Good morning everyone! Londoners have been gifted another day of sun (thank goodness), which has made me very cheery, and I thought it would only be fitting to share my 5th Discovery GemZone instalment on the 5th of May.
A few weeks ago, I shared a poem I wrote that was inspired from my move to London nearly 7 years ago and how happy I was over accomplishing the big city move amidst severe anxiety and skepticism from others over whether I could even do it.
Well, that poem managed to fuel my creative tank and inspired me to start writing a story from the short excerpt. This is very exciting for me as I used to constantly write stories through my childhood and early teenage years, and the older I grew I stopped as I allowed my creativity to become hindered.
So, without further ado, I present to you my my untitled/in development story about Amanda Newton and what happened on that night. Inspired by the various television shows I have watched, here are my first four chapters…
And suddenly the world wasn’t the frightening black hole she once shriveled in fear at the mere prospect of facing.
Suddenly her daydreams were a reality happening in front of her very eyes.
Hope was a word she clung onto desperately even in the darkest of times, and it now became a word of the past as the abstract concept of what she wanted became her concrete present.
If became can and can became will and will became would.
No one knew who she was. What she did. What she didn’t do. What made her want to stay and what made her have no choice but to run away.
These were all the thoughts that scrimmaged through Amanda’s mind as she ‘rested’ her head rather uncomfortably against the train’s glass window. Her eyes were burning from exhaustion but she couldn’t face closing them without thinking about that night.
As her eyes grew heavier and her lids felt like they were being wired open as if she was in that infamous scene from A Clockwork Orange, Amanda aimlessly scanned her mind for those ‘happy’ thoughts she was focused on a few seconds ago.
That vicious cycle of relief and joy, which quickly followed itself by the torment of fear and self-loathing narcissism, was a pattern Amanda struggled with every second of every day since that night. To be clear, that night was exactly 23 days ago, and that night was the night that would shape the course of Amanda’s life forever.
Before Amanda could once again start pedaling the rusty wheels in her tortured mind, the train finally arrived at her destination and she let her first proper breath out in nearly 36 hours. She quickly gathered her belongings (one carry-on suitcase and a fanny pack) and stumbled onto the platform.
‘We’re not in Kansas in anymore’. That phrase replayed itself in Amanda’s mind as she slowly started to remember where she was, albeit for her the saying would have to be replaced with Manhattan instead. The irony in all of this is that Amanda found herself in a place that she could only imagine was Kansas’s underachieving sibling: Wisconsin Dells.
Wisconsin Dells is home to 2678 people and a popular Midwestern tourist destination thanks to its scenic location by the Wisconsin River. It also was famous for its waterparks. This is as much as Amanda knew based on a 15 second glance of the town’s Wikipedia page.
Amanda couldn’t help but smirk at where she was. Wisconsin Dells: she hissed the town’s name under her breath with disgust. A popular Midwestern tourist destination, she thought mockingly. She couldn’t help but think of the jokes and jabs she and her friends would make at the ‘red-neck’ towns expense. Wisconsin Dells: that sounds like the sort of place families from Missouri take vacation to remind themselves there are places worse than Missouri. She then thought how her friends would hysterically laugh at this, all of course while shopping at Barneys for their annual Barbados girls’ trip.
How the hell did Amanda Newton end up in Wisconsin Dells? That would be the first question that would pop into every Upper East Sider’s mind if they knew where Amanda Newton was building the rest of her life.Miss Newton? They would say in utter disbelief but equivocal amusement. Amanda Newton? The daughter of plastic surgeon Harry Newton and socialite Candice Newton? Amanda, New York’s finest prep school’s Valedictorian whom was offered an unconditional spot at Oxford University during her junior year of high school?The person asking would then laugh hysterically at the ridiculousness of it all but revel in her failure.
Amanda knew, however, that the question of what she was doing in Wisconsin Dells would never come up from her past Manhattan Upper East Side counterparts because they would never find out she was there to begin with. They would never hear from her or see her again. That night gave her no choice but to fair adieu to where she came from and who came with it, including her family and friends.
