Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chapter Twenty-Four: Race to the End

Word Count: 38,975/50,000

Reader, we are closing in on the final week. This is terrifying because, while I'm caught up (well, I'm slacking a bit tonight, but as of last night, I was spot on), I'm still in the 30,000s. 50,000 just seems to very far away from that.

While I am really enjoying this story- I know it will take me to 50,000, no problem- I am starting to feel like parts of the ending are repetitive. When Ruthie gets out of the House, she has bruises around her wrists from when she was tortured and every time someone notices them, she gets asked. It's only three times, but each time, she is made uncomfortable and tries to shoo the issue away. It just feels redudant... and yet, I feel like that's how it would work in real life. However, a writer should be able to write something in a way that makes it interesting. Hm...

I am hoping to get a lot of writing done in these next few days because I started my fall break this afternoon. Thursday and Saturday will be difficult, as Thursday we are hosting Thanksgiving and Saturday I am filming a movie with my friends, but nonetheless, I should be able to hammer out a thousand words or so on those days.

On that note, I guess I'll post an excerpt for today. I don't have one planned, so I'll just pick one at random.

“You can stay with me,” Nora said. “Come on.”
Nora led Ruthie down a make – shift cinderblock hallway and to a doorless threshold. The room inside was small but not cramped, painted a soft yellow and trimmed with flowered wallpaper. Nora’s hairbrush and a wash basin sat on the small night table. Slippers were tucked neatly under the bed and a quilt lay across the end. The sight of these touches made Ruthie stop short in the doorway. “
Are you all right?” Nora asked, rushing to her side. “Ruthie? What’s the matter?”
Ruthie could just shake her head, leaning against the cold stone of the entrance.
“Ruthie, talk to me. Are you dizzy? Do you feel like you’re going to faint. Here, sit down.” Nora grabbed her arm and tried to pull her to the small ottoman in the corner. But Ruthie couldn’t move. Or, more accurately, she wouldn’t move. Seeing those homey things, those little Nora touches, showed her something she had not expected, something terrifying. She swallowed, trying to calm herself down.
“Nora,” she said slowly, dreading the answer. “When did you give up hope?”
“What?” her friend looked confused. “What are you talking about?”
“This room … it’s like you actually live here.”
“Well … I do. I mean, I sleep here, but – what do you mean?”
“You’ve settled here, Nora, do you realise that. When did you begin to think you might never go home again?” She hadn’t realised it when it was happening, but her volume had risen considerably.
Nora took her hand off of Ruthie’s arm like she had been burned. “Ruthie, you’re scaring me. I know waking up in that room like that was not fun, but you came here voluntarily – to help the rest of us who weren’t so lucky. What are you worried about? They take good care of us here.”
Ruthie could have stomped her foot. “It’s not me I’m worried about, it’s you! You talk about Gloria like she’s a nutcase, but looking at this place, you might not be far behind. When did you start referring in your head to this room as ‘my room’?”
“Stop it!” Nora spat. Her concerned look had been replaced by a glare. “You don’t know what you’re talking about at all. You have no idea how things work here. You came here by choice – Danny and Suzanne told you what to expect. You have no clue what it’s like to find yourself trapped down here, realising too late that you were too stupid or na├»ve to save yourself or even suspect what was going on. You think we don’t try to get out of here every day? Sure, the Gradys feed us and clothe us, but we don’t leave this basement. I haven’t seen sunlight since the day we went to the cinema. I have three dresses. We’re all miserable down here, except for Gloria. We all want to get out, but we’ve tried everything. And after weeks of trying everything you can think of, you start to wonder if you’ll ever find a way. So I haven’t given up hope, Ruthie. But I’ve started to be realistic. This place is like an interminable prison, and unless you really can get all of us out of here, we just might be stuck down here. I’d love to hear any plan you have after being here for half an hour. Because when you’re here for weeks with no escape possibility in sight, you can’t help but start to think that you might never get out. It’s not like we want to believe it, but when it comes down to it, should we spend all our time crying about not being home? Or should we face the reality and realise that this could very well be it and try to make the best of it?” Despite Nora’s speech, Ruthie was still dumbfounded. “So you’re just going to forget your parents and everything else and become Nora Grady, just like Gloria?”
“Stop it!” Nora said again, and now she was shouting. “You have no idea what you’re talking about!” She looked like she wanted to throw Ruthie out of the room and slam the door in her face, but that was not an option. Instead, she turned her back on Ruthie and busied herself rifling through her nightstand drawer. Ruthie was still frustrated by Nora’s ridiculous standpoint, but at the same time, she realised that she also didn’t have anyone else.
“Nora?” she ventured.
“Just go away,” came the hard reply.
Ruthie didn’t know what else to do, so she backed out of the bedroom and retreated down the hallway toward the main room. There were most of the kids, engaged in various activities. She found an empty chair and sank into it, upset by the exchange she had just had. She had only been sitting there for a few minutes when Walker strolled over to her.
“Where’s Nora?” he asked, and though she knew he couldn’t possibly know what had just gone on, the question felt pointed.
Ruthie kept her eyes on the cinderblock wall. “In her room.” She said the latter two words angrily.
“Aren’t you staying in there?”
“Maybe not anymore.”
“What do you mean?”
“She’s angry with me. I told her I thought she was getting to used to life here.”
Walker nodded. “Ah.”
Annoyance flared inside Ruthie. “What do you mean ‘ah’?”
He sighed. “Ruthie, I know you don’t want to hear this, but I think I know what Nora said to you and I have to agree with some parts of it.” He saw Ruthie open her mouth to protest and held up his hand to silence here. “No, listen. Eventually, whether it’s consciously or unconsciously, you fall into a routine. You adapt. You’ve got to. We don’t know what’s going to happen to us, Ruthie. The Gradys might accidentally leave the door unlocked one day and we all get out. Maybe they’ll simply let us go. Or they could come down here without warning and shoot every last one of us, or burn the house down with us inside. You just don’t know.
“Danny and Suzanne were here for four months, Ruthie. Do you think they thought they’d ever get out? They got out because the Gradys trusted them to get groceries and they made a run for it. The Gradys will not make that mistake again. This place went into complete lockdown once that happened. They took all the doors off the walls so we couldn’t have private conversations. There’s only one room down here that has a door and it’s always locked, so we can’t get in.” He pointed up to two black squares by the ceiling. “We used to have windows there. As soon as Danny and Suzanne vanished, the Gradys painted them black, inside and out, Did Nora tell you we look for an escape every day?” Ruthie nodded.
“Well, we do. Every day, we look for weaknesses in the door or the walls. We get everyone to call for help at the same time, hoping someone walking by will hear us. We once tried to stack all of the chairs to get up to the window; the stack toppled into the girl who was climbing it. We try, Ruthie, but so far, we haven’t succeeded. That’s why we need you”


  1. Thank you! I'm sorry I didn't respond earlier- I don't get notifications about comments!