Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

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

Post by scoundrel » June 19th, 2010, 7:05 am

TITLE: After Disasters
GENRE: Literary Fiction

The moment before the earthquake hits, Ted has a premonition.

In a few minutes, Lorraine will call.
I hope you’re ready for your first dispatch, she says.
Yes, he says.
Nothing’s sure yet, she says, but we’ve gotten reports of an earthquake.
How big?
Big enough
, she says.
He turns on the television in the living room to CNN and cranks the sound up. News crawls in the ticker at the bottom of the screen—a constant flow of words. When he catches the word earthquake, he snaps to attention. He waits for more information, but there’s none. The ticker starts on other news until it loops back upon itself.
From beneath his bed, he pulls out a small gym bag filled with clothes that he doesn’t mind ruining: jeans frayed at the hems, faded pairs of underwear, socks that have lost elasticity—items with some modicum of utility, even in their worn, battered state. Keeping the bag is a requirement for working on a Disaster Assistance Response Team and he double-checks for other tools of the trade: a battery-powered tape recorder, some blank notebooks, a stack of pens bound together with a rubber band. They clack against each other, like gnashing teeth.
Keep your bag as light as possible, Lorraine advised him, but nonetheless, Ted makes room for a razor, floss, sample-sized antiperspirants. Luxury items, but Ted at least wants to smell presentable. He imagines trading these items with other aid workers—a black market of home-comforts—and wants a sufficient supply of the big-ticket items, enough for him, Lorraine and Piotr, who has been known to trade bottles of cologne with armed rebels to win passage across a border.

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

Post by epcaldwell » June 19th, 2010, 3:38 pm

Return In Snow
Romance suspense
Word count:110,264

Symon Branigan, the only man she had ever loved was the last man on earth Caitlin Caldwell O’Brian wanted to see and the only man she wanted to see. Just her luck, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Caitlin waved goodbye and shoved through the door of the town’s only grocery store. Jesus, the temperature had dropped in the half hour it took to shop. She glanced up at the heavy bruised clouds and frowned. The storm was going to be a bad one.
Time to get home and re-check the wood supply for the fireplaces, police the outside of the house again for anything that could blow around in the gale force winds and check the snowmobile again.
Her storm list played for the umpteenth time in her head. She only had herself to rely on now. The generators were already fueled but it wouldn’t hurt to check them again. She had plenty of canned and frozen food, the last minute shopping trip was for fresh milk, eggs, fruit and produce. She ducked her chin close to her chest to escape a blast of frigid wind and hurried toward her truck. If the storm was as bad as predicted, she could be snowed in for days.
The local weather expert and resident witch, Miss Ella Brodie, predicted blizzard conditions by late afternoon with two to four feet of snow on top of the three feet already on the ground. Miss Brodie was seldom wrong.
She loved her home town, but winter storms in Rook Haven, Alaska were not for the faint hearted or careless. Another moan of frigid wind whipped her waist length hair across her face. Unable to see, she collided with a tall figure and slipped on the thick ice.
Strong arms caught her and kept her from landing on her butt with a shopping bag filled with eggs, milk and produce.
Laughing, she stepped back and tilted her head up. “I’m so sorry. Thank you for….”The smile froze on her face. She didn’t think about it, didn’t plan it. She just reacted. Like a slow motion sequence in an action movie, her hand curled into a fist and swung out and upward, connected with Symons grinning face and snapped his head backward.
Overbalanced, she pitched forward and fell against his broad chest. Maybe it was to keep her from falling or maybe he reacted in self-defense. Either way, she ended up crushed against his tall lean muscled body with his arms wrapped around her.
Caitlin was as shocked at what she had done as she was to see him standing in front of her. She had never punched anyone in her life, until now. Damn if it didn’t feel good and he definitely deserved it.
Symon grimaced and wiped the blood from his mouth with the back of his hand. His green eyes locked on hers. “Some welcome home, Slim.”
Caitlin shoved against his chest. “Get your hands off me Symon Branigan.” He allowed her to step back, giving her some breathing room, but kept a hand curled around her wrist. “I guess I had that coming. I’ve missed you Cat.”
She glared up at him and swallowed hard to force the lump in her throat down. She found her voice and spoke, her voice flat, husky and foreign to her ears. “I don’t want to hear it Symon. It’s too late. I don’t care anymore. I don’t want to hear your excuses for walking out on me with no explanation. There’s nothing I want to say to you. I gave up on you … I gave up on us four years ago.” She turned her head, not wanting him to see the lie in her eyes. She had been telling that lie to herself for three years, ten months, and five days.

