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Growing Pains (chapter 1)

by zippyzonks


Every once in a while, I would run past this house. The house was weathered with its married browns, and it’s tainted windows leaked it’s darkness to the outside. The lawn was always unmowed, and wilted daffodils led to the front door. Dark blue paint chipped off around the corners from harsh winter weather. Maybe if I had decided to stop for once I would catch more details. But all I would do was run.

It was just around early March when I decided that I would stop to look at the house for once. But today someone stood on the porch of that old house. I’d seen him before at school. He was in the grade above me, in 10th grade. I didn’t stop to look at the house this time. I just decided to run. I ran and ran. I didn’t know why I couldn’t stop. It was almost as if the wind became my legs and whisked me away. I didn’t stop until I reached the stoop of my house that my friends said was perfect for sitting on. I sat and breathed in the chilling spring air. It was everything I’d ever hoped for. A new something.

For every day of the next week, he would stand on the porch. He stared as I ran by. All I could see was his dark brown eyes. I wondered why. Maybe I wished he’d stop standing there so I could look at that house. Maybe I wished I didn’t run this way all the time. Maybe I wished that this house didn’t exist at all.

But on the 8th day, he wasn’t there.

I wondered if I wished too hard. Maybe I had terrible luck. That had to be it. I wished him away, and I was worried that maybe I wished his house away too.

“My family doesn’t believe in luck,” Kate said. “I don’t know why you tell me these things anyway.” I didn’t know why I would tell her either. In her eyes, God always had an answer. Luck wasn’t one of them. She would tell me that God cannot dictate what will and will not happen. And I would sigh and stare at the glow in the dark stars stuck on her ceiling and listen to her neighbors wind chimes in the distance. Kate was a good friend. But she wasn’t a good listener.

“Is Hope staying for dinner?” Kate’s mom asked.

“Do you want to?” Kate asked, her blue eyes linked to mine. I shrugged. She rolled her eyes and pulled herself off her twin bed. I listened as she yelled to her mom as she made her way down those wooden creaky stairs. I turned my head to admire her baby photos. From the glare of her ceiling light I could make out her 1 month old face next to her older sister, Marley. The pink frame had pony stickers along the side of the edges. For being 14, Kate was still kind of kiddish. She still wore headbands with pink pom poms, something I hadn’t done since the 3rd grade. I mostly wore whatever I had, and clothes my mom gave me before she got pregnant again. She’s having a girl, even though she and dad were hoping for another boy. I didn’t care though. I was just excited to have another sibling besides Mateo.

“It’s ready,” Kate said. “Come on.” I followed her down and we all sat together. Marley’s friend, Effie, was already here. I hadn’t seen him since school started. Marley and Effie were going to graduate soon, and they were pretty eager. I stared down at my plate. I would eat anything, yet Kate wouldn’t. I’d learned not to be picky by my father. He used to buy ramen and have us eat the dried noodles uncooked. I don’t know how, but it sort of worked.

“I don’t like chicken,” Kate sighed.

“You just don’t like it because Linus cooked it,” Marley said, scoffing. Linus was their stepfather. He was very timid, and Kate was quite the opposite. Very loud and stubborn, while Linus was calm and collected. Sometimes I wished it was the other way around, and that I didn’t have to think about what I would say to Kate. But then Kate would be afraid of Linus. I piled salad onto my plate, and stuffed lettuce into my mouth, dressing smearing my lips.

“Well, I didn’t know Linus cooked it,” Kate retorted. I heaved a breath out through my nose. I was eating too fast, I was probably going to be bloated later.

“How couldn’t you?” Marley asked. “You were in the kitchen five minutes ago!”

“Maybe I don’t constantly pay attention to my surroundings?” Kate said, narrowing her eyes.

“Girls, enough!” Kate’s mom shouted, slamming her hands on the table. “Katelyn, go make yourself a peanut butter sandwich if you’re not liking tonight’s dinner. And Hope, I hope you remember that our family says a prayer before we begin a meal.” I slowly set my fork down and swallowed. I didn’t remember. As Kate said, I too don’t constantly pay attention to my surroundings. We all clasped hands as Kate rummaged around in the kitchen. Part of me wished I was home right about now. Eventually Kate plopped down in her seat and a sad looking peanut butter and Nutella sandwich landed on her plate. In the corner of my eye, I could see a small flier hung up against the wall. The letters were in pink cursive with pink and yellow confetti. Kate’s 15th Birthday Party! March 28th at 46 Longview Road 4 pm to 10 pm.

“I didn’t know you were having a party,” I said, easing back into my seat. I already picked out her present, and my mom was knitting her a scarf.

“Yeah, I am,” Kate said, biting her sandwich. I looked around. Effie’s eyes were widening, but he kept them on the plate.

“I’m excited, I already got your present,” I exclaimed.

