In my last post I talked about my writing and told you that I've decided to share my first draft on Wattpad. A lot of people wouldn't dream of sharing an unedited piece but personally, I was getting too afraid, too doubtful of myself and I knew I just had to put something out in the world.
I chose to share a first draft that I was very critical of as, if people thought it was shit and told me so... well at least I was in agreement with them and wouldn't feel completely heartbroken. I'd also hopefully get some critiques which would help me in the future to spot issues in my writing. On the flip side of that, if people leave good comments then it's helping me to realise just how critical I can be of myself and it also gives me feedback from actual readers.
Sure, it's nowhere near the caliber of a published novel. It's not something I'd want publishers or agents to look at because they'd be judging my writing and grammar etc, but to have people read it just because they want to read a book and tell you they like the story, asking for the next update etc... that's invaluable. It reminds me why I write and it keeps me going. I worked so hard to get that first draft out and I very nearly left it in a folder on my laptop. I was going to move on to another project believing what I had written before was awful and that nobody would ever want to see it. Wattpad has allowed me to still move on but to move on knowing that there are people out there who want to read my stories. And that means more to me than anything.
So, I figured I would share the first part here. I'll link to the wattpad page too so if you want to vote on it you can <3
People talk about "living their best life" these days but if this is mine then I don't want to live the rest of it. I'm living my worst life. Okay, I suppose it's more of my "not-so-great" life but still. At times it really feels like things couldn't get any worse. I guess I've just always been like this. I've always overthought everything, panicked about missing a test or doing badly on homework. Mum says I entered this world screaming; I don't think I've stopped; the only difference now is it's internal. My brain never seems to keep quiet. I sit on my bed, my school uniform strewn about around me, waves of navy and emerald pulling me down. Drowning me. It really shouldn't be a hard decision. Do I wear a skirt or trousers? Shirt and tie or throw on a Sparrowell Academy hoodie? Nobody cares what I wear except the teachers and they don't care so long as it conforms to the uniform regulation and even then they're pretty lax about it, yet every day is an internal battle with myself. Mum bought my clothes from different shops and the slight difference in shade of navy is infuriating. Breathing deeply, I tell myself that it really doesn't matter and you absolutely can't notice it but I can feel the tears pricking at my eyes as my heart races and I urge my lungs to be slower. Please, not now. I'm begging whichever part of me makes me feel this way to just stop for once. I can't do this every day. Not for the rest of my life. I can't imagine a life where getting out of bed is as simple as picking yourself up and, well, you know... getting out of bed. I live a life where getting out of bed takes more mental strength and energy than any normal 16 year old has in her.
'Elissa?' my mum knocks at my bedroom door, and tentatively peers around the frame. She doesn't say anything but I can tell she's annoyed about the mess, not to mention the fact I'm not dressed. I try, I really do, to be a good daughter, an easy child, but I can't seem to get it right. What's wrong with you, El? I ask myself this question every hour of every day and never get an answer but I'm hoping more than anything that this time it will be different, that someone will appear and say "Oh! Sorry! We just mixed some wires here when we made you but I'll fix it now. There you go!" and I'll just be a normal, happy human.
'El,' mum sighs, 'get your clothes on. I need to go.' I think about telling her to just go then, I have a key after all, but I know it's not worth it. She won't admit it but she's scared I'll skip school so she insists on us leaving together even though I could easily go back home once she drives away. Whatever keeps her happy. I fight back the thoughts in my head, the tears in my eyes, and grab a pair of leggings. Don't think about it. Think about what else you need today - any homework? I do my best to distract myself from the thoughts, from worrying about trivial matters and I guess for a while it works. I wish I could explain to mum how I feel but I doubt she'd understand - she'd say I'm overreacting and over exaggerating. I wish that was true. What I'd give to not feel this way. I need to psych myself up for the day. It's Wednesday. The worst day. I have no free periods and there's the Starling House assembly instead of registration. The one positive is I might miss the first five minutes of double French... Apparently looking for positives in a bad situation is a good way to make you feel better... apparently whoever said that is wrong. Madame Laurent is not one to bring a smile to anyone in the morning. Or ever. Groaning, I pick myself up off my bed and go downstairs to where mum is waiting for me. This is the bit that I hate the most. No matter how much I tell myself school is fine; that I'm not getting bullied or anything like that; I just can't help but feel dread. I know fine well that once I'm in there it's fine, that the only reason I feel horrific and need to leave is because I've told myself it will be that way. I don't know how many times mum's said I just need to stop thinking it's so bad. If it was a matter of just not thinking it doesn't she realise I'd have done that all along? Does she really think I enjoy being this way? Tears prick at my eyes as I psych myself up to go out of the door and, for once, mum has a sympathetic look on her face. On any other day I wouldn't be surprised if she physically shoved me out of the door. 'Come on, you.' She pipes up, lightly. She tries, my mum, she really does, but no matter how many times I try and sit her down to talk she just doesn't understand. I don't want to push her today and start a fight so I muster all the energy I have and get myself out the door. I wish I could say that's the hardest part of my day done, but it's only just beginning. Now? Now I need to survive.