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

Post by mfreivald » June 19th, 2010, 10:32 pm

Genre: Fantasy (no mythical creatures)
Word Count: 250 of 137,000

Cale Barnside only wanted a block of cheese or a pear from the refectory on the other side of the Estherine’s courtyard before Dock found him, but a disturbing celebration blocked his way. Kids, most of them students of the enclosure, paraded an effigy of the Cantriel sen Geldeseng and fawned over it as if she were a god. The Lady of Song deserved respect, not spectacle.

Cale’s stomach groused as he waited for them to pass. He had missed the midday meal, and according to one of the boys, Dock had an errand for him.

He straightened his tunic with one hand and held his staff with the other. Bushy branches with tiny shoots of leaves topped the staff and made it awkwardly conspicuous. Trimming it was a never-ending chore.

The mob’s tail passed the well in front of him, some throwing garlands of wild flowers, some tossing grains of wheat. Still others waved purple and white lilies, no doubt clipped from Cale’s garden. Were they making a game of ringing the effigy with garlands? He cringed as debris from the celebration tumbled into the well.

Cale walked toward the refectory.

It wasn’t just these kids. The Lady of Song used to require a commissioned master artist, but crude carvings and drawings were strewn all around on tables, walls, and even the floor. Cale found one in a water closet of all places. Village icons received more respect from pigeons.

Why doesn’t Elder Midsen do something about this?

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Location: South Louisiana

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

Post by Amanda » June 21st, 2010, 11:21 am

Title: Splintered Kingdomes: Change Storm
Genre: YA Fantasy
246 words

A high, piercing shriek broke Dell's dream. He fell out of bed landing on the hard wooden floor. The shriek didn’t stop. He could hear his family yelling in alarm through the thin walls of the room; running footsteps from the next floor up sprinkled plaster dust on his head. Cold air, bitterly pungent, whistled through the cracked planking around the windows. “Change storm!” Voices cried out from the street. Lightning cracked and the ground rumbled up through his thin body.

“Everybody, to the safe room! Quick, hurry!” The voice of their warir leader yelled above the siren.

Dell scrambled up and grabbed a ratty patched blanket with one hand and his crying little brother with the other. His family joined the eleven others making a mad dash into the small common area of the warir. Fire flies encased in globes dimly lit the room. The windows rattled in their casings. Dell stopped to look at the lightning crashing outside.

“Move!” Dell jerked his gaze away from the storm and dragged Theo through the kitchen and down narrow steps. They crowded in last amongst the stacks and barrels of food supplies organized along the walls.

Dell looked at the sturdy door and metal walls of the safe room and breathed easier. The walls glimmered with a slight sheen of unworked pumice. Many in the warrens counted themselves lucky to have a deep hole and a secure lid, let alone pumice walls even if they were unspelled.
Last edited by Amanda on September 16th, 2010, 1:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I'm a leaf in the wind.
Watch how I soar.
~ Wash

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

Post by BrownEyed » July 1st, 2010, 1:23 am

Title: Death's Fools
Genre: Thriller/General Fiction, Short-story
Posted: 250 words
Actual Count: 2,045 words

“Have we met before?” Mr. Johanson finally probed, while trying to be as polite as possible. The teenager remained unmoved, fixating his eyes on this opposite-seated visitor. A little more uncomfortable due to the gesture, or rather the lack of it, Mr. Johanson cleared his throat and tried to make another attempt.

