Friday, July 9, 2010

Major Lulz from the Sheltered - Chapter 7

Yes! Chapter 7 of Life's Choices has arrived. (Chapter 6, previous chapters) This is the last chapter we will get to see because the author has decided to prevent her work from being stolen by emailing the final chapter upon request. I doubt she's going to indulge me on that one.

Sunday morning dawned bright and beautiful. Leona lazily rolled over in bed and the sunlight caught her face and made her squint with its brightness. Then she suddenly remembered! Today, the Jackson family was going to church - for the first time, as a family, in years. This made her excited and she quickly jumped out of bed and headed for the shower. She didn’t take long bathing because she wanted to spend a while dolling herself up. She chose a nice, long dress that she thought wouldn’t be too fancy for church, tried to do her makeup perfectly, and pulled her hair up in a very becoming fashion. She was all jitters when she practically skipped down the stairs into the kitchen where her parents were having their morning coffee.

Yay! Church. Um, woohoo. Do new converts really feel this way about church? I suppose it's possible.

“My, my!” her mother said, upon her daughter’s entrance. “Aren’t we up and ready early!”
Leona laughed cheerily and planted a kiss on both her parents’ cheeks, then glided to the counter to prepare herself some breakfast. English muffins didn’t appeal anymore because of her pregnancy tastes, so she fixed herself a bowl of cereal and strawberries, instead.

". . . because of her pregnancy tastes"? "Laughed cheerily"? "Glided"? Miss Raquel* is convinced someone is just dying to steal her work. Perhaps she saw that Stephanie Meyer's IP address visited her blog? Also, if Leona has been in the habit of eating english muffins for breakfast, why do they have fresh strawberries for cereal and strawberries? Is it even the right time of year for that?

“How are you feeling, daughter?” her dad asked.

He calls her "daughter"? Why? I'm really starting to wonder about breakfast's at Raquel's house.

“I’m doing good,” she said. “Too excited to notice my occasional nausea.”

Sure. Because the urge to puke up your socks is something you can just ignore if you wish to.

“If you’re feeling nauseous, maybe you should stay home from church,” her mother suggested.

BWAHAHHAHAHAHA! "Nauseated" is the feeling of having to throw up. Something that is "nauseous" makes one "nauseated". I don't like Leona either, but I don't think I'd describe her as nauseous. Her own mother!

“Nope!” Leona said, cheerily. “Nothing is holding me back from church today! Especially since we’re going to Peter and Sarah’s church. I can’t wait for you both to meet them! You’ll just love them! A little Luke too. He’s a doll!”

The previous night, the Jackson family had stayed up very late, talking and catching up with each other. It was almost like they hadn’t seen each other for the past several months, even though they lived in the same house. Leona had told them all about Peter and their talks together…and how much she thought of him. Mr. and Mrs. Jackson were anxious to meet him.

Try to keep in mind that Leona was dumped by her baby daddy two weeks ago. Two weeks ago! Why are her parents so very happy to hear about her and yet another man, while she pregnant, no less? I also enjoy that apparently Raquel thinks that nonfundy families are like ships passing in the night, living in the same home, but never communicating. Without Christ, conversations are impossible.

The family quickly finished their breakfast and, following the directions from Peter, arrived at the little church a bit early. But a lot of the congregation was already assembled - as was Peter, Sarah, Mrs. Black and Luke.
Leona and Sarah hugged for almost a full minute. They hadn’t seen each other since that day Leona has stormed out of the Center.

Count to 60, slowly. By the time you get to 15, this hug has already gotten creepy.

"Will you please forgive me, Sarah?” Leona whispered in her friend’s ear. “For everything that I ever said to you that day.”

“Oh, Leona, yes! Yes, I do forgive you,” Sarah hugged her tighter. “All your sins are forgiven by the Creator...why shouldn’t I forgive you too?”

