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"Airless"

Chapter Zero: "Young Observations"

The landscape confused me at times. My reasons for such misunderstandings made little sense to me until I reached adulthood, and even now, I’ve wondered about my birth within the corrupted society. Our homes were built sparingly of a single wood with so few nails that it often lead to the failure of an entire structure. Several homes collapsed within recent times on my very street yet my family viewed these instances so normally.

My father’s occupation provided me and my small family a bit more nails for our home and maybe a bit more food on the table. His wisdom earned him a seat among the Village’s Council, though he often complained about the fore coming decisions. My mother argued with him about his beliefs and morals surrounding these results, but they typically ended their predicaments agreeing to disagree and dropped the subject.

The serpent streets, serving as both paths and front yards, wound through the poorer quarters of the village. Clumps of grass grew at the base of beams along the front porches, but with summer-like conditions peaking within the next few years, they shriveled and dried to nothing. My mother and I wondered down a salient path to the end of our winding street.

While the men worked, mothers often hurdled in groups, sat in bent rocking chairs across the front porches, gossiped about the nothingness their lives consisted of, and watched their children entertain each other at the foot of the crooked stairs. My mother rarely participated in the meetings, but her single friend seemed more trifling than anyone else.

My mind too young for the entertainment of sand castles, yet too immature to care if my hands and face became coated in a thin layer of dirt, seemed minutely distracted when Mrs. Dalerhan swung upon her front porch. Her words blasted anyone in heavy debates.

“Have you heard the councils latest agreement?!” her tone snooty, but her rags of clothes spoke otherwise.

My mother would often hesitate before she spoke. “I have heard the latest decision.” Her thin legs danced between the banisters as I sat nervously in the dirt below them.

The porch swing creaked under the heavy weight of the woman as her fat nose hardened. “It’s the most ridiculous decision yet. There is nothing wise about it.”

“Do you lack the wisdom to understand what is wise?”

Mrs. Dalerhan jarred her head with a glare upon my mother. My eyes shrunk upon the insult. A pair of angry adults worried me.

“I do not lack the smarts you speak of. But why would they chose the next village leader over which of the children is married first?!”

The subject of the conversation rose above my comprehension.

“AYVA!” a young boy several years younger than me greeted me with a handful of dusty dirt. “PLAY WITH ME!”

“No,” I pushed him with intentions of being gentle. His bottom patted against the ground. “I don’t want to play right now.” And luckily, his toy shovel, hardly a piece of wood, seemed far more interesting.

“--because marriage is a decision that needs to be thought through, to be planned, yet unplanned at the same time. It is anyone’s biggest step in life, plus it has to be approved through the village leader to begin with.”

The fat woman shook her head. “There are loopholes. Something bad will come about this one day--I just know it.”

“At least there are variations in who is to become the village leader. It’s no longer set in stone that the oldest is to take over.”

The woman crossed her arms, her snarled nose permanently etched between her pale cheeks. “Well, I find it enough non-sense that the next village leader is in that bloodline. They are a vile bunch, I tell you.”

My mother tried to find some sort of light within the family. “Have you met their daughter? Dyllynn is very talented with her gifts.”

The porch swing creaked. “They all have that same gift: seems like it’s ran in the family for decades. Everything would be much different if they were Human.”

“It would make little sense if Humans ran the village. Inhumans are much more superior to us--they can protect us if we ever needed it.”

A hot spot of soil struck the soul of my foot. “Stop it,” I glared at the young boy. The mixture of dirt and saliva streamed across his dimples--his smile prominently stuck.

“Mom,” I called her name out of aggravation of the young child, but her conversation seemed to continue.

“You WOULD say that….” the woman’s voice rose defensively. “After all, you’re Inhuman yourself.”

My mother’s voice rose, a rare sight for even her daughter. “Though I am classified as Inhuman, my abilities are hardly worth identifying. My youngest daughter is Human. I would never underestimate her.”

My brow lowered in distress, both from the toddler’s agitations and my Mother’s tense voice. The woman continued in a calming fashion as if she had outwitted my mother. I knew even at such a young age that it was nearly impossible.

“But you did.”

“NEVER underestimate a Human or Inhuman. But we can be logical until proven otherwise.”

The break in the conversation came so I intervened. “MOM!”

Her attention came to me. “Yes, Ayva.”

“I’m ready to go home.” It became evident to my mother once I glared at Mrs. Dalerhan’s little boy. The annoyances of the entire family grew upon us both.

“Mrs. Dalerhan, I do believe my husband will be home soon. Will you excuse us?”

