The Cure


[Bianca is planning to run away to live with her boyfriend Adam. Marcos knows about her plan and wants to stop her because he’s in love with her.]

At the end of the second Taekwon-Do lesson with Ben, Bianca was feeling more confident. Ben had taught her several more techniques and stances. She even knew another pattern. Everything was going smoothly until Marcos appeared at the door of the gym. He looked hurt.

“Stuart told me you were here.” He mumbled, his face red and eyes watery.

“I will just be leaving now.” Said Ben who grabbed his shoes and ran out as quick as he could.

“I can train with whoever I choose to.” Stated Bianca defiantly.  She noticed Marcos’ eyes widen and his shoulders sink.

Bianca teared up and ran from the room leaving her shoes behind. Marcos stood there stunned, not understanding what had happened.

___

Bianca sat in bed, still fully clothed in her DoBok. She didn’t know what to do. There was a knock at the door.

“Bianca,” called Marcos, “I need to talk to you.”

“It’s Miss Cazares and you only need to talk to her when she wants to talk to you.” Mary-Anne said condescendingly as she passed by.

Bianca scrambled to get out of her bed and ran to the door.

“Marcos.” She half-yelled as he’d already turned away.

“Yes Miss Cazares.” He replied sounding defeated.

“Please call me Bianca, I do wish I didn’t have to keep telling you that.” She said, staring at Mary-Anne who’d also begun walking away. “And please come in.”

“Miss Cazares, it isn’t proper to have a man in your room alone.” Mary-Anne looked down her nose at Bianca, reminding Bianca of Rob.

“Well, you can tell my father if you like, but since he isn’t here, and I’m in charge .. “ Bianca stated defiantly as she closed the door behind a secretly smirking Marcos.

“I’m sorry about before. Of course you can train with whoever you like.” Marcos began. “I, I just, I, I thought you were happy training with me.”

“I was. I’m sorry too.” Replied Bianca who turned away from Marcos.

“I understand. I can arrange for Ben to train you more, or even Stuart – he’s won awards.” Marcos offered.

“No, I want to train with you. I was just,” Bianca’s head hung from her shoulders, “I was embarrassed.”

“About your hand?” Marcos guessed. “Is it okay now?”

“Yeah, it’s fine.”

“I did that when I first started.” Marcos laughed at the memory. “I broke my toe on the punching bag too, and split my hand open.” Bianca’s eyes opened wider. “Your father broke my arm once, do you remember?” Bianca nodded, her forehead furrowed. “He was teaching me how to do takedowns. I wasn’t concentrating and pop,” Marcos made his hands break an invisible stick “my arm just broke. But I learned. Pain is a good teacher.”

___

Marcos reluctantly agreed to drive Bianca to her appointment with Dr Granger. He knew there was something suspect about it, but didn’t know what to say to her. He was still hurting from learning about her new Taekwon-Do training partner and decided to chat about the weather instead.

“They are saying it might rain in the next few days.” He said, feeling odd trying to make small talk with Bianca who’d seated herself in the front next to him.

“Yeah I guess.” She replied, looking out the window at the dusty countryside.

“Can you imagine seeing this place green? I mean, it’s been brown for as long as …” Marcos trailed off as he realised Bianca wasn’t paying attention.

“Can you stop?” Bianca said, looking at Marcos.

Marcos stopped talking, his face reddened and his heart sank. He was losing her all over again and didn’t know how much more he could take.

“I said stop.” Said Bianca louder and indignantly. “Stop the car.” She instructed.
Marcos pulled over, not sure what he was meant to do. They didn’t speak for a while. Bianca stared out the window and Marcos stared at her.

“I don’t know what to do.” Bianca finally said in a weak voice. Tears were running down her cheeks.

“Stay.” Marcos said quietly.

“But…” Bianca had no words left. She undid her seatbelt and climbed from the car. Marcos copied her.

