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Beyond Here (Chapter 1)

by groovygal2k 

Posted: 01 January 2008
Word Count: 1932
Summary: Chapter 1 - slightly edited. thankyou to everyone that gave their comments! much appreciated!

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Chapter One

Kayla began to wonder where her life was going. The struggle with living at home with her mother and her ill father was taking its toll on her life.
Being only twelve, she tried her best to meet the standards her parents wished, but the responsibilities were too much.

Kayla began to pack her school backpack with odd items such as pens, mini pads of paper and magazines. As she was packing a book called ‘Living the outdoor life by Sir Donald Swipe’, she caught sight of a small picture on her bedside of her sister, Tara. Tara died at five years old from a brain tumour. She was diagnosed just a week before her fourth birthday and because it was so far gone she just managed to make her fifth birthday. Staring at the photo, Kayla felt her eyes begin to water and quickly put the photo in her bag for safe keeping, along with other family photos.

The idea of running away seemed such an easy task before packing. The thought of being away from family, was scary, although the thought of being free was even scarier.

Kayla’s home was a small cottage along with a few others, in a little village called Prittel, just outside Suffolk. Being such a small home, there was only room for two bedrooms and a living room with kitchenette built in. There was no room for friends or other relatives to visit so this left her alone most of the time with just her mum and dad.

Kayla’s birthday was coming up soon. 21st of August was the day that she would finally be a teenager; although not that anyone of her parents would remember her birthday as she had not had a birthday card or a single present ever.

Whenever at school, all other children would go to class and celebrate their birthdays aloud and go on about how many presents they had received; but she didn’t even know how to celebrate, and so got singled out altogether.

Having no friends wasn’t as bad as her mum and dad made out. Being alone meant that Kayla had time to write stories and make up worlds of her own. She could pretend she had friends and they would enjoy the same things she does, and they would never argue with her because they were one of a kind, literally.

The clock chimed seven in the morning downstairs and Kayla finished packing a few clothes along with other things she might need. Not knowing how long she’d be able to last out there in the cold, she wondered how many clothes to take, but since her school bag wasn’t very big anyway, she didn’t have a lot of choice so went with a small blanket, a t-shirt, a pair of jeans and socks and a few bits of underwear.
Having to help look after her father meant she could manage to wash clothes and cook food without help, although the idea of wearing the same clothes over and over again did not cleanse her mind.

Sitting in her bedroom Kayla began to stare at the window as though they were having a staring contest. Packing was the easy part, now for the running away part.

‘Oh Tara, I wish we were running away together’ she said to herself “I don’t know how I’m going to manage on my own. But I just can't manage to stay here one more day. I wonder who I’ll meet on my journeys. I know I won’t get far with only fifty pounds to spare but who knows what will happen.”
Kayla took a deep breathe and walked to her bedroom window which opened out to her back garden, making it easy to leave as no one would notice.

Once outside, with her bag over her shoulders she quietly closed the window behind her and then crept to the back gate which was always left open for some reason. Kayla thought this was because if there was a fire, Kayla could then run for help. Little did they know that Kayla would no longer be there to help them.

The street outside was deserted; obviously workers had not yet awoken. It was cold outside, a surprising chill struck Kayla. Being the beginning of August, this was unusual.

A short walk down to the nearby forest, Kayla came across an elderly walking her way.
He was wearing a brown cardigan, blue trousers and slippers (which didn’t look right at all). He was hobbling a little bit with a walking stick. The man couldn’t of been any younger than 80. As the man got closer he started to talk.

“Here, take this.”

Kayla held out her hand and the man put in it a turquoise stone, the size of a pebble, which sparkled in the light.
Kayla said nothing, but just looked at the stone, bemused by the whole situation.

“This stone will guide you. I may seem crazy, as many people have told me in the past. But believe me child; I can see you need it more than anyone. I can sense your troubles and heartache.”

He then carried on walking, while Kayla was standing alone again with the stone in her hand.

“Who are you?” asked Kayla, still looking at the stone. When she looked up the old man had disappeared. This running away idea was proving trickier every moment.
The stone felt smooth and light to the touch. She could see her own reflection on diamond looking stone.

Kayla carried on her journey, and came to a bridge which would lead to the forest. This forest was supposed to be special. From what she had heard and researched herself, magic lay hidden somewhere in there and Kayla supposed that was why she was so drawn to it. Kayla had often read books about magic and the unknown world but had just thought of it as nothing more than stories.

Half way across the bridge, she saw a young boy crying on the other side. She walked up to him and gently tapped him on the shoulder.

“Hey, are you okay?”

He kept his head down but said “Yes I am fine. Who are you? What do you want?” in a matter of fact tone. He didn’t seem very pleased to be disturbed.

“My names Kayla, I just wondered if you were alright. But I’ll leave. Nice knowing you.”
She crossed the bridge and carried on walking towards the forest when a voice shouted back.


Kayla turned around and faced the boy, who so rudely shouted at her.