“I mean, you can take one of the fliers,” Kate said. “I don’t know if we’ll have enough room.”

“Were you planning on not inviting me?” I asked.

“It’s nothing personal,” Kate said, sighing. “I invited the entire math club. You don’t like any of them, anyway.”

“I could be polite,” I said. I didn’t understand. She was my best friend. We were supposed to be best friends.

“That would just make you fake,” Kate said, tilting her head. I abruptly stood and turned on the back of my heel. I yanked on my sneakers and burst out the back door. Maybe I had a right to be mad, maybe I didn’t. I didn’t care. I didn’t care if I was fake or not. I didn’t care that Kate didn’t invite me to her birthday party. I didn’t care if no one said anything to me. But I did care what Kate thought of me. All I could do now was run. 


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Mon Sep 13, 2021 6:34 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi zippyzonks,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

That was a very interesting introduction for the first chapter. I liked how the story fought its way between a kind of mystery and realism, giving the reader a wide range of story. I liked the introduction of the characters. You get a brief overview of them by not just rattling them off in a kind of school text, but you see them in a dynamic, active setting. This already shows a good set-up for the next chapters.

I found the set-up of starting the first half with the house and the boy interesting, even if it got a bit lost in the second half. But actually the house was my real interest and wonder, for that allusion and introduction, that you didn't see very much of the house itself in terms of description. And yet I liked how with each new running away of the narrator you learned something new from the boy who was standing there.

In general, I found it easy to follow the thread of the plot. The structure and presentation were all exciting and I also liked how normal life spread in the second half. It gave me a good feeling. However, I also felt that some passages were written a bit monotonously. You only ever use one kind of style, which makes a lot of things repetitive, be it with sentence beginnings or the like. If you alternated between passive and active sentence structures, you could get around this better.

Otherwise, it was a solid first chapter with a touch of mystery! :D

Some other points I noticed while reading:

The lawn was always unmowed, and wilted daffodils led to the front door.

Nice detail with the flowers.

It was almost as if the wind became my legs and whisked me away.

Again a nice description.

Kate was a good friend. But she wasn't a good listener.

A fitting and short explanation. I like the way it contradicts itself a bit, but you know what it means right away.




Have fun writing!

Mailice




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Mon Sep 13, 2021 9:08 am
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RandomTalks wrote a review...



Hey!

RandomTalks here with a short review!

This was a really great first chapter. I liked the beginning and how you created an ominous sort of environment with your subtle descriptions of the house. Hope seems to be fascinated with the house and considering how your introduction was based around it, I wonder what role the house is going to play in the main plot of the story. There was a somber tone throughout the beginning and even Hope's thoughts had this undertone to them. It makes one wonder and raises several questions to the mind - What is the deal with the house? Who was the boy on the porch? Why is Hope so intrigued by it all?

“My family doesn’t believe in luck,” Kate said.

With the environment you had created, I felt that Kate's introduction in the story was a little sudden. It makes the previous part feel a little disconnected from the rest of the chapter and makes me think that the part with the house would have suited better as a prologue.

“Girls, enough!” Kate’s mom shouted, slamming her hands on the table. “Katelyn, go make yourself a peanut butter sandwich if you’re not liking tonight’s dinner. And Hope, I hope you remember that our family says a prayer before we begin a meal.” I slowly set my fork down and swallowed. I didn’t remember.

To be honest, I had first found it a little with how sharply Kate's mother reacted when Hope had started dinner without doing prayer. I had found it a little unusual at the time but after the ending, it makes sense. Also, you need to start a new paragraph after the dialogue. Otherwise, it feels clumped together and disrupts the smooth flow of the story.

Sometimes I wished it was the other way around, and that I didn’t have to think about what I would say to Kate.

I really liked how you didn't exactly show the gaps in their friendship from the beginning and instead worked through Kate's character, dropping subtle hints about how different she is from Hope and how this difference isn't the sort that brought them together. Hope doesn't seem like she can really be herself in front of Kate, and that is simply not how best friends work. Kate is short tempered, insensitive and I don't really think she knows who Hope actually is. If she could sit beside her best friend talking about her birthday party and then announce that she was not invited then I wonder what kind of friendship it is.

Overall, I really like the themes you have introduced here. I thought it was a little strange that the house that had been given so much importance in the beginning of the chapter remains absent throughout the rest of it, but like I already said, it felt more like a prologue to me. I can already see a lot of directions where this story could be going but I am really interested to see where you take it.

Keep writing and have a great day!




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Mon Sep 13, 2021 6:03 am
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HarryHardy 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!! Ohh and a quick welcome to YWS!!! Hope you have a great time here!!!

First Impression: Okayyy...this is a decent starting point here, we have a very interesting spooky and a pretty toxic looking friendship here for our main character...definitely gets your attention here.

