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LMS VI: Let Me Live Tonight 1.9

by winterwolf0100


Warning: This work has been rated 16+.

The next time they told me I'd be staying with my grandparents, my mom helped me pack a suitcase. I didn't ask how long I'd be there, but I watched as she packed outfit after outfit, t-shirts and pants and socks and underwear and jackets and coats and shoes. I watched her pack several outfits for church, separate button-down shirts and khaki pants. The season was inching on spring, and nearing my fourteenth birthday, but it was still a month away.

I sat silently on the ground, my legs crossed, as my dad knocked on the doorframe and said, "Clayton, get anything you might want from the house and put it in your backpack."

I hesitated, and he must've seen the question in my eyes, because he snapped, "Just get what you need, alright? Whatever you need."

And then he left the doorway. He didn't look at my mom. She didn't look at him. She stayed intensely focused on the suitcase in front of her, and I couldn't tell she'd even registered the conversation before she said quietly, "Just get whatever you want to have for the next few weeks, okay?" She didn't look up from the suitcase.

She drove me to my grandparents' house in silence, eyes tired as she stared blearily at the road. It was a Saturday night, and darkness surrounded the car, only cut through by the beam of the headlights and streetlamps.

"Are you and dad okay?" I asked finally in the silence, and my mom sighed.

"We just need to work things out." She looked so worn-out.

I turned my gaze back to the road, quiet. The fighting had kept me up later than usual last night, and it had sounded worse than usualy.

"You're not going to get divorced, are you?"

"We just need to work things out," she repeated, and the rest of the drive to my grandparents' house was quiet.

When we got there, my grandpa was waiting by the curb, and I could see my grandma waiting inside, watching through the screen door. "Hey, Clay!" My grandpa said as I climbed out of the car. "How you doing?"

I shrugged. "Fine."

"Good to hear it. Where's your stuff?"

I pulled on my backpack and said, "My suitcase is in the trunk."

Wonderful. Grandma's got your room all set up for you."

It was my room that time-- not the guest room. I followed him inside with my suitcase. My mom looked too dazed in the driver's seat to even get out and hug me. She said goodbye, and then I watched her drive away.

"C'mon bud," my grandpa said, putting an arm around my shoulders and ruffling my hair. "Let's get inside for some ice cream, huh?"

I rolled my suitcase in and my grandma fretted over me, talking about how they were very happy to have me staying with them for a while, and how it would all be alright because my grandpa would take me to and from school every day, and how in the morning we were going to church and the service started at 9am so she'd wake me up at eight to shower, but not to worry because she'd iron my clothes beforehand so I didn't have to do that myself.

I absorbed everything mutely, feeling a migraine beginning to set in. Grandpa scooped all three of us some vanilla ice cream and drizzled chocolate sauce on top of it, then stuck spoons in each one. We sat down at the small kitchen table, eating the ice cream in silence, before my grandma said, "Clay, we cleaned out that guest room and took everything we were storing out of there so you could use it. And we've got some extra hangers so your clothes don't get all wrinkled in your suitcase, if you want to use them. And the drawers in that old dresser are empty, so you can put anything you want in there too. We want you to be comfortable."

I swallowed down the bitter taste and said, "Thanks grandma." She patted my hand and my grandpa stared into space in silence.

After I finished the ice cream, I went to the guest room and put my suitcase in the corner. I put my backpack in the chair. I collapsed down across the bed, feeling the stabbing behind my eyes begin to consume me. It wasn't late, but I fell asleep that way, still in all my clothes, bed made, door ajar.

In the morning when my grandma came to wake me up for church, the light clawed at my eyes when she opened the blinds. My head pounded, pain searing through me. I cried out, covering my face from the light until she drew the blinds shut again. My grandpa gave me ibuprofen and my grandma went to church on her own. When she got back, my grandpa left to go to the store, and my grandma watched television in the other room. I stayed in the dark all day, a pillow shoved over my face, drifting in and out of consciousness.

