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In Hindsight

In Hindsight

Have you ever looked back on a choice and wondered 'What was I thinking?' Well, Megan Morse sure has. But what exactly does she regret? Well, it's a long story...

4

Coming-of-age / Young adult fiction


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Zoha Baig (United States)


To be honest, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Let me start at the beginning (gasp! How did you know?). The day was pretty ordinary at first. New York City was buzzing with the sounds of cars passing by, people on their phones, and announcements from the electronic billboards. I was walking back home from another dreadful school day. That awful blonde girl, Tara, was annoying me again with her group of followers. I swear, they pick on me like vultures attacking an animal carcass (my mom’s a zoologist-I would know).

So there I was, hands in my pockets, shoulder-length auburn hair flying in the autumn breeze, looking completely ordinary. I took my time on purpose, hoping that whatever pointless argument my parents were having would dissipate by the time I got home. I remember passing by a dark alley that reeked of tobacco and something strange that I didn’t recognize. A voice called to me from the darkness of the alley.

“Hey! Morse right? From Harbor High?” The masculine voice asked.
“Yeah…” I answered tentatively. Who was this guy? He didn’t sound familiar…

A gasp escaped my lips as he stepped out of the shadows. Raven hair, fingerless leather gloves, and unnatural red eyes. I knew this kid.

Xavier Red. Our school’s notorious drug dealer.

“Well, Miss Megan Morse, I’ve got something that I’m sure you’ll want.”
“There are a lot of things that I want. I’m sure you haven’t got any of them.” I retorted sharply. A little trick I learnt from my best friend back in Florida.

Rolling his eyes, Xavier reached into the pocket of his black leather jacket and pulled out exactly what I expected: pills.

“So, what exactly are you selling? Heroin? Cocaine?”
“Actually, Morse, this is something far more valuable: Zoloft. A drug that can bring happiness to even the most depressed. And judging by how I’ve seen that blonde torture you, you fall squarely into that category. Take this, and no words will ever bother you again.”

I knew he was lying, but there was a small part of me that wanted to believe him. I wanted to be happy, to forget about my wretched mew school, forget about the (cute, but too good for me) guy that I saw on the way to math class, forget about my parents and their arguments. I opened my mouth to speak, and even though a part of me vehemently protested…

“How much?” Were the words that fell out.

After that, I kept coming back. No one had caught me yet. I wore the same lavender heels each time I went, so Xavier heard me coming. I always walked back with the same smile too. The same brightness in my hazel eyes.

In hindsight, it was inevitable that I would make a mistake.

I took too much, and ended up too high. You know that saying ‘the bigger they are, they harder they fall’? Well, that applies to highness too I guess. I tried to control myself, but my thoughts were too scattered and I was too full of energy.

Apparently, there is such a thing as being too happy.

The next thing I was aware of, I was standing in a bakery that-oddly enough-sold mostly cheese, broken glass all around me, with the wailing of police sirens getting closer, closer, closer…

I was handcuffed before I could even try to make a break for it.

“You already know the rest of the story. The court went easy on me because I’m a minor, I never told anyone who sold me the Zoloft, and my parents sent me here.”

Miss Fellows, my energetic therapist, just nods. Her blonde hair falls into her face, slightly obscuring her blue-green eyes. “Looking back at it now, do you really think it was a good idea?”

“In hindsight, it probably wasn’t.”


Competition: The Pen Factor 2016, Round 1

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Read Reviews

Review 1:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • The protagonist didn’t always respond believably against the backdrop of the story. Ask yourself if people would really answer to a situation in that way. Think about whether the characters’ voices could be more convincing for their age, background, gender, time period, genre, gender and ethnicity. Dialogue should be natural and consistent throughout the story.
Characterization
  • Make sure your characters are multidimensional. Do they have strengths and weaknesses? Mere mortals make the most interesting stories because they are like you and me and we are able to empathize with their journey. That’s how the connection with a character is formed.
Main character
  • Connect us to your main protagonist with a deeper characterization. Could your protagonist have a few more distinguishing character traits?
Character conflict
  • The reader’s experience of the story is heightened when the characters’ goals, conflicts and purpose are clear. Perhaps giving this aspect of the story further attention could be worthwhile.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot.
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. Think about the conflict and tension in your story. How effectively has it been introduced?
Technique and tight writing
  • The writing was tight and economical and each word had purpose. This enabled the plot to unravel clearly. Your writing exhibits technical proficiency.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
  • Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose is tricky. As writers, we face the daunting task of making sure we are not being predictable. Can you find a way to give the content and characters more of a unique edge? Perhaps say something boldly, something fresh or show an unorthodox approach to a topic?
Atmosphere and description
  • A writer’s ability to create mood and atmosphere through evocative description is vital to the reader’s experience. It’s a real skill to craft out how the characters react to the setting and atmosphere and perhaps your story could go further in its description. The reader wants to experience the same sensory and poignant journey as the characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The scene needs to be vivid and realistic in order to hold the reader’s attention. Being concise and plausible at the same time is tricky. Giving this further attention could perhaps be worthwhile.
Opening line, paragraph and hook
  • Your strong opening was a promise of wonderful things to come!
General comments from your fellow writer 1:
I think your writing is great, you're obviously on to something with this plot. Only thing I would say is it was a bit predictable, throw in a twist, draw the reader in with some suspense and it will be great!

Review 2:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Make sure your characters are multidimensional. Do they have strengths and weaknesses? Mere mortals make the most interesting stories because they are like you and me and we are able to empathize with their journey. That’s how the connection with a character is formed.
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals and conflicts were clearly conveyed.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot.
Technique and tight writing
  • The writing was tight and economical and each word had purpose. This enabled the plot to unravel clearly. Your writing exhibits technical proficiency.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
  • I loved your fresh approach. Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose requires both skill and practice.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
Opening line, paragraph and hook
  • Your strong opening was a promise of wonderful things to come!
General comments from your fellow writer 2:
Great story! Very powerful. I'm intrigued to find out what happens next. I really enjoyed the pace of your writing. Super easy to read, flowed really well, didn't labour on any extraneous details.... great flow. One comment: I found the blonde bully and her pack of followers a little cliche. Can you make her more interesting? Also the fact that Xavier immediately referred to Tara as the source of Megan's unhappiness - seems unlikely to me that a school drug dealer would notice the 'blonde' girl bullying Megan or have any insight into Megan's life. I think you've overused the '...' a little, although I do like it's use occasionally. “Yeah…” and "closer, closer, closer…" are the parts where '...' is actually appropriate, you could just use a full stop in the other parts. The use of parenthesis is effective, makes me feel like we're looking inside Megan's mind, get a feel for how her mind works which is great, really brings the reader deep into her world. Apart from that, fantastic strong story-telling! Love your work, keep it up!