Author Topic: First chapter bedlam magical realism  (Read 163 times)

Offline Kjk

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First chapter bedlam magical realism
« on: October 30, 2020, 11:42:24 PM »
Hello I would appreciate any feedback on the first chapter of my book. It's literary / magical realism. Thank you again.
Chapter 1

It had been days since I last saw another person… or was it weeks? With my sun-kissed legs outstretched, my back pressed against my home and the wind tossing my brown, unkempt hair about, I looked up and down this pristine caramel colored beach in Havana, only to realize that I was alone. Even that chubby Canadian, who was remodeling the Rosario hotel, was absent. Normally I would catch him glaring at me from the far off and distant ridge. In fact, only once, maybe months ago, did he ever come closer.

                  Calling me names in English, French, and broken Spanish, he precariously and delicately moved along a nearby sand dune as he grunted, “You! You, filthy man… get out of here!”

                  While panting and waving his pale arms, he tried his best to shoo me away from my corner on the beach. Maybe he didn’t understand that I claimed this spot long ago after erecting my home, this tiny metallic shed that I now lean my back against.
Instead of explaining myself, I simply sat with my legs crossed while I watched him shout obscenities in my direction. Growing frustrated over my ambivalence, he hissed something fowl in his native language and took a swing at the air, only to end up tripping and rolling into the ocean.

                  As I watched his blond hair and chubby arms thrash in the water, some tourists rushed to help him onto his feet. Perhaps they were worried that the tides would carry him away, but I knew, even back then, as I sat against the warm sand covered floor, that the currents weren’t strong enough for that yet.

                  That was months ago… at least I think it was. Today, the water would be fierce enough to take someone like him, or even me away…. Feeling uncomfortable, I shifted my back against the patchwork of aluminum that formed the walls of my tiny metallic house and dug my feet deeper into the hot sun-drenched sand, but it didn’t make a difference.
                 As I stared at my front yard, the ocean, the hollowness of the swishing winds and crashing waves echoed within my mind. Magnifying how empty everything around me is, now that I am alone.

                  Emptiness for the living was dangerous, especially here. If you weren’t careful a darkness could seep into you. Crawl up your legs until you were consumed with the notion that nothing was left, nothing but some dead thing.

                  Feeling particularly anxious, I walked twenty feet across the pulsating Cuban sand and found a dry enough spot to rest. I didn’t know why but sitting so low and close to the water’s edge calmed me. In truth it shouldn’t. The throbbing sea always had an eagerness to it, almost as if it wanted to crush me. Each glossy blue wave that leapt and fell seemed to reach out with the threat of pulling me closer, but was it really the ocean pulling me or was I…

                  Feeling an unhealthy urge, I turned my head only to jump up from fright. As I clenched the dry earth under me, I was left startled and trying to make sense of a beautiful stranger just 30 feet away.

                  Where did she come from?

                  Standing with her naked feet along the ocean’s crest, the woman’s white dress swayed gently above the surf and dark skin glowed even though the sun had long begun to settle. Shaped like the furls of a rose, her black hair fell just past her shoulders. Each sable curl, almost perfectly, repeated as if they were links in a delicate chain.

                  I couldn’t help but think that the stranger’s feet should have been tickled by the rushing water, yet, her expression only showed concern. Her smooth cheeks, not yet worn with wrinkles or scars, vibrated slightly under sad dark brown eyes. It seemed unnatural for someone who appeared so young, perhaps no older than nineteen, to carry so much worry.

                  As her wide, sullen gaze continued to stare off into the water, I was reminded of something. For many, peering into the great expanse typically brought terror. Especially since so much was grander in the world of the sea. The weight of it would often collapse one’s confidence, eventually leading them to hurry away and return their senses to land.

                  However, for others, like this one person, the ocean presented an option. A chance to explore their minds and utilize the blue escape as a canvass. Nothing would be greater for such people than to turn away from everything. Forget the dirt, the toil and all the problems that plagued them. I think she wanted to die.

                  Just then, I began to wonder, was she even real. Why didn’t I hear her walk by? It was almost as if this stranger appeared out of nowhere.

                  It had been so long since I saw another person, could this woman be a figment of my imagination or something worse: a spirit? There was something about her dress, whiter than foam, that sent chills down my spine. The way it danced above the water and against the wind.... she shouldn’t be here.

