BY CAROL ROOTS
Copyright is held by the author.
“DAMN IT,” she muttered as her compact mirror fell out of her purse and landed on the pavement with a cracking sound.
“Ohh, seven years bad luck.” Becky laughed nervously.
Caitlyn bent down and scooped up the mirror, opening it and looking at her fractured reflection. She sighed as she slipped it back into her purse and pulled out the car keys.
“Yeah, think I could get time served on those seven years?” She said flatly.
Becky laughed. “Oh you don’t believe in that superstition. I’m sure your luck will get better.”
Caitlyn sure hoped so, the past several years had been bad enough, getting pregnant with her ex’s baby, being a single mom, losing her job and not to mention her stolen identity and ruined credit rating. She didn’t need things to get worse but then again how could they? Unlocking the doors to her mother’s car, because really how could she possibly afford her own, Caitlyn got in with a sigh of relief.
Both women had been walking around the mall for a few hours while their daughters were at a friend’s birthday party. Her feet were aching and she figured Becky’s were bothering her as well if her sigh of relief upon sitting was any indication. Turning the key in the ignition, the car sputtered and struggled to life, but it had started and that was the important part.
Caitlyn knew better than to tempt the fates. She always said “never say things can’t get worse because they always will get worse.” Life always seemed to kick you when you were down, and she should have followed her own advice.
The truck, a large black beast, ran through the red light smashing into their car. Glass broke and metal crumpled as the larger vehicle slammed into the passenger side sending them over into the other lane and crashing into the car next to them. Caitlyn jerked from side to side with the two impacts and the airbag went off, hitting her in the chest causing her to be slammed back into the headrest. She lost focus after that and was only aware of bits and pieces as everything went dark.
Horns honked. People shouted. Sirens sounded in the distance and grew louder as they came closer. Someone asked her if she was all right. She was moving, or rather someone was moving her. Pain shot through her right arm and the world began to spin as something dripped down her face. She tried to open her eyes to see what was happening but everything was red.
Her entire body ached as they laid her on a hard surface and wrapped something around her neck. She tried to curl up into a ball to make the pain go away but someone stopped her. She thought she heard something about injuries. Was that why everything hurt? she thought as the darkness took her again.
Her daughter! She jolted awake and quickly looked around, the action causing her head to pound and the room to spin. White walls, fluorescent lights and a window that looked out to a brick wall. She was in a hospital. She tried to sit up and quickly found her arm was in a sling and a cast. The room spun violently and she was sure she would be sick, putting her hand to her head to try and stop the spinning she felt a bandage wrapped around her forehead. What had happened? All she remembered was that she was supposed to get her daughter from the birthday party.
Trying to stand up the nurse chose that moment to enter her room. “What are you doing?” She asked sharply.
“I need to get my daughter,” Caitlyn told her.
“No, you need to get back into bed.” The nurse tried to get her back into the bed, but Caitlyn resisted with what little strength she had. “Your daughter was here just a moment ago.”
“But —” Caitlyn started.
“No buts! Back into bed until the doctor has had a look at you,” The nurse interrupted her and forced her back into the bed.
The doctor walked in with Caitlyn’s mother just then and she could see that her mother was trying to not cry.
“Mom! what’s wrong? Is Amber okay?” Caitlyn asked worriedly.
“Oh honey she’s fine. I was just so worried about you,” her mother said.
Caitlyn could hear the lie in her mother’s voice, the woman had never been able to tell a lie. “If Amber’s okay, then what is it?” She persisted.
“It’s Becky,” her mother said on a sob as she began crying.
Everything came back to her then, in vivid detail it was as though it was happening all over again. The truck had hit the passenger side and she remembered looking over and seeing Becky. “Oh God!” She cried as tears streamed down her face. Becky’s head had been leaning forward, tilted at an odd angle so that her friend was looking right at her. Large vacant green eyes stared at her. Becky was dead.
Seven years later
Caitlyn fidgeted in her seat, smoothing her dress over her lap and twirling her wedding rings on her finger in a nervous habit. It was grade eight graduation and Amber and Sarah, Becky’s daughter that she had adopted after the accident, were waiting to go up. Beside her sat her four-year-old son and beside him was her husband. He had been one of the paramedics on the scene of the accident where she had lost her friend years ago. Thinking of Becky, Caitlyn unzipped her purse and pulled the broken mirror out. She looked down at her fractured reflection through the spiderweb of cracks. She’d kept the mirror all these years and would pull it out whenever she missed her friend. It comforted her and reminded her that sometimes bad things happen, but so do good things, so do good things.
Carol: lose the adverbs — nervously, flatly, worriedly etc., — don’t tell the reader what your character is feeling, show it by what she does and what she says or how she says it. Sometimes she may say or do worried or nervous things but then by you telling that she’s worried or nervous as well, well its redundant. The ‘seven years later’ paragraph was a summary and rushed. You’re allowed up to 4,000 words in one sitting on this site. You should have done more with that. Cheers.
I agree with Dan. The overuse of adverbs speaks of an early phase in your career and as usual, it is better to show us rather than tell us how your characters feel (another word to avoid). You have potential. Read the books in your home library by authors you admire for a guide as to how it may be done, not that you need to follow their styles like a slave.
Good luck in the future. I hope to read you again in Commuterlit.