It's blowing a gale outside as I make my way to the bus stop. I'm always surprised by just how windy it is even though that is one of the few perks of living by the sea. My hair wraps itself around my neck, looking like I have a fox kit curled around my neck occasionally whipping its bushy tail into my face thanks to a botched attempt of ombre on my ginger hair. The beige, harled houses around me all blend into each other with a few of them opening their mouth to spit out an excited child rushing to grab their bike, eager to cycle to school and see their friends or, like me, a disgruntled teenager who wants another hour in bed not a walk to the bus stop. It only takes about three minutes to get there but fighting against the wind almost triples it -it certainly triples the effort involved - and by the time I'm getting on the coach I am well and truly knackered. I smile at Davy, the driver, starting my charade of happiness by giving him a sweet "good morning!" and make my way to my seat. Nobody knows how much darkness is inside. Fake it til you make it, or until you break. Whatever comes first. There's an unspoken rule on the school bus, similar to that of the classroom: whichever seat you pick on the first day is yours for the rest of the year; this means I plop down next to Amelia Blume. I smile at her but she has her head leaning against the window as she gazes out at the road. Amelia and I have been friends for forever. It was a friendship rooted before we were even born, as our mums were best friends growing up and all through adulthood, up until the cancer took her. It was hard not to love Amelia; she's that sweet, innocent kid who never really outgrew their naivety but, despite it all, she was happy. Her happiness could be infectious, or at least it used to be. Over the summer we've slowly stopped talking to each other. I was always a nightmare for keeping up a conversation but it's hard to have one when Amelia doesn't text or reply anymore. When school started back we sat next to each other, all the unanswered texts forgotten but now 3 weeks into term, it's radio silence.
I want to try and talk to her, to find out what's going on but I'm terrified I've done something wrong. She puts headphones in every day now so I don't have to try and make conversation and I figure she just needs some space for a bit. At least I hope so. I can't think of anything I might have done to upset her but I have to admit I'm scared she doesn't like me anymore. She's always been by my side and I can't imagine it any other way. She's my best friend. She's my only friend. I don't want to dwell on it, but it bothers me and I spend the whole journey wondering how to talk to her again, to find out what's going on and theorising what I might have done to upset her. The bus speeds along the road, the trees all just a blur of green outside the window. Eventually, unfortunately, we round the corner into the car park of Sparrowell Academy. All the kids around me are all jumping up, eager to get off of the musty vehicle and breathe fresh air. I wish I had their energy. Amelia and I usually wait until last to avoid being crushed but today she's stood up and for the first time in weeks I hear her voice albeit incredibly quiet over the shouts of everyone around us
'Hey, um, I have to get to biology to take a test I missed last week so, um, can we maybe just... get off now?' She's quiet but there's a somewhat sad tone to her voice that I've never heard before. I'm so taken aback by the fact she's spoken to me that I don't even reply. I just grab my stuff and squeeze my way into the aisle, but not before I look over at my best friend, hoping that maybe whatever was going on between us is now forgiven and that I'll get one of her sweet smiles to get me through this day but all I saw was her try to discreetly dry tears away.
I tried to get back to Amelia, to find out what was wrong, but I was swept away by the mass of kids and couldn't see her anywhere. Rain had begun to fall. Typical Sparrowell. It's a Scottish seaside town so I don't know why I'm always so surprised by the weather. I push my way through the side doors and shuffle through the packed corridors towards the assembly hall, joining the congregation of Starling House members. Amelia was in Blackbird House so unless I found her at break or lunch (something I hadn't been able to do all term) then I'd have to wait until maths to see her. The assembly hall isn't as big as it needs to be but we somehow manage to squeeze everyone in. Mr Campbell, the head teacher, is stood in front of the stage, reading over his notes to make sure he doesn't forget any announcements – most likely reminding us about school sports matches and wearing the correct uniform. I glance down at my leggings and hope he doesn't pull a spot inspection. The hall is slowly filling up. I make a start for the steps taking me down to the seats but wet shoes and linoleum don't mix well and I almost slip. I catch myself before I embarrass myself and hastily find a seat with my registration class. Mrs McKenzie, the sociology teacher and also my registration teacher checks my name off her attendance list. I slumped down into the plastic chair and do my best to ignore the lips on the side digging into my thighs. There's still five minutes until the bell rings so I pull my phone out of my bag and catch up on the twitter drama I missed whilst sleeping. At least, I plan to.
'Not seen you in an assembly for a while.' I knew without looking up who it was: Alex Reynolds. The notorious and self-confessed "ladies man" – otherwise more commonly known as a fuck boy. You know the type. Almost every girl in the school wants to be with him and even though they know he'll break their heart in less than a month, when he swoops in all common sense is gone and they become another of his conquests. He revels in it, I think, the attention. What a shame he's chosen the one girl in the school who couldn't care less about him. I didn't even give him the satisfaction of looking up from my phone. As if reading my mind he speaks again:
'I'm not trying to get into your pants, if that's what you're thinking.' There's a note of hurt on his voice. I lock my phone and slowly lift my head to stare at the stage, still not looking at him though I do play along a little.
'Well then, what are you after? Because I really don't have anything to offer you.' My tone is a little harsh. Glancing over at him I expect to see that cheeky look he always has, but I'm surprised to see that he actually looks concerned. His icy blue eyes flicker down to his lap. Is he... is he embarrassed? It's only brief, but I notice.
'Um, I guess... Well. You just looked... sad. And lonely. I guess I just wanted to check up on you... is there a problem with that?' He twists his body to face me and pulls his knee up onto the chair as he throws his arm onto the back of the chair, attempting to play off the fact this was weird and not like him at all. Check up on me? Why did Alex Reynolds want to "check up" on me? I can't begin to speak, to ask him why he cares, I just sort swallow and then sign as Mr Campbell begins the assembly, clapping his hands to get the students' attention, but I am just staring at Alex. He is a good looking guy, I must admit, I never saw it before but having stared at his face for the last 5 minutes I'm starting to appreciate his features. It's only when Alex raised his eyebrows at me and nodded his head towards the front of the hall did I realise just how much I was staring. Alex turned to give Mr Campbell his full attention and after a brief moment I turned to do the same but I couldn't tell you anything Mr Campbell spoke about because, frustratingly, my mind was only on Alex Reynolds.
THE LIFE YOU LOVE