“Ahem. Well, if we haven’t, let’s know each other now. What say?” he tried to put up a meek smile as he saw the teen’s lips move as if to falter. There was an unsettling movement in seated posture more than once, out of the tension arising from the kid’s eerie gaze at him. The boy seemed, to him, as an intelligent kid, and probably something even more than that. That something more was mystifying, and now unappealing.

Trying to shun the discomfort, Mr. Johanson let his eyes dig in to the newspaper—something he was glued to before the boy had intruded on his already plagued psyche. Mr. Johanson was somewhat skinny, and tall. He wore an otherwise fine business suit which was now creased because of the long weary hours in the hospital. His eyes suffered of swelling; red like those of a drunken man—in his case however, it was the lack of sleep. He smelled of the past day’s cologne, which was nauseating. A naive businessman unfit for the day’s businesses, it seemed he had landed the position out of luck, and staying faithful to his spiritless nature, continued to stick to his job.


Thanks for the wonderful opportunity of reviews, Nathan.
-BrownEyed (

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

Post by alicef » July 5th, 2010, 7:56 am

Title:Got Guts?
Genre: Middle grade


I wouldn’t mind giving up my room to some neglected kid in the foster care system; it’s having to bunk with my brother Ben that I’m not excited about. He’s two years older than me and in high school. Besides that, we don’t even have a kid moving in yet. Mom just got the call we’ve been approved.

The sign on his door reads, Got Guts? The door creaks like a warning. The walls are covered with movie posters. Oh no, not any posters, scary posters. From Freddie Krueger to the Blair Witch Project; that girl in the green knit cap gives me the creeps. Some stinking incense mixes with the spray wax my mom used to dust.

“Move,” Ben says. So I enter and sit on my bed that he and Dad squeezed between the closet and the wall. The sheets are waiting for me to make it up. Ben’s hair is still wet from the shower and he’s got a towel wrapped around his naked butt.

“Don’t touch my stuff.” He tells me. Like, I would want to touch his stuff.

“I won’t.”

“You knock before coming in here.”

“What if the door’s open?” I ask because why knock if I can see in. Ben opens and closes his dresser drawers looking for clothes. He yanks a t-shirt over his head. But then I look down when he puts on boxers and the towel falls to the floor.

“Well, then I guess you can come in without knocking, dork.”
Last edited by alicef on August 16th, 2010, 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Kathi430 » July 6th, 2010, 2:24 pm

Title: Sin Eater
Genre: YA

"Are you ready?"

Jordan nodded. "I think so."

The old man frowned. Jordan took a deep breath and nodded again. "Yes, I'm ready."

"Let's go then."

Leading the way, Jordan's grandfather moved between overburdened, dusty end tables where framed snapshots jostled for space with cheap knick-knacks. Everything had a noxious yellow patina, the result of too many cigarettes burnt over too many years. Jordan wrinkled his nose at the heavy, stale smell. If he hadn't smoked so much, we might not be here.
"We all go, in the end. Just take different roads, is all."

Jordan blushed. The old man had a disconcerting habit of reading his mind.

Then they stepped into the bedroom and Jordan's embarrassment was swallowed up in a sudden rush of fear. It was time. The assembled grievers fell back, allowing them access to the bed where death waited.

Stern looking in his black suit, Jordan's grandfather leaned over the bed. "Charles Anson Whittaker."

Jordan's heart began to pound.

"The boy is here and ready. Are you strong enough for this?"

Charles' rheumy eyes tracked from the old man to Jordan, breath rattling in his chest as he examined the youth. For a brief moment, Jordan had the faint, craven hope that the man would refuse, but then Whittaker rasped, "I reckon I'm strong enough."

