Young Writers Society


16+ Language

LMS VI: Let Me Live Tonight 1.11

by winterwolf0100


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

I pressed my face against the window, the glass cold on my cheek. I sat silently in the front seat of my dad's car-- he was driving me to my mom's house. I was fourteen, the world a cascade of grey as we drove down the road. Silent. We passed church after church in the country, and I watched them blankly. Most were empty-- it was the middle of a Saturday morning. I'd left an assignment at my mom's house that was due on Monday; needless to say, my dad was not happy to be making the drive all the way through downtown to get it. I watched his fingers clench and unclench around the steering wheel as he stared at the traffic, blank-faced.

We slowed as a light turned yellow, then red. The air hung in a thick mist outside the window, the coolness just after the rain-- or possibly just before. I don't remember. But I remember the drops on the windshield. I remember the squeak my dad's wipers made. It took him months to get them fixed; they drove me crazy every time the storms came.

I let out a breath of air and watched the window fog up. Through the haziness, I watched a long parade of people stream suddenly out of a church on the corner, people wearing black and carrying pamphlets. Some held umbrellas, pops of color to stand out against the sea of grey.

"Oh," my dad said, like he was somehow regretful. He stared at the crowd, young and old, black and white, faces blue despite the grey as they made their way slowly out of the building.

"What's oh?" I asked quietly, glancing over at him.

"It's a funeral for a young person," he murmured, and I sat up straighter in my seat as I looked at him, then back out the window.

"How can you tell?" I didn't see any signs, couldn't make out any pamphlets or pictures.

"There are just a lot of young people there. And usually, the younger the person, the more the attendants."

I watched the people filing out of the building, tried to process how old most of them were. Many looked like they were my age. Was it someone in high school? Someone younger?

The light turned green, but people were walking in the street, heading to cars, blocking traffic. They blinked as the light hit their eyes after their time in the church, hugged each other, talked and shook hands. My dad slowly inched forward, and a part of me wanted him to stop-- put it in park. Let me climb out of the car, go inside, look at the world through the stain-glass windows and stare through the fragments of color at the coffin. Ask who they were, how old they'd been. How had it happened?

A clearing in the crowd surfaced and my dad sped through. I sighed and leaned my head back against the window, watching them disappear in the side-view mirror. My mind wandered as I thought about my dad's words-- the younger the person, the more the attendants. It seemed like the opposite should be true. If you were around to meet more people, shouldn't more people come?

I stared out the window absent-mindedly, thinking of all the people my age who had walked out of the funeral. They'd given up a Saturday morning to go to that. Had they wanted to? Had their parents forced them? Maybe there were people who had wanted to go but hadn't.

That funeral stuck in my mind. It stuck with me when I started my homework; when I went back to school the next week; through the divorce trial and the migraines. I think about it now, staring up at the goddamned ceiling in the dark. The knives are stabbing at my eyes. The blue is suffocating me.

It seems like the people who are loved the most are always the ones to die. I don't know why I haven't thought of it before. Have you ever seen more friends and family all gathered in one place? Ever seen somebody more loved than a memory lying in a coffin?

I was fourteen, and I remember that vague, distant thought-- would this many people come for me? If something happened, would this many people care? Kids from the neighborhood, a handful at school-- how many of my classmates would complain to their mothers about the suits they had to put on, how they were wasting a Saturday on me? How many of those people out there actually cared? They shook hands with people they barely knew, hugged strangers. Stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the wet cold fog. Blocked traffic.

It could've been a disease. Maybe instead of flowers, the family asked for donations to a charity. It could've been an accident, someone riding a bike too close to the road, not wearing a seatbelt and flying through the window. Or it could've been neither. It could've been a handful of pills, a rope. A gun or a knife. Maybe the parents had cried as they read the note; maybe the classmates had gotten a day off.

