Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Drop the Needle: Death #12

TITLE: The Second Life
GENRE: Women's Fiction

This scene comes after a car crash where Maggie, the protagonist, is confronted with death in a very personal way.

A sharp, stinging pain in my legs brings me to the surface. Gasping, I smell blood in the air, almost feel it there like humidity. I can move my shoulders, arms, and neck. The rest of my body feels as though it's caught tight in a crushing vise. I lift my chin and concentrate all my effort on breathing without screaming. Whimpering softly, I turn to the side.

The pain is forgotten as I catch sight of my father's body hanging halfway out the window. A slight noise to the right makes me drag my gaze away. On the other side of the car, Myles is quietly watching me, looking strangely resolute. His mouth is moving, as though he's whispering to me, but he isn't saying anything I can understand. A bubbling, pink foam forms on my brother's lip and he coughs. Myles keeps trying to talk, until his whole body shudders and relaxes. There's nothing behind his eyes anymore. No life. No pain. Nothing.

I try to touch him and shake his shoulder, but I can't move more than a few inches. "Myles?"
I cover my head with my arms to block out a shrill, keening sound. Several minutes pass before I realize the scream is coming from my own throat.


  1. I felt this one. Quite terrifying and horrific. :( Good job.

  2. Wow! Powerful scene. I can't imagine how awful it must be, but your writing gives me a really good taste. I like the image of feeling blood like humidity. I could almost feel it with her.

    I wonder if the scene might be even more "immediate" with a little wordsmithing. Second paragraph, "the pain is forgotten" seems too calm for what she's looking at. Perhaps something that catches her first reaction, and "oh my god" type of response, then simply "my father's body is hanging" instead of "I catch sight of..."

    "makes me drag my gaze away" might be shortened--e.g., the noise pulls her gaze, or something like that.

    Seeing her watch her brother die was wrenching. Minor point--switch the order of pain and life?

    Good ending. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Wow - really well written. It was powerful and shaking, and I'd read more.

  4. Powerful stuff. Agree with above comment from joankr.

    I'd just tighten some phrasing. Thanks for sharing - it seems personal.

  5. Yes, very powerful! I love the blood in the air like humidity. I also love that she didn't know where the scream was coming from.

  6. This scene really hooked me. I might tighten it a bit like cutting "all my effort." I think you need to be more precise about how she reacts to the screaming. Does she cover her ears with her hands? I can't really picture "cover my head with my arms."

  7. Agree it's a powerful scene. With a bit of cutting, this piece could shine like a diamond.

    I agree with "cover my head with my arms"...that it's not clear.
    I don't like "whimpering softly." I think you could dretch up more wi showing the movement. The effort of it.

    "A slight noise to the right makes me drag my gaze away."
    I'm not positioned clearly as to where/how your characters are situated in the car. But I also understand that it could have been shown earlier in the telling.

    "Myles keeps trying to talk, until his whole body shudders and relaxes." Consider lingering longer on the moment. At a time like this, I'd assume TIME tends to move slower and so should her observations.

    A touching scene. Good job.