*headdesk* Go to any Christian message board, blog, etc. Christians get angry, Christians hold grudges, Christians are human, too. I don't even find this to be a very convincing reason to forgive someone. "Hey, I know you're having a hard time right now, don't worry about it" is one thing, "Well, if Jesus says so" is quite another.

They pulled away from each other and smiled. “You look beautiful, Leona,” Sarah said. “There’s a shine about your face that is so beautiful.”
Leona laughed. “That’s funny,” she said. “I always thought that about you.”

Jesus makes you shiny. I suggest astringent.

The song soon finished, and they all sat down. The pastor prayed and then started in on his sermon of God’s love and forgiveness. It was a wonderful sermon for Leona to hear as a new believer. It touched her heart and made her swell with unexpressible joy to know that Jesus loved her and forgave her of all her sins. It wasn’t a long sermon, but filled with so much feeling and love for God that Leona could’ve kept listening for two more hours. After service, the church had fellowship downstairs. The Jacksons hadn’t brought anything to share in the meal, but they made a mental note to remember to bring something next Sunday.
Next Sunday, Leona thought. Wasn’t it special to look forward to coming to church next week?

Did her heart grow two sizes that day?

Fellowship ended too soon, it seemed, for the Jacksons, but they were already looking forward to next Sunday. Leona hugged Mrs. Black and Sarah, and kissed Luke on his cheek before allowing Peter to help her into her parents’ car. She rolled down the window and said good-bye to him. Peter smiled and said good bye, then turned to shake her parents’ hands before they left.
“That Peter fellow is a very nice young man,” her dad remarked on their drive home.
Leona flushed, without meaning to.
“Oh yes!” Mrs. Jackson exclaimed. “He’s very sweet. And such manners too!”
“Yes,” Leona agreed. And I love him.

"And such manners, too!" Either this book is set in 1792 or we're discussing a dog. "You should totally marry him! I know you hardly know him and you just broke up with your baby daddy, but he says 'please' and 'thank you'! You can't possibly do better than that!" Leona, I don't think your mom really likes you if she thinks that's the best you can do.

Since we're not getting the official final chapter, perhaps we should write our own. I'm thinking something along the lines of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. As I recall, Mrs. Black is running a child labor ring and Peter owns a brothel outside of Las Vegas. Surely we can do something with that. (denelian: you did say you were bored . . .)

*It's a bit of thing amongst a certain set of stay-at-home-daughter bloggers to call themselves "Miss So and So". Unless they are nobility, I'm calling shenanigans.


  1. I couldn't get past this:

    Sunday morning dawned bright and beautiful. Leona lazily rolled over in bed and the sunlight caught her face and made her squint with its brightness.

    She just basically said, 'The bright sun is bright.'

  2. Plus don't forget Quasar has been rewriting the whole thing.

  3. You know, I want to make some sort of joke to the point of, "Who the fuck would want to steal this shit?"

    But I can't get past, "Who the fuck would write this shit?"

    Oddly enough, many, many years ago I wrote a novel that I'd intended for Christian audiences. In that novel the main character was one of your basic people who grew up going to church but stopped during college. At the beginning of the book he's realizing that he has everything he thinks he wants in his life and none of it matters. So he has a mental breakdown and, basically, runs away from home (which is odd, because the main character was kinda-sorta 29 and living on his own).

    Either way, the point is that he ended up meeting a woman who dragged him to church and in that service he ended up realizing, "Hey, this isn't bad, really." The rest of the book was then the character coming to know insular, sectarian Evangelical Jesus.

    Point being, I recognize this scene. I've written this scene. I'm pretty sure that I didn't do this scene all too well when I wrote it, but I'm absolutely, 100% convinced that I did this scene significantly better than Miss Raquel here...

    For one thing, I didn't write about the pastor telling "a wonderful sermon on god's love and forgiveness." The pastor was giving a sermon on the Prodigal Son. For a guy who'd just realized he had no meaning on his life and run away from home, well...