"He's awful young," a woman murmured. Someone else told her to be quiet. Jordan ignored the rustling and shifting of the people around him.

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

Post by JesseVCoffey » July 6th, 2010, 2:41 pm

I'm intrigued. And open for critique.

It’s a hell of a night, hobnobbing with the rich and the politicians. Heady stuff for a guy like him. Someone who’s come from a pretty poor background. And yet, here he is. Talking to them as if they were old friends, listening to how much they love his music. How much they all love him. He smiles and shakes hands with senators, congressmen, the governor. Yeah, they all love him.

His senses are full of the night air and the scotch, both in copious amounts. All he has to do is put out his hand and a tray appears with glasses of the stuff. Pick one up and leave the empty behind in its place. Oh, how this scotch is so smooth down the back of his throat; honey water that still tastes of burnt oak, aged for twenty five years. Maybe more.

He and Phil, working the crowd like two pros. And the booze is pouring and the money is flowing. Just two buddies, hanging out and having fun. The colors run together in taffeta dresses and silk ties. Someone warbles familiar tunes with the air of a cabaret singer and the cigarette smoke wafts around him.

The smoke wafts around him, getting thicker as he goes. The smoke isn’t grey any longer; it turns blacker with each step he takes. But he can still feel an arm wrapped around his, still hear the laughter of the crowd. He’s still walking, still making his way somewhere. Where is he going? Where is . . . he . . . ?

His head is getting more befuddled; the alcohol is catching up to him now. But another glass is thrust into his hand, and then another and another and another. Darker and darker. The taste of the scotch is too much now, he’s practically choking on the flavor. It’s thick like molasses, the burned oak is clawing at the back of his throat. His head is beginning to throb.

The voices fade, everything is black now. He has the sense of moving fast, of flying with the wind flinging his hair back and out of his face. He can’t see where he’s going but he’s not afraid. Should he be? He knows he’s not alone but he’s too busy feeling the cold air against his cheeks and forehead to wonder who it is.

Thank you in advance, if mine gets picked.

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

Post by Rozam0711 » July 6th, 2010, 3:07 pm

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Romance
Jennifer Million

Chapter 1

Exhausted. I dreaded these long hours at school.

I definitely didn’t belong here. I wanted to accelerate time, but I can't use my powers. That will only make it easier for the ones hunting me to track me down quicker. Being off the grid was the key to my survival.

Mrs. Nelson, the Anatomy teacher, droned on about DNA structure in humans. Caring less I scribbled loops on the outside of my notebook. Her thick hips shifted as she wrote more notes on the board. My eyes darted around the classroom. Searching for some entertainment, and came up empty.
"Felicity… Felicity," Brooks whispered, snapping his fingers in front of my face.

I blinked and stared at him. He surprised me by speaking verbally instead of mentally like usual. He narrowed his icy-blue eyes. "Are you writing any of this stuff down?"

I shook my head. What was the point? I already knew the stuff, and structurally speaking, I'm not human. All this high school stuff was nothing more than a cover while I lay hidden from my magical parents.

For two years, I was able to hide out in this rabbit hole of a life. Brooks was my jailer. Well, not really. He was supposed to kill me but didn't. He's the one that let me loose. I was glad he was my protector. But it was only a matter of time before we will be found, and this somewhat life I have will diminish.
Last edited by Rozam0711 on August 17th, 2010, 11:00 am, edited 4 times in total.

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

Post by durangowriter » July 6th, 2010, 3:27 pm

TITLE: This Side of Crazy
GENRE: Women's Fiction

For years I escaped to a private place in my mind and daydreamed about killing my daddy. The thing is I never really thought I’d go through with it. When I shot him in the back that July morning, I surprised myself as much as everyone else.

The Harrison County sheriff said I must be some crazy whack of a girl but I know I’m not crazy. I was just born into this world with good boundaries, which, in my opinion, most people lack. My definition of crazy is staying married when you’re not all that happy, telling lies when the truth will do in most instances, and believing a gray-haired man in the sky has our lives all planned out for us.