“Be on your way then.”

“Very well.”

My mother carried herself down the steps in a single steady rhythm. I understood this pattern as a need for controlling anger, but regardless of her intentions, her anger remained.

She spoke to me as I led the way home.

“I just want you to know that me and Mrs. Dalerhan weren’t speaking about you or your sister.”

My hair flipped across my shoulders as I bounced and hoped. “I know,” I spoke carelessly.

“We adults can get a bit carried away.”

“I know.”

“Ayva,” she stopped me, and with her hands on my shoulders, spoke words I’d later appreciate, but forget. “Just because you don’t have gifts doesn’t mean you can’t change the world.”

Her eyes shinned the same color as mine--crystallized aqua. What began as a serious conversation led to a starring contest. Might I had been punished, as I felt, it would have been in the comfort of our home, not in the middle of the streets. But as her brow rose, she searched for some form of comprehension within me.

“Ayva, do you understand, dear?”

My head rose up, finishing with a single slant down. “I understand.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, Momma.”

Her cheeks rose. “I don’t ever want you to feel like you’re disabled. There aren’t many of us left.”

This single smile became the last to fill my eyes.



The sheets of black filtered our windows from the outside world as time passed on. My father’s late coming worried my mother and older sister. A newly revised law became effective within the recent months that no man or woman could be outside of their home after the second Star set behind the trees. My father helped write the law, and place it in order--I knew it well.

My mother, sister, and I bundled upon a dark yellow couch. The fire burned between two single rows of dim bricks, spitting sparks at any random time. My eyes struggled to peer into the heat waves as my back rested against the folded legs of my mother. Her eyes, like mine fixated upon the fire, mutilated the pages of a novel. She had collected many over the years--most of them gifts from my father.

My eyes nearly asleep, her shaking leg woke me, yet I continued to lay upon her legs.

“Where is Father?” my sister finally broke the silence.

My mother closed her book, and tilted her head down. “I don’t know.” She struggled for a moment to free herself from my dead weight, and finally spoke: “Ayva, baby, hop up.”

I wiggled as the warmth of her legs left me and the heat of the couch rested upon my back. The door opened, but my eyes remained shut. My father’s voice broke the tension.

“By the look on your face, I don’t suppose my message got here?” he said.

“Where have you been?” my mother’s voice remained quiet, and no longer full of worry. She appeared to trust him--she knew nothing else but honesty from the man.

“Avey,” he called out to my sister. “Go to your room while your mother and I talk.”

The couch shifted beneath me as she obeyed our father without another word spoken, which might have been strange coming from her, but strange none-the-less that my father had failed to come home on time.

“Ayva,” his raspy voice called. I gave him no response as my mother intervened.

“She is asleep.”

“Are you certain?” footsteps lightly beat against the wooden floor. Loudly, they came beside me. My body remained motionless, but my ears listened. “Very well.”

“Is there something wrong?” the worry came in her voice.

Seconds passed by.

“I’m not entirely sure what might come out of this, or what might even be happening,” he cryptically spoke. “It’s almost too mind-boggling for me to comprehend.”

Their voices fell behind the wall of the dinning room, yet loud enough for me to listen.

“Just tell me,” my mother pushed him.

“The decision of our next village leader was not the only subject discussed today. There is--”

“Spit it out!”

“There is an Inhuman in the village who is not from here.”

“What do you mean?!”

“This is top secret. Only five of us know. Now it’s six. You cannot speak of this.”

She continued with her original question. “What do you mean: they’re not from here? Where else would they be from?”

My father became silent.

“Are there other villages out there like ours?”

My father continued his silence.

“What was discussed exactly?”

He broke the silence. “If he or she had the right to live quietly among us.”

“Do you know who it is? Have you met them?”

“No.”

“What did you tell the Village Leader?”

“He was neutral on the matter at first. Then, once it became a four way tie between me and the other three councilmen, he gave the final say-so.”

“And what was that?”

My father heaved a deep breath. “He approved of it.”

“But why? Do we even know anything about this other village?”

“I know nothing about this person--not their name, where they’re from, nothing. That’s why I couldn’t approve.”

The conversation began to strike me in pieces as my mind began to fall into a coma. They spoke for hours. Sometimes quietly, and other times with raised voices.

“I didn’t approve of the new law about the village leader either,” his voice came later.

“I thought it would be a great idea,” my mother stepped upon him.

“There are flaws in the system that I couldn’t pinpoint…”

And at another point in time, my mother asked: “Are you sure there are no psychics locked in your head?”



