A/N: Okay, this weeks post is about editing! Me editing someone else’s first draft.
First of we have the original version, but if you’re not interested in that, you can just skip it. If not, please comment and let me know if you agree with my changes!
”AWESOME TITLE GOES HERE
The wind howled through the trees, the rain whipped the ground, and the darkness had swallowed the forest like an angry giant from ancient times past, rolling in along with the thin, crescent moon to cover all the land in deep ink. Somewhere not far from here was the graveyard, where cracked headstones reached out of the ground like broken teeth biting at the sky, covered in moss and rot; names barely readable after so many years of neglect. No one remembered who rested there; everyone had forgotten. Even the priest, who didn’t even seem to care. The church tended to the new graves alright, but not the old ones. It seemed no one cared about those. It was a shame: when we forget the dead simply because we did not know them personally, when we pretend the distant past matters less than the recent past, we lose part of ourselves. We must remember if we want to have a chance to improve ourselves. This is true for all humans, everywhere: In this matter, we are one.
The night was entirely too cold to be outside without a jacket or even a sweater—but Carol hardly noticed, she was moving so fast, and with such determination. Just like she didn’t notice the hard branches whipping her cold arms as she pushed through the thick bramble and the dark undergrowth, while the moonlight came down through the treetops. It was very dark out here and hard to see anything, but she didn’t fall at any point. Maybe it was determination that kept her on her feet, or maybe just luck.
The forest was public, but protected, and the animal population was being kept healthy by organized hunting efforts and careful breeding and relocating. Carol didn’t know a whole lot about those things, but she had heard about them at a town meeting once. Her neighbor, 51-year old Roger Mayberry, had given a speech about it, something to do with the deer around here. Again, Carol didn’t know a lot about it. She wasn’t even sure why she was thinking about it right now. It wasn’t important.
”I just need to get there,” she panted out loud, pushing away another branch.
She had to make it to the house in time. If she didn’t, who knew what would happen?
To the left of her, she was being watched by an owl sitting high up in a tree. Carol was frightened of owls, the way they stared at her made her feel like all roles had been reversed, all bets were off. She was the mouse; she was the prey. It was stupid—an owl didn’t even weigh as much as her head—but they really freaked her out.
(SOMETHING ABOUT WHY OWLS FREAK HER OUT?)
She looked toward the sky—or what little she could see of it through the trees. Her father had taught her how to tell time by the stars and the moon. It wasn’t a very useful skill in the modern world, but right now she was glad of it. It was almost midnight now, and she had to be there by one o’clock. She started walking even faster.
(SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT HOW SHE GETS TO THE HOUSE.)
She stopped as soon as she saw the house between the trees. She stood there for a little while, catching her breath and trying to think of what to do next. Should she go straight up to the door? Should she sneak around back and try to look in one of the windows? Should she stay here and watch and find out if anyone else had arrived before her? Should she shout and see if anyone answered? Should she turn around and just go home right now?
”I don’t know what will happen in there,” she said to herself, ”and I’m scared to go in.” It was the truth: She was really, really scared.
Fear takes over your whole body very easily, she thought. It’s such a primitve, primal mechanism, and it can come to rule your life if you let it. Fear can make humans do horrible things; stupid things; careless things. That wasn’t to say that fear should always be ignored. You just had to be careful how you reacted to it. And she was afraid now, but that did not mean she would let it control her. She had to be rational.
”I have to,” she told herself. ”I must.” Yes, she had decided: She would not let fear rule her, she would not stand here and do nothing. She had to go in, even if she was scared.
Somewhere behind her she heard the damn owl hooting, like it was taunting her. Like it was saying to her: ”Either go in, or come back here little mouse. Are you too scared? Little mouse, come back here.”
But she would not: She took a deep breath, shook her shoulders a little, and then walked—back straight and head held high—towards the front door.
(SHE OPENS THE DOOR AND THE STORY ENDS WITH HER SEEING … WHAT?)”
It was a stormy night, overused as that phrase may be. A fierce, cold wind was tearing at her clothes, and Carol pulled her light jacket closer around her shaking frame, already soaking wet from the pouring rain. The moon was waning and she struggled to see anything in its pale light.
She wished she hadn’t needed to go past the old graveyard, and constantly had to fight the urge not to run. She hardly noticed the thin branches whipping her bare skin as she forcibly pushed her way through the trees. She needed to make it there in time. She’d been supposed to take care of Jakob, and now he was alone in all ways that mattered in a house full of virtual strangers.
An owl howled next to her, and she barely held back a scream of terror. She hated owls. Their piercing gaze seemed to see every little mistake she’d ever made, every little cowardly action of her life. They made her feel like prey, seconds away from being snatched off the ground. She’d been attacked by an owl once, when she was a little girl, and it was only the thought of her little brother scared and alone, which forced her to keep going. She felt warm tears gather at the corners of her eyes as she made her way toward her brother. She’d been stupid, and now he paid the price.
Finally, she was there. But with less than twenty feet to the house she suddenly didn’t know what to do. Could she just walk up and knock on the front door, or would it be safer to try to sneak through a window? She’d never had to deal with drug addicts before, and only the fear of watching her little brother turn into one because she didn’t protect him, forced her feet into motion. She was terrified, and fought to retain rational thought. She needed to remain calm even when her entire body was shivering in fear. An owl howled behind her. Mocking her.
With a last, deep breath she raised her hand and knocked on the door. Seconds trickled by like hours, before finally it opened up before her, and before her stood Mikey, her little brother’s friend, who was the one who’d lied and tricked her brother into coming.
His beady eyes stared at her in anger. He clearly wasn’t happy being interrupted. He was pale and sweaty, shaking ever so slightly, and she wondered why she hadn’t seen the truth before. He’d always hated her, she knew. The annoying big sister, which never let them have any fun, but for once she didn’t allow herself to care about his anger.
”I’m here for Jakob,” she said clearly, silently challenging him. ”And I’m not going anywhere without him.”