Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Offer up your page (or query) for Nathan's critique on the blog.
alliv12
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by alliv12 » September 16th, 2014, 7:09 pm

Pelligri and the Sunflower Master
YA Fantasy


The cliff drew him like a lover. Pelligri whistled; the shrill echo knocked down the chasm, beating as rocks falling into hard stone. His ears rang and his face shone with a grin through wrapping fog. The chittering of night birds gusted back upwards toward him in response to the sound. It felt like home, as if winds wrapped him in old songs. Warm and inviting him into its depth, desiring to enfold him forever. Part of him wanted to jump in and feel the embrace.

“You act as if you don’t fear the Shadowdeep.” He heard Alastor whisper the words, misting the back of his neck.

He startled. Alastor’s stealth no longer shocked him into leaping out of his skin, but it still caught him off guard. Composing himself, he replied, “Afraid? I can’t see anything.”

Alastor released a snort in response, a heady sound as if made from a horse’s nostril. “Blind or not, have sense boy. You know what this place is, rotted darkness on the brightest day.”

“Not that I could tell,” Pelligri sighed. He knew the words were childish, not appropriate for his sixteen years, but with the dejection he felt, they poured out of his mouth like wasted wine.

“That’ll be changed soon and you know it!” Alastor snapped.

Pelligri swallowed. His master’s words stung and he remembered why they’d come. “You don’t have to do this, Master Alastor,” Pelligri pleaded, his voice weighed with guilt.

Alastor sighed. “I’m old, lad, and we’ve been over this already. My times up. My sunflower eyes are wilted plants on this old body. Time for them to take new root.”

QwainsAttic!
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by QwainsAttic! » September 16th, 2014, 9:09 pm

Title: Angels in the Shadow of the Moon
Genre: Science Fiction
1st page of novel, double space length, 333 words.

The crowd inside Wembley Stadium was attentive to the announcer, but Challenge’s meditation was all on what he would say once he was introduced. He picked himself
up from the yoga position he always assumed prior to each speech and made his way toward the curtain. He smiled as he heard the announcer saying, “And for all of those
who were skeptical of the traditions of the past, who doubted the self-righteous religious pundits who filled the minds of their followers with fantasies, and who finally said
‘enough!’ when you saw how their policies beat down the peoples of the world in our time; there is the man who rose up and fought back, who struck blow after blow in the
fight for reason against the anti-scientists and anti-intellectuals infesting the religious fundamentalists of all religions, the man who demanded that their so-called gods
prove their existence, the man who is the leader of the War Against Religious Tyranny.” The announcer paused just a moment as Challenge stood just behind the edge of
the curtain, as much for dramatic effect as giving him time to make his entrance, “I give you, Challenge!”
As he stepped out from behind the curtain the crowd erupted in cheers. Challenge waved to the crowd, which yelled louder at each wave and each step to the podium.
Once he was behind the microphones, the crowd continued to clap and cheer until Challenge indicated with his hands that he was ready to speak. When the people quieted
in unison to hear his words, Challenge raised his fists in the air and shouted, “I AM CHALLENGE!” At those words the crowd erupted again, shouting his name over and
over, “CHALLENGE! CHALLENGE! CHALLENGE!” Challenge held his arms up shaking his fists as they cheered, and then he motioned for them to quiet down again. This
time he started his speech. He never needed notes, since his whole life went into his words and they were words that he would never forget.

meghanethompson
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by meghanethompson » September 17th, 2014, 5:46 am

Title: The Last Days of Mavornia
Genre: Epic Fantasy
(246 words)

A slender boy with toughened green skin and hopeful black eyes watched as the village burned. He had come from Vardra with the army on a sacred mission and though he was only fourteen star cycles, he was certain today he would impress the gathering commanders and earn the right to wear a uniform. He glanced down at his own dirty robe, threadbare in places, and felt his pride surge. As the brother of the first martyr, he would never again have to worry about clothes or food.

