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The Rest of Iris (Chapter 1)

by writeriam

I sigh as I look at the house, the red paint on it hasn't chipped since I left I guess. All the garden flowers have died and turned into a less saturated version of the original flower color. Me and Iris used to play in the garden all the time when our grandparents would look after us. Mom would never let us play in the garden after what happened to dad, but we were so young I guess we didn’t care if there was danger, we just wanted to have fun.

I took a deep breath as I opened the door, still having the spare key since when I left, the house looked the same, the exact same, as if nobody ever lived there to begin with. The entrance hallway looked the same, always messy, mom just stopped cleaning the place after Iris went missing. Even though I would try to keep the place tidy from time to time, I just couldn't bear to relive those moments, so I guess I can't blame mom either. The mirror was clean at least, Iris always made sure the mirrors were clean, or else how would she be able to obsess over her looks, that was the one thing about her that honestly just ticked me off. It's not a doubt anyone would call her selfish at times, like when she snuck out the house and was gone for three days, my mom even filed a police report and everything just for her to come back as if nothing ever happened. Sometimes I wonder if she ever even thought about how her actions hurt the others around her, I guess she never cared, she was too young to even care about herself.

As I walked around the living room I saw how the Christmas tree was there. I guess mom, grandma, and grandpa spent Christmas without me, can't blame them to be honest, I wasn't the most jolly person at the time. The living room and kitchen looked the same, there were a few overdue bills on the kitchen table but other than that everything looked the exact same as how I left. I then went upstairs.

Mom and dad’s room was locked, my mom stayed upstairs majority of the time locked away from everyone else, after Iris went missing Grandpa bolted her room shut because I was spending to much time in there, I just missed her so much, but I don't think he knew there was a another way to get to her room from the downstairs vents, she had the biggest room out of all of us. I went into grandpa and grandpas room, I almost never went in there as a kid, so I kinda never really noticed all the things my grandma kept in remembrance of Iris, like her the stuffed teddy bear she slept with until she was 13, or the first train set she ever got for Christmas, Iris loved trains. 

When I went into my room I was sorta surprised by how different it looked, I guess mom threw away whatever I didn’t take with me to Cali, she even threw away the letter I wrote for her before I left.

But, that's not what I’m here for, I’m here to figure out my sister's side of her story, so I headed downstairs and through the vent space, it felt like I was 18 again, crawling back and forth just so I could see her room again. It wasn't that long of a trip from the downstairs vent all the way to upstairs. I could tell grandpa never screwed the vent cover shut so all I had to do was to push it open. When I was finally inside her room I almost wanted to throw up, her walls were lavender pink, her room was the only room out of the whole house that had colored walls, her closet was almost empty, leaving just the shirts and pants that didn't fit her anymore just like it was when she first went missing, her bed with her pink, white, and purple themed bed frame was made, as I opened each drawer they all seemed to be empty, that is until the i saw a journal underneath the dresser, I can't believe I never notice it when I was younger. It said “For Nora'' on it, I’ve never seen this book before, this time felt different from when I was 18 visiting her room, I've never went through her stuff before, I would only come there and paint with her watercolors on her canvas like what we used to do when we were younger. I was scared to see what was inside it, and why did I have to find this five years later. When I finally had the courage to open the book, she started it like this.

“Hey Nora, if you're reading this then you probably think I’m dead, or at least I know thats what the news has been saying three years, I know this won't make sense to you, but you have to trust me with this, everything happens for a reason, but first we have to start from the very beginning, you might even remember this moment better than me.”

“Honestly to say it started at the New Years eve party would be a lie, it probably started at the age of 8 or 9, but it sure got so much worse on that New Year's eve, remember whenever mom would get mad she would leave us outside or lock us inside our rooms?, well I mean you would never know, you were always on her good side. It started when you were helping mom make food for the New Years eve party, I was twelve years old, it was freezing on the balcony, I was so hungry I would eat a bird, I screamed and screamed but nobody could hear me over the music grandpa was playing, it felt like I was on that balcony for hours, I ended up sleeping on there, in the cold, while everyone forgot about me. Mom always hated me since I looked so much like dad, she was so mad at him after he repainted my whole room pink she didn’t speak to him for a week, sometimes I like to think that she was jealous of me. On that night on the balcony I imagined things, like how I was a bird flying through the night looking for food then I…”

I closed the book shut, I felt my breath shaking “so that's where she was! Mom told me she was with Grandpa”. I remembered that night as clear as day.