“Please stay.” Marcos begged. “I won’t let anything happen to you, I promise.”
Bianca didn’t speak, she hugged Marcos and buried her face in his chest. Holding him, she breathed in his scent and felt his warmth. It felt good to be in his arms.

“I have to see the doctor. I have to talk to him.” Bianca finally spoke after she’d released from the embrace.

___

Another day, Sundays weren’t much different from the rest of the week at the compound. It was early and Bianca and Marcos entered the gym together for their second training session, hoping this time they wouldn’t be interrupted. After just 15 minutes, Marcos was impressed with what Ben had taught Bianca, she was getting some power and speed in her technique.

“How about some sparring?” He suggested.

“Sparing?” Bianca stared at him with a vacant look on her face.

“We fight,” explained Marcos, “pretend fight.”

“I guess.” Bianca swallowed hard.

“I’ll go easy on you, don’t worry. You’re more likely to hurt me.” Marcos commented.

“I doubt that.”

They began and Bianca quickly realised that sparring was fun. It was like dancing but with punches and kicks. Marcos was careful to avoid hitting Bianca. He did slower attacks to encourage her to block or dodge. She caught on quickly.  In no time she felt like Jackie Chan in the movie Drunken Master. She started moving faster.

Whack! Bianca’s hand contacted with Marcos’ cheek.

“Oh my God!” Gasped Bianca in horror. “Are you okay? I’m so sorry.”

“Ouch!” Marcos exclaimed, lifting his hands to his face immediately.

“Let me see. Are you hurt? Should I get Dr Lynam?”

Marcos lowered his hands, his eyes had watered. It didn’t hurt too much but impact site went red quickly. Bianca leaned in to kiss it better but Marcos turned his head. Instead of his cheek, Bianca’s kiss landed awkwardly on his lips.

Quickly, realising her blunder, she pulled back, the look of shock on her face. They froze for several moments. Bianca looked at Marcos’ lips, she felt a surge of emotion fill her body. She breathed in his scent remembering how he made her feel. In a flurry of urgent desire she held his shoulders and pulled him in. Their lips met again. This was a necessary release of the feelings she’d tried to ignore for a long time.

Marcos resisted, but for no perceptible time. He knew this was wrong. He knew he shouldn’t want it as much as he did, but he couldn’t stop. Wrapping his arms around Bianca he gave her passion back with equal intensity.

After an eternity, which lasted at most 15 seconds, Bianca’s mind registered reality. She pulled away and looked into Marcos’ eyes. Her forehead crinkled. She frowned. Without saying anything she ran from the gym leaving her shoes behind and Marcos bewildered.

19 thoughts on “The Cure

  1. Marlene says:

    I love romance stories and with a title like “The cure” I am sure you headed to a deeply complex and emotionally moving story line.
    Question..Is grammar and especially spelling different where you live? I noticed many spots where you:
    Misused punctuation; no comma was placed after the word said, in dialogue; Capital letters not agreeing with the previous punctuation; Bianca said instead of asked; ‘s’ instead of ‘z’..are you from Australia? Just thought I’d mention it. Maybe you need to fine tune your editing.Don’t fully rely on your word program.
    “Her forehead crinkled” is the same as a frown. Probably don’t need both.
    Enjoy the process and good luck.

    • Leah McKinnon says:

      I am from Australia. It has been years since I’ve been in an English lesson and I’m still remembering all the punctuation rules. Thank you for your feedback it’s obviously something I need to take a close look at.

  2. jmpayer says:

    It’s a matter of preference and taste but I found a lot of the dialogue tags used were a bit distracting. Everyone is mumbling, stating, gasping, exclaiming, etc. And a lot of those are then modified with adverbs, condescendingly, emphatically, quietly, etc. It’s a show vs tell kind of thing, the reader is being told a lot instead of being shown those things.

