chapter 4 of the voice in the forest

Disclaimer and Reminder
There is book news coming soon for the next in The Grimm Star Saga: First Light and for A Comfort Food Romance!

But first, it has come to my attention that the typos I have not thus far bothered to worry about (I live in the land of constant typos y’all) in my newsletter and blog, and more specifically in the chapters I am sharing are bothering some people. I get that typos bug, trust me. And while I appreciate people reaching out to give me feedback because I would honestly love more of that, I want to also say that I am human, and therefore I typo. Like, a lot. 

So, welcome to these chapters that I give you in the newsletter and here on the blog, in their 10 grit sandpaper roughness. Ahead of this one, I’m going to warn you that beware: ahead you’ll find typos, loose grammar, and commas sprinkled like glitter.
Wait… You STILL want to read the chapter?!Okay, I guess. 😉

Read down to the end of this because I have an important notice going forward for this story that you may be able to help me with.
And now for the next chapter, and remember anytime you want to get caught up, the previous chapters are posted on the blog a week after you get them here.
The Voice In The Forest
Chapter 4:

Every bit of the desperation of the past year screamed for her to run, run as far and as fast she could from her mother before she figured it out.

The house was too large, it took too long to make it to the nearest door she could see the outside through. The view of green, of air not clogged by her mother’s words and guarded by too many eyes, was on the other side of a door she could have sprinted to in seconds, but it was so far from her at the pace she had to take it may as well have been miles. And every inch of it meant less oxygen getting through lungs that felt pinched off, and less control over the screams blooming in her mouth.

Muscles in her legs twitched with the need to sprint, making her walk in jerks and stutters. 

Finally, she reached the door and flung herself through it onto a brick patio with a low wall on two sides facing overgrown lawn.

She collapsed back against the wall of the manor and allowed her hands to shake, her legs to turn to mush, and her eyes to press closed.It couldn’t be happening again. All year she hadn’t had a single episode. The entire time at the hospital there was no one talking to her that wasn’t there, nothing unexplained happened like things being moved without anyone being in the room. 

Maybe she needed her meds adjusted, because she took them that morning, there was no way they had worn off. That had to be it.

She just needed her meds adjusted. 

But her next appointment with the doctor wasn’t for another month. Was it even possible to reschedule without her mother finding out?

No. Her mother would know, and she would be locked in the hospital again, but permanently this time.

 Ara banged her head back against the wall behind her and gritted her teeth to fight off the tears threatening the backs of her eyes.

The brick of the wall dug into her scalp, real and tangible, she curled her hands into fists around the feeling. 

“Only real things,” she whispered to herself. 

It was a mantra she started when she was small, when her vocabulary didn’t include words like paranoid delusions or hallucinations. When it simply included the ugly words her mother said about nightmares and an over developed imagination.

But it didn’t matter that she knew more words now, it didn’t matter she had so many diagnosis she was a walking psych text book. The simple reminder to only focus on what she knew to be real, what was touched and felt with her physical body, slowed her racing heart and allowed her lungs to let in more air.

She gulped down the added oxygen, panic attack averted for the moment. 

Opening her eyes, the courtyard around her came into greater focus. 

Somehow, in her urgent need to get out of the house, she found a space that clearly her mother had yet to touch. 

Nothing here was redone, the moss wasn’t even knocked off the bricks or the stone planters. 

Ara pushed herself to standing, keeping a hand on the wall, her knees still weak and her leg muscles aching. The planters were either empty, with only dirt and moss in the bottom, or they were full with dead and brittle plants. 

If Trenton wanted her to take on a project, and her mother didn’t care about the little walled patio, maybe she would be allowed to plant some things and create a little space just for her outside the confines of the house. 

Part of her wanted to run back inside and get a notebook to start planning, but the rest of her, the smarter portion, never wanted to step foot in the house again.

She ran a hand along the low wall of the courtyard and turned around, holding her breath, as she looked up at the looming building.

Would she ever be able to think of it as her home if the very first day it gave her one of the worst moments she had experienced in a year? She wasn’t sure, even though that wasn’t fair.

It wasn’t a building’s fault when she had hallucinations, but it was hard to not think, haunted, about whatever place she saw them. 

Normally, although she hated even thinking the word, her hallucinations were grotesque. Often gory images of people at the moment of their deaths, their mouths moving in eternal silence that looked anything but quiet and left her cowering. Most of her prior delusions seemed to reach for her, rush at her, and in the case of the one that landed her in the hospital, she thought she was being attacked. They never seemed to even notice the other people around, they never seemed to have concerns beyond her and whatever it is they wanted from her. 

Her doctors used the singular focus of her hallucinations and their often disturbing appearance as part of her diagnosis and a thing she had to examine in therapy for endless hours. 

Yet this vision of someone who wasn’t there was beautiful and looked as alive as she did. He also seemed to not be particularly interested in her and even reacted to the other people around and what they said.

What would her doctors have to say about that?

Could she risk telling her doctors? 

She might get locked up in the ward again. 

Her mother might not let her out.

Biting her lip she turned away from the house and sat on the low wall looking out at the grounds, the expanse of grass that ended with giant trees.

All she wanted while she was locked in the ward was to be out in nature again, to feel the breeze as it came by, to smell the earth and the flora and fauna around her. But sitting on the wall, faced with it, it had grown too large for her to handle. Or maybe she had become too small. Maybe she had become one of those creatures that only grew big enough for the habitat they found themselves in. The ugly, muted tones of the ward flashed in her mind, but the deep rich greens, browns, blue, and reds of her immediate world began to bleed through them.

“No matter what, I can’t go back,” she said to woods and herself. 

It didn’t matter if the hallucinations were back, or if she was just over stressed by the events of the day and imagined a moment that never occurred.

She made a decision to believe the man was real, a business associate of Trenton’s she could put out of her mind who had slipped between people leaving the dining room and her brain had manufactured something out of nothing.

 She had no other options. 

Her mother and her doctors remained a bigger threat than any hallucinations had been. So far.
So, for that help, what I’m thinking is that his name, her last name, isn’t quite right. I wanted Blackthorne, but that’s been done to death. Some of the other names I’ve contemplated are: Northland, Bradford, or Wyndham. I’m also wondering if Arabella would be better as Allegra and we will call her Al like the song. What do you think?

This is the kind of thing that happens as I write a story. Sometimes the characters don’t quite fit who I think they are when I first meet them. This is officially your first big behind the scenes look at the hot mess I call a process.

If you have any wisdom on the names for this story, let me know in the comments. Even if you have some other suggestion, I can always use more ideas for character names.

As always, Thanks for reading everybody!

— Everly

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