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16+ Language

The Limitations of a Mechanical Heart- Chapter One

by mayarose823

Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.

Lucetta was dead.

Rin read the letter over and over again, hoping that it was only a dream, praying that her sister wasn’t truly gone. Mascara laden tears dripped from her cheeks, one after another. It simply couldn’t be.

“Well, we all knew it would happen eventually,” Elys said, a snide edge to her voice. “She was incredibly stupid, don’t you think? Running off to the city like that.”

“She wasn’t stupid at all. Lucetta had a dream, and she followed it,” Rin replied brusquely. “It was our fault for never trying to contact her.”

“I never wanted to contact her. She was an embarrassment of a sister.” Elys snapped her fan open to cover her smirk.

“The hell she was!” Rin exclaimed in anger.


Their mother, Bethandra, waltzed into the room. She was beautiful for a woman her age, but severely lacked in kindness. “What is all this commotion about? I expect better of you.”

“Lucetta’s dead,” Rin cried.

“She had it coming,” Elys added.

“Are you certain?” Bethandra snatched the parchment from Rin’s grip and skimmed it. She finished with a hearty chuckle. “Elys is right, Rin. She was an idiotic little thing, leaving our lavish lifestyle for Steamedge. To be an inventor, of all things! The least profitable career.”

“Lucetta did just fine!” Rin argued.

“Don’t spout such lies.” Bethandra crumpled the letter, and with it, Rin’s heart. She tossed it carelessly over her shoulder. “I suggest we put this matter behind us, girls. Our lives will be all the better if we do.”

The news numbed Rin. She recalled her sister’s charming smile, her laughter, her talent…words failed to describe how much Rin admired her, even if they hadn’t spoken in years.

Bethandra decided to throw a dinner party shortly after the letter arrived. She scoffed when Rin accused her of celebrating Lucetta’s death, but Rin had a sinking feeling that was the case. Besides, according to Bethandra and Elys, Lucetta had been tarnishing the Findlay reputation for years. Now that she was gone, perhaps they saw a chance to redeem it.

Isaac arrived earlier than expected. His crooked smile and bright eyes made the world seem so much better, but only for a moment. Rin ran to him in tears.

“Goodness! What’s the matter, love?” he asked gently, lifting his fiancé’s chin so their eyes could meet.

“Lucetta’s gone,” Rin whispered.

They strolled through the gardens to avoid the other guests. Rin explained everything about the letter, and described where Lucetta had gone after leaving home.

“She was ambitious, that’s for certain,” Isaac commented.

“I know. I just can’t believe she’s…”

“It’s all right, Rin. She died doing what she loved.”

“I know, but I wanted to see her again.”

“Perhaps it wasn’t meant to be.”

Isaac pulled Rin closer to him, their lips meeting in a deep kiss. Usually Rin’s troubles would melt away at this. But now, they only grew as she thought of her sister. Did anyone care that she was gone?

“I have to go,” Rin murmured.

“Why? Your mother has put together quite the party.”

“It doesn’t feel right, Isaac. I don’t feel like having fun at the moment, anyway.”

“If that’s how you see it. I’ll be inside, awaiting your company.”

“No.” Rin took Isaac’s hand in hers. “I’m going to Steamedge. Tonight. I can’t sit here and do nothing.”

Isaac’s eyes went wide. “Rin, you can’t. The city isn’t fit for people like us.”

“I don’t care. I’ll go to the workshop, clean it up a bit, pay my respects. I’ll be back in three days’ time at the most.”

“This is insanity! What will your mother say?”

“I don’t plan on telling her. Look, just…keep quiet, will you?”

Isaac was quiet for a moment as he thought. “All right,” he sighed. “Anything for you, love. But please be careful.”

With a final kiss from Isaac, Rin hurried inside to prepare for her journey. Joyous music and extravagant refreshments decorated the small ballroom, invoking a burst of anger within Rin.

“What’s the matter, dear sister?” Elys asked, approaching Rin. Her hair was done up in an ugly little do, and she held a dainty glass of wine in her left hand. She swirled the red liquid before taking a sip. “You seem on edge.”

“You could say that,” Rin huffed. “Move over, please. I must get to my room.”

“Nonsense! It’s a party. Live a little.”

“Move out of my way, please. I won’t say it again.”

“But, Rin-”

Rin bumped into her in an attempt to get away. The wine spilled all down the front of Elys’s dress, looking as if she’d just been shot. “You absolute bitch!” She screamed. Elys dropped the glass in her fit of rage, shards of it sweeping across the floor.

“I told you to get out of my way,” Rin snapped. She hoisted her skirts and hurried to the staircase, scaling at least three steps at a time. If Bethandra heard of this fiasco soon, Rin’s chances of escape would be ruined.

Rin abandoned her heels at the start of the corridor to pick up speed. She scurried to her quarters, threw an aging suitcase onto her bed, and began to toss clothes into it haphazardly. Oh, what would her mother say? Rin was dangerously close to becoming the next family disgrace.

As Rin hurried to leave her home, Isaac pulled her aside one last time. “Don’t do this,” he begged.