My definition of crazy is bad-touching a child and then pretending to be a normal daddy to the outside world. I don’t think it is at all crazy to kill your own daddy to stop the shameful things he’s doing to your body and mind. Maybe what’s crazy is waiting until age 16 to do it.

“Cissy, you must answer my questions,” Judge Carroll barked. If he meant his voice to sound authoritative, he did a poor job of it. He seemed more nervous than anything. The way he sweated, you’d think the Biloxi sun scorched a hole through the courthouse roof and beat directly down on his head. I wished he’d wipe his forehead because those shiny domes of sweat looked liked blisters waiting to pop.

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

Post by skyledavis » July 6th, 2010, 3:46 pm

TITLE: The Dowered Three Series vol. 1: The Ledger Domain
GENRE: YA Spy Fiction/Urban Fantasy

FROM: Prologue: Scratching the surface

The Keaton Motel was a rat-infested hellhole of a place, but it was home. Besides, the owners gave Anna free room and board in exchange for maid service and they didn't check her papers, so she really shouldn't complain. Not that she was an illegal. Nor was she Hispanic, despite what the owners believed. Her real name was Anna Cate Milano, and she was third-generation Italian American. She was also 17 and on the run from her overbearing Catholic parents, so, her dark complexion—combined with the prejudices of the ignorant-damned hicks that ran the place—was pretty freaking convenient.

Still, she hated Thursdays. Thursdays were the days that she cleaned the chronically abandoned rooms at the end of building, and those empty rooms gave her the creeps. Even though the Keaton Motel was the cheapest place in all of Nacogdoches, the worst hoodlums the tiny East Texas town could scrounge up flocked to the place, breaking in rather than paying the small hourly rate. All sorts of crap happened in those rooms, she'd heard. Bodies had been found in there before. That’s bodies plural. And this has happened more than once. Not to mention other things... the other maid refused to go over there, and said Anna shouldn't either. "No woman should go there," she insisted.

If only it were that easy. Given Anna's arrangement with the boss, she didn't have a lot of room to be saying no. She suppressed the temptation to run as she headed down the row to room 112.
Last edited by skyledavis on July 19th, 2010, 3:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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

Post by rabbithole » July 6th, 2010, 5:42 pm

YA Literary Fiction

Her knock raps against my door like usual, at the worst of times. Thank goodness we have an understanding about closed doors, about privacy.
“Just a minute Mom,” I say trying desperately to cover the evidence.
The knob rattles as she tries to enter. So much for the privacy agreement. Guess it’s thrown out like so many things since His Majesty Money Bags arrived on the scene.
“Athena Beatrice DeLanoy!”
Uh oh, the full name treatment means double trouble.
“Unlock this door at once.”
My cherished box collection teeters on the eve of destruction. Arguments, threats, ultimatums besiege their existence. I’m to banish them from my possession. HAH!
Mom resents the boxes. She resents anything Grandmier does when it comes to me. Give-in after give-in, lump-in-my-throat one after the other; believe me, these days I’m up-close and personal with succumb. No way with the boxes. Tough luck dear Mother. Like it or not, Grandmier’s gifts stay with me.
I slide the last box under the bed, quickly toss my dance gear on the floor for extra cover, call out, “I’m coming Mom.
“Sorry. Don’t know how it got locked,” I fib and swing the door open. Her face, crimson red, displays the famous scowl. Her piercing dark eyes dart around me inspecting my things, apparently finding nothing to further infuriate her. I see the specter of disappointment reflect in her suspicious eyes, a good sign I’m in the clear. My heartbeat slows.

