So a couple of days ago, I posted a short story called The Girl in Club Sorrow. I wrote about how I wasn't necessarily happy with it and asked for feedback. The funny thing about criticism is that it tends to immediately focus on the bits that you know aren't working. Well, I still like the ending to the story, but here is a different ending, which is closer to the one I was originally thinking of. I generally assume that the people reading this blog are regulars, so I'm not going to re-post the whole story, but you can find it here if you haven't read it. So, let's get on with it!
“Focus, everyone,” muttered Bridget. Grace looked at her and Bridget turned to meet her gaze. “You’d better focus or I’m going to make the rest of your afterlife hell, do you understand me?” Grace nodded. “Right, focus on that hand.”
She did as she was told. She could feel the atmosphere change, wherever they were. More than just the atmosphere. She could feel the body they were in resisting their presence, their instructions. But it wasn’t strong enough. Through Vincent’s eyes she could see his arm begin to move, scrabbling across the desk to an orange pair of scissors. She could hear him shouting. She closed her eyes just as she saw the first drops of blood forming on his forearm.
The four were laughing and cheering, telling each other that it was working. Club Sorrow was in full control. Grace moved away from the light and wondered how she had managed to end up at the mercy of another group of horrible people. It hurt her to know that this is where she had ended up, and who she had ended up with. It hurt terribly.
She opened her eyes as the scissors hacked deeper into Vincent’s arm. It seemed like they were still unsure how much control they had over his movements. The slashes were haphazard, some doing much more damage than others. Vincent was howling in pain, the sound echoing through this interior space. The connection with him seemed to cutting in and out. The four shouted in unison as the scissors went deep into his wrist, and Grace could swear that she felt it. Vincent was crying, and so was she.
She looked at Club Sorrow. They were huddled together, peering out at the damage they were inflicting. They were giggling, giggling at this boy’s pain. She didn’t want any part of this, she had told them so but they hadn’t listened. To her surprise, what she did next was almost too easy. She simply wished that she were somewhere else. She focused on that wish. She didn’t even have to shut her eyes, and she was glad that she didn’t. Because somehow they realised what she was doing. Maybe they felt the connection grow weaker. Maybe they just felt her going. But they turned and they saw and they started to scream. They screamed louder than Vincent had. Grace started to laugh. Let them scream.
“Stop her,” cried Bridget. “She’s trying to leave!”
The all clamoured and shouted and tried to grab hold of her, but there was no trying about it. She slipped away.
She blinked once. She knew where she was. The room was a mess. There were magazines on the floor, beer cans by the bed. Posters with jokes she didn’t find funny. She was staring at a boy with a crew cut, with tears streaming down his face and blood streaming down his arm.
“I don’t….” he said. He was staring at her, trying to understand. She shook her head. “It felt like…I can still hear them,” he whimpered. Grace reached out and patted his shoulder.
“You always will. From the sounds of it, you deserve each other.” She looked into his eyes and smiled. “Goodbye everyone,” she said, and then she left the building.
The fingernail moon shone brightly. Grace stared up at it and thought about what she would do now. She could go back to the school, find the gassed boy, maybe start a friendship. But there would be time for friends. There would be time for clubs. There would be time to see people, good and bad. She could be good or bad if she wanted. But right now, all Grace wanted was to be alone. And she had all the time in the world.
So, what did you guys think? I had much more trouble with this story than I anticipated, and I kind of think this ending might fit it better. But I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.
Otherwise, a few people are reading my novel in preparation for the self-publishing adventure. I hope they enjoy it. I've had a few helpful notes already actually. I've found that constructive criticism tends to point out things you already knew were wrong but didn't want to/couldn't be bothered with fixing or things or it points out something that you feel strongly enough to stick by, in which case it needs to made clearer. I've been lucky with the people who've read my work and given me feedback. They are excellent people.
So the plan is to upload the novel as an ebook, which I will awkwardly try to promote across social networking sites. There's a companion novel that I finished badly a few years ago that I'm going to go back to. More on that if I decide it's worth saving. But life outside fiction marches on, will have some decisions to make soon. I hope you enjoyed this alternate ending.
This next story will be "On Loneliness and Earthquakes", title from Rhiannon Jones, who you can find on Twitter @macaroni_mob and check out her blog here.
Here's a happy Nick Cave song:
And here's Evelyn Evelyn