“I must,” Rin replied.

“Very well,” Isaac said tearfully “If I can’t stop you…I’ll await your return. I pray your journey is safe.”

“I won’t be gone long,” Rin promised.

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641 Reviews

Points: 46598
Reviews: 641

Mon Sep 30, 2019 5:57 am
Panikos wrote a review...

Hiya, mayarose823! Just dropping in for a quick review.

Rather like Tuckster, I think this opening is a diamond in the rough. I really love your opening sentence - it's an instant hook, and it immediately puts questions into my mind. Who is Lucetta? How did she die? What is the narrator's relationship to her? With that in mind, I'm kind of surprised that the second question never came up in this chapter. Neither Elys or their mother even bothers to ask how she died, not even out of basic curiosity. I find that odd, and also a little dissatisfying, because it could form a great basis for Rin's motivations.

In terms of the biggest weaknesses in this chapter, the characterisation of Rin's sister and mother are probably the most pressing. Like Tuckster says, there's no real subtlety to them, and I find it really hard to believe that they'd be so unperturbed by Lucetta's death. It makes them seem like pantomime villains rather than real, breathing people.

The other major issue is your pacing. All of the events in this chapter happen far too quickly for their own good. You're introducing characters left, right and centre without giving us much chance to get to know them, and they go through massive emotional changes within a short space of time. Breathe out. Take your time. Rin doesn't need to rush off in the first chapter. You've already got your hook, so explore it. Rin gets the letter that Lucetta has died. But how did she die? Does the letter say? Does it not explain fully? I don't know where this story is going, but I feel like Rin's sudden decision to leave would make a lot more sense if she was in pursuit of answers rather than just wanting to pay her respects. That's an idea to consider, at least - perhaps she leaves because she wants to see the workshop and try to piece together what happened, or ask someone who might know.

You can also still keep the bad blood between Elys and Lucetta, but try to make it more complicated and subtle. See it from Elys's perspective. Why does she hate that Lucetta left? Snobbery is one option, but it's shallow and not that interesting to read about. Is there a deeper reason? Is she jealous that Lucetta felt able to shirk her responsibilities and go out into the world? Is it easier to remain angry at Lucetta than to grieve for her?

I'm honestly just spitballing here, but this is the level of detail that you need to think in. I can tell you're a competent writer; you've got an interesting premise that's brimming with potential, and your prose is very fluent. It just needs a little extra dimension. Slow down a little, think more critically about all aspects of your characters' personalities (especially the sister and mother) and maybe strengthen Rin's motivations for leaving. Then you'll have a cracking story on your hands.

Keep writing! :D

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26 Reviews

Points: 28
Reviews: 26

Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:18 am
LewisPencastle2 wrote a review...

I really liked this intro. There was a lot of depth already in the setting, which seemed to be almost 19th century Victorian England (Unless I'm wrong, and in that case the setting's just interesting in general). The foreshadowing is great, both in the title and place names like Steamedge and I'm sure most people would be compelled to read more. The only thing is some more description could enhance it a bit more.

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553 Reviews

Points: 30367
Reviews: 553

Tue Sep 24, 2019 2:39 am
Tuckster wrote a review...

Hey there mayarose823! Tuck stopping by for a short story.

You have the workings of a quite incredible story on your hands! I see a lot of potential in this, and it's clear that you have a plan for where you're going with this story. The subtle details in here hinted to a remarkably crafted world, without being too overbearing. You drew me in effectively with the beginning and captivated me all the way through the end. It was truly spectacularly done!

However, there were a couple small areas I think you could improve moving forward. I'll do my best to point them out to you and you can do what you want with them!

Their mother, Bethandra, waltzed into the room. She was beautiful for a woman her age, but severely lacked in kindness.

Here's an example of telling where it would have been better to show. Just a few moments later, you demonstrate how Bethandra is unkind and harsh, so you don't really need to have this sentence here at all. To show her beauty, you could describe her physical features, whatever it is that makes her beautiful. The verb "waltzed" here is a good way to show her elegance and her value on being "proper".

Plotwise, I liked the way that Rin was the only one in her family who seemed to care about her misfit sister's death, but I think you could have been a little more subtle about this. Very, very few families would react this harshly to the death of a family member, and it made the story slightly more unrealistic and harder to relate to. Perhaps one family member could react this way and the other could respond slightly less dramatically but in a way that still demonstrated a lack of care?

Likewise, I feel as if Isaac gave in a little too easily. He went from being very staunchly opposed to the idea to being willing to cover for her while she embarks on this dangerous journey. It was a very quick turn-around, and I think he could have given way slightly slower or only relented once he saw that there was no other option.

But overall, this was an impressive beginning, and I really enjoyed it! There was some real skill shown here in the way that you executed this, and I would love to read more! If you post more chapters, please tag me so I can keep up with this! Thank you for sharing this, and enjoy the rest of your night :)


mayarose823 says...

Thank you so much! This really is going to help!:)

The first draft is a trip to the amusement park. The next drafts are returning there as a safety inspector.
— SunsetTree