All around him, soldiers were pulling men from their homes. Women wailed and clutched at their husbands while holding tight to their sons. Flames from nearby farms slithered toward the village and panic spread from cottage to cottage. He glanced over to make certain his little sister was still by the door to the Domchaum temple where he’d told her to stay. She looked tired and frightened, but he trusted that she knew better than to disobey. That’s why he’d volunteered her for the sacrifice.

The boy sidled up behind a captain sitting on his raysal, a towering rodent with deep-set pink eyes and long-hairless legs. He tapped the man’s leg and was rewarded with a swat while the captain carried on with this conversation. The boy tried again, this time holding high the bag that contained the robe he’d treated himself to make sure it would burn beautifully. The captain of Vardra’s army glanced down and nodded.

jennifermhartsock
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by jennifermhartsock » September 22nd, 2014, 2:29 pm

Title: BATTLEGROUND
Genre: Contemporary YA
Words: 227

Does everything happen for a reason?

If you look hard enough, you can find a reason.

Horns and cheers boomed from outside in celebration of the New Year. The house was packed with liquid conduits drinking, puking, and peeing every five minutes. They were eager to have a bit of fun before sophomore year started again. I liked fun as much as anyone else did, but being around teenagers with bellies full of poison didn’t exactly equal a good time. What were the rules in a place like this?

According to my friends, things weren’t quite right with me.

Samantha Withnell and Corbin Burke often found themselves torn between partying on the weekends and going to a movie with me. Ten years ago, things were very different: one morning in Sunday school, my youth pastor said never to question his authority or else I would be banished to time out. I cried. A lot. The girl sitting next to me reached over and held my hand. The boy next to her called me a crybaby-wetsy-pants.

Maybe things between us hadn’t changed that much.

Sometimes, like tonight, Sam and Corbin convinced me to try something new — something from their world. Something my parents would surely disown me for.

“That’s why you should do it,” Corbin would say. “Resist the oppression!”

Something good would eventually come out of this.

Denisa
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Denisa » October 26th, 2014, 6:04 am

Title: SHADES OF DARKNESS
Genre: fantasy
Words: 273

His eyes turned to me the second I entered the room; those sharp black eyes I only knew from my vision—the stranger’s eyes.
No. He is not a stranger, I told myself with a shudder. He is Richard D’Cartey’s son. And his life depends on me.
My mouth went dry, and my palms started to sweat. This had been a bad idea from the start, but I couldn’t just leave; he had seen me, and he was still looking at me. Turning my back now would only provoke him more. I looked over the whole room, just now realizing how unwise it had been to come here; how dangerous and impulsive.
He came across as relaxed and laid-back, but his body language was deceiving. He had a vague, unconvincing smile on his lips; he wasn't paying attention to the dirty jokes his friends were telling, but to the intruder, to the threat, to the enemy—to me. I had the uncanny feeling that he could hear the chaotic beats of my heart, in spite of being separated by a room full of noisy, intoxicated teenagers, in spite of the deafening music, in spite of the conversation he was having with his friends…with one of them in particular.
"I wouldn't drink that if I were you," whispered a feminine voice, taking me fully by surprise.
I turned my head toward the girl. She was short, but incredibly beautiful. Her sandy-blonde hair was carefully combed and was falling on her shoulders, covering her almost all the way to the waist. She was less than one step away from me, looking straight at Jason D'Cartey.

Shrykespeare
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by Shrykespeare » November 6th, 2014, 3:42 pm

Title: Joshua's Island
Genre: YA Fiction
Word Count: 310


Only one more year of this crap, I thought as I looked out the window of the school bus. One more year and I’ll be in high school. One more year and this will all be behind me.

It was the Tuesday after Labor Day, the first day of school, and I was already counting the days until graduation. I’d only turned thirteen a month before, and the growth spurt that I’d been praying for all summer still hadn’t kicked in. My mother, father and sister Alyson were all tall, but here I was, finally a teenager, and my height had only just crept over the five-foot mark.

