A good opening creates an intriguing scene that makes the reader crave to read more. This contest was especially for self-published authors and aspiring writers with works-in-progress. Today I’m publishing the first 5 runners up in no particular order. Enjoy the first 690 words of Jessica Gouin’s self-published novel!
My life was perfect until it crumbled beneath me.
I lost her.
I must have blinked, just once. Then, just like a magic trick, she vanished. Now you see her, now you don’t.
My mom’s gone.
How can she just be gone? How is it acceptable that she’s not here anymore?
When I was a little girl, I would often stare at her as she got herself ready for her nursing shifts at Evermore Bay General Hospital. My favorite uniforms she wore were always vibrant and cheerful scrubs with pictures of ducks wearing surgical masks or dramatic-shaped hearts. Her soft exterior went perfectly with her loving and warm interior.
Sometimes all I can do is reminisce of those days. If I focus hard I can smell the hairspray fragrance that lingered in the bathroom after she styled her dark-brown hair, which my sister, Skylar, and I have inherited. I can feel the way she gingerly poked the tip of my nose and giggled every time I watched her. I can hear her humming along with the country songs hummed on the kitchen radio. While I still may be able to smell, feel and hear how she used to be, I can no longer see it.
She was everything—beautiful, caring, and funny. She may never have a library or street named after her. She won’t be in any historical books. But, she was the light of my father’s eyes. The life of every room she entered. The heart and soul of our little family. It tears me apart that now when I close my eyes, all I can see is the gray shriveled shell of the mom that once loved and nurtured me. The same mom who held my hand and walked me to class on my first day of school. The same mom who chased monsters out of the closet and tucked me into bed at night, the same mom that dropped everything she was doing to blow bubbles outside in the summery air with Skylar and me.
Sadly, no. I can no longer see my angelic mom. What I see haunts me when I close my eyes. For that matter, it haunts me when I’m awake too. Since the cancer stole her from us last March, she haunts me every second of every minute, of every hour, of every day. A never ending torment of my existence. People around me voice their sympathy and try to understand my loss. They want to fix what’s broken by saying things like time heals all wounds, and she’s in a better place now. Well, what I have learned is no amount of endless time ever granted will be enough to heal the darkness that seeped inside of me when I witnessed my mom exhale her last ragged breath. For damned sure, there’s no place better than being with your children whom you’ve birthed and raised, or your soul mate who you’ve made a life with.
So, here I am today, standing before my bedroom mirror, attempting to comprehend why the reflection is that of a girl who outwardly appears so normal. As though her world wasn’t picked up and shook like a snow globe a few months earlier. Those flakes may settle now, but the image is no clearer than the storm. The girl appears to look the same and maybe even sound the same. But I must give warning to make no mistake, this girl is anything but the same Scarlett Stone.
I untie the damp towel from around my body and dress in faded blue jeans and pale pink three-quarter length sleeved shirt. After brushing my long, chocolate locks, I unplug my cell phone from the charger on my night stand and toss the phone into my school bag before I step out to embark on the day that once held many promises of a bright future. A day that now holds the sullen reminder of another life event she wouldn’t be here to witness; my first day of senior year.
With a bit of hesitation, I open the door and leave the safety and comfort of my bedroom.
Name: Jessica Gouin
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Thanks so much to all who entered.
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