Physical contact woke me from my dreams. One arm reached around my waist, and the other cradled my head. Such an approach to lift me came about my father. His rough chin scrapped across my forehead as I moaned.

“Go back to sleep,” he spoke to me softly, but timidly. An unidentified fear tightened the syllables in his words, and in dismay did I do exactly the opposite. A candle bobbled in the haze by the hand of my mother. She led us down the hallway, and into the master bedroom.

My parents bed rested in the corner to my right. The flickering flame, hardly alive from my mothers jagged movements, reflected her distraught look upon a crooked window. The pit of my stomach began to swell in anticipation.

“Father, what’s wrong?”

His heavy hand pressed against the back of my head, my cheeks resting against his chest. “Nothing, go back to sleep.”

No further sounds left my lips. I trusted him, but sleep was no longer an option.

“Did you hear it again?”

“No,” his voice deep within my ear.

“Put her in the closet.”

My head rose. “What? No.”

“Shhhh, baby.” My mother came to me. “Be quiet.”

My gut swirled in the hype of the unexplained moment.

The door swung open. My father bent to place me neatly within the corner, and my mother came behind him. With the silhouette her head turned, “Go get Avey,” she demanded out of her husband. She turned back to me. “Don’t speak a word.”

My eyes became heavy, but still tearless at this point. “Don’t leave me.”

Her hand fell across my mouth. “Don’t speak.”

The water drenched my vision of what little came to me in the first place. The door began to close. I reached out, and caught it. “Momma,” I sobbed. “It’s dark.”

“Do not speak,” she told me one final time.

Sound became my vision.

The windows busted, long series of glass striking the floor within my parent’s room. My body trembled in the fight for pure silence. My cheeks became a wet cold. My arms grew steadily numb. And my heartbeat, once so soft did it beat against the ribs of my chest, did it pound against my sensitive eardrums.

A thud struck the floor.

My heart at such a fast paced skipped several beat in a single second.
The footsteps silently creaked across the wooden floor.

The glass crunched beneath boots.

“Who is in my house?” my mother’s voice quivered.

Seconds passed uneasily.

“It wouldn’t matter.”

The voice protruded from several areas of the room.

“Tell me why you’re here?!” my father’s voice heightened.

“…I’m here to protect the bloodline.”

My mother’s final words motivated me to silence…
So it's recently come upon me to change the title of the first novel. Grant it, if a publisher decides to take it, they may change it regardless. My final decision is "Airless". I find it has a devastating breath of it's own, and more clearly depicts my main character, Ayva, who you might have just met in her younger days.

Just to give you a bit of background on the novel, I had written a short story in the eighth grade (2005) in my English class based upon a young girl forced to leave her village when her nephew was born. I hated English, hated writing period, and never up until that point would have decided to attempt a career in the English field. The short story was an utter fail. It made little sense to even me.

But, I fell in love with the main character, Ayva Avaloure, who possessed the element of water.

The short story became a series of short stories based on her unwilling adventures. The short stories became chapters. Before I even realized it, I had a series of novels planned out in my head. This is my third, and final attempt at successfully putting this story into the world, and hoping that maybe it will inspire the next person as much as the last book I put down inspired me. I'm very passionate about my writing, and with that, I take criticism very well. Feel free to write me every thought that crossed your mind while reading, whether it be awe or utter and boring confusion!

But I thank you for reading! You've helped.

This is the next chapter: Chapter One.

[link]
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:iconclustereff:
First of all I would like to say that I very much liked this line: "So the stairs spilled from the front porches, crooked from wear and tear." I also enjoy the setting and pace of the story. On the negative side I found it just a bit hard to follow in the beginning, I think that although everything is beautifully described, the intense level of detail distracts a bit from the story. I also wish there was a little more physical description about Ayva. Over all very well done. I can tell you have a clear vision of what you want this story to be and I enjoy your writing style.
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The Artist thought this was FAIR
3 out of 3 deviants thought this was fair.

:iconblakecurran:
Apart from a few spelling and grammatical errors, this is a great introduction to the story of Avya.*

I love the concept of the Village, however the restrictions on nails and building supplies felt like they were out of place being mentioned here. If Avya doesn't understand the landscape, why should we? And why does she get confused? If she's lived in it all her life...she'd never know any different. I don't know, but that particular opening part was a bit weak to me. (No offence! I know you can do better!)

Also, the jumping around of "summer conditions peaking within the next few years" to Avya and her mother wandering down a "salient path" felt disorienting. Is it a general overview of the area, or is it happening now. Maybe keep them in separate paragraphs? And why is Mrs. Dalerhan Avya's mother's friend when she's such a cow? Maybe acquaintance or contact would be a more fitting word? I don't know...

