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18+ Language Mature Content

Too Much Blank Space, Not Enough Vomit - Ch. 10.1

by LordStar


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

That Saturday, Ethan collected as much of his tip money as he could and drove the Camaro out to a deserted stretch of road in the outskirts of town. The road was made of dirt, flanked on either side by overgrown grass. Off to the right was an abandoned farm with an empty (and definitely haunted, Ethan thought) house and a decaying barn. In the left field, muscle cars were being parked as the racers came in, and a bonfire was burning not too far away. People were milling about, smoking cigarettes and talking to each other as they watched the competition pull up. Ethan parked the Camaro and got out, lighting a cigarette - something he seldom did - as he did so. He walked towards the bonfire, where he saw Lip.

Lip took a sip from the bottle of beer in his hand and flashed Ethan a grin. "What's up?" He was just a bit drunk.

"You're not old enough to drink," Ethan scolded, his older brother instincts coming out as he was reminded of Rhys.

"Lighten up, Hartman," Lip only grinned wider. "Untwist your panties and crack open a cold one. At least try and have a good time."

Ethan sighed, but grabbed a beer and twisted it open anyway. Lip was right. It was Ethan's night off, and Leah was babysitting Rhys. Ethan could stand to relax.

Ethan took a seat by the fire and sipped on his beer, watching Lip. His brother's best friend (with benefits? Ethan wondered) was chatting and laughing with an ebony-skinned man in his early twenties. It seemed to be more than friendship, though; longing glances, casual touches that lingered just a bit too long, stolen whispers. Ethan watched it all but said nothing; he didn't know what was going on between Rhys and Lip, and it wasn't his place to say anything.

Before he knew it, Ethan had lost count of how many beers he'd had. But when it came time to race, he stumbled his way, quite drunkenly, from the bonfire to the Camaro.

The Camaro edged forward, Ethan leaning back in the driver's seat as he squinted at the guy holding the light. God, he was so drunk. Had he ever been this drunk before? When was the last time he had drank? He couldn't remember; with a jolt, he realized the man had flashed the light and he hit the gas, sending the Camaro rocketing forward. He was going very fast, watching the speedometer rise above 60, 70, 80; he was weaving all over the road; had he crossed the finish line? He grinned to himself, laughing, glad he had won but suddenly the car veered, tires squealing as he pressed the brakes too late and the front end crashed into a bale of hay sitting in the field next to the wall of the barn.

"Fuck!" Ethan thumped the steering wheel. He hoped the front end of the Camaro wouldn't be too fucked up.

"Hey, hey!" Lip was running towards him, followed by a few other guys. Ethan opened the door and fell flat onto the ground, face first. He pulled himself to his feet, wavering and grinning.

"Dude, are you okay?" Lip looked wild, eyes wide as he took Ethan by the arms and shook him. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Ethan waved them away, lumbering forward to take a look at the front end. It wasn't as badly fucked up as he had assumed, which made him grin again. Lip was pulling by the arm back towards the fire.

"Okay, you are way too drunk. Come sit down."

Ethan scowled, but allowed himself to be led back to his chair and sat in it. He pouted a bit as he stared at the fire, suddenly overcome with drunken sadness. He reached for another beer.

"Nope," Lip pulled it out of his hand before he could open it, handing him a bottle of water instead. "You need to take a break from drinking for a bit, amigo."

Ethan grumbled but took a drink of the water anyway. At least from his seat he could see the track and watch the other races. He wished Leah were there with him, and wondered what she and Rhys were getting up to.


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Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:56 am
Panikos wrote a review...



Hiya, LordStar.

Nitpicks:

"You're not old enough to drink," Ethan scolded, his older brother instincts coming out as he was reminded of Rhys.


The bold feels a bit expository. It's also kind of...jarring, given where the last chapter left off. Why is Ethan getting big brother instinct for someone he threatened a few days ago?

He was going very fast, watching the speedometer rise above 60, 70, 80; he was weaving all over the road; had he crossed the finish line? He grinned to himself, laughing, glad he had won but suddenly the car veered, tires squealing as he pressed the brakes too late and the front end crashed into a bale of hay sitting in the field next to the wall of the barn.


Unlike Bisc, I personally think this description needs more to it. It's too clinical and rushed for me, not really delving into Ethan's point of view. Give us a bit more description of how the speed feels, and how the whole world cants sideways when he presses the breaks, and how the bale of hay fills the windscreen. Describe the stunned moment after the car stops and Ethan realises what he's done.

Overall, this chapter is a bit of a strange one. Ethan's always seemed like a fairly sensible character, so getting behind the wheel while drunk seems fairly out of character for him. This could be a really interesting contradiction in his character - that he can be just as reckless as Rhys, despite taking responsibility for him - but I feel like the reasoning behind it needs surer footing. Why did he drink so much? Why was he so stupid as to get behind the wheel, while knowing how drunk he was? I feel like it would be more believable if there was a kind of...incentive. If something had happened that made Ethan particularly stressed or fed up, then I'd understand why he was behaving so wildly. But this chapter is kind of out-of-nowhere and I'm not fully sure what it achieves. I don't really get why Ethan is hanging out with Lip, anyway. It doesn't seem like they're particularly close. Hanging out with your sibling's best friend when they're not there seems like it'd be awkward at the best of times, let alone when you know said best friend got your sibling pregnant.

So while I like the idea of this chapter and the new dimension it adds to Ethan's character, I feel like it could've been set up better, and I'd have liked it to be a bit longer. The moment where he crashes the car feels like such a climactic point, but you rush past it rather than savouring it. I think like you could've developed Lip and Ethan's conversation, too. You never once allude to how their previous interaction left off, even though Ethan's threat would surely be playing on both of their minds. Even if they both acted like it had never happened, it would still add to the awkwardness.

Keep writing! :D
~Pan




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Sun Aug 04, 2019 4:26 pm
DougalOfBiscuits wrote a review...



Hey Oli, my motivation is in a slightly weird place at the moment where I have energy but don't want to write just now, so have a review!

Nit-picks:

Ethan parked the Camaro and got out, lighting a cigarette - something he seldom did - as he did so.

repetition of "did" slightly distracting

Overall:

Are you always this good at description? Idk what it was but I could really strongly visualise this chapter. I think it was the big paragraph from Ethan getting in the car to crashing it. That was really well balanced between description and action, so that the pacing worked as well. I got really hooked into that chapter; it flowed really well.

I think I have a slight issue with Ethan and Lip switching places here. As in, Ethan starts off being the big brother figure, and Lip ends up taking care of him. I think it's the drink that gets him there, but I'd like to see that happen more gradually. I guess it's sudden for Ethan too, but there's probably a way for it to be zoomed out so that we the reader can see the change in Ethan even if he doesn't realise it's happening. Maybe a conversation with Lip where he starts to slur - or maybe asks him something slightly inappropriate about Rhys - so it's not as big of a leap. Because at first I was like "wait if he's in big brother mode why the hell is he being so irresponsible?"

Hope this helps,
Biscuits :)





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— Isaac Bashevis Singer