On my blog today I have Valerie Thomas, a new and very young writer. Like poet Brian Gallagher, Valerie is pretty modest and retiring. This is what she has to say about herself.
Valerie Thomas is a 20 year old author living in Colorado. Her YA novel, The Clique, is currently being edited and is slated for release December 2014.
Valerie wants to showcase a sample of her writing with this short story.
There aren’t any sounds of movement inside. I ease the door open, hoping no one’s home. The apartment’s empty, and even filthier than I remember. The sink is piled high with dirty plates, the trash overflowing. This is no way to live.
In my mother’s bedroom, at the bottom of the closet, I find the last remnants of the package. She’s smoked or snorted almost all of it. Only a bit remains. Anger takes me as I stare at the powder—her shackles. Before I can consider what I’m about to do, I empty its contents into the toilet. Flush. The offending drugs spiral out of view.
Nothing will prevent her from buying more, I know that. She doesn’t have the money now, but she’ll find a way to get it. She always finds a way. Ideally, I would convince her to give it all up—but no, she wouldn’t, not even for me.
So I settle for smashing her pipes. It’s easy; they’re made of glass, after all. Maybe my mom won’t be able to scrape up the money to replace them, and she’ll have to get clean. I grind the glass dust into the carpet with my heel.
A key rattles in the lock. Oh, shit. I glance at the window—no, no way; it doesn’t open anymore. The closet then, I could hide like a little child.
In the split-second I have, I decide that I will own up to what I’ve just done. Tell my mother everything. I can hear the door open.
“Mmm, baby, do you still have some of that stuff left?” A male voice asks. That must be Chase.
“Yeah,” my mother responds. “In the bedroom. I’ll go get it.”
My hand balls and my heart races as I wait for her to enter.
“Oh, my god!” Trinity screams when she sees me. “What are you doing here?” she asks in a whisper.
“I got rid of it. All of it.”
“Babe, what’s going on?” Chase appears behind my mother. “What the fuck?”
I can almost see the gears turning in my mom’s mind. She turns to her boyfriend. “This—this—girl just broke in! She stole everything!”
Stole everything? “Mom, I didn’t! Why would I even—? No!”
Chase doesn’t seem to hear me; he advances with a snarl. “Where did you hide it?”
“Nowhere!” I take a step back, then another as he moves closer.
“Liar!” My mother stands motionless in the doorway, a violent expression on her face.
“No! I swear, I’m not lying!” There’s no way he’s going to believe I flushed the drugs, but I have to appease him somehow. “Alright, I took them out to my car!” One more step back, I feel the cold glass of the apartment window.
Chase takes a deep breath. “Show me.”
“Okay. I will.” Or I won’t, because there’s nothing in my car. If this doesn’t work, I’ll probably end up on Channel Nine. Chase moves to the side to let me through.
The walk to the parking lot is one of the longest I’ve ever taken. Chase follows me so closely that I can practically taste burnt cigarettes, and when I stop at the door his stale breath falls on my neck.
“It’s in the trunk,” I explain. “I have to press a button inside to open it.”
“Fine.” Chase backs up enough to let me in. I press the button to open the trunk, but not enough to actually open it.
“Maybe I need to turn the car on?” I look to Chase, hoping against hope that he doesn’t realize what I’m doing.
He licks his lips and glances at my trunk. “Just open it.”
I move behind the wheel, place my keys in the ignition—it takes multiple tries. My hand shakes as I turn the key and the engine grumbles to a start. With my left hand I reach for the trunk release, but with my right I grasp the shifter; there’s a car in front of me, so I’ll have to kick it into reverse.
Now! I shift and slam on the gas, only to careen forward, slamming into the car in front of me.
Chase’s face contorts as he figures out what I just tried to do. “Fucking thief!” He grabs my arm and pulls. I won’t be able to resist for long. But my right hand is still on the shifter. Reverse is two gears below drive. Click, click. I hit the pedal again, praying I got it right this time. Chase’s nails claw at me, threatening to pull me out before I can get away.
We jolt back a few feet; his grip tightens. More gas, and the strain becomes too much for him. Chase’s nails rip skin as they slide down my arm. A few more feet, and he tumbles to the ground.
My hands are shaking on the wheel. I have to continually remind myself to stop at red lights and signal before I change lanes. About halfway home, the adrenaline drops off and I notice a coppery taste in my mouth; my head’s fuzzy, like I’ve just woken up from a coma.
The sight of my father’s house greets me like a welcoming friend. Almost home, I’m almost home. I pull up to the curb across the road—my wheel climbs up it when I get too close, but I hardly notice—and get out.
“Whoa, are you alright?” A bald man asks.
No, I’m not alright.
Look out for Valerie’s first novel at the end of the year. In the meantime you can visit her blog here.
Thanks a lot, Valerie, for giving us the opportunity to read some of your work. I wish you the very best of luck with your debut novel.