Just like every year, I sat in the back row of the bus, my regular spot. There were a lot of fifth-graders on the bus with me, and most of them were acting like idiots, so I just tuned them out. In most schools around the country, I wouldn’t have to deal with kids that age, but my school’s system was a little different. There was no “middle school” or “junior high”… elementary school ran from kindergarten through eighth grade, followed by four years of high school. Half of the schools in my district took the younger children, while the other half took the older kids. Jeez, even some of the fifth-graders are taller than me already. If this is some big cosmic joke, I’m not laughing.

My school wasn’t the largest in the city, but it was still a good size. It was a public school, located in one of the more respectable areas of town. There were certainly much less desirable schools that I could have attended, but I’d learned that even in the best schools, there were problems. In my case, that was the bully squad: four guys who had made my life a living hell for three years.

theinkswell
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by theinkswell » December 22nd, 2014, 6:16 am

Title: Thresholds
Genre: Science Fiction
Word Count: 434

The hammering on the door continued. I didn't move, I feared to. My mother sat on the floor, hidden as we were from sight through the partially open window curtain. I could hear the man on the other side, talking to someone else. They usually only ever waited until they were sure we were out, or when it was clear there was no intention to answer.
Quiet as a mouse I sat, breathing slowly, deliberately through my nose. When I played hide and seek I was aware how loud my breath was. Convinced it was declaring my presence, I adopted the habit of keeping my mouth shut.

The events seemed to have little to no impact on my sister. She would fidget and fight my mother’s grip, squirming to get down, wanting to play. She didn't understand why we were hiding. It took all of my mother’s energy to keep her silent, busy. That wasn't always enough, and she would cry wriggle without letting up. Sometimes she would win, other times she wouldn't.

I hated those moments, huddled together, hiding from who I didn't know. They were a cue in my mind to the other times it would happen. Such nights usually followed closely by us having to move. A clandestine sneaking out during the night, I hated it, I hated my sister and her selfish wants. I was sure that if we could fool the man at the door, we wouldn't have to leave.

That of course is how the world works when you are ten. Yet I knew enough about how things worked to see the oddity of my life. I had known five bedrooms, in five houses, not counting any from my prehistory. I had had three surnames, and two men who preferred me calling them dad. I knew none of them were, not mine or my sisters. But this was the cycle, we would meet a new friend of mother’s and he would spend evermore nights with us. He would be friendly; playing with me, bringing on some occasion a toy or model we might make together. At some point as the man of the house, I would be asked if I would like it if John, Mike or Cliff came to stay with us.

For a time things would be fine, idyllic. There would come a night where the arguing would rouse me from my sleep. I would lie in my captain’s bed not hearing the conversation, but the tone. Angry and insistent words were exchanged, and sometimes the front door would slam, a car driving away at speed.

daizylublue
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by daizylublue » March 5th, 2015, 1:51 pm

Title: Catholic School Girls Rule
Genre: YA Teen Memoir
(250 words)

We labeled ourselves skaters, even though we didn't own skateboards, and had never been to a skate park. However, we listened to The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Depeche Mode, and decided that alone made us skaters.

The summer before Freshman year, still in full wannabe skater mode, I asked my mom if I could dye my hair black. If Robert Smith, the lead singer of The Cure could pull it off, then so could I. To my surprise, Mom gave me the green light.

She drove me to Drug Warehouse where I perused the hair aisle while she looked at make-up. Shelf after shelf of hair-color options, each box with a picture of a smiling lady on front. Clearly, the model was overjoyed with her brand spankin' new shade. Soon, I would be too. Only the darkest shade of black would do, a black so deep it looked almost blue.

Once home, I hurried to the bathroom. It felt like Christmas morning and this box of Clairol was my gift. My hands trembled with excitement as I feverishly tore it open. After reading the directions, with hands wrapped in plastic, I mixed the contents of the each bottle together and shook like crazy. Section by section, I squeezed the black sludge onto my light brown hair. By the end, one may have mistaken me for a critter caught in an oil spill. I set the timer. The waiting was always the hardest part, just ask Tom Petty.

grsvokos
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by grsvokos » March 5th, 2015, 3:41 pm

