Become a Fan
By April L. Smith
Monday, June 04, 2007
Not rated by the Author.
This is an excerpt from a story I have been working on...opinions and critiques appreciated! (the title is only temporary...)
Autumn sunk dejectedly into the downy softness of her comforter, wrapping it protectively about her shoulders. She was nestled, almost in a ball, on the bottom bunk in her dorm room. Her back was tight against the wall, as if she sought solace from it’s unrelenting solidity.
“You can’t make yourself disappear, you know.” Henni said softly from across the room, where she stood in front of the girls shared dresser mirror. She casually, yet artfully, applied strokes of green and gold eye shadow across her eyelids with a deft flick of the wrist. But her green eyes, perceptive in their emerald depth, reflected in the mirror, stared purposefully back at Autumn. “You can’t make this disappear.” Henni gestured emphatically around her. Though she didn’t motion to one thing in particular, Autumn knew exactly what her friend meant.
“I can’t do it, Hen.” She whispered weakly. Her throat felt dry and achy. She pulled the blanket up tighter, to her chin, and squeezed her eyes forcefully shut.
A sound erupted from Henni’s corner of the room, the sound of an eye shadow quad dropping to the floor. Footsteps thumped determinedly over to Autumn’s bed and she instinctively shrunk away from the sound, pulling into herself. A hand, gentle but firm, slid beneath Autumn’s chin and lifted her face up.
“Look at me, girl.” Came Henni’s hard voice. Without much thought, since autmn had become accustomed the last few months of doing what other people told her to, her eyelids flickered open.
“You are not weak, Autti, and I will not let you behave like you are.”
“I’m just tired. Can we talk about this another time? Please?” Autumn begged, but without much force in her shaky voice.
“No, we can’t. And I won’t stand by anymore and not say anything. This needs to stop. Blake can’t hurt you unless you let him.”
“Henni, please, we’ve gone over and over this. He’s sorry for hurting me! The thought of losing me really scared him. He promised me he would never lay a hand on me again!”
“Why are you vouching for a guy who does this to you? Lord knows, it’s certainly not because you love him! Blake, I mean!”
Autumn recoiled, aghast. What does Henni know about my feelings for Blake?For Isaiah? Just what is she getting at?Autumn thought fearfully.
“What gives you the right to tell me how I feel about my own boyfriend?” She demanded, struggling to hide the guilt that threatened to engulf her in one mighty, all-encompassing wave. Images flashed before her vision, Isaiah and Gillian strolling through campus, hand in hand. Isaiah gently brushing a lock of hair out of Gillian’s eyes as she stared up at him, smiling. Autumn felt her heart restrict painfully in her chest, wanting that. Wanting Isaiah to save her from this mess.
Henni’s eyes darkened angrily and she grabbed Autumn by the wrist and yanked her to her feet. The down comforter puddled to the floor at their feet. She pulled her over to the dresser mirror and pointed.
“Look! Tell me, what do you see?” Henni asked. Autumn tried to look away but her friend gently grabbed her by the chin again and forced her to look at the reflection staring glumly back at her.
I’m a shell. Autumn thought in shock. A shell of what I used to be.
The girl who stared back at her was eighteen and merely an echo of the beauty she normally portrayed, as dull and lifeless as a pearl that’s lost it’s lustrous gleam. Greasy, chocolate brown locks trailed limply down her back and shoulders. Her face was as pale as pie dough, with deep, dark pockets wearily cradling her cloudy chocolate brown eyes. Defeated eyes. She was sloppily dressed in grey sweat pants, two sizes too large for her curvy frame, and a stained blue pocket tee-shirt that hung like a tent.
And my neck—Autumn thought, dumbfounded. — my God, what have I let Blake do to me? She trailed hesitant fingertips across the tender marks that encircled her neck like a dog collar. Dark and purplish, shaped like large fingers and hands.
She could still feel those hands, hot and furious, clutched about her throat. Squeezing. Her blood had pulsed dangerously beneath his calloused, unyielding grip and she suddenly remembered how she had begun to gasp and beg.
“I stayed with him for this.” Autumn choked, struggling against the sobs that were building within her sore, constricted throat.
“Stop punishing yourself, Autti, for how you feel. You love Isaiah. Don’t stay with a man who hurts you—with Blake—because you feel you have no choice. There is always a choice.” Henni said softly by her ear, and she ran a gentle palm down Autumn’s warm cheek.
“Does Gillian know? Henni, does she know how I feel about Isaiah?” Autumn’s eyes searched her friend’s amid the reflection.
“I think she’s known for a long time, girl. How you and Isaiah feel for each other.” The emphasis in Henni’s words piereced Autumn’s heart like a quivering arrow tip. The tears that she had been struggling so valiantly to hold back for months suddenly came crashing through in an angry, unyeilding torrent.
“I’m going to end it with Blake.” She swore, and hiccuped through her tears. Henni nodded triumphantly back at her.
“You deserve to be happy and safe. And whenever you tell him, I’ll be with you, I promise.”
“Thanks, Hen. I appreciate you so much. For this. For everything.”
“I love you, girl. I’d do anything for you. You know that. You’ll get through this.” Henni pulled her weary friend into an almost bone-crushing hug, practically smelling the scent of determination that eminated from her in waves. Autumn squeezed back, reveling in the comfort she provided. Thanking God she had friends in her life like Henni, Gillian and Isaiah to help her weather the storms.
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|Reviewed by Jean Pike
|I'm really liking this, April. You have a definite flair for describing your characters, not just physically, but showing what they are made of inside with just a few telling details. The story line has been done and done, but somehow you have made it fresh and new. Looking forward to reading more of it.|