And the part that begins with "The sheets of black filtered our windows..." is the first time you mention the lateness of Avya's father, but the way it was said about the law being made effective within the recent months made me feel like it was a new habit of Avya's father. Maybe the paragraph would read better like this: (just a suggestion)
"The sheets of black filtered our windows from the outside world as time passed on. A newly revised law had been made effective within the recent months stating that nobody could be outside their homes after the second Star set behind the trees. My father helped write the law and place it in order -- I knew it well -- but it made me wonder: why, then, was he so late tonight?"
I don't know...like I said, just a suggestion.

Also within that section, I think it would work better if, when the mother moves and Avya is left leaning against her leg, you describe her point of view with her eyes closed still. I just had the impression that she opened her eyes when she was made to move. Maybe just emphasise that she's still 'sleeping'?

And the last segment where Avya gets put into the cupboard, I found VERY confusing. Maybe it's just me, but I had trouble keeping up with who was speaking - at one point, Avya herself is speaking, alternating with her father, but then the next point ("Put her in the closet.") it is obviously not her speaking, but the rules of grammar say it is...so maybe that's more grammatical, but it made me lose the flow of the story. And the whole stuff about Avya not speaking and then crying (which I didn't realise was crying until about ten seconds ago...I think because I read that she had the element of water (in your eighth grade story), I assumed she was somehow creating water (which also reminds me to let you know that Avya still appears to be filthy from playing in the dirt at the Dalerhans'). Anyway, so it ends with the Inhuman who isn't from the Village breaking into their house and claiming to "protect her bloodline" (obviously Avya, who appears to have been stolen maybe?)...or that's what I thought it was. But when you say "My mother's final words motivated me to silence..." I was left wondering whether her mother said "...I'm here to protect the bloodline." I think tightening up this last section would really benefit the whole prologue.

Otherwise, well done! Seriously, I know it sounds like I've said a lot of negative stuff, but I've only said it to help you. You got me engrossed, and really interested to read Chapter One! Keep up the great work!!

*If you want me to go through the spelling errors, grammatical mistakes or anything mentioned here, feel free to note me, or comment or whatever...you know where to find me!
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:iconjinx1764:
jinx1764 Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012  Professional General Artist
Okay, so I read through the rest while deliberately ignoring the grammar issues. It sounds like an interesting idea between humans and inhumans. That's got my attention. It feels a bit disjointed though. I think that partially due to grammar and your pacing. There's no real suspense build up for the cliffhanger ending. She's overhearing these conversations, but like her, I don't really understand what's going on, so it's difficult for me to connect with her or her plight. She and her mother are worried about the marriage issue and the trouble between humans and inhumans and the new village leader, but after all the build up there should be more pay off with this chapter ending.

Since this is a prologue, it's intention is to hook people, to drag them into your story. I would suggest moving the cliffhanger scene to the start, beefing that up a bit and shortening the chapter overall. Start with her father arriving home late, save some of the back story for the the following chapters. You want action, punch or extreme interest at the start otherwise you'll lose readers. I would also thin the conversation prior to the final scene as much as possible, make it tense and fast, in fact make the invaders break in during the conversation to heighten the tension and pacing. And since your story is 1st pov, it'll give you the opportunity to have your character 'see' things for a second or two. That'll will help bring your reader into your character's plight.

If you want, I can go through the rest for grammar later, but you said you have an editor, so I'll leave it alone unless you so say.

I think this has real potential and you know your strengths and weakness. You just have to keep writing! Awesome read!
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:iconjinx1764:
jinx1764 Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012  Professional General Artist
that it often lead - led not lead

Several homes collapsed within recent times on my very street ---consider rephrasing.... On my very street, several homes HAD collapsed within recent times, yet my family...

His wisdom earned him... His wisdom HAD earned him (Watch your past perfect tense. You have it interwoven, which is fine, but it jumps in an out of past tense.

serpent streets though I like the idea of serpent streets, do you mean serpentine streets? Serpent streets seems like it's either misspelled or an idea unfinished.

...they shriveled and dried to nothing ...they HAD shriveled and dried to nothing.

My mother and I wondered down a salient path... wandered not wondered/ and salient doesn't quite feel right here. Through it's not used incorrectly, it just feels like you're trying too hard with what should a be simple sentence.

