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18+ Language Mature Content

Too Much Blank Space, Not Enough Vomit - Ch. 1.2

by LordStar

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

Rhys exited the house twenty minutes later, wiping spit and semen from the corner of his mouth with the back of his hand as he pocketed the baggie of cocaine. He climbed into the passenger seat of the pickup truck and Lip started the engine, pulling away from the curb smoothly. Rhys dipped his finger into the baggie of cocaine and rubbed a small bit onto his gums, which turned numb as they moved down Lexington Avenue back towards Westminster street. They began their way back to the Woodwitch apartments.

The Victorian houses gave way to skyscrapers and large, square buildings made of brick, one local government office or another. The closer they got to the inner city, the more crowded everything became, with narrow streets and the buildings becoming inches from one another. Lip switched lanes and then slowed, turning with ease into the driveway that led back to the apartments parking lot. He parked the truck in between his mother's beat-up Plymouth and Ethan's old orange Camaro.

Rhys got out first and led the other inside, up the four flights of stairs and a little bit down the hall until they reached the door of 404. He unclipped his keys from his belt loop and inserted the door key into the lock, turning it and the doorknob at the same time to let them in. Six months ago he would have dropped his backpack onto the floor as he walked in; but high school dropouts (or rather kicked-outs) didn't carry backpacks.

The apartment was modest and just enough for Rhys and Ethan. The front door opened into the living room, which held a second-hand brown leather couch they had found at Goodwill in the center. In front of the couch was a square coffee table, and against the wall beyond that was a small flat screen tv sitting on a tv stand, both of which Ethan had gotten them during a Black Friday sale. To the right of the front door was the kitchen doorway, leading into the small kitchen. A small corridor held the stove and fridge on the left side, with the sink and cabinets on the right. There were dishes in the sink that Rhys made a note of to remind himself to do later. The kitchen table shoved into the remaining square of the kitchen had two chairs, was covered in bills and notes from Ethan to Rhys, and had several stains visible on its marbled white surface.

Rhys walked past the kitchen towards the hallway. His bedroom was the first door on the left; across from it was the bathroom, and at the end of the hallway was Ethan's room, whose door always remained closed. Rhys opened his own bedroom door and Lip followed him into the room. Against the far wall was the nicest piece of furniture Rhys owned, a vintage writing desk Ethan had gotten him for his birthday two years ago. On it was his laptop, a few empty plastic water bottles, a cup, a paper plate, crumpled pieces of paper, empty baggies and a stack of Stephen King books. Rhys peeled off his jacket and draped it across the back of the desk chair before taking a seat in it. Lip took a seat onto the black and red diamond bedspread fitted over Rhys' bed, which was shoved into the left bottom corner of the room. Lip let his eyes rove over the bags of fast food and piles of clothes on the floor, remnants of Rhys' most recent manic episode. He glanced at the nightstand where Rhys' bipolar meds were, the orange prescription bottle full and untouched. Rhys was busy pouring a bit of cocaine onto the desk and arranging it into a line with the same razor he used to cut himself. When it was a neat strip, he bent his head and snorted it smoothly before glancing at Lip.

"Want some?"

Lip shook his head. "No thanks."

He leaned back against the bed, resting on his elbows as he lit a cigarette. Ethan didn't like them smoking in the apartment but the overflowing ashtrays scattered throughout the room was evident of how frequently Rhys refused to care. Rhys plotted out another line of coke and snorted it, leaning his head back and watching the ceiling as the dope coursed through his bloodstream and everything was pulled into high definition. His brain no longer felt like it was ten seconds ahead of everything, the world and his inner vision lining up perfectly as the euphoric high overcame him. He watched the shapes bloom across the ceiling in kaleidoscope colors.

"Ethan working late?"

Lip's voice drew Rhys out of his drug-induced trance. He had forgotten the other young man was there. "Yeah."

"Wanna come over for dinner? It's taco Tuesday."