I vaguely registered my grandpa getting home, making lunch, bringing me a sandwich and a Sprite. I barely touched the sandwich, could only stomach a little of the Sprite. My head was on fire.

It was only around 6pm that it began to slowly subside, claws retracting, knives being gently tugged out. I ate more of my sandwich, drank a little more of the Sprite. My grandma knocked on my door and slowly opened it; she'd turned off the hall light so she could check in on me without it hurting.

"Hey sweetie," she said gently, "how you feeling?"

"Fine," I mumbled.

"Well that's good," she reassured. "Listen, your grandpa and I were thinking since you might be staying in here for a while that you might want something that made it feel a little more homey. And he got some of these glow-in-the-dark stars to put up on the ceiling if you want. And I know you're so big, so this may seem like a silly thing to do, but we just thought it might make it feel a little cozier."

A lump rose in my throat, and I shifted on the bed. "No," I said, my voice feeling slightly coarse. "That's really sweet. I'd like that."

She smiled and nodded. "Alright, well I'll go tell your grandpa and he'll get a ladder to put them up, okay?"

I nodded wordlessly. I was thirteen, nearly fourteen. I watched him climb up the ladder, the room pitch-black. Watched him mess with the tape, lightning flashing across his face. The gentle heat in his eyes as he pressed them into the ceiling. They weren't childish; they were big. I stared at them every night-- every night for the month I stayed with them. And by the time I went back home, it almost felt like I was leaving it behind.

~~~

1159 words


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Stickied -- Fri Feb 10, 2023 4:00 pm
winterwolf0100 says...



Heyyo, thank you for reading! ^^ This is a gentle reminder that this chapter is part of a larger novel, and I would ask that you please don't review it until you have reviewed and/or read the previous parts! You can start here, at the prologue. Thank you! :]




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Sun Jan 29, 2023 12:33 am
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SilverNight wrote a review...



Hey winter! <3 I’ll be doing some reviewing for you on this fine Review Day, not sure how many yet but hopefully I’ll make some more progress on this again. There isn’t too much ahead that’s been posted, so I might even be able to get close to finishing what you have so far!

This wasn’t quite as eventful of a chapter, but we’re seeing more of the relationship between Clay and his grandparents, which I enjoy! It seems to focus a lot more on the relationship between Clay and his grandfather than with his grandmother, which I don’t feel is very fleshed-out and I’d like to know more about that, but I’m guessing his grandfather’s probably going to carry some more importance in the story.

I’m starting to have some questions, especially where the headaches are concerned. I think I would remark on it whenever it would come up, thinking it might be a motif or something similar, but I’m not sure what its purpose is now. If it’s meant to be a hint towards something that’s not been made known or revealed yet, it’s getting a little too heavy-handed to be subtle foreshadowing anymore, and if it’s just a trait Clay has that isn’t hiding anything behind it, I feel like it’s clear to me that he suffers from migraines by now, so it doesn’t need to come up quite so much.

Additionally, since it’s happening so frequently to Clay, wouldn’t someone have gotten that checked for him? It’s not like his parents spend that much time with him as this chapter makes clear, but I feel like they would have realized something’s abnormal now ;-;

I didn't ask how long I'd be there, but I watched as she packed outfit after outfit, t-shirts and pants and socks and underwear and jackets and coats and shoes. I watched her pack several outfits for church, separate button-down shirts and khaki pants.


The detail about the church clothes is great— if it had just been her packing a suitcase of several outfits, it would have seemed like it’d be maybe a week or so, but this tells me it’s going to be longer because church is a weekly event, and she’s prepared for him to be gone for a few. It gets the message that it’s going to be some serious time away in the nice show don’t tell way ^^

The season was inching on spring, and nearing my fourteenth birthday, but it was still a month away.


I think it’s good to have the time that this is taking place in, but it felt a bit like a strange shift away from the topic of the suitcase and the outfits? A mini-paragraph after the first one that this is in, with maybe one other detail about the setting, might be more effective.

