I am looking for beta readers for a novel I wrote awhile ago. It all started with this piece I submitted for a (now-defunct) blog called Fiction Five Hundred. The blog featured stories of no more than 500 words. I submitted the piece below in September 2010. Holly’s story surprised me and I found she needed to tell me everything, so I wrote it for her.
New Year’s Eve
The dark shadowed her movements as Holly walked resolutely towards the edge. The wind, cold and wet, blew her straight black hair around her face whipping strands into her eyes. She pushed them back uselessly. The salty tears mixed with the rain as they ran down her face. In her black silk dress and red leather boots, the cold cut her to the quick. But her goal tonight would not be deterred.
At the ledge that ran around the roof she paused. The images in her mind assaulted her; the red tie on the white carpet, the discarded shirt. A single gold stiletto sat on its side hidden under the bed, kicked off in a fit of passion.
Holly placed one hand on the small wall in front of her and placed her foot on top. The twinkling lights of New Year’s Eve sparkled down below. The last day of December was a turning point, a time for a new beginning. She stood now, unsteady but determined poised for fate’s hand to set her free.
The images weren’t the only things fogging her brain tonight. The sounds sent her stomach churning in revolt and she grabbed onto the rail of the fire escape next to her. She could hear them as clearly now as when she had been frozen outside the bedroom door.
“You know I want to,” he said.
“No one will ever know,” she answered.
The other images, the ones she’d buried deep inside herself, would remain there. If they came forward now she’d take the final step to her destiny. She needed a few more minutes. This was the only way to rid herself of the pain.
The faces of her children swam before her. Instantly her eyes overflowed; this time with love instead of pain. Two cherub angels, they were too little to know what their father had destroyed. He had destroyed all their lives.
Charismatic and handsome; cunning and manipulative; Holly reflected, he stopped being her husband and became a man she no longer knew.
He betrayed me. Holly let go of the railing. If you do this, he wins.
Her father’s voice answered in her head. “You’re a strong woman, Holly Martin. For your children, you have to survive.”
“How do I do this alone, dad? If he really knew me, he wouldn’t love me,” she said aloud. If she trusted him with the truth, it would destroy him. Their life would be eaten alive by her secrets.
“You’re not alone. I’m here.” Was that enough to live on? She could get down from this rooftop and go home and hug her children. Somehow she could be the mother that they deserved again. This didn’t have to be the end of everything she had.
“Holly!” Conner screamed running towards her. “NO!” Startled, Holly turned towards him. The heel of her boot slipped. Before she could right her balance she felt herself falling over the edge.
There would be no return.