“Why shouldn't I? What do you care?”
Staring at him, she noticed his hair was a mousy brown and short, but untidy. He wore clothes that looked well worn; an unwashed and ripped looking brown shirt, it was obviously the remains of our school uniform. His trousers, or what was left of his trousers, had been cut short at some point because he was now wearing three-quarter length shorts.
The young boy stood up and walked towards Kayla, looking around him as he did so.

“You just shouldn’t go in there, that’s all. It’s not safe” he muttered.

“Well unless you’re going to tell me why I should listen to you when you wouldn’t even let me ask if you was alright back there then I’m going to walk straight in there and you can't stop me.” she spat back, angry at the way he was speaking.

The sun was starting to come out now and blinded Kayla so much she had to squint to see anything. In a jump suit and trainers, Kayla knew she was going to boil if the weather came out hot; being prepared for rain. The weatherman was always getting it wrong.

“What are you on about? All I did was ask who you were and what did you want, what’s wrong with that?” the boy retorted.

“Yeah, well, it was just the way you said it that’s all. How old are you anyway? And what is your name, if you don’t mind me asking” asked Kayla, feeling slightly ashamed of her tantrum.

“The names Tom Orbison and I’m Twelve. How old are you?”

“Twelve. I recognise you from school. You just been skiving the whole time then?” said Kayla, examining Tom.

Tom looked at her blankly as though astonished she would remember him.
Tom put his head down in shame and whispered.

“I ran away”

“Oh right. Well you're not the only one. I'm off to discover the Forest of Wonder. That name sounds so stupid.” Kayla stopped suddenly.
“Why did you run away?” she put her hand over her mouth. “Oh sorry, you don’t have to answer that. I’m so nosy.” she laughed nervously to herself.
Tom was looking at Kayla as though she was crazy, but then decided he would let that thought slide and answer her instead.
“It’s okay. My Nan is ill. My Granddad died six months ago, that’s when I ran away. I can't bear to see my grandmother go too.” Tom looked as though he was going to cry again.

“I’m really sorry. Where have you been sleeping?” said Kayla, suddenly worried for herself with being in the same situation.

“There’s a shelter near by, and I’ve managed to sleep there every night, they have some food there 3 times a day, so it’s not all bad.”

“A shelter? Oh, I’ll keep that in mind.” Kayla asked, now finding this conversation difficult.
It must be around dawn now, Kayla thought. She could hear birds singing near by and under the bridge there were ducks floating along the river quacking noisily. The river ran about a mile down through the village centre.

“Anyway, you can hang out with me if you like, I don’t mind” said Kayla, and turned around to carry on walking to the forest about fifty yards ahead.
Kayla walked slowly; taking in the fresh morning air and noticing the sun get brighter and hotter.
“That’s nice of you. You’re not really going in the forest are you?” Tom asked nervously, standing a few feet behind Kayla, as she was walking away.

She could blind fold him and trick him into the forest, she thought to herself, but that would be mean. Kayla stopped and turned around, hands on hips.

“Yes I am, but if you’re too afraid to come with me, then by all means stay here on your own and sulk. And you can wait for someone else to take pity on you instead.”
Kayla glared at Tom. For once she was going to do something she wanted to do and not what anyone else told her.

“I, I will go with you. But you know, there are demons in there. My grandad told me. He said when he was younger, he took a walk in the forest and saw things beyond this world. Granddad never spoke of them, but warned me and anyone else to stay well away.” said Tom

“Well, your grandfather couldn’t have been that scared if he went in there on his own. So I’m going in. You coming?” said Kayla. She was getting annoyed now, and took off her backpack and dug out a cereal bar she had found in her cupboard at home. She tended to keep food bars in her room, just incase she felt peckish.

“Err yeah, I suppose I will.”

She turned around to face the forest entrance with her backpack safely back on, Tom hastily striding along behind her.

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Comments by other Members

Account Closed at 14:00 on 03 January 2008  Report this post
Hi groovygal,

Well, i enjoyed this, and easy read and i'm intrigued as to what happens when they go in the forest! Just a few pointers...

Is this the first chapter? If so, for me, there was too much information in the first few paragraphs, too much backstory, which, as a reader, i would rather you thread less conspiciously into the story, instead of telling me it all right at the beginning - ie about her sister, the detail, about where she lived etc - it all comes out rather quickly.

did not cleanse her mind.

I wasn't sure about this - why would her mind need cleansing?

with her because they were one of a kind, literally.

as no one would notice.

i think these are little explanations that you don't need,the reader can work them out without being told.

A short walk down to the nearby forest, Kayla came across an elderly man walking her way.
As the man got closer he started to talk.
‘Here, take this.’

I think you need to build up to this a bit - after all, it is a really important part of the story - maybe she spots him and you could describe his appearance, maybe describe the sounds of the night or a chill breeze - build up some tension...

a t-shirt which looked like it had been chewed on

I liked that!

Tom was a lonely boy. His parents died when he was only 3 years old and was brought up by his grandparents until he ran away 2 months ago.

Again, try to avoid telling the reader everything about a new character when you first introduce them.