"God, a Garcia burrito sounds fucking fantastic."

Lip took a drag off his cigarette and checked his phone. It was six, which meant that his family downstairs would start making dinner in about half an hour. Enough time for Rhys' high to wear off. The question was, how to get Rhys from taking more after that point. Lip sighed as he thought about it. Rhys had gone back to staring at the ceiling, muttering under his breath. Lip tossed him the prescription bottle.

"You should take your meds."

Rhys caught them easily, setting the bottle onto the desk without opening it. "Don't need them."

"Dude, you know how using fucks with your mood swings."

"You sound like Ethan," Rhys rolled his eyes. "I'm fine."

"You're self-medicating."


Lip realized there was no point in arguing and grew silent to let the point drop. He took a drag off his cigarette and exhaled smoke, handing the cigarette to Rhys to finish. Rhys took it between his fingers and took a long, long drag off of it.

"You and Kathy?" he asked eventually, even if to only fill the silence. He hated Kathy, though he knew that he only hated her out of jealousy.

"Good," Lip nodded slowly, putting his hands behind his head and staring at the ceiling. "We're good."

“That’s good,” Rhys turned his head to look down at his desk, sealing the baggie of coke and laying it on his laptop. He got up and began to pace, overcome with manic energy from the cocaine. He could feel his mind starting to slip, starting to chase that manic energy as it slipped away even though his last hit was only minutes ago. With the decrease of the high came the crash, the dip in his mood, his climbing irritability, the way he wanted to punch the wall and throw things off the desk and out of the window, the way the world was now too high definition, so sharp it made his eyes hurt, so sharp that it began to vibrate at the edges, the nausea clawing at the inside of his stomach, the voices running, shouting through the cavity of his skull, bouncing off his brain like bullets, pushing him down, down into the ocean, he couldn't breathe, he couldn't see the light, couldn't tell which way was up or down or sideways but he could feel himself sinking, down down down towards the birth canal, his windpipe restricted, his lungs inflating with cold water, he was there, he was there it was like an orgasm in all the wrong ways, body convulsing, the energy leaving him, the overwhelming slaps to his organs, it was too much, too much and yet not enough, chasing chasing chasing -

"Rhys. Rhys!"

Someone was shaking him. Rhys opened his eyes, swaying where he stood as his eyes blinked Lip into focus. Lip's face was full of concern.

"Dude, you've just been standing here with your eyes closed for the past twenty minutes. Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Rhys wavered, stumbling a bit. He collapsed into the desk chair and lit a cigarette with shaky hands. Lip remained where he was on one of the rare empty spots of black-and-gray checkered carpet in the room, staring Rhys down.

"Are you sure you're okay?"

"Fine," Rhys repeated, exhaling smoke through his nose and not meeting Lip's gaze. His high was dissipating rather quickly now, the blood in his veins slowing, the vibrating edges of his vision coming to a halt.

"Give it to me."

His eyes snapped up to Lip, who was holding out his hand expectantly. "Give what to you?"

"The dope, idiot."

Rhys let out an involuntary snort. "No way."

"Either you do dinner sober or no burrito for you."

"I don't need to give my dope to you to stay sober," Rhys replied, even as he itched to take another line. "Believe it or not, I'm a recreational user, not a junkie."

"Says the guy who sucked dick to get drugs."

Rhys fell silent at that, the heat of shame flushing up his neck and cheeks. He looked down at his desk, clearing his throat quietly. Lip sat on the bed.

"Sorry, that was a bit mean."

"It's fine," Rhys muttered, picking up a piece of crumpled paper and uncrumpling it, only to recrumple it again.

"Come on," Lip said eventually, standing. "Let's go help with dinner."

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1705 Reviews

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Reviews: 1705

Sat Jul 06, 2019 6:22 pm
BlueAfrica wrote a review...

Okay! Back for the rest of chapter 1 and the start of chapter 2.

