Monday, January 25, 2010


Dear Readers That May Be Out There:
This story/blog started out as a NaNoWriMo attempt, and even though I've failed pretty hard at that, I think I'm going to continue writing a bit when I feel like it, even if I never finish the story. It's still copyrighted by me, not guaranteed to be rated above R, and all that jazz. Enjoy! :)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Chapter 8

*This chapter was not intended to be so romantically- minded, but it worked out that way. Also, I have some more story written out by hand, and while it may get some editing first... it should hopefully be typed in soon. Sorry for such a wait for this one- if anyone's still reading.*

Half an hour later, Leslie was lugging her duffel bag into another hotel. She watched the news on the lobby TV for a few minutes and browsed through a USA Today, wondering if she’d see a mention of her own disappearance. Leslie wanted to know if the police suspected foul play, although she didn’t imagine they would- she’d taken a duffel bag, clothes, money, and a few other belongings with her. She wasn’t sure if she preferred them to think that or not. If the police suspected foul play, they’d probably be more anxious to find her; if they didn’t, though, someone would most likely probe further into her past, which would probably be a bad thing as well. Leslie had left as few traces as possible to her hometown when she’d moved, but she didn’t doubt that Jordan would investigate them with fervor.

Leslie sighed, thinking again of Jordan. She loved him too much to drag him into this, but she longed to have him with her. If Jordan was here, he’d make her laugh enough to forget- if only for a few seconds- that the situation was so dire. He’d be worried, too, but just sharing the worry would make it a little easier.

She twirled the engagement ring on her finger. It was simple, quaint, with two small pearls above and below a larger one. The metal work was intricate and beautiful, and Jordan told her later that he’d been so worried she might not like it. She’d reassured him that it was perfect, and she really believed it was. She watched the light reflect off of the shiny metal onto the lobby walls, and slid into a nostalgic reverie.

She thought back to a few months ago. It was their anniversary, and she’d already left a handmade journal for him in his desk drawer. He’d used his connections at the newspaper to make a special newspaper printout for her. Leslie assumed the special Camden Couple print on her desk was simply his anniversary gift. The four-page paper had a whole slew of stories, mostly written by Jordan, but a few were written by their friends. Interspersed were photos of them throughout their relationship, picked out painstakingly and placed with journalistic care.

Leslie had torn through the paper, reading every word and marveling at the amount of effort he’d put in. She had grinned as she read an editorial, a news article, even a movie review. The advertisements featured her and Jordan as models or spokespeople for real and imaginary products, and the caricatures of them in the comic made her laugh out loud.

Finally, as she turned to the back page, her eyes jumped to the bottom, where a small clear plastic bag had been glued on as part of an ad-

For a jewelry store.

Adams Jewelers: When You Know It’s Forever.”

Leslie’s mouth had fallen open, and she’d whirled her chair around to see Jordan standing in the doorway. He was leaned against the doorframe casually, a soft smile across his face, watching her. He walked over, took the ring out of its tiny bag, and got down on one knee to ask her officially.

But he had to have known already. Jordan hadn’t looked nervous at all- perhaps because he’d seen her face when she turned around, or maybe just because he knew her that well. Leslie hadn’t even known she was ready to marry him yet, but when she spotted the ring, the only response she could think of was “yes.”

She even remembered thinking, as her excited co-workers showered their congratulations, that it was fortunate she had chosen Camden as the place for her to start over. After all, if she hadn’t moved to Camden, she would never have met Jordan.

Now, as Leslie thought about it, a part of her wished she had never met him. If she’d never met Jordan, Leslie couldn’t have hurt him when she left.

What bothered Leslie the most was that she couldn't tell Jordan why she was leaving. He would most likely end up believing that she left because of him, because she had cold feet or something. She knew Jordan well, and knew he'd worry that her disappearance was somehow his fault. He'd start out confused, and end up convincing himself he was guilty of somehow driving Leslie away- and she wouldn't be around to dissuade him.