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

Post by ToriT » July 6th, 2010, 7:53 pm

Title: Wolfsbane
Genre: Paranormal YA

"You owe me," I told Andy as I slid onto my usual stool at his bar. The country music blared from the juke box in the corner, its neon lights casting strange shadows on the rough wooden walls. Andy's bar was a dive, at the best of times- Plank wood walls, a floor that bore hundreds of thousands of cowboy boot scuffs and spilled drinks that still stained the unfinished wood. Booths clung to the walls, dark, barely lit hidey holes with patchy vinyl for seats. The bar itself was a beauty, though- polished wood, backlit bottles, and plush seats. The entire atmosphere screamed 'get out', and a lot of the locals wondered how Andy's managed to stay afloat, particularly in times like these. It mainly stayed running because it was a good front for Andy's side projects.

"One roach banishing does not equal finding someone for you, Miz Alix, and you know it." the large man sighed, continuing to dry a glass in his massive hands.

"Aw, you already knew what I was going to ask!" I grinned at him as I stood on the stool's rungs to reach over the bar to grab a Shiner out of the fridge. Roach banishings were easy- a few words, some herbs, a candle if you're feeling fancy or the price is right, and your place of residence- or in this case, kitchen- stayed roach free for a couple of months. It was a hell of a lot cheaper than hiring a pest control guy.

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J R McLemore
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Re: Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Post by J R McLemore » July 6th, 2010, 8:20 pm

Genre: Crime Drama
Word Count: 240

Lloyd Spinks rested his heavy work boot on the accelerator of the green-and-rust-colored Ford pickup as it barreled westward down the left lane of Highway 411. He held a smoldering unfiltered Camel in his right hand, steered with his left, and let his greasy red hair blow in the breeze.

Jolene Ridley, his “ole lady”, sat cuddled next to him with her left hand between his legs and her right hand clutching a sweaty Budweiser.

The rickety pickup quickly approached a blue eco-friendly hatchback. Lloyd eased off the throttle, thinking the driver would pull to the right so he could pass. When the pickup was within a few feet of the blue car, Lloyd could see the driver’s eyes in the rearview look at him. He could tell right away that the woman driving the car had no intention of getting over.
Lloyd looked at the speedometer and saw that he had slowed to the speed limit. Ahead, in the right lane, a logging truck lumbered along. When the woman displayed her rigid middle finger, Lloyd punched his heavy foot on the accelerator and swerved into the right lane.

“I hate these assholes that ride in the left lane like they own the goddamn road,” Lloyd said above the rushing wind.
Jolene placed her beer between Lloyd’s thighs, scooted over and took up a sawed off shotgun that was sitting in the floorboard beside a grocery sack full of money.
I enjoy writing horror, noir, and crime dramas. Visit my website to read some of my work,

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

Post by shinesteak » July 6th, 2010, 8:34 pm

Title: I don't know yet; this is a work in progress
Genre: YA fiction

“I saw him again.”

Annabelle sat quietly with her feet tucked under her, staring out the window of the flat-faced van she called home. The highway raced towards it, flying faster than seemed possible only to shift endlessly away towards wherever she had come from. Pin-point in front, pin-point in back, she thought carelessly as she yanked the window down to let in some fresh air.

“Please don’t start,” Cam said. “You’ve been saying that since we were kids.”

“It’s just as true now as it was then. Where are we headed?”

Cam reached across the seat and punched the glove box, thrilled, as he always was, when it took only one hit to get it open. He rifled through the torn bits of paper that had once been important and finally yanked out a faded road map. He tossed it into Annabelle’s lap and jerked the steering wheel to the right just in time to avoid an angry, loud, eighteen-wheeler coming the other way down the road.

“Nice,” Annabelle growled when the honking had ceased.


“So, where are we going?”

“You can pick; something near the highway, please.”

Annabelle studied the map for a moment, scrunching her brow as she tried to make out the faded print of the names of the towns. To make life easier, she avoided towns that had fallen on a crease, knowing before she bothered to look that the names would be completely illegible. A dark green sign flew by the window, the white letters glinting in the early morning sun: Welcome to Flagstaff.
What's the point in living if you can't have fun doing it?


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