I’m dabbling in some writing, and would TRULY appreciate any comments or suggestions that can be offered on the story that I’ve begun. The protagonist’s name is Nereeva, and she is a Melbourne-based art buyer. If you can have a look at my first chapter, and let me know if you have any comments/suggestions or anything else (even if you have suggestions for future plot inclusions!) I would love to hear them!
Please click the [Read More] button to see the first rough chapter.
Nereeva was glad to be alone. Shopping for artwork had always seemed to her to be a solitary activity, which is why she had waited till nearly closing time to enter the gallery. She stood in the exhibition, empty but for a lone guard, and gazed at the painting before her. Was it too bright? Too colourful? Many of her friends had wondered how art could be ‘too colourful’, but Nereeva had particular tastes that were hard for her to articulate, even to herself. This particular creation before her was a startling mixture of yellows and reds; there was no particular image painted, just splashings and lashings of colour that were almost hypnotic to look at, much like a crackling fire.
She turned away, smoothing the material of her slim jeans against her thigh. She was dressed simply; a pair of faded blue jeans so well-loved that they were butter-soft and faded to her own particular wear, and a white t-shirt that hung loosely from her shoulders. Her chestnut brown hair held its usual array of loose tangles and kinks; brushing and combing it was not one of her valued passtimes. Her feet, adorned with Vans, further compounded the statement of comfort over fashion sense. Looking at her, one got the sense she was just your average girl: average build, average height, average hair colour. The only thing that Nereeva felt differentiated her from every other average girl out there was her exotic name, and the almond-shaped eyes that hinted at an origin not commonly found in suburban Melbourne.
Nereeva drifted away from the painting, her hesitation evident. As an art-buyer by profession, Nereeva was used to making decisions for the tastes of other people, although when it came to her own decorative pieces, she was much more indecisive. The fact irritated her. As someone who had always felt in control of her life and her surroundings, Nereeva’s inability to fully trust her own creativity was an infuriating flaw.
And flaw it was, as it seemed of late to be spilling over into other aspects of her life. Since she had broken up with Michael last spring, Nereeva had thrown herself to her work. It seemed fitting, to break up in spring. A new start, somewhat poetically timed to the most refreshing time of the year. The irony of spring’s ‘new life’ at the time of her relationship’s death was lost on her. Instead, Nereeva did what she always did; pulled up her boots, applied her lipstick, and got on with it.
Now here she was, reminiscing about past relationships when she should be focusing on the artworks around her. Nereeva wrinkled her nose at her own melancholy thoughts. Bah. She was an Independent Woman, and she Didn’t Need Any Man. Nereeva prided herself on her self-sufficiency, even at times when it was simply borderline stubbornness. Headstrong, driven, passionate; that’s how her mother had always described her.
Suddenly in desperate need of caffeine, Nereeva left the gallery, striding confidently away empty handed. If she could not choose which painting to buy, she would choose none of them. Arriving at her favourite coffee shop on the corner of Bourke Street, she flung herself into one of the soft couches, resenting her slump in inspiration. Her roommate, Liam, abandoned his usual stool by the counter and plopped down beside her, a coffee in each hand, hers accompanied by a large blueberry muffin balancing on the saucer.
“Bad day?” Liam enquired cheerfully. Nereeva sighed.
“Not particularly, I just feel so flat. I keep thinking about Michael, I feel like I’m losing my mind.”
Liam’s megawatt smile dulled slightly. He knew all about Nereeva’s break up last spring. He had been the one to bear witness to her sudden descent into never-ending silence. She had not been an emotional wreck like many of his other female friends who found themselves unexpectedly single, but instead she had become so ferocious in her work that he had almost been frightened. On the plus side, the immediate weeks after the break up, Nereeva had been at her most creative; painting, sculpting, drawing pictures and murals that took up half the walls in their tiny apartment. Liam’s own income was as unsteady as Nereeva’s; after he quit his accounting job three years ago, Liam had lived the bohemian lifestyle that his conservative British family had always feared. He had backpacked from the UK over to Australia, working as a bar tender and fruit picker to earn his keep, and when he arrived in Melbourne he meandered about, searching for purpose. It was at a public reading in the very same café in which they sat that he had met Nereeva two years ago. They had struck up a friendship immediately, and Nereeva had helped him find a job as an occasional musician at gallery openings and restaurants around the city.
But now Liam sat with Nereeva before him, her usually alert and composed demeanor sliding as she solemnly shredded the muffin and dipped chunks of it into her coffee.
“Why don’t we go to that dumpling place in China Town that you love so much? I’m sure you’ll feel a lot more positive with the smell of garlic in your nostrils,” Liam cajoled her. “It’ll be my treat. I’ll even let you choose the alcohol this time, so long as you promise to stay away from that champagne; I’m not made of money, you know.”
Nereeva smiled weakly. She didn’t truly feel like going to the dumpling house, but she knew Liam was trying to cheer her up, and God knew that she could pull a good sulk if she wanted to. Not wanting to disappoint him, Nereeva let her smile grow warm, “Fine, I won’t ask for the champagne again, but if we’re having wine, we may as well have two bottles. I’m feeling thirsty today.” She teased.