Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Novel / Chapter » Teen Fiction

18+ Language Mature Content

Art Gazing in Denver: Ch. 2.1

by Bullet


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

The room was small, but cozy. It had the stereotypical leather couch against one wall, facing a single, padded chair with rose-covered upholstery, a small coffee table in between the two. On the table was the therapist’s – Stephanie, as she told Rhys to call her – MacBook, a legal pad, and a single pen. The room was lit with a tall floor lamp, casting the room in a soft, gentle glow. Stephanie took a seat in the rose-upholstered chair, gesturing for Rhys to take a seat on the couch. He did so, sitting cross-legged across from her.

“So,” Stephanie said.

“So,” Rhys replied, picking at his skin again. Stephanie crossed one leg over the other and rested the legal pad on her knee, writing something down. Rhys forced himself to stop, but it was only a moment or two before he compulsively started again.

“You’re here on account of your brother,” Stephanie said. It wasn’t a question, and yet it made Rhys shift in his seat, as all questions do. He crossed his legs beneath him, looking at the wall behind her.

“Yeah. It was his idea for me to go back to therapy.”

"You don't sound very happy about the idea," Stephanie noted, scribbling on her legal pad again. Rhys' gaze darted to the paper and away again. He stopped pretending to see her, leaning back and shoving his hands in his jacket pockets, staring out of the window on the wall as he thought about whether three stories was high enough.

"Therapy is pointless."

Stephanie looked at him for a moment, then flipped the previous page of her legal pad over, reading it over.

"Says in my notes that you were hospitalized last summer in the Our Lady of Peace psychiatric facility. What was that for?"

Rhys gave her a small smile. "I'm sure your notes tell you."

"You tried to kill yourself after you were sexually assaulted," Stephanie replied, looking up from her legal pad and arching an eyebrow at him. "The notes say a lot of things, Rhys, but I'm more concerned with your side of the story."

"The notes are pretty spot on."

"Was this suicide attempt before or after Jason was incarcerated?"

Rhys stiffened, his face immediately going passive as he straightened his back, crossing his arms over his chest. "Jason has nothing to do with it."

"It was just a question."

Rhys glared at her for a long moment. "Before."

Another note. "And how did you like Our Lady of Peace, Rhys? Did it help you?"

"I think if it had, I wouldn't be sitting here."

"Not necessarily," Stephanie countered, meeting his gaze evenly. "For a lot of people, therapy is a life-long process, especially when it comes to processing trauma."

“I don’t have ‘trauma’.”

“You don’t consider sexual assault to be traumatizing?” Stephanie arched an eyebrow at him. Rhys shrugged.

“Guess it depends on the person.”

The room dripped its way into silence after he spoke, a soft awkwardness ballooning in the air around them.

“And what kind of a person do you think you are, Rhys?” Stephanie leaned back in her chair and surveyed him over the rims of her glasses.

Rhys shifted in his seat. “A Kentucky summer sunrise.”

Stephanie only continued to passively stare at him, leaving the floor open for him to elaborate. Rhys shifted in his seat again, returning his gaze to the window, where soft sunlight dappled at the glass.

“A Kentucky summer sunrise,” he said again.

“And what kind of person is a Kentucky summer sunrise?”

He failed to answer, for a long time, seeming lost in thought as he stared at the floor. After about fifteen minutes, nearing the end of their intake session, his head lifted, and he looked her in the eye.

“That’s what I’ve spent my whole life trying to figure out.”

--

He felt wrong when he got home.

He found an odd, depressing sort of solace in cleaning, like he always did. So that’s what he proceeded to do: he gathered his dirty laundry, cleaned the trash of his bedroom floor, cleared his desk of the old crumpled papers; took the hoard of dirty dishes to the kitchen; stacked his books into piles, and when he was dissatisfied with that, put them away in the crates under his bed. He went to the kitchen again, where he scrubbed the stains off the table; cleaned out the fridge; did the dishes; he dusted the living room, cleaned his bong, took his laundry downstairs and started the wash. When he was done with it all, two hours’ worth, he sat at his desk chair and rewarded himself with a smoke session, feeling marginally better, but still wrong; like a car that always pulled slightly to the left, or moldy yogurt, or glasses that were dirty, smudged with fingerprints and slight hints of grease.

He exhaled smoke from the latest bong hit and checked the time. It was around seven, and yet there were many hours to go until his brother would be home; sometime in the very early morning, and after that, he would head straight to sleep, exhausted as he always was, and delaying the brothers meeting again even further; Rhys tried not to be bitter about it, steering his mind away from the haunting thought that he was always alone, and then steering it again from Jason, where it always tended to try and settle. Thinking of his brother reminded him of last year, and desperate to forget that, he took another harsh hit before putting a vinyl on.

But the best way to forget about anything, Rhys had found, was sex. He liked having it, liked the way it made him feel, almost as if he were wanted, even maybe loved; and if anything, it was so physical he could stop thinking for a while, focus purely on the sensations, lose himself in them until everything in his brain ceased to exist, and until all it became was a chase, a never-ending one at that, and ay, there’s the rub; he liked when things were so extreme he could feel them, the feeling of ecstasy, the feeling of mania, the feeling of good, the feeling of anything, the incessant, penetrating, constant want and need to feel something.

He picked up his phone, and texted Lip.


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
446 Reviews


Points: 18818
Reviews: 446

Donate
Sun Jan 26, 2020 11:53 pm
Tuckster wrote a review...