      • jmpayer says:

        Technically it is a matter of taste. I agree with everything else you’ve said. We could consider it ‘best practices’, or something like that, but there’s nothing technically wrong with using other words.

      • Leah McKinnon says:

        I did some quick research (very quick) and from what I could gather – Jane Austen uses quite a few different dialogue tags; Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games) uses different ones too but the majority are “says” (because it is present tense); Stephen King doesn’t use very many tags in Dream Catcher but not all of them are “said”; Chalaine Harris (Grave Sight) uses “said” but not exclusively; J. K. Rowling generally uses “said” but again not exclusively; and Agatha Christie uses “said” most regularly too.
        I actually don’t understand the reasoning behind not using words other than “said”. I do understand the “showing versus telling” and I also understand how some things can slow the reader making it harder to keep focused. I will work on improving the readability of my work and I’ll probably use “said” a lot more (since at least I know you won’t be criticised for overusing that word).

        • sam forsyth says:

          Overusing adverbs is the actual ‘no-no’…but I still think it’s a matter of taste. I do agree, and use only simple tags, I think most of your dialogue tags could use some revision. I noticed all of them, but they weren’t too distracting in most places, so i don’t think it’s a severe problem. I think you said that it’s been years since you were in any sort of English class, so that probably means it’s been a long time since you’ve practiced writing. I think the overuse of tags will fix itself the more you revise and read your chapters out loud to yourself. …I’m going to leave my own comment here too on my thoughts on the story itself and not just technical stuff…

  3. Jim says:

    I needed a hook to draw me into the story. After the first break, I was confused about where Bianca was–some context would be helpful. Someone already mentioned about use of tags. I couldn’t tell if the use of “sparring” and “sparing” was intentional or not–don’t know why she would confuse one for the other.

    Keep working–it’ll come together for you.

  4. Jennifer Eller-Kirkham says:

    Hi Leah, others have commented on some of the language stuff, so I will not. I find your story interesting – the most interesting thing is the nature of her disease and how that will play out given the title. I think you need to give some more thought to point of view as we seem to jump from Bianca’s head to Marco’s and general wisdom is that for a whole scene or chapter, you need to stay in one character’s head ( or you can use an omniscient narrator). This consistency is hard to get right but if you get it wrong it messes with how much a reader will invest in the story.
    I am not sure about the romance. There are moments when it works quite well, and times when it seems a bit cliche. Hard to judge on just a small portion. I do think romance is incredibly hard to write well as it has been done so much it is hard to avoid cliche. So I guess my advice would be to read some good love scenes and try to analyse what makes them work. I think avoiding being to explicit in describing emotion keeps it subtle and avoids melodrama.
    eg, his face reddened and his heart sank is ok (if a bit cliche), but the sentence that follows is OTT and you don’t need it.
    The bit from ‘stop the car’…to ’embrace’ works. But I’d leave out the tears running down her cheeks. Understate, don’t overdo.
    Hope that helps a bit.

  5. Leah McKinnon says:

    That does help Jennifer – thank you for that feedback. This is (at present) about 1% of the volume of the novel and not the only storyline. I do understand about changing heads and need to have a close look at where I do that throughout the novel. I was worried it was too cliche and maybe more showing and less telling will make it sound more original.

    If you were wondering about the story, this is the premise/elevator pitch I came up with (it’s too long, but it’s the best one yet) – In the drug world nobody can be trusted. With real enemies hidden behind friendly facades, a headstrong teenager attempts to escape her controlling, drug baron father by faking terminal cancer. Not willing to accept her mortality, her father uncovers the only man who can save them all.

  6. allisonnewchurch says:

    Apart from the variation of dialogue tags that others have mentioned, the punctuation of your dialogue is incorrect.

    It should be:
    “I am speaking,” said Bianca.
    Note there is a comma inside the quotation marks and the ‘said’ has a lower case ‘s’.