I press my hands into my eyes in the dark, wishing I could pull out the red-hot pain like string, wrap it into a ball of yarn and sell it in a crafting store. In the car that day, I didn't say anything more. My dad stayed silent. I stayed silent. The unspoken truth had passed between us. A warning that didn't need to leave his lips, an unspoken agreement barred behind mine. I got my homework from my mom's house, then got back in the car. By the time we drove past the church again, the street was empty, the church dark. It felt like the foreign stripped bare, death sinking naked into a bathtub. Darkness seeping into the water and spreading out, an infection. That was what it looked like unmasked. Not the handshakes, the hugs, the tears and colorful umbrellas. It was that empty grey, the misty air and the squeak of the windshield wiper. Death was all around me.

In the car, I pressed my forehead to the cold window. I squeezed my eyes shut. I let the grey wash over me as the knives began to move.

~~~

1054 words


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
593 Reviews


Points: 65600
Reviews: 593

Donate
Sun Jan 29, 2023 10:24 pm
View Likes
Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

Ooh, this was a gorgeous chapter. Focusing a lot of blue and grey, too. Even as someone who loves prose that's mostly dialogue-focused, these more introspective chapters have really grown on me. This one is especially poignant to me—and I can imagine it would be to anyone with some personal connection with death, which most people I think have.

What stood out to me the most about this chapter was your emotive and imagery-rich prose. You had some lovely motifs here—the fog especially stood out to me, as well as the silence. Those first three paragraphs hooked me in right away. Like, if it was on paper, I would get out a pencil and annotate it. It's just so evocative, so gorgeously written. I could get this super clear mental image. I also think a part of it has to do with everything you decided to include—driving in the rain is its own kind of spell, and that combined with the suspected tragedy of a life cut short too soon creates this deeply saddening prose-painting.

I also loved the very circular ending, focusing on that cold window both at the end and the beginning. It was a sharp sensory appeal that functioned super well, especially considering Clay's migraines—it's also a sensation that is (at least to me) grounding, as any harsh temperature change is.

Specifics

I'd left an assignment at my mom's house that was due on Monday; needless to say, my dad was not happy to be making the drive all the way through downtown to get it. I watched his fingers clench and unclench around the steering wheel as he stared at the traffic, blank-faced.


I enjoyed this moment of characterization for Clay's father/the divorce as a whole. I like how you didn't come out and say that a divorce has already happened or is likely; the two separate houses show that well. It also gives us new information about Clay's home life—he's likely feeling even more separated than he was before. Hopefully he's still getting to see his grandparents; it seems like they're some of the only people who do really care about him.

By the time we drove past the church again, the street was empty, the church dark. It felt like the foreign stripped bare, death sinking naked into a bathtub. Darkness seeping into the water and spreading out, an infection. That was what it looked like unmasked. Not the handshakes, the hugs, the tears and colorful umbrellas. It was that empty grey, the misty air and the squeak of the windshield wiper. Death was all around me.


This part was a super chilling way to close out this chapter—I enjoyed it very much. The part just before it, too, with the whole unspoken truth between Clay and his father, was also pretty enigmatic and chilling. It just really puts Clay's internal pain on display for the readers, which is just... I just want to reach through the screen and the words and give him a hug. He sounds like he really needs one.

Overall: lovely chapter. I think this one might be one of my favorites so far, if only due to the stunning descriptions in it. Keep up the great work! Until next time!




User avatar
3850 Reviews


Points: 210016
Reviews: 3850

Donate
Fri Dec 23, 2022 8:55 am
View Likes
KateHardy 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!! So close to being almost caught up and I think I might actually pull it off today, I have been on quite a roll today and honestly as sad as these moments they're not too bad just yet (...and there's my famous last words)

First Impression: OKayy so this is quite the vibe here. We get a tiny tiny look at the progress with the Dad and the divorce and things but surprisingly the tension there and the feelings surrounding that isn't what takes center stage but rather this thought of death and this then ends up sounding almost like the third of our major trauma scenes even though this one is less of an active scene and more of something that ends up sending Clay towards his darker thoughts.

Anyway let's get right to it,