“Nora! Can you help me in the kitchen sweetheart!” “Coming mom!”. It was around 7:30 pm or so, the New Years Eve party started at 8, the decorations were ready, the food was almost done and Grandpa had already set the mood with some music, it was nice at the time.

My mom needed help cutting tomatoes for the tomato-basil bruschetta, as I was cutting the tomatoes she already diced the onions, garlic, and basil, she was already greasing and salting the bread then put it in the oven. When I finished cutting the tomatoes I added all the diced fruits and mixed them together with some salt, olive oil, and vinegar. It was a nice moment for me and my mom. I asked where Iris was so I could play with her since I finished with the tomato salad mixture. “Oh, she’s upstairs with Grandpa, but while we wait for the bread to bake, why don’t you help with setting the dinner table and adding the plates”. So I did just that, at the time I trusted her and thought she would never lie to me.

It was fun when our family came, I got to play with my older cousin Scarlett, I thought she was so cool at the time, we usually played downstairs and talked about how to our families were doing and how school was like, we loved to talk about drama and all the latest things that’s been happening in Michigan. “Hey Nora, where's Iris?”, and I had the same question too, but I lied “She’s sleeping upstairs with Grandpa”. I didn’t even bother to check on her or anything, I just took the chance and hoped she was actually sleeping. I mean I was only fourteen and the only thing I cared about at the time were my friends and grades. I would have done anything to go back to that day.

I opened the book again, and continued where I left off. 

“...saw somebody from outside, I tried to scream or call for them but it was so cold that nothing came out, I was freezing cold, and hungry the only way inside from the balcony was to go on the roof and jump down to the back yard, but you already knew that, since that’s how I snuck out the house when I was gone for three days. It wasn't my first time on the roof but it was still scary, since I was only twelve years old and it looked like it was 10:00 o’clock at night. When I jumped to the backyard I quickly made my way inside to the basement and into my room through the vents, I was too scared mom would see me, anyways that doesn't even matter, it wasn't your fault anyways.”

“I left something for you in one of the secret compartments on the last drawer to the left.”

“I don’t want you to look for me, I promise I’m safe, it’s better this way”

I threw the journal on the floor, how could she be safe if she was dead! What kind of evil person would do such a cruel thing to their sister, somebody who just wants them to come back home!. I calmed myself down, I placed the book on the top of the drawer and opened the designated shelf, low and behold there was nothing there, but I trusted her and kept looking I took the whole shelf out and shook it upside and something fell out, it was all folded up, when I unfolded it it was a map of Jackson, Michigan with a lot of markings with lines on it, maybe this is wear Iris ran off too, I couldn’t take the chance, so I quickly stuffed the book in my backpack and left the room through the vents and was back in the basement, I left the house from there.

The first place marked on the map from the house was Folks Road Bridge, and that's where I was headed. I turned the gas on my car and drove as fast as I could, even if after five years there was even a chance that I could see my sister again, and this time I wasn’t going to take the chance. 

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1485 Reviews

Points: 154066
Reviews: 1485

Fri Feb 23, 2024 9:19 am
IcyFlame wrote a review...

Hi there writeriam, belated welcome to YWS! I hope you're enjoying the site so far.

I'm Icy, popping by today for a quick review.

First off, I really loved the tone of this. The mix of wistful and nostalgic paired with that slightly more sinister undertone worked well and compelled me to keep reading. That combined with the title of the novel feels like a recipe for success!

Reading through, there are a few places where you need to watch your tenses, as we slip out of one tense and into another and it disrupts the flow. For example:

Even though I would try to keep the place tidy from time to time, I just couldn't bear to relive those moments, so I guess I can't blame mom either.

This happens semi frequently throughout the chapter, so it's certainly one to look for when you're going through and editing.

