Here's some more of my National Novel Writing Month novel, which is flagging in word count. This is the first time in my five years of NaNoWriMo that I've gotten behind on my word count. My thoughts on the matter: ugh.
Same disclaimer as last time, folks! This is rough, unedited, be nice, etc.
I am hunched on one of the toilets in the communal bathroom, the blue-painted wooden stall a tremulous haven for the moment. I groan and try to pretend I am painfully constipated. Not-My-Aunt Helen is stationed in the hall outside the bathroom, waiting.
The bathroom door squeaks, opening. “You okay?” Not-My-Aunt Helen demands. I already understand that she doesn’t actually care if I am okay or not.“Yeah,” I call, trying to sound weak.“Hurry up.” The door squeaks shut.I exhale and shift. I am not actually constipated, nor am I pooping (or peeing, for that matter). The toilet lid is closed and I’m perched on top. The clean smell of Clorox and bleach burns the insides of my nose a little, but in a comforting sort of way. I wish I could see a clock, know when it was time for Group to be done and I could stagger out of my blue stall.The door squeaks again, opening all the way. Footstep traipse in front of my stall. I tense, but the tread I hear is too light for Not-My-Aunt Helen. The wooden blue of all the stalls rattles a bit as the door of the stall next to mine bumps closed and locks.“Hey,” hisses a voice from the other stall.I hold my breath for a moment. “Yeah?” I whisper back.“You okay?” The same words Not-My-Aunt Helen used a minute ago, but their speaker sounds as if she really might care. Or that she’s trying to get me caught in my constipation ruse.“Leave me alone,” I mutter.A rustling, and then a set of eyes crowned by red curls appears under the shared wall of our stalls. I jump, blushing, clapping a hand over my mouth so I don’t shout in alarm. As it is the slap of palm against lips echoes in the wide blue room.“Hurry up,” says Not-My-Aunt Helen from the hall. She does not bother to open the door this time.“You’re not really sick,” Red (whose head it is sticking into my stall, face quickly flushing from being bent over double) observes.“Leave me alone!” I say again, more fervently. I think about kicking her in the forehead, then decide a kick will cause more problems than it solves.Red removes her head, but continues to whisper. “I friggin’ hate Group.”I say nothing.“It’s a bunch of b.s., if you ask me.” I hadn’t asked Red a thing, but that doesn’t stop her. “All this therapy, like they actually care what happens to us after.”“After what?”She snorts softly. “Placid House, duh.”Now I’m the one to roll my eyes, even if Red can’t see.“They can’t help us. Nobody can.”“Then why are we here?”“’Cause nobody else wants us.”I frown, turn her words over in my mind. I don’t believe her, but can’t remember anything from my life to prove her wrong.Red doesn’t notice my silence, she keeps talking, a hushed stream of bitter words. “Yeah, we’re just here until we’re not minors any more, then they kick us out or move us to some adult facility —”“Facility? Like what?”"You know, a group home like this, except for adult crazies instead of teen ones.”“I’m not crazy.”She snorts again, louder. Not-My-Aunt Helen might hear, but I’m not thinking about that now.“No?” Red says, voice sour. “Then how come you’re here?”I scowl at my stall’s closed door. “How should I know? I can’t remember.”“Yeah, you’re not crazy at all, Lou.”“Shut up, Red,” I mutter.At this she practically shrieks with laughter. “Red? Is that what you think my name is?” This is the first time I’ve heard Red sound truly pleased with something.I can’t respond because now Not-My-Aunt Helen does hear and barrels in. “Let’s go, sweeties,” she says in a way that makes it clear that we are anything but “sweeties” in her book.“I’m constipated,” I say.The woman practically vibrates with irritation. I can tell, even through the closed blue door. “I don’t care. Wipe and get out here. The same goes for you, Bertha.”At first I think Not-My-Aunt Helen’s calling me Bertha. Then I realize that it must be my neighbor, it must be Red she’s really bullying at. If my name was Bertha, I’d like to be called Red, too.