Leslie opened her eyes, taking off her ring and stuffing it into a tiny zippered pocket in her purse. Although her hand felt awkward without it, she couldn’t bear to look at it anymore. She wiped away a tear as the concierge came over to tell her the room was ready. He handed her the key, and offered to take her bags. Leslie politely declined, taking the key and hoisting her single bag over her shoulder. She walked down the hallway, nodding at other guests and checking the number of each room door. Her body seemed to be taking over; her mind was still distracted.

She realized, suddenly, that she’d left the Camden Couple on her bulletin board at work. Leslie longed to read the articles again. She’d read them over and over, but it didn’t matter. In each, he had made clear how much he loved her and how well he knew her.

He didn’t know everything, though. Leslie had thought maybe someday she would tell him- but only when she felt safe at last.

She now knew that day would never come. She would never tell read the romantic newspaper again, she would never tell Jordan everything, she would never marry him- and she would never feel safe.

She closed the door of her new room, locking the door and deadbolt before she even set down her bags.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Chapter 7

Leslie stopped at the first hotel, parked, and toted her luggage into the lobby. She waited in a long line until she reached the front counter, only to have a sickeningly perky receptionist inform her that the hotel had no vacancy. A few minutes later, Leslie trudged into the next hotel, her temporary optimism fading. Again, there were absolutely no available rooms this late. Apparently there was some kind of youth convention taking over the entire area.

As she walked back to her car at the last hotel, Leslie saw two buses pull in. A rowdy mass of kids who looked to be about high-school-age piled out, sprinting and jumping and gabbing with one another. Leslie shuddered a bit. She didn’t want to drive longer, but she also knew that she probably wouldn’t have gotten much good sleep with a lot of young students running around all night.

She got back on the highway, and stopped a couple of exits down at a rest stop. A quick bathroom stop and some sort of caffeine ought to give her enough energy to drive on for another half hour, at least. Leslie reluctantly turned the key to her car, and the engine sputtered a moment before dying.

Oh, no, not now, Leslie thought, tired. Don’t do this to me! She tried again, hoping it had just been a fluke.

The car sounded even weaker now, and made one last dying attempt at starting. Leslie sighed. Maybe she should’ve kept her own car, after all. Leslie looked around, surveying the area. At least this rest stop was well-lit.

Leslie popped the hood, and got out of her car. She didn’t know much about cars, really; she always relied on AAA to fix her car problems. Leslie knew she couldn’t exactly call them now, though, so she’d probably have to take care of this on her own.

Leslie glanced down at the mass of tangled metal that most people knew as the engine, and she realized that she didn’t even have a clue where to start.

“Need some help, miss?” a voice called behind her. Leslie jumped, startled, and turned around. She twisted her key between her fingers in case she needed to defend herself.

Leslie found herself facing an attractive man about her age. His light brown hair was a little long, falling in the way of his eyes, and could’ve probably used a haircut. But he was undeniably cute, and he looked friendly, and Leslie returned his grin with caution.

“I’m not sure what the problem is,” she said, “but it won’t start.”

“Want me to take a look?” the man asked in a delightfully Southern accent. Everyone she’d seen lately on her trip had a similar accent, but it was still surprising to her ears every time- and a little endearing.

Leslie smiled gratefully. “If you wouldn’t mind.”

“Not at all,” he said, grabbing a tall metal flashlight from the bed of his truck. Leslie tightened her grip on the keys. He seemed affable, but she wasn’t about to take any chances. He flicked the light on, and checked and tinkered around with a few things under the hood. Leslie stood back, her hands in her pockets, feeling awkward and unable to help. She also, guiltily, resisted the urge to stand further back and enjoy the view as the man bent over her front bumper.

He shook his head at one point, and looked over at her. “How far you itchin’ to get in this thing?”

“To Florida,” Leslie responded, sounding more sure than she felt.

His eyes widened. “Is that so.” It was more of a statement than a question, and Leslie felt a little queasy. This car wasn’t that bad, was it?

Finally, he smirked. “A-ha!” He stood up and walked over to his truck to take out something small. As he passed Leslie, tossing the part between his hands, he asked for her name.