TITLE: “Persuasion” by G.M. Rechichi
GENRE: Romantic Fiction/Satire

Chapter 1: Lord’s Luck
Autumn twilight pierced the tall double paned windows overlooking Central Park 30 floors below. The light framed Owen Lord’s Louis XIV desk and shaded his chiseled face.
He had aged, but not in a common way, rather, in the way that only certain old men age – those who knew themselves to have once been extraordinarily beautiful young men.
Owen Lord was a rare breed, and he knew it.
From an early age the world bent its knees at the sight of him. It was not his fault, therefore, that people loved him without actually knowing him, or that fame and fortune had come all too quickly, and easily, and, perhaps, without merit.
The cavalcade of years had done nothing to alter the image he had of himself as one worthy of notoriety and acclaim. Indeed, instead of becoming alarmed at each passing birthday, Owen Lord found cause to celebrate his exceptionalness.
“Look at this face!” he was fond of exclaiming aloud -- sometimes to no one but the mirror -- most often to his middle daughter, Onora, who, like the family’s loyal pair of moppet Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, usually could be found by her father’s side.
Amused by how easily Onora startled, Owen Lord would, (without much provocation), shout this petition in her direction. Awaiting her inevitable response, he would position himself in the signature pose he was famous for: feline manicured hands placed defiantly on his trim hips, his still thick footballer’s neck swiveled haughtily to the left, his square chin thrown up a notch or two to show off its marvelous cleft while still allowing him to gaze down at his admirers.
Once thus positioned, he would shoot his sharp ice-blue eyes towards his target, offering the astonished witness an ever so bemused smirk from what was arguably his most recognizable attribute – his soft, unnaturally wide, moist, mouth.
Having achieved the pose recognized the world over, Owen Lord would then proclaim: “THIS is certainly NOT the face of a 61-year-old!”

earndorfer@yahoo.com
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by earndorfer@yahoo.com » March 5th, 2015, 3:53 pm

Title: Afterwise
Genre: Contemporary YA
Word Count: 320

I wouldn’t be too late. It would just take a minute. I pulled Ganesha, my 1997 Toyota Corolla, into the dirt parking lot and scrambled down the river bank.
The sounds of laughter and splashing from the town beach faded as I escaped onto a concealed trail between the scrub bush and wild oleander. I followed the overgrown path until I came to a majestic redwood standing sentinel above a quiet cove. As a kid, I imagined pirates hiding stolen booty here.
I walked around the base of the tree looking for just the right place. It had to be hidden enough so a random person walking up the trail or geo-caching wouldn’t accidentally stumble on it. The neglected path suggested few had ventured beyond the sandy beach in my absence. But it only took an ’n’ of one. I knew that better than most.
On the east side of the redwood, a small niche - a bird’s abandoned home or squirrel’s hording hole - interrupted the bark rivulets striping the tree. Perfect.
I gathered some moss - almost neon in this light - and gently made a small cradle in the hole. I placed the jade owl in the nook and then covered it with a pine needle blanket.
This place wasn’t exactly a temple. And the statue wasn’t exactly a mizuko jizo but it felt right.
I scrutinized the camouflaged crevasse. If I didn’t know it was there I wouldn’t have noticed it. I ripped a piece of paper out of my moleskin notebook.
I’m sorry.
I wanted to say more. There was so much more to say.
Just then Sean Patrick texted for the second time asking where I was. I stared at the place where my jade owl rested, and then texted my boyfriend who did not know about my owl. And never would.
Be there in a few.

kacsimm
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by kacsimm » March 5th, 2015, 8:01 pm