Those ‘happy’ thoughts Amanda would keep running through her mind (before they jumped ship into darkness) were brewed within her after that night. Life would forever be BTN (before that night) and ATN(after that night). Amanda was in no place to actually think about the occurrence of events during that night, she knew that as soon as she let herself go there, there would be no going back.
The ‘happy’ thought of hopes, daydreams, and facing a fresh start was something Amanda always wanted. Amanda never wanted to stay in Manhattan. Her Upper-East Side lifestyle was fabulous and not far-fetched from the notoriously popular TV drama, Gossip Girl. As fabulous as it was, Amanda couldn’t wait to leave because she really hated the person she was. She was a nice/mean girl: nice to your face but viciously vindictive behind your back if you were to even dare look at her the wrong way. She was always power hungry no matter how much power she already had, and everyone else (including her dearest friends) were starving for her power. She slept with her friend’s boyfriends, and would blackmail them with whatever juicy secret she had on them if they even thought about fessing up. She had something on everyone. Everyone wanted to be on her side out of fear and masochistic admiration.
Amanda knew she couldn’t live her life like this, and she didn’t want to. She became so used to this person and knew that after everything she had done, there was no way people would accept anyone else. So when she was accepted in Oxford University, she spent the rest of her high school days fantasizing about the fresh slate ahead of her. The past would be in the past, and she could be whoever she wanted to be. She could, for once in her life, make an effort to be a good person and to make meaningful relationships with people that weren’t based on jealously or revenge.
She couldn’t let herself think about that too much though. As soon as she did, her throat would enclose on itself and the dry pill of Wisconsin Dells(she hissed under breath again) became harder to swallow than ever.
As she walked towards the exit sign to leave the station, she became paranoid. Why was everyone staring at her? Her mind-begun rambling:
There is no way that woman with the muffin top slouching over her ripped jean shorts and chewing on a wheat straw would know about that night, and based on her wardrobe choice of Midwestern trash-chic there is no way she would ever end up in the Upper-East Side, let alone Manhattan. That night did make it to the press, but my name was kept out of it and I doubt these redneck hicks even know how to read words that are more than two syllables.So why the fuck is she staring at me?
What the hell are you looking at? The woman shouted at Amanda.
Struck by the woman’s tone, Amanda rushed into the station’s only toilet. Reeking of urine, full of piss stains, and with walls plastered with graffiti/writing, Amanda could only imagine that this is how the youth of Wisconsin Dells spent their free time. Her mind once again wandered: Men purposefully pissing on everything but the toilet seat and young loved-up engraving their initials onto public property, this is as exciting as it gets in Wisconsin Dells.
Before her mind could continue spitting venom on the people and place she planned on making her new home, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror.
No wonder people were staring at her, Amanda thought. Her mind’s silver tongue turned on her: I look like a junky. A junky so desperate for her next fix that she probably was trying to kill herself but couldn’t even succeed at that.
Amanda looked at herself critically in the mirror as if she were meeting some homeless long-lost twin of hers. Her usual silky and bouncy thick curls that were her most notable feature had now managed to entangle within themselves to form several large clumps of what can only be described as bird nests.
Her bloodshot eyes, dark circles, and a bright red pus-filled pimple on the middle of her forehead covered her usually distinguishable smooth, tanned, and youthfully glowing face.
She had swapped her signature plaid Valentino dress and heels, black tights, and Michael Kors handbag for her ex-boyfriends oversized sweatshirt and the khaki trousers her dad forced her to wear on their mandatory annual golf weekend getaway.
Amanda wasn’t doing herself any favors of going unnoticed, as she planned, but everything was happening so quickly and she didn’t have a moment to spare on second-guessing her decisions.
She needed to act fast and she needed to get out of Manhattan. She needed to get out of New York. Ideally, she’d need to be getting the hell out of the United States, but that option was too risky. Amanda could not risk getting caught.