    Details. They FUCKING MATTER.

  4. Quaaaaasar, where are you?

    Ah, tautology, the beginning writer's best friend. I'm wondering how much time Raquel spends rereading these works. It's very easy to use the same word again and again without realizing it. However, when you reread it, that sticks out like a sore thumb. Even with these blog posts, I will notice "bright" twice in the same paragraph and replace one instance of "bright" with a synonym.

    It is acceptable to reiterate the same word or phrase repeatedly in certain circumstances, but I doubt that is what Raquel was going for.

  5. PF, the thing is the tautology was completely unnecessary. The two sentences would flow just fine without "with its brightness".


    Sunday morning dawned bright and beautiful. Leona lazily rolled over in bed and the sunlight caught her face and made her squint.

    I would think it would be better written as:

    Sunday morning dawned bright and beautiful. Leona lazily rolled over in bed. The sunlight illuminated her face, causing her to squint at the majesty of the new day.

    Of course adding the new day, to reemphasize that it is not only a new day but a new day for her personally and a fresh start from her past. Having it on Sunday helps, obviously because of the church, but because it is the beginning of a new week.

  6. It is acceptable to reiterate the same word or phrase repeatedly in certain circumstances, but I doubt that is what Raquel was going for.

    I hate looking at a page and seeing that I've used the same adjective twice by accident.

    However, I'll often use repetition as a device. Starting or ending multiple sentences or paragraphs with the same word order builds to a point. It's almost like a chant.

    You build to a moment, creating an intentional tension through repetition. "I believed...and it was wrong. I believed...and it was wrong. I believed... and it was wrong."

    Then you release.

    "Now, having been imprisoned by my false beliefs, I've found the key to my chains. I'm free at last, free at last, thank god almighty I'm free at last."

    Also, Martin Luther King, Jr. was much better at it than I am. Couldn't help it...

  7. I did the first two paragraphs, if anyone wants to take the baton after that:-

    Time had passed slowly for Leona since she had thought I love him (about Peter, who she loved) last Sunday. It was almost as though her pregnancy had faded into a completely mundane experience, now constantly superseded by that intense feeling of looking-forward-to-church-next-Sunday; or, on occasion, thinking about Peter (who she loved) and that time he’d jabbed her awkwardly in the face. Church-thoughts made her face all shiny, thoughts of Peter made her flushed; thinking about Peter and church at the same time gave the glow emanating from her face a reddish tinge, often making her darkened room resemble nothing so much as a hooker’s boudoir.

    By day, the light wasn’t noticeable enough to warrant a tortured simile, but was unfortunately noticeable enough to inspire ridiculous and repetitive comments about Peter from her newly-un-backslidden parents; whenever they weren’t trying desperately for more babies of their own, that is. They had decided to let the Lord be in control of Leona’s mother’s uterus, and had even had a small prophylactic bonfire in the back garden on the Wednesday night just gone…

  8. I'm nauseated. Or nauseous.

  9. Picking up where Anon left off...

    Leona went down to the kitchen. She started to make her usual dead fetus on English Muffins with cheese breakfast sandwich (because people who don't believe in Jesus eat dead babies. That's why Planned Parenthood makes so much money, from people buying dead baby cold cuts). But now that she was pregnant and her shiny Jesus knowledge had (not to mention Peter, who she loved and did she mention he was really cute? Team Peter!) made her all shiny in the bright knowledge that the baby in her stomach was a person, too, and that god had knit the bright, shiny baby together in her tummy as a way for her to meet the dreamy Peter, she realized that maybe she shouldn't eat fetus sandwiches for breakfast any more.

    So instead Leona had a bowl of cereal with fresh strawberries.

    And who's next?

    Also, I'm officially declaring myself as a member of Team Deadbeat Ex-Boyfriend...

  10. "dolling herself up"

    Um, what decade is this? Hell, what century? I haven't heard that phrase since Happy Days reruns.

