Jul 19, 2009


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Chapter 1 – “Ten Years”

“I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It's awful. If I'm on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I'm going, I'm liable to say I'm going to the opera. It's terrible.”

“Mrs. Newman?” A tall boy in the front row interrupts my reading aloud.

“Yes Jason?”

“Why should it matter if Holden is a great liar, he’s not writing for anyone else? I don’t understand why we can’t trust his narration? And please don’t say: What do you think?” I laugh aloud at how well he knows my style.

“Ok, let me ask you this Jason, Do you think it’s possible for someone to lie to themselves?” I say trying to work around his request.

“I guess I see what you mean – like denial?” He says

“Exactly, people lie to themselves all the time. Mothers in denial about their kid being the school bully. My kids not fat he’s just big boned!” The class is laughing and I have all their attention now.

“The only fact you really need to know when deciding what to take as true in the book is that
Holden’s perspective changes, the way he looks at the world changes from the beginning of the book to the end.”

“So I’m guessing that will be a test question?” Another boy says

“Absolutely, the test questions aren’t a secret. My intention is not to trick you.”

“That sounds like a trick to me!” A girl named Emma says

“If you’ve read the story, I mean really read it, you’ll do fine. I’m happy to give you my opinions on the interpretation, but if you decide that Holden really works for the CIA and you can give me examples and details to support that you won’t fail.”

“You know that could be true.” Jason says causing the entire classroom to erupt in laughter.

“Remember, I didn’t write the book – It’s not my place to tell you you’re wrong. Unless I can tell you didn’t read, of course.”

“In other words, there’s no easy way out?” Jason speaks up again.

“There never is.” I answer him with a smile.

4:00pm – Back in my Ford Escort, I can finally allow my mind to drift back to the girl on the beach. I try to recall some of the visions from earlier today. I remember the handsome boy’s tears and – why was he so upset? There was desperation in their eyes, something horrible had just happened – something tragic. I needed to replay the visions over and over until I could get to my computer. I know the wording won’t be perfect but I just had to get the story down. Somehow I knew if I could just get it out of my head the pieces would fall into place.

I unlocked the door, threw my things in the closet and sat down at the computer. Alone at last. For thirty minutes I type without a single hesitation. I’m jolted out of my fantasy world as the door bell rings. I hit the save button with a groan and head for the front door, it’s always something.

When I open the door a young man with dark curly hair and glasses is standing in front of me looking unbelievably anxious. His eyes widen when he sees me

“Holly! I can’t believe it’s you! You’re alright?” I recognize his face at last.

“Adam Silverman? What are you doing here?” He seems to be composing himself. Somehow it doesn’t seem like he had expected me to open the door.

“I was in town and I heard you lived here . . . . . with someone? I just thought I would stop by.” He could tell I wasn’t buying the “I-was-just-in-town” story. We hadn’t seen each other in ten years; maybe he wasn’t quite stable – mentally I mean.

“Would you like to come in, Adam?” I say slowly in case he might have trouble understanding me. He looks exactly the same; I can’t believe after ten years he hasn’t gained a pound. It looked like he even had the same glasses.

“Actually I just needed to give you something.” He follows me into the house and I point to the couch for him to have a seat.

“Really, what?” I say walking to the kitchen and filling a glass of water for him. He takes a large gulp right away then chokes and points at my left hand.

“The ring. . . on your hand?” He says stumbling with his words

“My wedding ring?” I say, he’s definitely messed up – drugs maybe? I hadn’t heard that but who knows. He swallows another gulp before speaking again.

“You’re married to. . . .?”

“David.” I say slowly again.

“Wow, David . . . huh that’s interesting.” I sat down next to him on the couch trying to get a good look at his eyes; I’m not sure exactly what I’m looking for – dilated pupils, redness?

“Adam? Are you ok? I mean is something wrong?” he nodded without speaking; I prompt him again “Is that why you’re here?”

He set his glass down and turned to face me; his eyes looked normal – just anxious.


“What’s going on Adam? You can tell me.” He’s silent again looking down at his hands. I decide to try a different question.

“You seemed surprised to see me, were you expecting someone else?” I say trying to lighten the mood.

“Can you tell me something, Holly?”

“Sure, what?”

“Well, you know . . . what have you been up to. . . . .for the last ten years I mean?”

I laugh nervously

“All ten of them?”

“No, I mean what you do. Your job?”

“Oh, I’m teaching; high school English, at a school in Manhattan. I’m also trying my hand at fiction writing in my spare time.” I point towards the laptop on the coffee table.

“You’re writing a book? What about?” I give him a brief over view of the visions I’ve been having lately and the parts that I still haven’t unraveled yet.

“I didn’t really plan on writing a whole book, it’s just these ideas started flowing out of me and I had to get them down on paper. After a few days or so of writing I realized that I might have the beginnings of a novel.”

His eyes are wide and his face was so pale – I thought he was going to be sick. He bent down to get something from his bag, then handed me a notebook. I turn it over in my hands. The cover of the notebook is soft pink velvet with a swirling pattern covering it.