She stayed intensely focused on the suitcase in front of her, and I couldn't tell she'd even registered the conversation before she said quietly, "Just get whatever you want to have for the next few weeks, okay?" She didn't look up from the suitcase.

She drove me to my grandparents' house in silence, eyes tired as she stared blearily at the road.


Did he not end up grabbing anything? It seems like he read into the number of outfits that were getting packed and realized he was going to be away for a while, so it seems like he'd want to bring something along besides just clothes.

The fighting had kept me up later than usual last night, and it had sounded worse than usualy.


Slight typo in the word usually here ;-;

"You're not going to get divorced, are you?"

"We just need to work things out," she repeated, and the rest of the drive to my grandparents' house was quiet.


Awwww poor Clay. Definitely thinking this must be set to happen at some point :(

It was my room that time-- not the guest room.


Oof like the implication that his grandparents have been raising him a lot more than his parents currently, doesn't surprise me because clearly his parents are spending their time on other things >.> I wonder if his parents are realizing that, because I don't think I've seen them apologize for having to send him away.

I stared at them every night-- every night for the month I stayed with them. And by the time I went back home, it almost felt like I was leaving it behind.


ahhhhhh the references that I've seen to glow-in-the-dark stars are making more sense now! I like that they don't cause headaches for him in the way that other light can, because it must find them comforting instead of painful. Love the ending line, though I feel like tragedy is sure to strike because Clay can't have a good time for very long.

Great work! I hope to do more reviewing soon <3

-silver




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Fri Dec 23, 2022 8:18 am
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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!! Ooooh it appears I have reached the point where no reviewer has gone before and I am mildly terrified of what I may run into. Well, let's see where we do be headed. Things since the very start being so powerfully heartbreaking have cooled down quite a bit to be completely honest.

First Impression: Okayy this advances us to an interesting point. At the same time as we get to see Clay's parents really falling apart proper we get to see the attachment building to his grandparents and now I am more terrified than ever of what happens to them as we progress.

Anyway let's get right to it,

The next time they told me I'd be staying with my grandparents, my mom helped me pack a suitcase. I didn't ask how long I'd be there, but I watched as she packed outfit after outfit, t-shirts and pants and socks and underwear and jackets and coats and shoes. I watched her pack several outfits for church, separate button-down shirts and khaki pants. The season was inching on spring, and nearing my fourteenth birthday, but it was still a month away.

I sat silently on the ground, my legs crossed, as my dad knocked on the doorframe and said, "Clayton, get anything you might want from the house and put it in your backpack."

I hesitated, and he must've seen the question in my eyes, because he snapped, "Just get what you need, alright? Whatever you need."

Well that's definitely not good. The tension is far, far higher there than what we had earlier and quite clearly this is a pre planned situation where Clayton is going to end up with his grandparents for at least a few weeks from the looks of things.

She drove me to my grandparents' house in silence, eyes tired as she stared blearily at the road. It was a Saturday night, and darkness surrounded the car, only cut through by the beam of the headlights and streetlamps.

"Are you and dad okay?" I asked finally in the silence, and my mom sighed.

"We just need to work things out." She looked so worn-out.

I turned my gaze back to the road, quiet. The fighting had kept me up later than usual last night, and it had sounded worse than usualy.


Well yeah that is almost definitely the words of someone who's pretty much defeated and clinging onto a bit of final hope there that things might magically be better. I have a feeling Clay here can sense it too to some degree if not completely. Either way, this definitely has us knowing this marriage is very doomed and its not going to leave anything good for Clay.

When we got there, my grandpa was waiting by the curb, and I could see my grandma waiting inside, watching through the screen door. "Hey, Clay!" My grandpa said as I climbed out of the car. "How you doing?"

I shrugged. "Fine."

"Good to hear it. Where's your stuff?"

I pulled on my backpack and said, "My suitcase is in the trunk."

Wonderful. Grandma's got your room all set up for you."

