The Reaper Diaries [Extended]

Louise didn't expect to be Death.

A while ago, I wrote a story on Movellas named The Reaper Diaries that was hashed out in a couple of hours for a contest. I got a whole bunch of lovely feedback and some amazing support on it and have been developing it into a full-length novel. I'm entering it into the Sony Young Writers' contest to try and win a workshop with a published writer. :) Let me know what you think of these first three chapters. <3

[Mature Content is swearing only.]

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3. February 14th, 2013

It’s Valentine’s day and I’m curled up on the sofa with Matt, watching some terrible movie about a series of misunderstandings preventing a couple from being together. It’s utter trash and it’s exactly the kind of thing we love – because we can pull it apart. I lie against his arm, a cold bottle of cider pressed against my lips, ready to take a sip next time someone in the film says something insufferable. This is something of our valentine’s tradition. It’s not that we don’t like going out, we do – just not on valentine’s day, when restaurants are crowded with awkward couples trying desperately to make every part of an evening perfect.

So this was our thing. We didn’t try to make it perfect. We just made it ours. And that way -  it kind of was.

“I have loved you… all along. For years.”

I roll my eyes and go to take a large swig of cider – only to find that the merest drop remains in the bottle. I press my hand against Matt’s knee and say: “Pauseasec. I need more alcohol. You want anything?”

“No, I’m fine,” he says, staring at the frozen image on the TV, a woman with tears running down a contorted face, stilted so that she looks like there’s something wrong with her eyes.

“Suit yourself,” I say, and head towards the kitchen. It’s not my house, but I know it back-to-front. As I step through the door, I hear Matt say:

“Louise.”

“Uh huh?” I say, peering back round the frame.

“Where are you going?”

“I just told you… more cider.”

“No, I mean…” He turns the screen of the TV off, then turns to face me. “In life. Where are you going?”

“What?”

“You can’t…” He sighs, looks down, then looks up. There’s something odd and forced about his face. This is so unlike him. “You can’t just keep doing shifts at that diner the rest of your life. It’ll kill you.”

It’s all so sudden, and out place – too quick – and everything was fine up until this point and I don’t understand why he’s bringing this up out of nowhere.

“What?” I’m a broken record, but it’s the only distinguishable sound I can make. “Who says I’m…”

“You’re not working towards anything else, Louise, and I worry about you.”

“About me, or about yourself?” I snarl, and the words are out of my mouth before I realize. But that’s not enough to make me stop- now we’re here, I have to carry on, and I can’t even think about it: “Are you… are you ashamed of me?” I say, and there, there it is, on the table, the words that have been behind a gate in my skull for months and months, the words trying to wrestle out each time he has that expression on his face when I go off for the lunch shift, and now they’re there, and they’re like a giant STOP sign right in the middle of the room, because everything swerves to a halt for a moment.

I drop the cider bottle on the floor and it smashes into shards, like snow.

He takes too long to reply. “Of course not, Lou. I just… I just worry tha-“

“Oh my God,” I say, feeling disgust clench around the edges of my lips. “Oh my God, you are.”

“I’m not,” he says, then he gets up and walks towards me, and I back away, trying not to let my eyes water, trying not to freak out on him. As he shifts off the sofa, he hits the remote control, and it flips over to the main channel, showing some news story about child leukemia. The voices argue in the background and incense my own anger.

“Lou,” he says, almost pleadingly, but it makes me feel yet more sick. “Lou, please don’t think I’d ever feel ashamed of you. I just worry that you’re not happy. I just maybe think that you should work at things like going back to school, so that you have something sustainable to make you happy.”

“I did,” I say. “I did have something to make me happy, until this crap. You know what, Matt? I hated school, and you know it. I am so glad to see the back of it. I damn near scraped by my grades and now I never want to go near qualifications and exams again. That just really shows me how little you really understand.”

Then he flips. “You can’t just rely on boyfriends and parties and sex and friends to make you happy! You have to keep moving. You have to wake up in the morning with a purpose. And that can’t be any of this crap.” His voice is a wall, and it confines me. I haven’t seen him this angry in a long time, and I’m terrified.

“Why?” I say. “Why can’t that be enough? What if I am happy? Just because I don’t have a career-”

“Because what if it all goes away one day? And don’t tell me you’re happy, because I know you better than-”

In spite of my pounding heart, in spite of the desire to cower against the wall, I squeeze out a reply. “Fuck this. I don’t have to… be in your categories of what and is not happy. Just because I’m not your idea of successful – just because my career doesn’t matter to me, because it’s not what I want out of life…” I’m kidding myself, I know it, I know I wish I was more successful, had more money, could possibly support a family someday – but I scramble at words desperately to hide it: “Careers – careers can go to shit too, Matt, you of all people know that.”

I said the wrong thing, because Matt is stalking away from me, back into the lounge. The look on his face is worse than the shouting. My voice wavers uncertainly as I speak. “Christ, Matt, why did you have to bring this up on Valentine’s day?” I say, and I realize tears are streaming down my face. I slash them out of the way with my arm.

He turns his head to look at me, his face contorted as mine was before, his fists clenched: “You don’t give a shit about valentine’s day. You always say - ”

I shake my head. “No. I do, Matt, I love Valentine’s day. Just not the way everyone else does. Jesus Christ, Matt, do you even know me at all?”

“Just go,” he says, and takes a long swig of his beer.

I’m gone before he can finish the gulp, leaving the broken glass on the floor. 

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