United States

I drew my profile
Dancer, singer, actress
Student of ASL
B-Way theater nerd
I love Loki
Avatar (as in Aang and Korra, not weird blue people)
anime weeb (TPN is my favorite)
LGBT+ ally
~joined 8/10/20~

Message to Readers

This is an extremely unedited chapter of a (hopefully) novel I've been working on, so I'd really appreciate some critiques if you can make it through this relatively long post.

Untitled - Chapter One

September 3, 2020


The alarm on her bedside table blared obnoxiously. Flailing her hand around wildly, Paisley eventually hit her mark and the noise cut off.
   Sighing, she sat up. With a yawn, she stretched then scratched her nose tiredly. Swinging her leg over the side of the bed, Paisley leaned on the wall as she hopped over to the shower. Staying in her dad's big travel apartments had some perks, including getting her own bathroom.
   After a hot, energizing shower, Paisley made her way back to the bed. Sitting on it's edge, she slid on her glasses then strapped on her prosthetic leg. Even after a year, she hadn't gotten used to the robotic machine she attached to the stump of her right leg every day.
   Waking her phones, she scrolled through the messages she’d already received that day, though it was only 7:15 am now. Her dad had left a stream of texts that grew gradually harsher ordering her to get down to set. With an annoyed huff, she changed quickly from her baggy t-shirt and shorts into a slightly nicer sleeveless top and her pair of jeans with the least amount of tares. Tucking her phone and a pair of wireless earbuds into her back pocket and pulling on a faded baseball cap over her short, unbrushed mass of brown hair, Paisley headed out.
   Their current apartment was in Chinatown at the cross section between Bowery and Hester St. and was fortunately close to a subway station. She hopped the train and rode about twenty minutes to Time Square, deciding to walk the rest of the way. Pulling out her earbuds, Paisley tucked them into her ears, drumming her fingers gently on her side in time with the music. 
   As she turned down 42nd, she heard giggling from the side of the road. Turning, she saw a group of young women waving their hands and grinning. Glancing in the direction to which they looked, Paisley rolled her eyes.
   A boy who appeared to be in his late teens or early twenties was making his way down the crosswalk. He had suntanned skin and long blonde curls spilling out from behind his ears. He wore a heartbreaking smile and was currently winking one bright blue eye while subtly flashing one of his intensely toned biceps.
   With a shake of her head, she watched him turn the corner, leaving the girls to stare on longingly. She hated those types of guys; so self-confident and condescending, breaking hearts just for fun. She had half a mind to follow the boy and slap some sense into him, but decided against it. Charm was easy to fake, but those biceps were real.
   After walking a few more blocks, Paisley finally arrived at Bryant Park, where the tech crew was setting up. Her father was pacing nearby, a storm in his eyes, as he yelled into his cellphone.
   Ignoring him the best she could, Paisley made her way over to the tech crew to help out, fulfilling her role of prop manager. 
   As she sifted through the various mugs and thermoses, someone else approached. She was tall and elegant with an air of beauty and brightness about her that made her appear even younger than she already was. This was Jamie Kurt, Paisley's father's latest girlfriend, a model and an actress. She would be the one featured in this ad.
   As Jamie was ushered to the trailer for hair and makeup, Paisley found the set pieces she needed. As she placed them carefully in their various designated locations, she received a tap on her shoulder. 
   "What is it?" she asked without turning, adjusting the props to perfection before finally stepping back.
   "Paisley, right?" It was a man from the tech crew. He was young, with a swoop of long black hair shading his pale blue eyes. His gaze flicked down to the ankle of her prosthetic leg visible between her jeans and her sneakers before returning to her face. She subconsciously pushed her right pant leg down further with her left foot. "I think that's all the props we need for now. Would you mind making a coffee run?"
   Paisley nodded as she fought the urge to roll her eyes again. By now, she was used to being the errands girl for those higher up in production, as well as to being recognized as the talented Donovan Brown's handicapped daughter simply by catching sight of her leg.
   She made rounds, taking orders from tech, makeup, hair, and costume, as well as her father and Jamie. She made her way around with a sinking feeling gnawing at her insides. There were so many people here. How would she manage to carry back all that coffee?
   "Hey," came a voice from behind her. It was the boy from earlier who had first requested the coffee trip. "That was selfish of me, throwing you into that without really asking. Film crew is running late, so I'm not doing anything right now. Mind if I come with?"
   Paisley’s first instinct was to turn him down. She had been maneuvering unfamiliar cities on her own since she was twelve, and from that she had gained a sixth sense for navigation. And ever since the accident last year, a month after her seventeenth birthday, people had fussed over her non-stop, even strangers would be extra careful around her when they spotted her prosthetic. A combination of these two caused Paisley to be firmly self-sufficient, and she did most things alone.
   But as she raised her eyes, about to tell him as much, she stopped. The boy was watching her, a cautious smile on his face, a smile with no trace of pity or sympathy, just an sincere apology. It was the smile of a friend.
   “Yeah, sure,” she sighed finally. The boy broke into a real, full grin that warmed her heart, further justifying her assent.
   “Bowman, by the way,” he said, throwing out a hand. “Alex Bowman. Is my name.” A blush crept up Alex’s neck, courtesy of his clumsily executed self-introduction.
   Paisley shook his hand, his long, soft fingers firm against her small, calloused ones. Dropping his hand, she pivoted on her heel, gesturing for Alex to follow. Luckily, there was a café in Bryant Park, though it was on the complete opposite side from where they were stationed. This gave them time to talk.