Tittle: Alasdair Kain, DragonMarked
YA Fantasy
Pungent smoke polluted the air in the farmyard. Four-year-old Alasdair coughed weakly, a terrible heat swelling over his chest and face. He could not escape either the warmth, or the stench from the fire clinging to his hair and skin.
Alasdair tugged his nightshirt over soot-smeared knees. He sat in the soft grass beside his cousin Ren, where his mother had shoved him only moments before. Alasdair’s baby brother, Blaec, slept peacefully in Ren’s lap, a thumb stuffed in his mouth.
Alasdair was scared. Cherry colored flames, the kind that seemed alive, were still fresh on his mind. They had chased him and his family, like blistering, feral beasts, out of the house. His hands still shook from fright. A pop exploded; Alasdair flinched. The blaze seemed angrier than ever as it spat, furious for its lost prey.
Alasdair put an arm around his cousin’s neck. He felt calmer for it. Ren must have felt the same because he leaned his head against Alasdair, and their dark curls tangled together.
“Where are your mama and papa Wen?” Alasdair asked. He twisted his fingers in the fabric on his cousin’s shoulder.
Ren did not answer. He stared at his home, minute flames mirrored in his dark gaze.
Wide-eyed, Alasdair followed the progress of two silhouettes shifting against the fire’s glare—one slender and delicate, the other tall and powerfully built—his parents, Lyss and Gunnar.
“Where are they?” Alasdair whispered again.
Alasdair could not understand it. Why didn’t his papa go inside and bring Uncle Piers and Aunt Linette out? Why?
Gunnar limped closer to the cottage and firelight fell over him. Gunnar’s side was a blistered, oozing mess from elbow to ankle. Alasdair whimpered. His papa—he was bad hurt. Alasdair wanted to bury his face and be anywhere but here. His mouth trembled, a sure sign he was about to cry. Alasdair ground his teeth, holding back the tears, refusing to give into anything that made the fire more horribly real.

longknife
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by longknife » March 6th, 2015, 2:01 pm

Follow the Raven

114,000 words Fantasy/Science Fiction

The flock of sheep struggles to find grass on the hillside. They scratch away the dreary ash to reach the vegetation struggling through it.

Eigan watches and wishes there was something he could do for them. He notes the grasses on the bank of the sluggish stream appear to grow thicker. I should have Paalus move them there.

The tricolor sheepdog perks his ears and turns to look at his master. He rises and urges the flock’s matriarch down the hillside. The flock follows the old ewe.

Eigan wonders, Does he read my thoughts? It is far from the first time that has happened, as there has always been a strange, even magical, communication between him and the sheepdog.

Dark clouds boil up to the northwest. They appear heavy with rain. The ash-laden drops will add another grim layer of slush to the land. The dark gray ash increases the difficulty of the plants to struggle for the weak warmth of the sun. The clouds bring a chill. The wind quivers the leaves of a few small birch trees in a nearby glen.

Eigan rocks from side to side to ease the discomfort of sitting on the hard boulder. His fleece-lined jacket does not provide a very good cushion. Neither do his worn breeches. He smiles at the dog with mixed brown, black and white fur, dominated by the white blaze on his chest.

Paalus turns to gaze at Eigan. He sits on his haunches, scratching his ear with a hind paw.

Eigan tenses. There is something just beyond his range of sight. He turns to look. There is nothing. “Drat! I am becoming like Ragnail, seeing things that are not there?”

Such things happen to the youth with greater frequency. There are even times when he thinks he hears words in his mind, words that seem to come from Paalus. “And other creatures.” Eigan wonders if he is going mad. “Like Ragnail.”

Eigan shivers.

Eigan has spent most of his fourteen years tending sheep. He first went with his father when he was six. What little besides shepherding Eigan learned came from the mysterious old man who had been around him since his father gave him the sole responsibility for the flock.

Eigan’s buttocks still complain of the hardness of the boulder, so he rises and stretches his wiry but well-forms body. He runs his fingers through his fiery hair before turning his emerald eyes toward the distant village. Something bothers him, but he cannot detect what.
Drop by Father Serra's Legacy http://msgdaleday.blogspot.com. Comments always eagerly awaited - but only if you find the item interesting enough to respond to.

hsessoms
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by hsessoms » March 7th, 2015, 4:50 pm

Title: Crooked Mile
Genre: commercial fiction

Dex stepped from the shadows of the prison into the Indiana sunlight and lifted his hand to shield his eyes. The old Chevy Impala was parked at the curb. Beside it stood his twin sister Crystal, dressed in faded jeans and a flannel shirt, curly red hair with one streak of gray pulled back in a ponytail, arms crossed tightly in front of her chest. He thanked God that she was the one picking him up. Crystal was the only person he could have faced right then. Not that there were too many people who would have been interested in facing him. His crime had not garnered media attention. There had been no strings of desperate letters written by lonely women from the comfort of their suburban homes. He’d done his time quiet. No fuss.