It was my room that time-- not the guest room. I followed him inside with my suitcase. My mom looked too dazed in the driver's seat to even get out and hug me. She said goodbye, and then I watched her drive away.


Well it looks like the grandpa has a very solid idea of exactly what's going on there and is doing his best to make sure Clay survives all the drama. He certainly seems like such a strong character because he's managing to keep in what seems like it would be a lot of pressure for him too and still appear so jovial without betraying any hint of anything to Clay.

I absorbed everything mutely, feeling a migraine beginning to set in. Grandpa scooped all three of us some vanilla ice cream and drizzled chocolate sauce on top of it, then stuck spoons in each one. We sat down at the small kitchen table, eating the ice cream in silence, before my grandma said, "Clay, we cleaned out that guest room and took everything we were storing out of there so you could use it. And we've got some extra hangers so your clothes don't get all wrinkled in your suitcase, if you want to use them. And the drawers in that old dresser are empty, so you can put anything you want in there too. We want you to be comfortable."

I swallowed down the bitter taste and said, "Thanks grandma." She patted my hand and my grandpa stared into space in silence.


Well that's certainly a powerful moment there to see that we're experiencing what is essentially Clay having to basically move out for a pretty noticeable in which I get the feeling he is not going to be meeting either of his parents very often at all. You can really feel how despite all the kindness provided with the best of intentions its only making Clay more alarmed and more fearful of the future there.

After I finished the ice cream, I went to the guest room and put my suitcase in the corner. I put my backpack in the chair. I collapsed down across the bed, feeling the stabbing behind my eyes begin to consume me. It wasn't late, but I fell asleep that way, still in all my clothes, bed made, door ajar.

In the morning when my grandma came to wake me up for church, the light clawed at my eyes when she opened the blinds. My head pounded, pain searing through me. I cried out, covering my face from the light until she drew the blinds shut again. My grandpa gave me ibuprofen and my grandma went to church on her own. When she got back, my grandpa left to go to the store, and my grandma watched television in the other room. I stayed in the dark all day, a pillow shoved over my face, drifting in and out of consciousness.

I vaguely registered my grandpa getting home, making lunch, bringing me a sandwich and a Sprite. I barely touched the sandwich, could only stomach a little of the Sprite. My head was on fire.


Well this is showing some similar signs to thing we saw from present day Clay here so we can quite safely see how all of this is starting to form in the much younger claw and how these thoughts and feelings are starting to become constant companions already even at this point in time.

"Well that's good," she reassured. "Listen, your grandpa and I were thinking since you might be staying in here for a while that you might want something that made it feel a little more homey. And he got some of these glow-in-the-dark stars to put up on the ceiling if you want. And I know you're so big, so this may seem like a silly thing to do, but we just thought it might make it feel a little cozier."

A lump rose in my throat, and I shifted on the bed. "No," I said, my voice feeling slightly coarse. "That's really sweet. I'd like that."

She smiled and nodded. "Alright, well I'll go tell your grandpa and he'll get a ladder to put them up, okay?"

I nodded wordlessly. I was thirteen, nearly fourteen. I watched him climb up the ladder, the room pitch-black. Watched him mess with the tape, lightning flashing across his face. The gentle heat in his eyes as he pressed them into the ceiling. They weren't childish; they were big. I stared at them every night-- every night for the month I stayed with them. And by the time I went back home, it almost felt like I was leaving it behind.


Oooooh the powerful end messages are back and this one is especially powerful here, especially in the way it seems to swing us back towards the earlier chapter with the grandpa who seemed to have metaphorically hung the stars in the sky. The very last line about how this ended up feeling more like home that home is another really powerful one there.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall, another rather strong showing this one. The closer we get to the more recent chapter the more terrified I am that in a flash we're going to be seeing Clay attending the funeral of one or both of his grandparents. Well, only one way to find out...

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

Stay Safe
Harry





The blood jet is poetry and there is no stopping it.
— Sylvia Plath