“Le-ayla,” she finished. “Layla.”

“Named after Old Slowhand’s song?”

“Yup, I think so,” Leslie accepted. She wasn’t even quite sure she was old enough for that, but she let out a breath, relieved that the bullet had been dodged. She’d nearly slipped and told him her real name. But now, to get the attention off of herself. “And your name?”

“Jim,” he said. He wiped his right hand on his jeans, getting rid of most of the grease, and extended his hand. “Pleased to meet you, Layla.”

“And you, Jim,” Leslie replied.

Jim leaned over the engine again for just a minute or two. “How about we give ‘er a try?” he asked, motioning for Leslie to get back in the car. “Go ahead and start ‘er.”

Leslie climbed in the driver’s seat and put the key in. Closing her eyes, hopeful, she turned the key.

The engine roared to life, and Jim pumped his fist in the air. “Yesss!”

Leslie left the car running, and got out to thank him. She insisted on giving him some money for his trouble, but Jim wouldn’t take it.

“Ma’am, I’m glad to help.” Her resolves started to weaken when he grinned that lopsided grin. “I see you’re not from around here, but we like to treat the ladies kindly in the South.”

Leslie felt like she’d been thrown into a chick flick. Guys like this really existed? She still loved Jordan with all her heart, but she couldn’t resist being a little taken aback by this guy’s charm. “Well, in any case—thank you.”

“You have a safe trip, Layla.” The man sauntered back to his truck, giving her a casual wave.

Leslie climbed into her car, and sat for just a moment, shaking her head, before she drove away from the rest stop. God bless the South.

Word Count: 6594 (13.1 %)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Jenny's Novel Writing Month, 2007

This blog will be home to my NaNoWriMo attempt. In case you don't know what that is, I'll summarize quickly- National Novel Writing Month is a project in which people all around the world try their best to write a 50,000 word novel in the thirty days of November.

This is going to be a busy month, and I'm not sure I'll make it- but a goal can't hurt! I've always loved writing, and I think this is a fantastic opportunity to work on one of those things I've always said I'd love to do someday (but would probably never actually get around to). If you're curious about my progress toward the goal, I will try to update my NaNoWriMo profile on the current word count.

I can't promise the novel will be anything less than R-rated, so please do not read if you are easily offended by language, violence, or other adult themes.

This post will be dated so that it always lands at the top of the page, but if you scroll down, my story will be posted. Posts will be in chronological order, which means that unless I decide to write my book backwards, the first chapter of my novel will be at the bottom of my blog. Be careful to read in the right order! I also love feedback, positive or negative, about my writing. I'd greatly appreciate comments if you read!

Finally, I'd just like to remind you that all content on this blog is copyright Jennifer A. Wilson, 2007.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Chapter 6

Leslie was stopped behind a line of cars that seemed endlessly long. She strained to look around the van in front of her, but she had no idea what was the holdup. Finally, Leslie relented, and stopped trying to look for the accident or construction ahead. She couldn’t find a radio station that wasn’t twangy country, so she settled for watching Finding Nemo as a silent film. The van in front of hers had a small television folded down for the kids, and although the screen was tiny, Leslie was thankful for something to do. She pulled out a bag of Chex Mix, and imagined her own script for the movie. It wasn’t the most interesting way to spend thirty minutes, but it was better than nothing.

Finally, Leslie had crept forward far enough to see the lights of a few police cars. It seemed that the line in front of her was shorter, now, and that in a few minutes she might actually be allowed to pass on through. Leslie felt like cheering.

It was then that she saw a police officer approaching the van in front of her. He walked up to the van’s driver side, flashlight in tow. He looked friendly, and Leslie realized that this was, more than likely, a routine seatbelt or sobriety checkpoint. Still, she panicked. If she hadn’t been in the left lane, she surely would have tried to make a run for the next exit. Leslie tried to calm herself; if she acted normal, she could continue driving as before, without drawing any suspicion.