Crystal hugged him and patted him twice on the back, rough. She’d always been tougher than him. “Hey,” was all she said, her voice gone gruff from too many years of too many cigarettes. He knew he could count on maybe a dozen more words from her for the remainder of the day. Crystal always had doled out her words careful, like poker chips.

Dex knew he should take another step forward, a step further away from the guards. He could. He could take that step. He was allowed to, but something held him back.
He’d braced himself for it. Wasn’t surprised at the discomfort he felt about unbarred space. There was something reassuring about the walls, about receiving his punishment, paying his debt to society. There was something reassuring about being where he deserved to be. To be fair, he’d gotten off easy. Just eighteen years of his life. How many years had he stolen from Missy?

He liked to do the math on days he wanted to punish himself. She was twenty-five when he’d killed her. Twenty-five when he’d held her head in his hands as her life dripped away and his anger turned to fear. If she’d developed cancer at fifty-six, battled with chemo and radiation, and then died the next year, he’d stolen twenty-two years. If she’d been killed in a freak car wreck on her way home from her thirty-first birthday party, a mere six years. If she’d died an old lady in her sleep, fifty-some odd years stolen. But he only did the math when he wanted to make himself truly miserable.

reginac7
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by reginac7 » March 8th, 2015, 11:33 am

Title: The Gatekeepers of Genthor
Genre: YA Fantasy
(250 words)

“What would they have me do in this empty hole of a place?” Will Nash slammed his fist against the wall, knowing it was useless, feeling the pain shoot through his arm. Beyond the narrow bars he could see very little outside the compound, just a sliver of green that climbed the hillsides of the Genthor summer. No one called out from other cells that surrounded the courtyard below.

The outer gate clanged open and he heard the heavy step of the guard.

“You have a visitor,” the man said, pulling back bolts and unlocking the door.

“Since when? They said I wasn’t allowed--”

“Will, at last!” His sister pushed past the guard and hugged him. She was dressed in a deep royal blue cape, her dark hair wild around her face.

He stared at her. “Gwendolen! How on earth did you get here? How did you get past them? Why did they agree to let you see me?”

“I’d almost think you weren’t glad I’ve come, with such questions. The ride was easy. I took Marjon. She went like the wind. And our mother told me how to get past obstacles, don’t you know.”

Will gave a half smile. “Yes, I’d forgotten. Ma would know what you needed. I am glad to see you, of course I am. But there’s nothing you can do. They’ve made their decision and I’m their pawn.”

“So much gloom! There’s nothing to worry about. When I leave here, you’re going with me.”

notalone710
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by notalone710 » April 6th, 2016, 4:07 pm

THE CURED: REBIRTH

Word count: 84,000
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

The weight of the world, of school, of family and above all else, his body weight, threatened to collapse all around on him. It pressured and griped to him like a vice, appearing unresolvable until this very moment.
William Scott, at only fifteen, stood in front of the full-length mirror in his bedroom and couldn't help but smile. His lifelong problem with his weight had finally been over. He looked at the thin, bare-chested boy staring back at him. If it wasn't for the dark blue eyes and spiky black hair, he would barely recognize himself. The months he spent working out seemed to zip by as if he had been in a trance, unaware of the exercise or the results it produced. He'd certainly put in the work, training everyday even on the weekends yet he couldn't fathom how he'd gotten so thin, in such a short period. Most of his life had been spent as a more round and chubby figure, making him less confident and insecure when it came to the basics like sports, friendships, or girls. He wanted so badly to fit in, not in the sense of popularity but just to believe that he, did in fact belong somewhere. Most of his friends were thin and the teasing from them specifically, is what ashamed him. When he had brought home straight A's, he was sure his father would be more proud of a son, who brought home a sports trophy and had a girlfriend by now.

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