Hey Kanyon, Tuck swinging by with a review to finish off this review day. I don't believe I've ever reviewed for you before (although I may or may not have sneak-read portions in pads before), so I'm excited to give you some official feedback on this project!

Right off the bat, you used a really compelling narrative voice that really captured the story well. I'm a little envious of your ability to get the amount of details so spot-on. There's definitely an element of poetry to your writing that makes it really beautiful and artistic, which kept my interest throughout. You really do have a gift for both poetry and prose and I hope you continue developing it!

The scene with the therapist was well-written and included details that made it feel legitimate. I liked the way that the emphasis on note-taking impacted Rhys and the way he responded to that; his fidgets and the small glimpses of his thoughts tease the reader with just a little bit of an idea of what he's thinking about. One area I think you could improve in that section is the way that you included Kentucky summer sunrise. It felt strange that this was something he could immediately state as something that characterized him, but later struggled to explain why it fit him. I understand the importance of tying in the title, but maybe you could have slipped it in a little bit at a time to kind of model the process of figuring it out. Maybe in this chapter he calls himself a "sunrise", and then later determines me is more of a summer sunrise, and so forth. That gives the idea more time to progress and therefore would be more impactful than just throwing it into the story so early on.

Moving on to the next scene, I like the way that you showed his compulsions through example. You continued the trend of portraying his mental health with deep acuity without spelling it out for the reader, and even though it was short, it captured an important moment that gives the reader more of a glimpse into his personality. It's clear that Rhys is a very fleshed-out, deep, and emotional main character, and I'm finding that I like him already and want to continue following his journey. One potential area of improvement that I see is the amount of synonyms. You used a different cadence of prose here, and while it was effective for the most part, I think you should limit the long-winded list of synonyms to one spot. I identified two areas where I felt that you intentionally echoed similar ideas in different phrasing --

he gathered his dirty laundry, cleaned the trash of his bedroom floor, cleared his desk of the old crumpled papers; took the hoard of dirty dishes to the kitchen; stacked his books into piles, and when he was dissatisfied with that, put them away in the crates under his bed. He went to the kitchen again, where he scrubbed the stains off the table; cleaned out the fridge; did the dishes; he dusted the living room, cleaned his bong, took his laundry downstairs and started the wash. When he was done with it all, two hours’ worth, he sat at his desk chair and rewarded himself with a smoke session, feeling marginally better, but still wrong; like a car that always pulled slightly to the left, or moldy yogurt, or glasses that were dirty, smudged with fingerprints and slight hints of grease.


it was so physical he could stop thinking for a while, focus purely on the sensations, lose himself in them until everything in his brain ceased to exist, and until all it became was a chase, a never-ending one at that, and ay, there’s the rub; he liked when things were so extreme he could feel them, the feeling of ecstasy, the feeling of mania, the feeling of good, the feeling of anything, the incessant, penetrating, constant want and need to feel something.


These are both placed very close to each other and are stretching grammatical conventions -- which is totally okay, but I think that putting these two thoughts so close together leads to the second one losing some of its effect. At that point, you're toeing the line of moving from poetic, long-winded sentiments to rambling thoughts. I'll leave the solution for that to you, and it's up to you if you want to change anything and how you want to adjust it, as you know your goal with those two sections better than I ever could.

Anyway, I'll leave you with that for now. I hope some of my notes and impressions were helpful to you and I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have. Best of luck with this, and please, keep writing!

~Tuck




User avatar
760 Reviews


Points: 34796
Reviews: 760

Donate
Sun Jan 26, 2020 8:42 pm
ExOmelas wrote a review...



Hey Kanyon, I clicked on my reviews to see what stories I was in the middle of and saw this one. I know you haven't written it in a while, but I figured I might as well since it's still in the green room :)

“So,” Rhys replied, picking at his skin again. Stephanie crossed one leg over the other and rested the legal pad on her knee, writing something down. Rhys forced himself to stop, but it was only a moment or two before he compulsively started again.

oof I feel you Rhys

staring out of the window on the wall as he thought about whether three stories was high enough.

bigger oof o.o

feeling marginally better, but still wrong; like a car that always pulled slightly to the left, or moldy yogurt, or glasses that were dirty, smudged with fingerprints and slight hints of grease.

This is such good description. The car example especially really resonates with me

He picked up his phone, and texted Lip.

ahaha I like the implication there. Very deadpan

Overall:

This is still my favourite draft of this I've seen, I think. You've sustained the plot line well because the last one mentioned him having to go back to therapy, then this one saw that happen. Plus, the therapy session had like, a key moment in it, I think? For me at least, it was really important when he said that it depends on the person whether or not you get trauma from sexual assault. First of all, my instinct is that that isn't true, but maybe it is? I'm sure trauma can manifest itself in different ways, so maybe some people experience it less? Idk, the point is that was thought provoking, and it feels like a question that could be answered over the course of the story. If you're going to continue with this, I might maintain the focus on trauma - what it is, how it's felt, how do you know it's there, etc. It's your story, of course, but that's what's grabbing me most about this draft.

Hope this helps,
Biscuits :)




ExOmelas says...


oh, one other thing. I'm not sure it's believable for someone to come out with the words "kentucky summer sunrise" but I started to get the feeling that Rhys had already spent time thinking up this phrase, so that makes sense. Flagging that up just in case




Who, being loved, is poor?
— Oscar Wilde