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SinCity Sat 04-Oct-08 21:27:07

This is a chapter that will take place later in my story, towards the end. Would love some opinions on this draft, the atmosphere etc

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Jacob sat on David’s unmade bed as he watched him half heartedly packing clothes into a tatty old rucksack. As he looked around the room, he realised how much of David’s personality had been ripped out as soon as the rock music posters had come off the wall, the drawers had been emptied and the miniature horror movie figures had been cleared off the shelf. Now the room was abandoned, cold and bare.

“So you’re really going then?” Jacob asked.
“yep” replied David, not lifting his head as he spoke.
“This is stupid, you have no money and nowhere to stay, you’re going to get yourself killed”
David picked up a photograph in a dirty silver frame from his bedside table. The baby girl in the picture was Brooke, his niece who had been born six months earlier to his 14 year old sister, Danielle.
“Dying young is not unique to London, mate” David said as he shoved the photograph roughly into his bag before zipping it closed, a look of indifference on his face.
“I can lend you some money….” Jacob suggested.
“I don’t need money” David replied abruptly. He then lifted his head and softened his expression slightly. “But thanks anyway” he added.

David stood up and threw the bag onto the bed next to Jacob. He walked over to the other side of the small room, opened a drawer and pulled something out.
“Here, something to remember me by when I’m rich and famous” he laughed as he handed a small, clay figure to Jacob. It was the ‘Bogie Man’ that he had made in pottery class two years ago. Jacob tried to fight back a lone tear which stung his eye but it glided down his cheek stubbornly. Quickly, Jacob wiped it off his face with the sleeve of his sweater.
“You soft shit, I know you’re all ‘emo’ these days but don’t cry over me for gods sake!” David laughed.
“Seriously Dave, where are you going to stay when you get there? You can’t just sleep on the streets of London, you’re 16. It’s stupid…” Jacob protested.
“Things always have a way of working out and anyway, anywhere is better than here, trust me. Look, I’m going to miss my bus if I don’t go now, I think I’ve got everything” David said as he lifted the rucksack from the bed and headed to the door. “You coming? Or you staying here?” he added to Jacob, with a slight grin.

Jacob took one last look around the mostly empty room and headed to the door where David stood glancing over what had been his home for the past 16 years.
“Are you letting your parents know?” Jacob asked as they walked out onto the small, cramped hallway.
“No, they won’t notice I’m gone” David said.
“Don’t be stupid, of course they’ll notice” Jacob protested.
“Trust me, they won’t notice and if they did, they wouldn’t care. Wait here a minute, I need to speak to Danielle” said David, placing the rucksack on the floor at the top of the stairs before knocking lighting on the bedroom door next to his own. Jacob waited outside as David entered the room and closed the door behind him. It was a cheaply built house, owned by the council with paper thin walls and hollow doors and as Jacob leant against the stair banister, he clearly heard the conversation inside Danielle’s room.

“Are you still going?” asked Danielle through faint sobs.
“yeah, I have to” David replied quietly so Jacob could only just hear his voice.
“Please don’t, don’t leave me on my own. Why can’t I come too?” Danielle cried, a little louder.
“Because you have to look after Brooke. I don’t have anywhere to stay when I get there, we can’t bring her up on the streets. Don’t be so bloody stupid”. David argued.
“Maybe … maybe Jacob would look after her…” Danielle whispered. Jacob’s heart skipped a beat. Surely she couldn’t be serious?
“Have you heard yourself? He’s 16, he’s going to college in a few weeks, why the hell would he want to take on someone else’s kid at his age?? She’s your baby, you have to look after her!” David said.
“But how can you just leave like this? Just walk out and leave us? I hate it here” Danielle said, crying harder.
“I know, I’m sorry. Listen, I’m a selfish bastard and I’m doing it for myself. I admit that, but I am sorry”. Jacob admired how David was always completely honest and truthful, although sometimes a little too truthful he thought.
“Not sorry enough to stay though … ?” Danielle asked quietly.
“No, but once I get somewhere to stay, I’ll come back for you” David promised.
“You’re full of shit” Danielle snapped.
“The world is full of shit, you just have to get used to it instead of sitting around feeling sorry for yourself and expecting it to change” David said. Jacob heard footsteps moving towards the door. He turned his head the other way in an attempt to disguise the fact that he had been listening to their conversation. The door opened and David emerged, looking as always, as indifferent as ever.

“Right, come on. Time to go” he muttered to Jacob as he grabbed his rucksack off the floor and headed down the narrow staircase.
Jacob followed him. As usual, he tried to avoid standing on the piles of dirty clothes which lined the stairs and tried not to breathe too deeply as the stench of nicotine, mouldy food and baby urine filled the air. As they reached the bottom of the stairs and headed out through the front door, Jacob almost breathed a sigh of relief to be able to breathe freely again without worrying about what was going in to his lungs. He hated himself for feeling this way, it was almost like the school bullies who would worry about ‘catching something’ if they stood too close to David but the air inside his house really was hard to tolerate.

They walked solemnly down the garden path before coming to an awkward standstill at the gate. Jacob tried desperately to think of something to say but silence seemed the safer option. Finally, David spoke.
“Thanks mate, you know … for everything”
“Anytime” Jacob replied with a false smile.
“When I find somewhere to stay, you can come down and stay with me … we’ll have a laugh” David promised. Jacob nodded his head to silently agree but deep down, he knew this would be the last time he saw David.
“Look after yourself Dave, don’t do anything stupid” Jacob muttered quietly.
“Look after my sister Jake, she needs you”. David said, his intense eyes penetrating Jacobs stare.
“I’ll try” Jacob offered.

With that, David smiled before turning around and heading down the street. Jacob watched him as he went, his old jeans which were blatantly too small for him, his stained jacket and his small rucksack holding everything that meant anything to him. He fought back more tears, knowing David would not approve of such soppy behaviour and as David disappeared around the corner and out of sight, Jacob turned and walked in the opposite direction.

Pan Sat 04-Oct-08 21:42:49

Ok.

IMVHO, there's way too much dialogue, and simple facts, reportely simply, that appear as 'empty lines', and don't contribute to the atmosphere that I suspect you are reaching for. It maybe should be a highly emotive and strung out situation? But I read it as "David is going, Jacob and Danielle do not wish him to, but he goes anyway. Gone."

Less dialogue, more analysis of feeling ( fear/bereft/resentment/desparation etc?). IMO.

harpomarx Sat 04-Oct-08 21:47:44

too much description/explanation.

It is a dialogue. Let the dialogue speak for itself. If it doesn't, then work on that. If you need to explain why a character is saying something or what they are saying then the dialogue is not strong enough.

And trust that your reader can work out who is speaking - I don't think you need to put 'David said' or variations of after every sentence.

Pan Sat 04-Oct-08 21:54:20

Hmm..it reads alot more like a screen play than a novel.

NotQuiteCockney Tue 07-Oct-08 13:54:19

SinCity, do you want me to do this one, too?

SinCity Tue 07-Oct-08 14:13:24

Yes please! If you would

I have changed it slightly though after taking on board some of the comments already made, could I send you the new one by email?

NotQuiteCockney Tue 07-Oct-08 14:49:27

Sure. I'm joy at corbeauonly_just_the_firstword dot co cot uk.

No underscores in my email address, though.

Must dash.

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