Anyway let's get right to it,

Every once in a while, I would run past this house. The house was weathered with its married browns, and it’s tainted windows leaked it’s darkness to the outside. The lawn was always unmowed, and wilted daffodils led to the front door. Dark blue paint chipped off around the corners from harsh winter weather. Maybe if I had decided to stop for once I would catch more details. But all I would do was run.


Hm..neat little description to kick things off...and the fact that it looks to be a bit of a scary house there that our main character here tends to run past definitely catches your attention right away...always fun to see a bit of a spooky house at the start of a story.

It was just around early March when I decided that I would stop to look at the house for once. But today someone stood on the porch of that old house. I’d seen him before at school. He was in the grade above me, in 10th grade. I didn’t stop to look at the house this time. I just decided to run. I ran and ran. I didn’t know why I couldn’t stop. It was almost as if the wind became my legs and whisked me away. I didn’t stop until I reached the stoop of my house that my friends said was perfect for sitting on. I sat and breathed in the chilling spring air. It was everything I’d ever hoped for. A new something.


Okay...interesting...now someone's on the porch of the spooky...and so I guess it is inhabited in some way...or of course that person there could be some kind of ghost...you can never quite tell with this person not investigating further. You do get a very interesting sense of almost fear and panic there as they run away from the house after staring for a teensy bit.

For every day of the next week, he would stand on the porch. He stared as I ran by. All I could see was his dark brown eyes. I wondered why. Maybe I wished he’d stop standing there so I could look at that house. Maybe I wished I didn’t run this way all the time. Maybe I wished that this house didn’t exist at all.

But on the 8th day, he wasn’t there.


Soo..this wish worked? This is interesting...someone just running past a random spooky house with an equally spooky figure in front of it and the figure vanishes after a week. You've certainly managed to build up quite a bit of tension so far here.

I wondered if I wished too hard. Maybe I had terrible luck. That had to be it. I wished him away, and I was worried that maybe I wished his house away too.

“My family doesn’t believe in luck,” Kate said. “I don’t know why you tell me these things anyway.” I didn’t know why I would tell her either. In her eyes, God always had an answer. Luck wasn’t one of them. She would tell me that God cannot dictate what will and will not happen. And I would sigh and stare at the glow in the dark stars stuck on her ceiling and listen to her neighbors wind chimes in the distance. Kate was a good friend. But she wasn’t a good listener.


Okay...so that seems to suggest that maybe this one was telling this Kate that story...and well you can certainly see that she's far from a good listener...Kate here appears to just almost be telling our protagonist here that her beliefs are useless.

“Is Hope staying for dinner?” Kate’s mom asked.

“Do you want to?” Kate asked, her blue eyes linked to mine. I shrugged. She rolled her eyes and pulled herself off her twin bed. I listened as she yelled to her mom as she made her way down those wooden creaky stairs. I turned my head to admire her baby photos. From the glare of her ceiling light I could make out her 1 month old face next to her older sister, Marley. The pink frame had pony stickers along the side of the edges. For being 14, Kate was still kind of kiddish. She still wore headbands with pink pom poms, something I hadn’t done since the 3rd grade. I mostly wore whatever I had, and clothes my mom gave me before she got pregnant again. She’s having a girl, even though she and dad were hoping for another boy. I didn’t care though. I was just excited to have another sibling besides Mateo.


Okayy...bit of a random train of thought there....but considering this person did just get left alone in the room I suppose its not too out of the realm of possibility. It totally seems like this is all just being mentioned for the benefit of the audience...but you manage to make it surprisingly plausible that Hope would think this way at this point.

“It’s ready,” Kate said. “Come on.” I followed her down and we all sat together. Marley’s friend, Effie, was already here. I hadn’t seen him since school started. Marley and Effie were going to graduate soon, and they were pretty eager. I stared down at my plate. I would eat anything, yet Kate wouldn’t. I’d learned not to be picky by my father. He used to buy ramen and have us eat the dried noodles uncooked. I don’t know how, but it sort of worked.


Uhh...okkay....two new characters coming into the picture...well okay..that is quite a lot of people to introduce already..but hmm, that isn't too bad, the tangent we go off on based on the food preferences here seems a bit unnecessary, I dunno, its fun to have little extra details about characters but...I think you could just omit that and leave in the rest of the dialogue that captures this idea pretty well anyway.

“I don’t like chicken,” Kate sighed.

“You just don’t like it because Linus cooked it,” Marley said, scoffing. Linus was their stepfather. He was very timid, and Kate was quite the opposite. Very loud and stubborn, while Linus was calm and collected. Sometimes I wished it was the other way around, and that I didn’t have to think about what I would say to Kate. But then Kate would be afraid of Linus. I piled salad onto my plate, and stuffed lettuce into my mouth, dressing smearing my lips.

