his miniature speaker. He soon remembered his music player and brought that too. It was 9:45 P.M.- he would leave in less than 4 hours.


Okayy...so, we're getting a pretty detailed list there of the things being packed and the preparations being made. Normally, I'm not the biggest fan of this much detail before an important moment, but I think you pull this one off pretty well and this time it actually does help the plot because you can now form an idea about what sort of place this person might be headed into.

He was torn. This was his last day, were his final hours, even. James was his friend and was one of the only people who would talk to Lavender when he moved in. Not as good a friend as Ezra, of course, but no one was Ezra. Even then, Lavender had come to care for James, even if just a little. “Sure, I’ll go,” he finally replied.

“Great, we’ll see you in the commons!” Evans said with an exaggerated bow, mocking their English teacher, who practically lived in the seventeenth century. The bow was a common joke between their classmates, so Lavender laughed, the way one does when trying to make a point of being calm. However, he cut himself off too abruptly and Evans felt a bit foolish like he was being judged. Lavender didn’t notice, or if he did, he brushed it off.


Okayyy...so, it seems like before this one makes his escape, he's going to have to go to this other situation that appears to be relatively trivial at the moment, but I get the feeling that perhaps there will be more to this than what seems initially apparent.

“Cromwell!” Sawyer called out from across the room. It was awfully familiar for someone who only knew Lavender in passing. James said nothing. “Madison has been telling me all about your drive to California. Also, James, that was total nonsense.”

“No, it wasn’t! I swear, her sister was a princess!!”

“So what was her sister?”

“The Wicked Witch of the East!!!”

Ah, The Wizard of Oz… Lavender slightly regretted accepting Evans’s invitation.

“Wait,” said Evans, “you drove to California? When??”

“A year and a half ago.”

“You did it by yourself??” No, he hadn’t.

James interrupted, “Yeah. Makes me want to do it. You’ve watched the movie version, right, Lav? Her sister is a princess, right?”


Okayy...not entirely sure what these folks are arguing about, but I absolutely adore this dialogue. It is so very realistic to how conversations like this tend to go down sometimes and I love to see that cause that gives you the best sort of picture on what this place truly is like and what the people inside it act like.

“I’m not sure.”

“WHAT! You’re the resident movie nut at this school! How do you not know?? Or am I just going insane?”

“Well, it’s a film based on a mediocre children’s book that was then also turned into a musical… why should I know anything about it?”

“MEDIOCRE?”

Lavender settled down into the couch facing James, smiling in what he thought was an artful fashion, and choosing to say nothing.

“Did you even have a childhood??” James continued, “Next, you’re gonna start calling the Disney movie adaptations mediocre!”

“Of course not!” Lavender scoffed, “How could you say that? Disney adaptations are some of the best things to happen to this world! The colours, the scenery, the historical accuracy could have been researched a bit more, it's a little bit off, but the execution is amazing!”


Okayy...well, the argument is continuing here. I don't know if this particular topic is going to turn out to be important later, but I'm getting the feeling that by this point, this has gone on for just a touch too long. I feel like this shouldn't quite be allowed to go on for this long if it is mostly inconsequential talk here.

Eventually, the topic veered off of Disney and musicals, and the discussion turned to small talk about different types of movies and cartoons.

Lavender was becoming paranoid. Time was passing quickly, but the boys still had no sign of stopping the conversation. He began checking the clock, first every ten minutes, then every five, until his eyes flitted back and forth between the boys and the clock non-stop.

“What’s up with you, Cromwell?” Evans had asked. They had noticed. His palms felt sweaty and he wiped them against his thighs.

“Oh, um, nothing! I was just planning to call my sister!” Lavender lied. He didn’t have a sister.


Ahh, finally, now this is good to see, with the main character's little plan coming to the fore and making itself know there. I love the slight bit of tension that this starts to establish within what has so far been a very relaxing conversation here. Its pretty well done there.

“She’s just studying in California at the moment, she’s getting a degree in mathematics.” No, she’s not! She doesn’t even exist! In his head, Lavender was sure that this was it, it was finished, any second they would figure out that he was running away.

“That’s cool! Where is she studying?” think, think!

“Stanford! She’s staying with our uncle. That’s why I went for that drive a year ago,” okay, okay, it’s okay. His voice was slowly becoming steadier, the wavering was settling. The panic was subsiding. “I should probably leave, I did promise to call her after all.” The excuse was flawlessly delivered. He almost gave himself a pat on the back. Lavender made to stand but was held back.


I love those thoughts running through his head there. They are very realistic to how someone might feel in this situation, and this conversation has officially gotten even better now and especially so because now we're finally getting into things that appear directly relevant to this plot.

“Wait, that was you? The one under that weird name?”

