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Paradigm Shift - Can I Heal?

Paradigm Shift - Can I Heal?

YA Magical Realism All Sam (Sara Ann Maldebrot) wants is her own life. After a tragedy tears her spirit, sending Sara into a coma and Sam into a new world, Sam must find a way to heal this new world, her family, and herself; all while falling in love with David (the leader of the new world). In the process, she uses Science and ancient teachings to find the key to achieving her own life. Filled with plot twist, page turning adventure, psychological villains and romance.

3

Paranormal fiction / Magic realism


Author Image

CL Steele (United States)


Chapter 1 - Feeling Lost
The thought occurred again: ‘Hurt is hurt I suppose, but mix hurt with fear and a little alcohol; and like a chemical reaction, hurt becomes paralyzing.’ I wish I could get that thought out of my head. This is more than hurt, emotions aren’t exactly chemical reactions, and alcohol is supposed to relax me. Besides, I feel too much anyway, a little emotional paralysis could be a good thing.

Hurt was foreign to Kate. Words tumbled so easily out of her; she always had the right look, and took charge of every situation. In all our years growing up together, she always seemed to know exactly what she wanted, and when, and where to go next. Some of her ideas were out there, but you couldn’t help following Kate. I spent fifteen years following Kate; keeping her safe; but after tonight, all that would change.

“So, this is it,” said Kate, as she put her graduation gift, a bright red Ford Mustang, into park opposite my house.

This is it; that was all. All those years as friends, wrapped up into four little words. I felt an unexpected emptiness in my chest and a catch in my throat. “Yep, this is it,” I said, managing to look at my friend; something I had somehow avoided all night.

“Wasn’t Jake great tonight? I love his band; and Bravados is so sophisticated; not just a dive bar. I’m glad he snuck us in, aren’t you?” glowed Kate.

“It was good,” I said, insincerely. “I shouldn’t have had that last rum and coke though,” I added, trying to think.

“Oh, did I tell you? Jake and I switched to the same dorm room. Don’t tell, it would kill my mom if she knew,” shared Kate

“Is he really that important to you?” I asked, wondering when in hell did that happen, and why hadn't she told me?

“Guess so,” she said, looking down, wrapped in Catholic guilt.

“Wow,” I said, surprised at how far Jake had separated Kate and I. I looked out the window at the darkness, feeling it invade me.

Awkwardly, Kate said, “Tomorrow, UCLA for me, Brown for you; we're free at last. Your mom insisting on Brown is a real bummer. But Brown is a great school, and Sam, you are so smart.”

Kate leaned over the console, still in the seat belt I made her wear, and grabbed me in a bear hug.

“I’ll miss you Kate. You know I would have gone with you to California, if it weren’t for my mom. I don’t know why she wants me to go to Brown. I hate Brown. Hell, I don’t even know if I want to go to college,” the words bubbled up from the depths of where I’d been hiding them.

“I know,” said Kate. “Listen, Sara Ann Mandelbrot, I have known you forever and I will talk to you every day.”

It was strange to hear her call me Sara. In third grade, she began calling me Sam when we discovered my initials spelled Sam. It caught on. Now I am more Sam then Sara.

“Nothing is going to change us,” Kate said authoritatively.

I knew it was a lie.

She whispered, “We must move on. We’ll be ok. I promise.” I nodded, smiled than gave her hands one last squeeze. I stumbled out of the car. Perhaps the stumble was that last rum and coke, my natural clumsiness, or maybe a statement to this inept good bye. I waved, feeling an awkward smile. Moments later, I could no longer see the red tail lights of the mustang. I was still waving; when reality hit.

Kate and I couldn’t be headed in two more different directions right now. But in a way, Kate and I were always that way. Even in preschool, she was brave and daring; while I was more introverted, cautious, pondering. This felt different though; it felt over, finished.

The hurt first hit near the center of my chest, the same place it hit when David, the only guy I’d ever loved, came by a few weeks ago to “let me know” that he was seeing Jenna. That hurt. The latest hurt was mom and dad announcing they were selling the only house I’d ever known, and moving to California. Dad had gotten another promotion and mom was moving her research to Berkeley. Female engineers are in high demand. I’m told...often. The culmination of hurts, the fear of Brown, and the rum made me feel…hell, I don’t even know how I feel.

‘Hurt is hurt I suppose, but mix hurt with fear and a little alcohol; and suddenly, hurt is paralyzing,’ I thought that crazy thought, yet again.