...mothers often hurdled in groups, sat in bent rocking chairs across the front porches, gossiped about the nothingness their lives consisted of, and watched their children entertain each other at the foot of the crooked stairs. huddled not hurdled/did the mothers sit in rocking chairs that were bent or did the mothers sit, bent, in rocking chairs? Also, were the rocking chairs across the front porches or were the mothers? Or were they both? This need lots of thinning and rephrasing.

My mother rarely participated in the meetings, but her single friend seemed more trifling than anyone else. More trifling? This doesn't make sense with the rest of the sentence. Trifling = tri·fling (trflng)
adj. 1. Of slight worth or importance. 2. Frivolous or idle.

Okay... tell you what. I'm going download the rest and go through it off line, then message you later. Sound good? I really want to read this and give you my honest, supportive opinion and help, but I don't think this is the place.










Reply
:iconysabetwordsmith:
Ysabetwordsmith Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2012  Professional Writer
In a first-person story, it helps to put the viewpoint character in the first sentence. Otherwise people tend to read the description as third-person (because that's more common of a voice) and then the switch to first-person when the character narrates is jarring. This opening could be strengthened by adding something like, "I looked out over the village ..."
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:iconeveresshiawind:
EveresshiaWind Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
You're the first and only person to mention that, and it makes sense. I'll see what I can do. >>It really won't be that difficult to fix. So what about the rest?
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:iconysabetwordsmith:
Ysabetwordsmith Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012  Professional Writer
The story didn't grab me, so I didn't read much further than where the character started talking.
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:iconeveresshiawind:
EveresshiaWind Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
So, if you'd do this one last task, I ask you to review the first five paragraphs. Yes, the first sentence indicated a first-person narrative this time around. Haha.

Either way, thanks again for that bit of help!

Take care,
Christoph Poe
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:iconeveresshiawind:
EveresshiaWind Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks for giving it a shot. Have a great day!
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:icontrembling-knees:
trembling-knees Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Okay, as per your request I've had a look and I'll put a few suggestions here. Bear in mind that over all I think you've a lovely prologue here, and that these are only suggestions. I've previously edited work before, but that doesn't mean I'm right, or that you have to take any of what I say to heart. You know your writing better than I do. Moving on! The first thing I noticed was this:

"So the stairs spilled from the front porches, crooked from wear and tear. Children often times built sand castles, hardly recognized as nothing but dirt mounds, at the foot of these stairs." -- a lovely description, but I'm pretty sure you mean "hardly recognized as anything but dirt mounds..." If you want to use 'nothing', I'd suggest changing the sentence to be more like, "sand castles nothing but dirt mounds at the foot of these stairs."

You keep using 'these' where you could use 'the' more comfortable, which would be less obstructive to the sentence flow. "The mothers of the these children" is fine, but perhaps "at the foot of the stairs" reads a bit more smoothly.

"The gossiping conversations often times seemed alien to me..." -- You used often times shortly prior to this line, so I'd suggest you go with a simple 'often seemed alien to me' here. Repetition can often be used to make a point, but I wouldn't recommend using this one too much.

"The dirt caped to my hands and bare feet..." - capped, perhaps?

"Her words blasted anyone, often times heavy in debate." -- Again with often times, try 'frequently', or look for synonyms that fit the sentence to your liking.

"“Have you heard the councils latest agreement?!” -- council's*

(On a note before I continue, your dialogue feels forced and stiff, if you can, act it out in a conversation with someone and play around with your characters' sentences.)

Okay! That's all I can do right now, I've got a busy day ahead of me (... grocery shopping =^=) Let me know what you think, and I'm happy to help out further if you like/agree with where I've headed. Aside from that, keep writing!
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:iconeveresshiawind:
EveresshiaWind Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for that actually! I know my actual grammar is terrible. Lol. Everyone tells me, and believe me, it's gotten better than what it was. I don't see any reason why I would disagree with anything you've mentioned above. :)

On a side note, I mostly just ask everyone here on Deviant to read it for the subject matter rather than my terrible grammar. Lol. But I thank you, because I've yet to sit down with my editor for her to explain to me what I've done wrong.

Again, thank you for taking time to give this a look! I really appreciate it.

--Christoph Poe
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:icontoxicdeath132:
toxicdeath132 Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012  Student Digital Artist
To be honest, I love it no joke. The detail and the characters remind me so much of people I've met or bumped into somewhere! I may be a lot younger than you (14 year old freshman) so I'm sorry if I'm not being detailed enough but the line "children often built sand castles, often recognized as dirt mounds reminds me of the people in High school you don't talk to but you see them often, you recognize them as a person but not what they truly are. I enjoyed this a lot!! I shall continuing reading the chapters, you've just got a watch my friend ^J^
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