Writer-In-Motion Week 4 – Final Version
The fourth week of Writer-In-Motion is about tightening, editing, and sculpting until the word count is within the parameters set forth at the beginning of WIM. This is not my favorite round. It is awful to work so hard to put the words on the page, only to turn around and scrape them off. However, every single time, the work is better for it.
This is the round I need CHEER partners. People who will support me when I want to stop, when I think my work is just right, when I buck and fight against the cuts. They are the people that hold me accountable and shout and scream when I whittle another piece of unnecessary out of my work.
This week of Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for all the other writers that pour into my life and help me become the author I’m fighting to aspire to.
Below, you will find the final revision of For Serenity. This is a small piece of backstory for my current work in progress, Cult of Blindness. It is from the perspective of Serenity’s mother, who doesn’t have a role in COB, but plays a significant role in Serenity’s why. If you love this, keep an eye out for Cult of Blindness.
Joyce scoured every line of the database. Her heart, a wolf trapped in its cage. Serenity turned two today, her career assignment day. She scrolled through the names organized by the government’s algorithms. Today, assignments were to the Enforcers division.
A thread snapped within Joyce. Enforcers faced terrible danger, and with one click, she could change her daughter’s future. Sweat beaded on her upper lip.
Joyce glared at the ceiling. “Keep it cool.” She’d worked the algorithm for nine years. This was her job.
Yet, she scrolled over Serenity’s name. With rogue fingers that clicked on their own accord, she finalized the unthinkable, breaking the law. It was an offense punishable by a total reconditioning of her brain, turning her into the government’s malleable vegetable.
Serenity Grace Knowles – Reassignment: Teacher.
Joyce didn’t think, just acted as blood dove through her body. She erased the code, the pathway to undo her daughter’s new destiny. The screen blanked, and the warning appeared.
Internal Exception: Wait by your terminal for assistance.
Wait. She snorted. She left the blinking screen and slipped out the back, gliding silently down the halls. Enforcers were coming for her, not assistance. No one broke the law.
She forced a sob back down into the churning depths of her stomach.
Waroo, waroo, the alarm screeched into existence. She jogged into the foyer, the demon’s scream chasing her through steel and glass walls like a banshee.
Joyce jumped into her pre-programmed car and hit the button for home. Anything could happen. They could escape. Her false hope twisted like bile in her throat.
She did this for Serenity. She would live in safety as a teacher. No regrets.
The car hovered beside her doorstep, and she ran in. She would relieve the nanny and hold Serenity. She sprinted up the emergency stairs. She might have twenty minutes.
Sweet music trickled through the air from somewhere. Happiness. Joyce inhaled it. Tried to hold it.
Purple flashing lights riding atop the Enforcer’s cars slashed through the hallway window in one lingering beat across the walls.
A tear escaped. Serenity would grow up without a mom. Joyce would miss her daughter’s life. A high price to pay, but only fifteen percent of enforcers live beyond twenty-one, and ninety-nine percent of teachers live full lives.
She slipped into her flat. The lights dashed through the window behind the settee, invading the safety of her home. She needed help, someone to rescue her from the precipice where she now found herself trapped. Light a flare and get lifted out of this nightmare.
Did it have to end like this?
Pounding echoed through the paper-thin cement, slipping right up her spine.
“Mom!” Serenity tore through the living room. “You’re hommmme!” Her tiny arms wrapped around Joyce’s legs.
The nanny stood, a question crossing her face.
“Thank you, Delia. I’m ill.” Joyce held her breath as Delia made her way out the apartment’s door.
Only a beat later, Joyce declared, “It’s tickle torture time.” She choked back tears and chased Serenity, determined to give her daughter one last happy memory. They ran in circles around the furniture until Joyce caught Serenity by her armpits and hoisted her high, giggling.
Joyce collapsed to the floor and stilled.
Serenity assessed the moment with two-year-old wisdom. “Mom, why are you sad?” Her little curls slipped over her serious eyes, a crease between them.
“I’m okay.” Joyce swallowed. “You better hide.”
Joyce’s heart stuttered at footsteps in the hall. Conscious thought erased, replaced by sorrow as it seeped through her bones. She was uninjured and bleeding to death.
She clenched her fists. Maybe the Creator her father worshiped would come pick up her shattered life and put it back together.
A squeal of delight from behind the settee drew her out of herself. She would love Serenity. Right now. Right here. They’d make one good memory, before–
Thump, thump, thump from nearby resounded through the flat. Joyce clenched her jaw and crawled on all fours, sneaking up behind little Serenity’s back.
“Right here!” Joyce folded her precious girl into her arms, kissing her forehead, breathing in the scent of lavender, storing this last moment together in her memories. She’d remember it after death.
“I love you more than the stars. More than the air. More than anything.”
“I love you too, Mommy.” Serenity twisted her lips to the side. A question scrunched her forehead. “Something’s wrong Mommy.”
“I made it right. Just remember. I love you and you are worth it.” A sudden insanity, a crushing urge to fly out the window with Serenity in her arms, flickered through Joyce. Maybe they could— Joyce stood and ran for the window.
Bang, bang, bang. The sound ricocheted through the flat. Serenity’s blue eyes rounded above her pink cheeks. It was their door. Joyce froze, clinging to Sere, her one last flare of life in this world.
Tiny arms squeezed Joyce. “Mom, the door.”
“Serenity, Mommy loves you.”
“FBA, open the door.” The man’s voice set fire to Joyce’s thoughts. Not enough. There just wasn’t. She squeezed her daughter, falling to the floor in front of the window.
“Ma’am, we know you’re in there. Open up.”
“Mommy, I’m scared.”
“Remember, I love you baby.” She whispered into her hair, tears tripping their way through Serenity’s curls. Her precious little hands reached out and touched Joyce on both of her cheeks. “Remember baby.” Serenity nodded.
Outside the flat’s door quieted. Then, the silence splintered around the hideous ramming bar that broke through their lives.
A flat-faced, bald man lifted her precious screaming daughter from her arms.
Joyce reached for Serenity, but another Enforcer caught her. She fought, but he spun her with ease and cuffed her, slamming her into the settee.
Joyce twisted to glimpse the tears racing down Serenity’s pink cheeks. Nothing could’ve changed the course of events.
Joyce’s ending was her little teacher’s beginning.