Starting off with setting/description in this chapter. You obviously give us the layout of the apartment plus the most noticeable/important things, like the Goodwill sofa. On the note of the apartment, I don't know if you knew this already or not or if you care or not, but I'm pretty sure you're describing a galley kitchen - basically just a tiny hallway with a bit of kitchen on either side? So I don't know if you wanted a quicker way to describe that, since until we get to the kitchen table you're not really describing anything particular to Ethan and Rhys and saying "galley kitchen" would more quickly get across how tiny and cramped their kitchen is, but I thought I'd let you know just in case.

As far as the city goes on their drive back to the apartment, I feel like we start to get a good vibe of the city, but I kinda want more specifics? I like the way you describe things getting closer together as they get closer to downtown, but I'm wondering what kind of downtown it is, for example. Like, okay. Like how Columbus' downtown is really busy and bustling and there are all these cute little shops if you're in the Short North and all these German-American things if you're in German Village and all around there are all these tall, shiny, chromey/windowy buildings. But then Toledo's downtown is right on the waterfront and the buildings are generally shorter, older-looking brick buildings, with just a few really tall, shiny buildings, and a lot more of the storefronts are empty and say "for rent," and there's a waterfront park - generally a little more rundown and less busy than Columbus' downtown, but also art sneaks up on you all over the place, like there are little murals on the sides of so many different buildings and knitting projects wrapped around lampposts and bike racks like someone thought those things would get cold.

Like I guess I'm just wondering what the overall tenor of the city is, at least the bits Lip and Rhys are driving through right now - is it more rundown overall? nicer overall? and if it is rundown, is it more like it's given up or more like it's rundown but still fighting and trying to make a comeback? Is there public transit? What kinds?

Also now I'm wondering how close they live to downtown, because in a thriving downtown in particular (but also downtowns in general) a two-bedroom apartment could get pretty darn pricey.


Once we get into the apartment, I think you do a good job introducing Rhys' bipolar disorder and how much of a mess he is - with access to meds but refusing to take them - but this is introduced unobtrusively rather than being super in my face. I'm curious to find out why Rhys doesn't take his meds. Is he anti-med? Does he resent being labeled with a mental illness? Does he dislike the side effects and/or the way his meds interact with his illicit drug use and/or the number of different meds he's had to try to find some that work for him?

I really like the paragraph about the manic energy and the high. The run-on sentence really gives a sense of Rhys' mind racing - which makes it really jarring, in a very intentional way, I think, when we find out he's just been zoned out for twenty minutes. Poor Lip. On that note, I like the dip into omniscient narration as Lip thinks about how to keep Rhys from taking anymore so he'll be sober for dinner. It gives us a good insight into how Rhys' family and friends try to deal with/work around his drug problem. This also reminds me of the way Jane Austen uses omniscience, where mostly you get the protagonist's viewpoint but now and then you get a line or two about society in general or another character.

(My favorite is in Pride & Prejudice, when Mr Darcy is thinking about the danger Lizzie poses to him or something and his brother-in-law is just thinking about breakfast.)

Anyway, I don't remember how much of that shows up so far, but I'll probably try to pay attention to it as I read on - I think it could be really effective and I'm curious to see where else it pops up.

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Wed May 08, 2019 4:53 pm
LordWolf wrote a review...

Hey Oliver. I decided that I should probably work on reviewing these today and I'm a little bit surprised that so many of the chapters are still in the green room.

I know you were worried about the length of these chapters and the way that the story fit together, but I've read enough of the chapters to think it works for the story you're presenting. This part, as the second part of the first chapter, is working pretty seamlessly. You have a strong beginning to the story, wrapping up all of these different details about the main characters. So far the readers only really know about Rhys and they know a bit about Lip, but the reader is already engaged and concerned about this poor boy.

In other overall things, I am a bit bothered by the near walls of text. I appreciate that you have a lot of details going into this chapter in your descriptions. And I'm not telling you to get rid of any details because they are all necessary to the end point and make this narrative interesting. But I am going to suggest that you split up the blocks a bit.