I pressed my face against the window, the glass cold on my cheek. I sat silently in the front seat of my dad's car-- he was driving me to my mom's house. I was fourteen, the world a cascade of grey as we drove down the road. Silent. We passed church after church in the country, and I watched them blankly. Most were empty-- it was the middle of a Saturday morning. I'd left an assignment at my mom's house that was due on Monday; needless to say, my dad was not happy to be making the drive all the way through downtown to get it. I watched his fingers clench and unclench around the steering wheel as he stared at the traffic, blank-faced.

We slowed as a light turned yellow, then red. The air hung in a thick mist outside the window, the coolness just after the rain-- or possibly just before. I don't remember. But I remember the drops on the windshield. I remember the squeak my dad's wipers made. It took him months to get them fixed; they drove me crazy every time the storms came.


Well that's a pretty clear indicator that this is going to have taken place sometime post Clay's parents having actually gone through a divorce. And of course it seems as if we're seeing some very clear tension and generally not very good signs from this whole situation. Well, let's see what we can make out from the rest of this scene.

"What's oh?" I asked quietly, glancing over at him.

"It's a funeral for a young person," he murmured, and I sat up straighter in my seat as I looked at him, then back out the window.

"How can you tell?" I didn't see any signs, couldn't make out any pamphlets or pictures.

"There are just a lot of young people there. And usually, the younger the person, the more the attendants."

I watched the people filing out of the building, tried to process how old most of them were. Many looked like they were my age. Was it someone in high school? Someone younger?


Well that's oddly relevant there isn't it. Love how this connects so powerfully to this situation and I think the Dad being the one to notice it actually ends up making it a bit more powerful somehow and suddenly it seems something that would otherwise be a simple passing mention is going to also create a potentially lasting memory here.

A clearing in the crowd surfaced and my dad sped through. I sighed and leaned my head back against the window, watching them disappear in the side-view mirror. My mind wandered as I thought about my dad's words-- the younger the person, the more the attendants. It seemed like the opposite should be true. If you were around to meet more people, shouldn't more people come?


Not gonna lie that exact questions went through my mind until I ended up thinking of how real life tends to pan out and that is something that is startlingly real there which is well that's an entirely different can of worms I probably shouldn't open in the midst of reviewing this already sad story.

It seems like the people who are loved the most are always the ones to die. I don't know why I haven't thought of it before. Have you ever seen more friends and family all gathered in one place? Ever seen somebody more loved than a memory lying in a coffin?

I was fourteen, and I remember that vague, distant thought-- would this many people come for me? If something happened, would this many people care? Kids from the neighborhood, a handful at school-- how many of my classmates would complain to their mothers about the suits they had to put on, how they were wasting a Saturday on me? How many of those people out there actually cared? They shook hands with people they barely knew, hugged strangers. Stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the wet cold fog. Blocked traffic.

It could've been a disease. Maybe instead of flowers, the family asked for donations to a charity. It could've been an accident, someone riding a bike too close to the road, not wearing a seatbelt and flying through the window. Or it could've been neither. It could've been a handful of pills, a rope. A gun or a knife. Maybe the parents had cried as they read the note; maybe the classmates had gotten a day off.


Well that one definitely seems appropriate for blue right there. It does appear like we're about to be running into more of those darker thoughts that accompany Clay and seeing this whole thing being like twenty ish years in the past if my maths about Clay's current age is remotely accurate showcases quite how powerful of an imprint this all left on top of everything else that seems to have happened to Clay in his life.

In the car, I pressed my forehead to the cold window. I squeezed my eyes shut. I let the grey wash over me as the knives began to move.


Hmm this ending doesn't hit quite so powerfully as some of the others I think. I'm not entirely sure why, maybe its a matter of length to some degree but yeah this one leaves me with not so much of a message, but everything that came before it did enough to cover up for it I think.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall though this is continuing to build here and the mention of loved ones and death has made me even more paranoid, although I get the feeling that just maybe the next chapter will have us return back for a little bit more about Dessie. I feel like that part of this story isn't quite done just yet.

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

Stay Safe
Harry





i like that the title of dr jekyll and mr hyde makes a clear stance that the embodiment of one’s own evil doesn’t get a claim to the doctorate
— waywardxwallflower