“You mean his alias?” James said, grinning. Lavender was feeling betrayed, although why exactly, he wasn’t sure, as he had never told James to keep his mouth shut.

“Uh, yeah, that was me.” Lavender waited for the onslaught of praise.

“That’s amazing! Everyone loved that film! I could have sworn I heard some of our classmates sobbing when it finished,” Sawyer said.

The latter comment left him flushed. The only people who had acknowledged his work to face before were his family, Ezra, and James. Still, he felt uncomfortable, as if the praise was said out of a sense of obligation. Now there was an awkward pause.


Okayy....well, this conversation is coming to a slightly awkward end it seems...with this film festival situation getting discovered and Lavender seemingly embarrassed to be admitting to any of this stuff. That definitely makes things a little bit interesting here...and if nothing else the potential suspicion around him running away is now far from everyone's minds.

“What kind of person goes on a drive like that at two-thirty in the morning with just nobody,” Sawyer asked obtusely, ”and there was so much going on it couldn’t have just been a five-minute drive to McDonald’s.”

James thought Sawyer was pushing it too far, Lavender was visibly distressed. Lavender was strange. James could never tell what he was thinking. Lavender was an enigma, a puzzle James couldn’t solve. Lavender was rather quiet, he rarely hung out with anyone, and yet, here he was. But why? What was special about today, that Lavender decided to join them?


Okayy...well, it seems a few others are starting to pick up on things despite the film festival distraction and now it seems Lavender's plans might just end up being revealed. Its a nice bit of a cliffhanger there to end on.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall, I think this makes for a pretty solid start here. There's enough mystery to get us readers very interested in what's happening. There's a really fun dynamic established with these people here and through their conversations and we end on a nice little cliffhanger there.

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




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Mon Nov 29, 2021 12:56 am
Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

I enjoyed this chapter! I think I've read some of your poetry on here, and it was nice to read some of your prose! This story had some dark academia mystery vibes, which I'm really digging! I loved the bit of intrigue you included with regard to Ezra; really hoping to get to know more about him later on in the story.

One thing I enjoyed about this was how well you introduced the story. I loved the details you gave to Lavender's character. You gave him some quirks along with his passion, filmmaking. (I really love that choice of an interest; I feel like it's one that's not used super often for teens). I also think that first part was a really interesting and compelling thing to begin with. The extensive specifics about the scene were delightful and worked really nicely to hook your reader in right away. Nice work!!

One thing I did notice was that there were some points where you forgot to capitalize the first word of a sentence. A quick proofread would eliminate small errors like that. I just thought I'd point it out!

Specifics

In the middle of the room was a dark figure laying up on the bed.


Since the surrounding sentences are in present tense, this should be "In the middle of the room is a dark figure lying up on the bed."

If never before in his life, had he been so confident in an idea, he was now.


This sentence is phrased a little weirdly. I'd reword it to something like "He'd never been so confident in an idea as he was now."

[ cut ]


I wondered about this. It seems like it would be more at home in a script. To me, it disrupts the flow of the piece, but I wondered what you intended it to do.

“Oh, and the Disney adaptations arent musicals, right, definitely,” James had a sarcastic look on his face as if to say, “Very funny, Lavender. I am very amused.”


Tiny thing: you forgot an apostrophe in "aren't."

James thought Sawyer was pushing it too far, Lavender was visibly distressed. Lavender was strange. James could never tell what he was thinking. Lavender was an enigma, a puzzle James couldn’t solve. Lavender was rather quiet, he rarely hung out with anyone, and yet, here he was. But why? What was special about today, that Lavender decided to join them?


I thought this was interesting; you've got a slight POV switch there, from Lavender to James. I would warn against doing that unless you explicitly state it, because it can cause confusion for the readers.

Overall: nice work! I think this is a really promising start, and I look forward to reading more! Until next time!!




IMK says...


Hey!
Thank you for the review :)

1) fixed!
2) ill reword it slightly, but it's supposed to be something like "compared to this, all else is nothing"
3)yes, the script thing is intended, as film is going to be brought up A LOT
4) Fixed!
5)I find this to be kind of straightforward? I don't really like marking things out too much if I can help it, character pov switches labelled with names are too trope-y for me. IDK

thx again for reading!



Plume says...


You don't have to label the POV switches with names, but making it so that each POV has a distinct scene attached to it is a kindness to readers. When I read that last part, I had to backtrack to see if the entire scene had actually been from James' point of view and upon realizing it wasn't, I tried to find the place where it switched. The point is, it took me out of the story for a bit. I found this article with helpful tips for POV switching, and it does mention having distinctions between POV switches. Hope that helps!




Your presence can give happiness. I hope you remember that.
— Jin, BTS