Still, her heart pounded. Even though Leslie always buckled up the moment she sat in a car, she double-checked her lap belt, and glanced around the car to make sure there was nothing that might look suspicious.

The policeman sent the van on its way, and Leslie pulled up. She stopped, and rolled down her window. With a planted smile, Leslie said hello.

“Just checking if you’ve got your seatbelt on, ma’am,” the man said with a slight drawl, looking at her. He glanced down at her chest, seeming to let his eyes linger longer than was necessary to check for a safety belt. Of course- of all the respectable-looking cops here, Leslie would manage to line up in front of the perverted one. Leslie wanted to berate him- and normally she would have- but this time she simply smiled sweetly, knowing that to create a fuss would only cause more problems for her.

The man thanked her with a greasy smile, and Leslie recoiled a bit inside. Still, she realized that the longer the time he looked at her breasts, the shorter the time he would be looking at her face. And he certainly wasn’t as likely to recognize her chest as her face in a ‘missing’ photo. The policeman moved away from her car’s window, waving her to move forward, and Leslie had to concentrate on driving away slowly. She felt like punching on the gas and holding the pedal to the metal until she was as far away from that man and the other police as she could be.

Again, Leslie was tempted to call. She wanted to talk to someone- anyone- familiar, who might be able to calm her nerves, but she didn’t feel she could risk it just yet. In the meantime, Leslie reached above her seat, and found Simon and Garfunkel’s greatest hits on CD. She quickly set it to track number six, and let the familiar chorus, “I am a rock, I am an island,” sink into her soul. She felt, more than ever, like an island. She was drifting, alone, without a specific destination, trying only to avoid being anchored somewhere she didn’t want to be. And luckily, Leslie was comforted by the soothing sounds of the band to whom her parents had listened while she grew up. She drove blankly for awhile, as though the music was absorbing all her emotion, but was suddenly shaken from her thoughts.

“We’re Glad GEORGIA’s On Your Mind!” a sign proclaimed.

Leslie was surprised. Georgia? Already?, she thought. Although a part of Leslie felt as though she’d been on the road for weeks, she knew it had only been a few days and that she hadn’t been driving in the most direct path possible. Leslie felt a sense of accomplishment wash over her. She wasn’t out of the race yet, but she’d escaped this far- to Georgia!- and as far as she knew, no one was on her trail.

She was proud of how far she’d gotten, and was probably slightly lured into a false sense of security, but in any case, Leslie’s eyelids started to feel heavy, and she pulled off at an exit without delay. She would stay a night in Georgia, she decided- and her excitement grew as she realized it might be the last nightly stop on her journey!

Word Count: 5630 (a tiny 11.3%)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chapter 5

Leslie knew she should make the call- and soon- but she just didn’t want to.

And, at this point, no one could make her. So she didn’t.

For now, Leslie was alone in her escape. She was lonely, but it was somehow comforting to know that no one knew where she was. No one could find her. No one could harm her. There was safety in her secrecy.

Leslie felt guilty, but she continued to drive. The highways all looked the same, except for the notable change in their color somewhere in Tennessee. The reddish tint of the road, due to the clay in the soil, she assumed, was unexpected and amusing. She’d never been this far south before, and she made sure to take a picture, even though only she would know why she had a seemingly random picture of the road.

The scenery did change, too, though not incredibly, and rarely to something interesting. The weather was getting warmer, though, and Leslie was glad to have packed some short-sleeved shirts. Perhaps she’d realized, even then, that her instinct would lead her to Florida.

When Leslie was young, her parents had decided to take their daughters to Daytona Beach. While her younger sister Katelyn had hated it, Leslie fell in love with the ocean from the moment she saw it. Katelyn, on the other hand, had heard a gruesome shark attack story from a boy in her kindergarten class, and refused to go near the water. For Leslie, the ocean was beautiful and incredible in its size and depth; she had never seen a body of water big enough to stretch from one horizon to the other, and the mere expanse of it left her full of wonder.