Additionally, some of the paragraphs are a bit chunky and could do with being broken up to help pacing. It's hard reading on a screen because those issues are exacerbated, but this early on in a novel you want your reader to be able to get through the scene setting and context giving part relatively easily so they can get hooked in the story.

So far the plot looks interesting and I already like Nora's character which is a good start for chapter one. I look forward to reading more of this so feel free to let me know if and when you post the next part.

Hope this was helpful!


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151 Reviews

Points: 39462
Reviews: 151

Sun Feb 18, 2024 8:44 pm
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PKMichelle wrote a review...

Hello there, friend!
Welcome to YWS!! I’m here to check out your work and leave a fun-filled Cheshire-Cat-style review!


“The proper order of things is often a mystery to me.” - My Interpretation

This was a great opening chapter for a novel! Other than a few punctuation errors and grammatical errors scattered throughout, this was a fun read!

Brief Summary: Nora came back home after quite some time to find that everything in the house seemed to be the same. She came back to reminisce about her sister—her sister, whom she thought was dead. But upon going to her room, Nora finds a journal that disproves the notion that her sister, Iris, is dead. And with that, she is led to a map that could possibly lead her to her sister's location. Nora doesn't hesitate, and she immediately begins her journey to find Iris.

This is a wonderful opening plot that leaves me excited to see where the rest of the story goes!

“Every adventure requires a first step.” - Some Advice

There are a couple of things here that I'd like to point out. There were a few errors, and one part was a bit confusing.

The errors appeared when Nora was talking about how the house looked; the sentence was just a little clunky. Some of the punctuation was off, and you used the word "same" one-too-many times for the sentence. You said,

The living room and kitchen looked the same, there were a few overdue bills on the kitchen table but other than that everything looked the exact same as how I left.

I would change this sentence up a tad, just to make it flow a little better. It would look like this:
changes bolded

The living room and kitchen looked the same; there were a few overdue bills on the kitchen table, but other than that, everything looked as identical as when I left.

The part that confused me was the flashback while she was reading the journal. It was very out of the blue. Other than saying, "I remembered that night as clear as day," there was very little there to let the reader know it was a flashback. Perhaps putting that part in italics or stating that it's a flashback could help.

But, obviously, these are just suggestions, and it's always up to the writer, so please take these criticisms lightly and know that I mean nothing negative by them—only trying to provide some somewhat useful critiques.

“A rose is still a rose, even hidden under different petals.” - My Favorites

There were a lot of great things happening in this chapter! There were quite a few things that stood out to me, but I want to focus on Nora and the way you showed her love for her sister!

The first thing that caught my eye in regards to Nora's love for her sister came when she was describing what her grandpa had to do to Iris's door to stop her from going in. You said,

...after Iris went missing, Grandpa bolted her room shut because I was spending to much time in there...

This was the first point that truly showed how much Nora cared for Iris. When she went missing, she basically couldn't leave her room out of grief and love. This was a very indirect way of showing that, and I love how it's written, so kudos to you for that!

The other thing that grabbed my attention that relates back to Nora's love for Iris was closer to the end. It was when Nora was looking through the shelf for the map that Iris had left her. When she finally found it, you said,

...maybe this is wear Iris ran off too, I couldn’t take the chance, so I quickly stuffed the book in my backpack and left the room through the vents and was back in the basement, I left the house from there.

Nora so quickly jumped on the idea, having no idea if the map will actually lead her to Iris. She's looking for her without any additional information, which truly shows how much she cares about seeing her sister again. She'd do anything. And it seems she is doing anything. I loved this part and thought it was very important to the overall chapter, so good job there!

There were many great things, but this is what truly stood out to me!

“Collect what you can. Use it wisely.” - Overall Thoughts

This was a really fun read! And while there were quite a few punctuation errors, among others, it was enjoyable, and I look forward to what's coming next! I'll see you in chapter two!

Thank you for taking the time to write and post this, and I hope this review is of some use to you!

Goodbye for now! I hope you have a magnificent day (or night) wherever you are!

No person can be a great leader unless he takes genuine joy in the successes of those under him.
— W. A. Nance