“Well, I didn’t know Linus cooked it,” Kate retorted. I heaved a breath out through my nose. I was eating too fast, I was probably going to be bloated later.


Huh..well this isn't a healthy friendship at all...if Hope's gonna have to tip toe around what she's gotta say...so well, that's a very clear relationship there...this certainly appears to be something of an uncomfortable place for Hope to be in here...and its wonder she agreed to stay for dinner voluntarily.

“How couldn’t you?” Marley asked. “You were in the kitchen five minutes ago!”

“Maybe I don’t constantly pay attention to my surroundings?” Kate said, narrowing her eyes.

“Girls, enough!” Kate’s mom shouted, slamming her hands on the table. “Katelyn, go make yourself a peanut butter sandwich if you’re not liking tonight’s dinner. And Hope, I hope you remember that our family says a prayer before we begin a meal.” I slowly set my fork down and swallowed. I didn’t remember. As Kate said, I too don’t constantly pay attention to my surroundings. We all clasped hands as Kate rummaged around in the kitchen. Part of me wished I was home right about now. Eventually Kate plopped down in her seat and a sad looking peanut butter and Nutella sandwich landed on her plate. In the corner of my eye, I could see a small flier hung up against the wall. The letters were in pink cursive with pink and yellow confetti. Kate’s 15th Birthday Party! March 28th at 46 Longview Road 4 pm to 10 pm.


Uhh...not a great pair of things to put in the same paragraph there....I like the argument there and the rest of it..you get a good sense of how this family operates, but cutting to the flyer in the same paragraph is not very good for the flow of this piece...you want to split those up into a couple of pieces there.

“I didn’t know you were having a party,” I said, easing back into my seat. I already picked out her present, and my mom was knitting her a scarf.

“Yeah, I am,” Kate said, biting her sandwich. I looked around. Effie’s eyes were widening, but he kept them on the plate.

“I’m excited, I already got your present,” I exclaimed.

“I mean, you can take one of the fliers,” Kate said. “I don’t know if we’ll have enough room.”

“Were you planning on not inviting me?” I asked.

“It’s nothing personal,” Kate said, sighing. “I invited the entire math club. You don’t like any of them, anyway.”


Yup...great...well I already hate Kate...she's definitely not someone you want as a best friend, or a friend in general...these are the people you keep as acquaintances if you're nice and enemies if you're not...I'm seriously beginning to question why Hope is still here voluntarily.

“I could be polite,” I said. I didn’t understand. She was my best friend. We were supposed to be best friends.

“That would just make you fake,” Kate said, tilting her head. I abruptly stood and turned on the back of my heel. I yanked on my sneakers and burst out the back door. Maybe I had a right to be mad, maybe I didn’t. I didn’t care. I didn’t care if I was fake or not. I didn’t care that Kate didn’t invite me to her birthday party. I didn’t care if no one said anything to me. But I did care what Kate thought of me. All I could do now was run.


Best decision this one has made all chapter...also most of those things are definitely not okay Hope..you need to find a better friend, you can do wayyy better than that. Also umm..good point to end on..we've got a bit of an argument coming to a head type situation..and the running away makes for a nice bit of suspense to end on.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall, this is a pretty solid piece that you've got right here...certainly seems like something that I'd maybe read more of...this is a good start. That house at the start especially definitely intrigues me.

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

Stay Safe
Harry




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Sun Sep 12, 2021 10:30 pm
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MissGangamash wrote a review...



Hello! Here to review!

I'll review as I go and then do an overall sum up.

'and it’s tainted windows leaked it’s darkness to the outside.' - I like this imagery, but I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'tainted windows.'

'It was just around early March when I decided that I would stop to look at the house for once.' - This being the start of the paragraph makes it seem like the paragraph will be about the time they stopped, but it's not. I would have this line as a paragraph of it's own, otherwise it's confusing.

'I wondered if I wished too hard. Maybe I had terrible luck. That had to be it. I wished him away, and I was worried that maybe I wished his house away too.' - I really like this. It feels childish and whimsical. Also the there's a hint that later something does happen to the house.

I really liked the paragraph about Kate and Linus and if there roles were reversed. You do a good job of describing things in short, sharp bursts to give a good picture without overdoing it. The way you write does sound just like a child's stream of consciousness.

Okay, I've read it all!

And how dare Kate not invite Hope to her party?! I do not like Kate. You've written their friendship well. It feels like there is a power imbalance in the friendship and Kate is on top, with the way Hope mentions that she has to watch what she says and that Kate isn't a great listener. Sounds like Kate can be quite self-absorbed.

... and I'm really interested in how the weird house plays a part in this story.

Hope this helps and please let me know when another chapter is up! :D




zippyzonks says...


Thank you! I%u2019m glad I was able to make Hope%u2019s narrative more childish, so I%u2019m glad I was able to pull that off!




But what about second breakfast?
— Peregrin Took