Their parents had insisted they all stand up to their ankles in the water for a picture, but Katelyn screamed her head off so loudly that the other families on the beach had looked up in worry. To this day, the resulting photo was one of Leslie’s favorites; Leslie stood between her parents, beaming, with a smile nearly taking over her face as a small wave broke at her knees. In stark contrast was Katelyn, her face scrunched up, red, and wet with tears. Their parents had a hand on each child’s shoulder protectively, but both couldn’t help but laugh at Katelyn’s tantrum. The cloudless sky and bright sun were reflected in the glimmery surface of the water, and the sand looked as pristine as a postcard.

To this day, Katelyn possessed an irrational fear of the ocean, but Leslie pined for it. The sound of the waves, the feel of sand between her toes, the soft blanket of the sun’s warmth… to Leslie, nothing was more tranquil. As she thought about it, it made sense that she’d headed southward from the start, but it was as though Leslie had been escaping from herself, even, at first. She’d been afraid to pin down a destination or any plans, but now that she had gotten this far and the shock had diminished, Leslie finally possessed a bit of confidence.

Running away wasn’t near as hard as Leslie would have thought. Perhaps it was the investigative reporter in her, but she felt fairly able to predict how she could be tracked down. Selling her car was perhaps not the best idea, as she’d had to sign some paperwork, but she did at least use a different name. The pseudonym might at least buy her some time, and in her mind, it would be much harder for the police to track her down in a different vehicle.

A part of her wanted, desperately, to turn herself into the police and trust them to protect her. Leslie’s escape scheme may have worked so far, but should it fail, she would be entirely on her own. But look how police protection worked last time, Leslie reminded herself, shaking her head to clear the idea. Besides, last time she’d just had herself in mind. This time, she was running to protect more than just herself.

Leslie turned on the radio, flipping through stations quickly to find something she could stand. She wouldn’t let herself think any more about last time, because it wouldn’t help her get away this time. Besides, Leslie wanted to avoid crying. Pulling over might draw attention to her, and that was the last thing she needed.

Finally finding a song she knew and loved, Leslie cranked up the radio. She forced the memories out of her head for a few more minutes, at least, as she sang along. Her voice, strong but sweet, echoed dimly in the car. Every car that passed seemed to hold a couple, or a family, or a group of friends, and Leslie was surprised to find that she didn’t regret running away. It wasn’t that Leslie didn’t miss those she loved, but rather that when she missed them, she remembered how very much she loved them. Leslie hated to leave, but she couldn’t bear the thought of causing harm to anyone. And because of this, she drove on.

Word Count: 4808 (a mere 9.6%)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Chapter 4

Leslie still didn’t exactly know where she was headed. At least, not consciously. She drove southward, away from both of her previous homes and towards the single most peaceful place in her memory.

Stopping every few hours, Leslie continued on her journey. The days felt long, but Leslie was at least used to her car, and she grew accustomed to the driving. When she wasn’t worrying about who might be following her, Leslie tried to think about this as a road trip. A vacation, even, that she’d gone on willingly. Leslie pulled out her camera at each rest stop, commemorating the first time she had set foot in each state.

When she could no longer stand to drive, Leslie again managed to find a hotel that was not part of a bigger chain. This hotel, however, lacked both the stark formality of a typical hotel and the quaint eccentricity of the Caribee Inn. Even the front lobby was dingy; Leslie recoiled at the thought of what the rooms must look like, but her money supply was dwindling and she was just too tired to look for a new place this late.

One perk of the hotel was a computer lab- or, at least, a sad excuse for one. Leslie used her room key to let herself into lab before checking out her room, and sat down at one of two computers that looked to be, possibly, ten years old. She shoved aside the printer, which was obviously unplugged and probably didn’t work anyway, so that she could lean her elbow on the desk and rest her head against her hand while waiting for the computer to turn on.

Finally, Leslie opened an Internet browser, and waited for the computer to connect. Seriously, she thought, who uses dial-up anymore?

Just as Leslie’s patience began to wear thin, the computer ended its series of ancient beeps and allowed her to search. She quickly typed in “Camden Courier” and waited thirty seconds for the webpage of her hometown’s newspaper to appear. After working at the newspaper for two and a half years, the page was all-too-familiar to Leslie.

