I don't know if I mentioned it, but my critique partner/friend and I are working on a collab novel together. At the moment it's at a bit of a standstill, as he's always buried in schoolwork and I am too (one more week of school- and these heinous essays- and I'll be freeeee!) Anyway, this is a bit of our novel that I wrote, and a few of his edits have been applied to it, though I'm not sure how many.
To get you up to speed on what's going on before this moment, let me give you some background. The novel takes place over one day. The MC, Lexi, is a successful interior designer in Philadelphia, and when she goes to work, she finds out that her friend and competitor Carrie has died. This has special weight because all through the scenes before this, Lexi has been pining for an assignment that she really wanted, but was given to Carrie, and she thinks that perhaps if Carrie can't do it for some reason, Lexi might get the job. Then the news is broken, and this is afterwards. (Oh, one more thing- Lexi doesn't use clocks. Ever. She doesn't even allow them in her designs.):
Lexi stepped outside of the conference room, but didn’t go further than that. She couldn’t seem to remember where she needed to go. People squeezed past her, standing in the threshold, and finally she moved forward. Which way should she go? She chose left just to get out of people’s way and to be doing something. It was the correct way, she realized as she caught sight of her desk in the next room. Her desk- if she could just make it to that familiar world, she would be fine.
“Three… four…five…” a quiet voice was counting as she walked, and Lexi realized it was her own. She was counting her steps as she made her way to her desk. It made her look crazy, she was sure, but she didn’t stop.
“Thirty-four,” she announced quietly to no one as she reached the desk’s corner. She looked down at its surface, the row of Post-its, the pencils in their cup, the paperclip dispenser with its neat multi-colored circle arranged in the order of the color wheel, and her laptop open to her designs, all in the exact same place she had left them, and suddenly she couldn’t stand to see it anymore. How could anything possibly be the same as before? Surely something had to change with the absence of Carrie. The world had to stop, at least for one minute, and take in the absence of its former resident.
Desperately, Lexi pulled her gaze from her desktop and it roved around the room, searching for something, anything to anchor her and help her think clearly again. Her eyes did find something- the clock on Taylor’s desk across the aisle, creamy numbers framed by blocks of black, telling her the thing she wanted to know less than ever. The time was 8:03.
She jerked her gaze away as suddenly as it had landed. God! When was the last time she’d actually looked at a clock? Her eyes were caught by the circular analog that sat watching over the rows of cubicles like a task master. Agonizingly, the red second hand crept over the stolid numbers scorched into the whiteness of its face. Somewhere, as if in another world in another office where Carrie Pritcher was still alive and time had no ordinance, a telephone rang. Entranced by the foreignness of the passage of time, Lexi was barely able to move her lips as she whispered, “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone…” But she trailed off.
Seeing this moment in her life— never to be a moment in Carrie’s— reported to her so blatantly shook her. She dropped down into her desk chair, looking for anything except that mark of time.
People in the office were starting to busy themselves at their own desks, their faces set determinedly. Lexi tried to do the same. She glanced back down at her desk and was overwhelmed. Suddenly, there was so much to do. But that knowledge of time, how constricting! When she hadn’t know what time it was, she had felt a whole day stretching before her. Now a mere eight hours ebbed and flowed—a tide washing away her stability, her stamina, her strength.. So what to do first? Those finishing touches on her designs before meeting with Sandy in half an hour. So many more plans to see to, though! To spend precious minutes on something that was already presentable—what waste, what a crime when time is so valuable. And now her half hour trickled away into an ocean of worry. The weight of that ocean crashed its waves against the shores of her consciousness, and her face fell into her outstretched hands. Maybe she should just ask to go home. Twenty four hours away from this would be enough… she hoped. Yes, she’d ask to go home, promise to show up early tomorrow, ready to go.