Just make it more digestible.

I admit that I got a bit hung up when trying to read through Rhys's big paragraph of narrative and the details that went into that point. Like I said, all of the details are necessary. Hearing these different things about the details of Rhys's room and how he's seeing everything going on relays a specific image to the reader. Give them the space to really appreciate the work going into this.

This also comes up in the section where Rhys is on his narrative about being high and the paragraph is just one run on sentence. I understand why it's like that. And I know why it's there. But in the terms of a critique, it's still going to be bothering me to some extent. I don't know how you would rework the narrative bits here to be less consuming but that's just like a general trouble point.

I know things about Lip from reading far further on in this story, but I think the reader can appreciate Lip at this point. They might have the tendency to take him the wrong way though? Like I can see Lip being called a bad person for the way he treats Rhys? For him being nice and allowing Rhys to do certain things, but then also being a bit controlling in his behavior to try and help Rhys.
So we'll see where that goes for the further parts of this chapter.

I don't have any specific lines to pick at so I'm just going to roll on to the next chapter.
Good job.
- Jack <3

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737 Reviews

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Thu Apr 18, 2019 11:33 pm
DougalOfBiscuits wrote a review...

Heyo, let's see if we can't rescue this chapterfriend from the green room.

Nit-picks and nice moments:

Rhys exited the house twenty minutes later, wiping spit and semen from the corner of his mouth with the back of his hand as he pocketed the baggie of cocaine

I loooove this opening. So casually put, so graphically put. I am very firmly in this story.

Rhys dipped his finger into the baggie of cocaine

I've always wondered, does "baggie" mean something specific? It sounds weirdly cute for the purpose it's being put to, but I've noticed that's the word you always use.

The Victorian houses gave way to skyscrapers and large, square buildings made of brick, one local government office or another.

I think I mentioned last time about your description being an improvement on your last draft. This remains the case.

Rhys got out first and led the other inside

"the other" is slightly odd phrasing here

Rhys peeled off his jacket

Maybe a new paragraph here. Makes it less wall of text-y. There's also A Lot in the rest of this paragraph, so it's already kind of chaotic. It would probably make sense to confine all those things to their own paragraph and have the basic details of the flat layout separate.

Lip's voice drew Rhys out of his drug-induced trance. He had forgotten the other young man was there. "Yeah."

I'm not sure it feels like enough time has passed for this to make sense.

Lip took a drag off his cigarette and checked his phone. It was six, which meant that his family downstairs would start making dinner in about half an hour.

Perspective changes mid-chapter are a legit thing, but just make sure you have a handle on it.

"You and Kathy?" he asked eventually, even if to only fill the silence. He hated Kathy, though he knew that he only hated her out of jealousy.

See the problem with mixed perspectives is that it took me a while here to figure out who "he" was.

"Come on," Lip said eventually, standing. "Let's go help with dinner."

Are they not going out for dinner?


Basically everything seems in order here. There's the concerned friend that Rhys isn't listening to, though quicker to back off than the Ethan of previous drafts. There's a really good description of Rhys's high, which is also a good use of the big monster paragraph and one I wouldn't break up into smaller paragraphs.

The only thing I'm worried about is that Rhys is right, Lip does sound like Ethan. He's saying a lot of the things that Ethan would say, and I think he maybe ought to have his own spin on it. Maybe his language could be different, maybe some more slang. Basically, if there's ever a scene of the three of them, I need to be able to tell the difference between the two characters of Lip and Ethan, so that they become something other than the similar role they play for Rhys. Obviously it's only chapter 1 so you have plenty of time, but definitely keep this in mind.

That said, Lip did back off when Ethan might not have. That may be something to build on. Why does he back off? Does he understand better? Does he not feel he has the authority over Rhys that Ethan does? Does he not want to upset Rhys - is he maybe more sensitive?

Hope this helps,
Biscuits :)

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
— W. Somerset Maugham