She glanced through the top headlines, and wasn’t surprised to see an article entitled “No News Yet on Missing Journalist.” She rolled her eyes a little, knowing that her editor must have loved the pun. Leslie knew the editor probably wasn’t missing her much, either; the two had always clashed. Leslie was one to take risks, and she was never afraid to write something unique or hard-hitting, even if it might anger important people; the editor, however, had been out of writing far too long, and had been scared into submission by the most powerful people in the city. In a small city, Denise had insisted, you can’t make enemies like that. Leslie had responded by suggesting an exposĂ© on the tyranny of the pharmacy company in town, and Denise had relegated Leslie to obituaries and announcements for a week. It was a rough first week for the both of them.

Leslie’s honesty, youth, and open-mindedness were all qualities that had helped her be hired at the Courier, she knew- her writing was strong, and the fact that she hadn’t grown up in Camden gave her a different perspective than most of the paper’s reporters. Still, Denise had never given Leslie a chance to exercise her creativity; Leslie’s snarky editorials and insightful articles were rarely published, at least not without significant rewrite. Although most of her coworkers were impressed by Leslie’s writing, they refused to speak up. It seemed they were too afraid for their jobs to challenge Denise the Dictator, as Leslie had taken to calling her. Only Jordan had respected her integrity, and spoke up.

It was how the two had met, actually. He was a copy editor, and a good one. Although Jordan had grown up in Camden like most of the other staff members, he had gone across the country for college. His eyes had actually been opened to the world outside Camden, and he was a breath of fresh air to Leslie. Like hers, Jordan's journalistic standards were high, and he believed in unearthing the truth at any cost.

Leslie respected his dedication, but it worried her now. She knew Jordan well, and she knew he would stop at nothing to solve a mystery that meant something to him. Her sudden disappearance certainly fit into that category.

The article gave Leslie little insight into the police’s investigation. It simply relayed the story as she knew it.

CAMDEN, WIThree days have now passed since local woman and Courier columnist Leslie Phillips was last seen. Phillips has been missing since the evening of Saturday, September 24, when her fiancĂ©e reportedly returned home to find a note she had left. The note seems to have provided no clues to her current location. Since receiving a missing person’s report on Sunday, the police have been unable to contact Phillips. Her vehicle, a teal 1998 Ford Mustang, was also noted absent on Saturday evening. Photos of both Leslie and her Mustang are provided, at right, to aid in the search.

Phillips, who has worked for the Camden Courier for over two years, is a native of California. Phillips was also engaged to be married in July of next year.

Anyone with more information on the whereabouts of Leslie Phillips or her vehicle is urged to contact local or state police as soon as possible.

Leslie did at least deduce that the state police must be involved, but that wasn’t much of a surprise. Plenty of crimes were beyond the capabilities of Camden’s small police force. The state police’s participation also didn’t terribly concern Leslie now that she was out of state and had drastically changed both her physical appearance and her vehicle. No one who knew Leslie would ever expect to see her with short, boring brown hair and glasses- much less in a prudent silver sedan. Denise the Dictator, she thought ruefully, would have a cow to see her looking so conservative and mainstream.

Leslie plugged in the printer, and to her surprise, it appeared to work. The ink was running low, so the print was awkward and faded with lines running through each letter, but nonetheless, Leslie wanted a copy of the article.

Leslie waited for the printer to finish, and folded the page neatly. She shut down the computer and placed the article in the bottom of her purse for safekeeping before walking up the hotel’s creaky stairs to find her room.

It was as besmirched as Leslie had expected; a couple of questionable stains dotted the floor, and she was quite sure the off-white bedspread was once white. Leslie wrinkled her nose, disgusted, but her need for sleep overshadowed her distrust in the hotel's cleanliness. She just barely remembered to put the “Privacy, Please” sign outside her door, and didn't even bother to change her clothes before she crawled into bed.

Word Count: 3956 (a lowly 7.9%)