I carelessly ambled across the two lane county road that divided me from my home; just a few feet ahead. Home was an old, stone and brick two story house, with red shutters, which my dad insisted, gave the house “pizzazz.” Who says pizzazz, other than my dad? I felt my eyes roll, and a slight up-turned, half-smile besmirched my frown, for a moment.

The front door was open. The warm yellow light from inside glowed softly through the screen door, and onto the porch with its’ black filigree rails. The porch light was on; a clear sign that I was late.

With no desire to go inside, I sat on the step near the mailbox, at the end of the front walk. I noticed mom’s gardening spade near the stoop. She must have been weeding the bellflower. The tiny purple flowers, shaped like bells when they were closed, and stars when opened, where thick and fragrant. They lined the walk from the porch, and widened into triangle beds, at the step, where I sat.

The copious oak tree, behind me, its’ stacked limestone circle rimmed with bellflower, was what I loved most about our house. The oak gave our home character and peace. However, the bellflower was the mystery of the house. We had lost so many things in that bellflower: mom’s wedding rings, dad’s tools, and a long necklace with an hourglass charm that I treasured. It was a gift from my parents to help remind me that time was important and ever passing. I was young when I received it. I even thought, for a while, it had magical powers.

The gold necklace had a sturdy diamond-shaped brace. The top of the diamond held a chain, while the width had a bar securing a miniature hourglass. When the sand ran out, you could turn the hourglass over and the sand would run again. Somehow, in my child mind, I believed if I turned it more, I’d get more time, or could make time go faster or slower by how quickly or slowly I turned it, or that I could create change, like a do-over. Time and I have never understood each other. Kate, the oldest of seven kids, called my necklace, “a golden benefit of being an only child.” Too many memories, I wanted nothing to change.

Déjà vu was happening again. From as early as I could remember, I would have dreams – feelings, about important events. I could remember, what was currently happening; almost like I was being prepared for something slightly ahead of time. My family called them my silly ‘Déjà moments’.

My head and heart began spinning with thoughts and feelings. Things I could not grasp, washed through me.

“Why am I so fricking weird?” I heard my voice shout. “Only kid, weird Déjà moments, rejected by David, losing Kate, Brown fear emerging, can’t confront my mother, and worst of all; knowing that I’m on the wrong damn path!”

It was all too overwhelming. I put my head in my hands and cried the ugly cry; mascara and nose running. In the still, after the cry, it came to me. I’d do what Kate would do. I’d say no. After all, this was my life; not some overachiever version of a life they planned for me. I’m not going to Brown. I’d stay with Kate, until I could get transferred.

I reached, rolling to my right, to pick up the garden spade with determination, but as I went to push myself up onto my feet, this feeling of loss spread over me. It wouldn’t happen. I felt disoriented, incredibly misplaced; completely, overwhelmingly lost.

“I can’t, I have to go.” I hovered over the bellflower, my weight on my arms. A tear fell onto the lavender flowers I cherished. I looked up. Mom was at the door. It was a déjà moment. I was remembering it as it was happening.

I saw a red flash and heard something odd, a crack and a tearing sound, and then everything went dark. I sensed demise mixed with falling. As my face impacted the bellflower, their sweet scent brought two questions to mind. What was happening to me; and was it the rum?


Competition: The Pen Factor 2016, Round 1

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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
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Your characters were multidimensional. I found them believable and engaging and they genuinely responded to the events of the story.
Main character
  • Connect us to your main protagonist with a deeper characterization. Could your protagonist have a few more distinguishing character traits?
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
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. Your story makes compelling reading.
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
  • Your story was a feast for the senses. The atmosphere wrapped itself around me and transported me onto the page alongside your characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
Opening line and hook
  • Your strong opening and compelling hook was a promise of wonderful things to come!
General comments from your fellow writer 1:
I think this was a very well introduction to what is yet to come!

Review 2:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • The grammar, typography, sentence structure and punctuation would benefit from a further round of editing to avoid distracting from the quality of 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.
Main character
  • Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing!
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a difficult balancing act. Are you sure all the material is relevant to the plot, setting and atmosphere? Make sure each sentence makes sense to the reader, and each paragraph moves their experience forward.
Opening line and hook
  • Your strong opening and compelling hook was a promise of wonderful things to come!
General comments from your fellow writer 2:
The beginning hooked me immediately but towards the end of the piece (around about the protagonist sitting by the mailbox) the writing, I feel, became slightly paced and overindulgent. Sometimes less is more - keep the pace pushing throughout! A very enjoyable piece nonetheless, keep it up!

Review 3:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. Your story makes compelling reading.