   The first thing Paisley picked up on was that Alex was not a city boy. He was awkward and stumbling in his speech, and he stared openly with wide eyes at everything going on around him. Strangely, Paisley found these quirks rather precious. 
    As they talked more and Paisley got used to his idiosyncrasies, she learned a bit about him as a person.
   “Yeah, I’ve always been kinda nerdy,” he said. “I was actually president of the chess club back in highschool, and before that, I was the library aide every year of middle school. I think in my senior yearbook, I was voted ‘Most Likely to Become a Computer Scientist’,” He stopped abruptly, shooting her an embarrassed sideways glance.
   Little did he know, Paisley was actually enjoying his little ramble. Usually she was the one deemed "nerd", though she bore the title shamelessly. She’d actually been her chess club’s president as well, but could tell Alex thought he was being uncool so changed the subject.
   “So what year are you?” At his confused look, she tried again. “What class are you? When did you graduate highschool?”
   “Ah, um,” He cleared his throat, flushing. “Just last year, actually.”
   “Oh seriously? Me too!” Alex looked surprised.
   “Wow, cool,” he exclaimed. “I mean, I totally thought you were at least, like, twenty-five. You look really mature and-” he cringed. “Gosh, I sound like a total creep, don’t I? Sorry.”
   “Nah, it’s fine,” Paisley reassured him. “To be honest, I had you pegged for older, too. How’d a brainiac like you end up hauling around set pieces and lights instead of at college?”
   He simply shrugged at this.
   “Working gets you money. College takes it.” They walked in silence for a few minutes after that, arriving eventually at the park’s café. 
   Checking off the requests, they eventually headed back out, each with an armful of beverages.
   “Gosh,” Paisley said, leaning to see the ground ahead of them around the large stack of drinks in her arms. “I’m really glad you came now.” She grinned up at him and he returned the expression.
   Again they walked quietly, though it was now a more comfortable silence. Paisley’s gaze drifted as they went, finally taking in her surroundings intentionally. She was used to moving around and had stopped caring about appearances of any sort quite a while back. Now, however, something had shifted in her. Being here with Alex somehow helped her enjoy the beauty of the park around her.
   “What about you?” Alex asked, breaking the silence abruptly. “Have you gotten an acceptance letter into Yale or Harvard yet?” He smiled teasingly.
   “Nope,” she sighed. “Taking a gap year as of now, though ‘year’ is a best-case-scenario. It'll most likely be 'gap years until further notice'.” She never confided this much in anyone, and  had no idea why she was doing so now, but once she started, she couldn’t stop.
   “My dad’s always travelling for work, as you probably know, and for some reason, he always needs me with him, though he rarely pays me any attention on set. And even if he let me leave, there’s no way he’d give me the amount of money I’d need for any prestigious college. The old man’s a stubborn one.”
   “And your mom?” Alex encouraged her on.
   Paisley shrugged.
   “She passed when I was twelve,” she said simply.
   Alex’s face fell.
   “Oh gosh, I’m so sorry. If I had known...I didn’t mean...I-I wouldn’t…” He drifted off squeezing his eyes shut.
   “Alex,” Paisley said firmly. “It’s totally fine. That was years ago. It doesn't really affect me anymore.” He nodded, though he still looked a bit pale and stayed quiet. After a few minutes of walking, he spoke back up.
   “My mom passed two months ago,” he said softly. Paisley looked to him sharply, causing the cups to jerk, a splash of hot coffee landing on her arm, but she hardly noticed. Alex was staring straight ahead, a muscle in his jaw clenching and unclenching.
   “Alex…” she murmured. She saw it there, the grief in his eyes, and was filled with the memory of how it had felt right after her mother had died.
   It had been an indescribable agony, a blinding pain that was too much for any twelve year old to contain. She remembered locking herself in her room, crying and wailing for hours on end until her father banged on her door and shouted for her to either come talk with him or shut up. She had shut up. She knew her father had meant his best, but he was no therapist. She was pretty sure he would've had no idea what to say if she’d chosen to talk.
   So instead, she stayed in her room in voiceless misery, whimpering as she hugged her knees, rocking back and forth in her place on the floor. For the first three days or so, Paisley had convinced herself it wasn’t real. That her mother was just on a business trip or staying over at theirs grandmother’s to help out as she did once a month. But you can’t hide from reality for long. 
   She started noticing how things changed, now that her mother was out of the picture. The house was messier, for starters. Dishes piled in the sink and clothes and books cluttered the floors. 
   Whenever she had faced a particularly harsh scolding, Paisley would crawl into her mother's arms and cry as she was rocked back and forth, words of comfort being whispered in her ears, until she fell asleep. 
   Now, there was nowhere to hide from her father's strictness. Christine and Donovan had been perfect foils, yin and yan. Where her father had been strict and cold, her mother was gentle and caring. He was broad and tough where she had been willowy and delicate. Christine had been friendly and cheerful, but Donovan was stubborn and perpetually angry.
   To this day, it was always a mystery to Paisley as to why her parents had married in the first place.
   "I can't imagine," Alex's voice, now with a bit of a rough edge to it, cut off her thoughts. "How awful that must've been at twelve years old."
   Paisley remained silent.
   "I'm a full adult, and it totally crushed me. That for a little kid?" He shook his head. "It would be horrible."
   "It was," Paisley responded simply with a bitter smile. 
   They finished their walk in a cloud of dark silence.
Read the prologue! It's the last thing posted on my page before this. Please let me know if you're enjoying these and I try to work harder on getting more chapters done.


See History
  • September 3, 2020 - 8:36am (Now Viewing)

Login or Signup to provide a comment.

1 Comment
  • BlueWolf

    Beautiful as always. Love this character and was so involved from the first sentence. Love this.

    5 months ago