    Also, as Stephen King said, “the road to hell is paved with adverbs”. You should be able to choose the right words for your character to speak that render adverbs unnecessary. Even throw in a bit of body language.

    In your line:
    “Well, you can tell my father if you like, but since he isn’t here, and I’m in charge .. “ Bianca stated
    You have two full stops/periods. Should be either one or three. Also, it’s hard to see but your quotation marks are incorrect on the close. They’re opening marks.

    Instead of saying “he looked hurt” show us. Is he frowning? Is his bottom lip quivering?

    Point of view shift. The first part is from Bianca’s point of view, but then she runs from the room and suddenly we’re in Marcos head.

    Another point of view shift. Bianca’s in bed, hears a knock at the door, then suddenly we’re out on the street, with Maryanne addressing Marcos.

    Who is Maryanne, and also Rob? Would we know at this point in the story or do they need introducing.

    I notice there’s very little in the way of description, both of the characters and the setting so it’s hard to envisage where they are and what they look like. Again, I presume that this information has already been introduced prior to this scene.

    Good luck with your novel.

  7. Leah McKinnon says:

    My main problem is my crutch – Microsoft Word. I will have to adjust the settings so that it doesn’t autocorrect incorrectly and create many of these problems. The two periods should have been three and Microsoft shouldn’t have put the incorrect “opening” speech marks. Maybe it’s the font I use but I didn’t notice – another thing to look out for.
    This has caused me to revision correct punctuation – It doesn’t naturally flow that, despite having finished the sentence one should put a comma at the end of the utterance instead of a full stop. But this is English and not Mathematics and logic isn’t the rule with English.
    These scenes are closer to 2/3 the way through the novel and the characters have all been introduced and described at this point. (I did include an explanation about how these were separate scenes but somehow that explanation wasn’t included in the post)
    I appreciate the comments, I will have to pay special attention to the pov and, as I already said, to my MS Word settings.

  8. sam forsyth says:

    since i’ve already addressed some punctuation in another comment, I want to only address the story being told.

    I read the whole thing, which is good! Often i end up writing “I stopped reading when…”-type comments.

    I had a hard time following where the story was taking place.

    it sounds like its mostly taking place at some sort of Martial Arts School, where people live and study? I think, i’m not sure… this isn’t THAT alarming since this is probably described in better detail earlier in other parts of the story. But, even so, it had to re-read the first part a few times to understand where they were.

    These interactions between Marcos and Bianca…are they excepts from different parts of the story, compiled together here just to show their story uninterrupted? If not, i think you should consider putting each of these “sections” into different chapters where other things happen, but also these interactions happen one at a time…that way this relationship unfolds more naturally, in context. As it stands now, this reads sort of like an anthology of all the times they talked to each other. Like a greatest hits compilation of their conversations.

    In short, I am interested in the characters… and i’m interested in Bianca’s conflicting feelings for Marcos and her boyfriend… also her struggle with whatever her illness is, and whether to tell marcos and others about it.

    keep revising and keep writing, this practice of writing and revising should get it to a point where people will read through this effortlessly and not get hung up on technical stuff.

  9. Leah McKinnon says:

    Thank you for your comment. I did try to explain how these were separate parts of the story, but that explanation somehow disappeared from the final post. This is really helpful, I was concerned about the authenticity of their interactions and developing relationship. It’s really good to know the sorts of questions people are left with after reading this – strangely no one has asked if they end up together. The questions you had – about Bianca’s illness and whether to confide in Marcos are good – they’ve already been answered at this point but it shows me what people are interested in.

  10. allisonnewchurch says:

    Leah, not sure if it’s the same across versions, but have a look under
    Word Options/Proofing/Auto Correct Options.
    Choose the AutoFormat tab. Under there you’ll see an option to replace straight quotes with smart quotes. Untick that.
    Then choose the AutoFormat As You Type tab and untick the box there too.

    I had the same problem initially until I discovered this little option hiding away in TWO places.

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