In a desperate attempt to make herself appear unnoticeable/uninteresting, Amanda tied her hair in a supremely tight bun, slapped some chap stick on her crusty lips, and splashed cold water from the bathroom’s only tap setting on her face. As she proceeded to wash her hands, her stomach sank and her fingers trembled as she discovered dry blood encrusted under her fingernails from that night.
Amanda could not remember how she got home after the incident that took place on that night.
Her very first memory of the day after is staring aimlessly outside her bedroom window and slowly realizing where she was as New York’s summer sun creaked through the curtains and started burning her eye. Amanda couldn’t remember if she had slept, but she instantly knew she had cried. A lot. She had a gulp in her throat and her eyes felt so dry that she knew she had wept every last tear she had in her body. It reminded her of how she felt after hysterically crying over her first heartbreak or the family’s beloved dog dying due to a reckless driver.
Except this time it was much worse. It was over something she did that she could never take back.
Amanda had no idea as to what evidence there might be out there of what happened. It was just the two of them on the scene, but what if there was CCTV? What if someone saw what happened and reported her to the police? Amanda sickened herself with the endless possibilities of what information someone might have on her, but nothing troubled her more than the memory of what she had done.
As the reality of what Amanda did played itself like a film in her memory, she quickly glanced at her hands. They were the only physical reminder that Amanda’s actions were not festered from her imagination or a nightmare that she had woken up from. She studied her hands for what felt like hours, blinking continuously in hopes that the blood would disappear.
Amanda knew she would have to wash up, and quickly, as she heard her alarm ring. It was Saturday, which meant weekly family brunch, a tradition Amanda called organized fun, as she didn’t ever have the choice of opting out.
Amanda stripped off the Balmain dress she was still wearing from yesterday’s party, and quickly threw it in a bin bag that she planned to dispose of somewhere far from home. She couldn’t risk having anything that would link her to the scene of the crime.
As she showered the physical evidence away, Amanda stared below towards the drain as the blood flowed away. She wanted the whole situation to be as easy as taking that shower; something she could wipe away without anyone knowing a thing. The issue was however that Amanda, for the first time in her life, felt guilt over what she had done. She may have hated who she was before that, but she never regretted a single action, even when it hurt those she loved the most.
Guilt was a foreign emotion for Amanda, and one that sprung onto her unwillingly as she stared at the blood from her victim get cleansed from her body.
Knock knock. A man called from outside the train station’s bathroom while lightly tapping the door.
Startled, Amanda quickly scrubbed the blood from under her fingernails and nervously shouts: It’s busy!
This time, the man started banging on the door and impatiently responds: Mam this is a public toilet and you’ve been in there for 30 minutes. I don’t care if you be pissing diarrhea but your time is up and there’s a line of folks who been waiting for their turn.
Amanda’s panic over the sight of her victim’s blood turned itself into embarrassment as she lost track of time. So much for going unnoticed…she thought.
She left the toilet, her cheeks bright red from humiliation, and avoided eye contact with the line of people waiting for their turn.
As Amanda finally made her way to the exit, she only noticed one elderly gentlemen working behind the counter and reading a newspaper. Oblivious to Amanda, she studied him harshly as she slowly walked by. She could only see him from mid-waist up, and took note of the checkered shirt and straw hat he was wearing. Her mind immediately started studying the station’s employee viciously: Look at this sad old man, he’s probably been working here since he hit 16 and finally clocked that he wasn’t even intelligent enough to get accepted into a state university. His face is full of disappointment. I’m sure if he did buck up and actually do his job he would greet me with ‘howdy’ and courtesy of his hat as all these Midwestern hicks do.
Amanda was fully aware of her internal behavior and how much she promised herself that she would quit mentally abusing others as soon as she left Manhattan. She was also aware that she could have stopped doing this in Manhattan, but never wanted to start until she was in a new place where she knew no one and therefore no one would make assumptions of her. Albeit, she never thought that place would be Wisconsin Dells. She knew eventually that she would have to become accepting of Wisconsin Dells and the people that came with it, but in that moment she greeted the criticism of strangers in her mind with open arms. It made a nice change from remembering what she did on that night.