This is my journal, my thoughts, my writing. Writing I hadn’t seen for ten years.

“Where did you get this?” I say

“I acquired it recently from a good friend,” he said a little more composed than before. Or maybe my shock was so great it overshadowed my concern with his strange behavior. He handed me a piece of paper with an address on it.

“Come see me after you read this. I’ll need your help.” I’m still staring at the notebook and I don’t even notice him walking towards the door.

“Wait Adam, I already know what’s in here, let me help you; I know it’s been awhile since we’ve seen each other, but you were such a great friend to me. Whatever’s going on with you I can help?” He looks at me for a few moments standing in front of the open door – his eyes look sad; defeated almost.

“There’s nothing wrong with me, Holly – trust me. Read it, I’ll be waiting.” He shuts the door quickly. My mind races trying to think of someone I can call to help him perhaps. I dial David’s number first his phone goes straight to voice mail.

Curiosity is eating at me now and I have to look. As I open the notebook a photograph falls out on to the floor. I pick it up staring at the girl in the photo. It’s me at eighteen or nineteen, I gasp when I notice the boy standing next to me. My legs give out and I fall back on to the couch. The boy in the photo has his arm around me kissing my cheek - his amazing blue eyes are still visible.

This is the boy from my visions; the one I’ve devoted over three hundred pages to. A boy I have never seen in my entire life. I open the book and start to read. . . . . . . . .


J.B. Chicoine said...

I like this much better for an introduction. The correlation between a discussion of "Catcher in the Rye" as it pertains to self-deception and her life situation is quickly evident. Perhaps the classroom scene is a little more drawn out than it needs to be, but it is effective.

The initial part of Adam Silverman’s visit is a little confusing; admittedly, there is some mystery intended here, but I had to reread that part several times to make sure I didn’t miss something that might clarify it. You definitely don’t want that happening so early in the first chapter.

Overall, I think it’s a big improvement and you’re moving in the right direction.

Julie said...


Thanks for your words of wisdom. I'm really excited you got my symbolism with the Catcher in The Rye. Regan who has some great sample pages on slushpile as well suggestion I start with something relating to the MC's life being a lie before the Catcher in the Rye quote.

This is what I came up with in the last twenty minutes. Anybody ready tell me if it sounds ok or ridiculous?

New Beg. to Chapter 1

It always amazes me that a lie can be represented with one word. That’s like telling someone “there’s color on the wall.”

Really? What color? Is it blue? What kind of blue; light blue, dark blue, periwinkle?

Truth, now that’s a word so pure and specific it should be as rare as 5ct. diamonds.

How often do we really tell the untarnished truth? How many teeny, tiny lies wrap around our truth like bacon around a perfect filet minion?

It hardly seems wrong to make something as pure truth even tastier surrounded by juicy bacon. It was better that way.

So when someone told me most of my life had been a lie, what was my response?

“Yes, but whose life isn’t?” I said shrugging my shoulders

Will Nathan Bransford execute me for all the rhetorical?

J.B. Chicoine said...

I did catch Regan’s earlier suggestion, so I was looking for how you might incorporate it. I think it’s a more effective opening.

Regarding your bacon-wrapped filet minion: personally, I love quirky analogies and metaphors, and this one definitely works for me. I’m just not sure if the placement of it right at the beginning of your story is the best spot for it. However, if it fits the overall tone of your story, perhaps you can get away with it…better hold out for a few more opinions.

Regan Kirk said...


The most grabbing thing I've read from you thus far are these two lines:

So when someone told me most of my life had been a lie, what was my response?

“Yes, but whose life isn’t?” I said shrugging my shoulders. (although it should just be "I said, shrugging")

That's a great way to establish some of your MC's character as well as creating suspense--her life is a lie? How? Why? How did this person find out?

I'm not sure how well the lead in stuff before that works--I think maybe if you cut it down a bit it can be quite effective (I do like the bacon analogy). Keep in mind that you probably want your very first line to be really grabbing.

Also, I don't know if lying-as-a-way-of-life is a theme in your novel, but I'd be interested to see how you could weave it throughout your story!

As usual, hope this helps :) Nice job on the editing.

Julie said...

actually lying is a huge theme in my story. I didn't really plan it that way but I'm almost to the end and there it was "symbolism".

the teenage version of my MC has a very religious mother who experienced something horrible when the MC was a child.

thus somewhat reversing their roles. The MC doesn't share her mother's religious views but she can't bring herself to tell her so she is constantly lying to her.

But not to get aware with acts of teenage rebellion but to protect her.

Thanks for all the help!

I was hungry when I wrote the extra beg. I think that where the bacon wrapped steak came from

Julie said...

My older sister also thought the "Bacon wrapped filet" seemed out of place but she liked the diamond analogy and thought i should keep using jewels maybe, so I came up with a new part.

"How many teeny, tiny lies wrap around our truth like a platinum webbed ring holding the sparkling diamond in place? It hardly seems wrong to make something as pure as truth even more beautiful surrounded by a precious medal. It's better that way."

I personally liked the bacon. .

perhaps I should just change my title to "BACON WRAPPED FILET"??

It could work?