                  Feeling ridiculous, I shook my head and tried to reason with myself. She couldn’t be a ghost. Without realizing it, while I was staring into the ocean and having... negative thoughts, she must have slipped by me. It made sense, it had to. After all, I had never seen anything that looked like a ghost, maybe only…

                  Suddenly, about 60 feet from the water and to my far right, a jeep filled with obnoxious laughter streaked across the sand. I recognized the mayor’s son, Ignacio, and his friends as they emptied themselves on to the beach. Per usual, they gleefully yelled and screamed while shoving and tugging at one another.

                  Not wanting to attract their ire, as I had done in the past, I quickly turned away. Yet, just before, I noticed the mayor’s son staring in my direction. Luckily, however, I was passed over. His playful scheming eyes were instead locked onto the young woman who was still staring out into the water.

                  I began to try and slide away from his field of vision, when I spotted the strangest thing in the distance. About one hundred feet away, a speck of bright light danced against the old Rosario hotel. In random patterns, it franticly shot up then down or moved from left to right. Disappearing for seconds when it met with the suns direct light only to reappear and continue its spastic movements.
Dismissing it as just some kids goofing off, I decided to ignore everything: the strange woman, Ignacio and that light. Before I could head back into my shed, I heard the soft footsteps of horrible people approaching.

                   “Hello, beautiful. Want to share a drink?” Ignacio, now less than 20 feet away from the woman, dropped his Walkman as he confidently raised the bottle of rum, spilling some onto the beach floor.

                  She turned with each hand atop her stomach revealing a nascently pregnant belly.

               “Oh, looks like you got started early,” he smiled, “It’s okay, we can still have some fun.” Grabbing her by the waist, Ignacio pulled the pregnant woman towards him.

               “No! “She fiercely hit him on the chest as he and his gang laughed.

               “Look, boss.” One of his goons pointed to me.

               Letting go of the woman, Ignacio glared in my direction and slowly walked over to me. His face always seemed stern and now it was colored with a look of disgust as he kicked a plume of sand toward me. The sparkling bits of beach fell lightly over my face and nearly covered my legs completely.

               Ignacio knelt before me. “What are you looking at you dirty thing?”

               At that moment I wasn’t interested in engaging Ignacio, instead I was too distracted.  That strange erratic light had now come closer. The size of a baseball, the orb moved like a wild bumble bee just twenty feet away. It fluttered to and fro, up and over as it streamed across the palm trees, floor and sky. Was it a large firefly? A group of fireflies?

               Stranger yet, it seemed like I was the only one distracted by its presence. Everyone else ignored the pulsating orb while it repeatedly, and hectically, flew right past or hovered near them. At an angle above the water it suddenly stopped. The object spiraled and turned in place until it grew still. For some reason, I got the feeling that it was staring right at me.

               Eventually, I became more certain as it slowly moved in my direction.

               Still sneering, Ignacio turned his head to discover that the pregnant woman had disappeared.

               With a smirk, he stood back up, only to lean down slightly, as he dropped the nearly empty bottle of liquor. “It’s okay. We just wanted to see what we had to clean up.”

               Just before the glowing object reached me, Ignacio waved over one of his men. The next thing I saw was the heel of a boot followed by the whitest and most beautiful light I had ever seen.

« Last Edit: October 30, 2020, 11:48:13 PM by Kjk »

Offline ND McTavish

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Re: First chapter bedlam magical realism
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2020, 01:44:06 AM »
The style is good.  You deftly inserted the glowing orb.  That works well.

The first sentence is not a strong hook.  Also, I don't know why the person has trouble telling time.

The second sentence is long and laden with adjectives.  You are making it do too much work.

I am not a regular reader of magical realism.  I read all the Harry Potters, but that is the extent of my exposure.  You can discount my opinion on that basis, but for me, I need writing to be clear and easy to interpret.

"almost as if it wanted to crush me. Each glossy blue wave that leapt and fell seemed to reach out with the threat of pulling me closer, but was it really the ocean pulling me or was I…

Feeling an unhealthy urge, I turned my head only to jump up from fright."

I can't see the sea crushing anyone or pulling them in.  I read it several times before I figured out what the "unhealthy urge" was.  It is a nice, poetic style.

In short:  The style is good and so is the story.  I think you need to go over it a few more times.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2020, 02:05:02 AM by ND McTavish »