    "Nauseated" is the feeling of having to throw up. Something that is "nauseous" makes one "nauseated".

    True, but in this case I'm prepared to make an exception based on common usage. Most people really don't distinguish between the two terms.

    "They pulled away from each other and smiled. 'You look beautiful, Leona,' Sarah said. 'There’s a shine about your face that is so beautiful.'
    Leona laughed. 'That’s funny,' she said. 'I always thought that about you.'"

    Well, at least her Christians don't actually sparkle.

  11. Details. They FUCKING MATTER.

    I got a huge kick out of how the chapter suddenly focused on the precise order in which every one in Leona's group sat in the pews. (Mrs. Black sat next to Mrs. Jackson with Luke between them, etc. etc. etc.) It left me wondering why that suddenly mattered so much. The only salient point was that Leona sat next to LoverBoy Peter.

    I use the word "nauseous" to mean "nauseated." I maintain that either word is correct. "Nauseous" properly means EITHER "affected by nausea" or "causing nausea." Webster's 3rd International English Dictionary agrees with me as does (I prefer "nauseous" because that's what I grew up with, but it does mean I have to have this argument with people a lot.)

    Good takedown, though!

  12. *falls down laughing*

    i grant that i'm bored and all - but the last time i tried to re-write something like this, i killed almost everyone off. it was *slightly* different - it was a "biblical" story written by a teenager, and i *think* it was about her parents... but in THAT story, a "date gone wrong" led to a the girl/woman "being in trouble" - not the least of which is that her "date" had beat the fuck out of her when she wouldn't put out, then raped her - and sent off to "art school" for 7 months, at which point she refused to give the baby for adoption. she was given a choice - give up the baby or marry her rapist.

    OF COURSE i killed everyone but the girl! [and the baby.] turns out there had been confusion on the part of her parents, and "St. Joe's" wasn't a school for "wayward teen girls" but rather a school for "WEREWOLF teen girls". also several other monsters.


    i muchly prefer Quasar's version of THIS story.

  13. Speaking of which, Chapter 6 is written. I've posted it here:

    To Chapter Six!

    For the record, I tried a slightly... erm... weirder approach for this chapter in the hopes of making it funnier. After all, this is a writing experiment. Also, I always wanted to kick a certain someone in the nuts. I don't hate him or anything, I just think it'd be a good conversation starter: "Hey, did I ever tell you about the time-"

    Now I just need to start on chapter 7/8 (Knowing that it ends here allows me to set the whole thing up for a 2 part finale! Yay for pacing!). Charge!

  14. By the way, is anyone else reading a certain subtext into the 60 second hug?

    Leona and Sarah hugged for almost a full minute... Leona whispered in her friend’s ear...
    “Oh, Leona, yes! ...” Sarah hugged her tighter...
    They pulled away from each other and smiled. “You look beautiful, Leona,” Sarah said. “There’s a shine about your face that is so beautiful.”
    Leona laughed. “That’s funny,” she said. “I always thought that about you.”

    In a more popular story by a less oblivious, less fundangelical author this would be blatent ship teasing.

  15. Quasar;

    *slow clap*
    you are genius. not A genius - you are Genius Personified

  16. Well, I don't know what "ship teasing" is, but based on the 60 second hug,smiles and compliments, I think Leona and Sarah may be destined to be girlfriends...

  17. @ Jennifer - you have grasped the essence of the term admirably.

    "Shipping" in this context is cheering for (or, in fanfiction, writing your own version of) a relationship between two fictional characters. "Ship teasing" is when the writers of the source material are aware of this, and start teasing the audience with hints that something is happening, about to happen, destined to happen, or secretly already happening off-stage.

  18. And now Chapter 7, aka Finale Part 1, is up too.

    Leona begins her assault on Black Headquarters. All locations in this story are fictional, and any resemblance to any real location is purely co-incidental.


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