Well done, anyway! A good chapter - i would just make more of her meeting with the old man.


groovygal2k at 14:07 on 03 January 2008  Report this post
cheers casey. you really helped a lot. ive taken note to what you said and ill work on it.

toshi at 14:58 on 03 January 2008  Report this post
HI groovygal,

I enjoyed the story. You have some good characters and I liked the similarities in the backgrounds of Kayla and Tom, running away from home, dealing with loss of a relative and then setting off into the magical forest together.

I agree with Casey that you might want to think about either cutting some of the background info out of the first section, or else reorganising it by for instance putting in all the stuff about where she lives, her house, birthday and friends after the first paragraph, and then going on to discuss the specific event of her packing to run away and talking to her sister. "Of Tara, I wish we were running away together" Kayla said to [the picture]"?

My only other thought is that you need some explanation of where Tom had been living for the past 2 months?

I liked the description of the forest, suitably "unreal" and a good lead into the next section.

Hope this is helps and thanks for the read.

Best wishes

foundit at 20:47 on 12 January 2008  Report this post
I enjoyed the story it flowed easily one error I spotted was:

‘Erm, I don’t remember. He didn’t say a lot about anything to be honest.’ There was a rustle near by. ‘What was that?’ Tom got behind Kayla in a flash.

A couple of lines later

Kayla stepped out from behind tom

I know I'm one to talk, you will have to read through it.

No big deal...I still make mistakes after reading through half a dozen times.
All the best

groovygal2k at 21:58 on 18 January 2008  Report this post
cheers for ur help. i hope what i have written is okay.

SarahT at 23:43 on 24 January 2008  Report this post
Hi Groovygal, Cath is right about the show and tell. From 'Kayla’s home was a small cottage along with a few others... to '... they were one of a kind, literally.' is pretty much all 'tell' and it interrupts the opening chapter. It's a mistake that everyone makes at the start. I did myself and I would have pointed you to the helpful comments that were made in response to an early post of mine but I stupidly deleted it the other day without working out that I would actually lose the comments as well!

I also agree with other comments that you are a little light on description and need to build things up more. As it stands, the voice, because it is so simple, is almost that for a much younger book. Also, the dialogue is a bit too simple, for example the bit where they are telling each other their names, and it seems to be more for a younger audience. So, on the other hand, if you didn't want to add more words, you could just change the age group that you are aiming for and soften some of the subject matter so it fits in and then Bob's your uncle!

Finally, you have called Lyrael's dad, 'King' and 'Sir' in different places.

Hope this is helpful



PS: sorry for being so late with my comments. Don't know how I missed you. But it's worked out okay as it means Cath's done all the hard work of finding out the references for you...!!

groovygal2k at 14:19 on 25 January 2008  Report this post
Thank you Cath and Sarah, your comments have helped a lot. As always my problem is with the description. im fine with dialogue and a bit o description, but my grammer isn't very good, so with description i find it difficult. i know what everything looks like in my head, but trying to write it down is really hard. i guess it takes time and practice. i was starting to think this story could be for more younger adults, i wasnt really intending it for adults because you're all too clever to notice mistakes lol. where as in younger adults books the writing is slightly more simple to read.

i know theres a lot of work to be done. i guess i'll twiddle with the first few chapters a bit more before i carry on. it will give me time to work out how to write the rest of chapter four (ahh see what i did, i wrote four instead of 4. i see what you mean now).

thanks again for all your help!

Steerpike`s sister at 22:46 on 01 February 2008  Report this post
I won't add anything because you have lots of good comments already. But do keep on wiht it and finish a whole first draft - worry about fine-tuning it later. Good luck!

Grinder at 22:27 on 15 March 2008  Report this post

“Be gentle with me” eh? Well I’ll make no promises, as, according to a recent rejection, I’m unsubtle and clichéd.

I agree with the comments posted so far. I’m not going to go into great detail because I think you need to sort out the broad strokes first.

The biggest problem, already touched on, is you’re telling far too much. Most of us do it, I do, and it’s a bugger of a habit to change. One tactic that’s helping me is this: write a list of the important facts you want to get across to the reader, most important first, then carefully construct your narrative to show these facts. Any you can’t fit in, then they go into the list for the next chapter.

For example, you might have that she has grown up in a small poor house fairly close to the top of your list. Maybe you could have her leave the house and then give it one final look before she leaves: noticing its scabrous paintwork, cracked window pains, and holed roof that lets in the drafts when the wind blows.

Start with action. The most important thing here is her decision to leave home, why not start with that. Show us her packing right from the off.

One small point, once you’ve established Kayla as the viewpoint character, there is no need to keep using her name to reference her, “She,” will do just fine.

Also, I’m not sure of her motivation to leave home, it makes Kayla come off as callous and selfish, which I’m sure isn’t what you want.

A nice set up, I’m intrigued…

I hope this helps.

Cheers, Grinder

groovygal2k at 18:34 on 23 March 2008  Report this post
thanks grinder. recently ive been very busy and so have not had time to write anymore of my story. but i see where you are coming from and will see to it when i have more time. at the moment im justing see what comments ive had.

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