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  1. #1
    Julian Ruberte
    Guest

    Would you critique this?

    I don't know what else to say. Would you? You have my appreciation if you do. Thanks.


    ------------------------------------------------

    Ghosts are like echoes. They are the continuation of something which has ended. And if you stay quiet enough, you can hear the whispers of those who are dead but not yet gone.

    *******

    Inside a house, a mother stands at the kitchen. She stares out the window, at the tree where her child once played. Hanging from a branch there is a single swing, swaying with the breeze.

    The woman stands unmoving. She holds a handkerchief between her hands, twisting the cotton material until her fingers begin to ache. She doesn’t notice the pain. All her attention, her feelings, her grief work to create one single thought: Why?

    Why couldn’t it have been me?

    When she was told, she screamed. She felt all warmth, all feeling sap from her. The most awful words a mother can hear. Your child is dead. Four words – one adjective, one verb, one noun, one possessive pronoun – and they carried with them more force than even a wrecking ball.

    Why him? Why not me? Why, why, why?

    *******

    Do our dear ones ever really leave us? Is there nothing after death? Ghosts are spoken of almost every day. Different people, different cultures search for ways to explain the afterlife. All of them after the same thing, an answer to the unknown, a way to light the darkness which threatens to overcome us. The darkness we must eventually travel into.

    *******

    In a dark stretch of road, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, a sudden breeze stirs up. It blows the dead leaves across the ground. It lifts dirt into the air, making swirling shapes with it. Lightning flashes in the leaden skies. The boom of thunder quickly follows.

    The road is illuminated by a blinding light. A figure appears from the dazzling luminescence. The boy is no older than nine, the white of his clothes becoming lost in the radiance which surrounds him. He stands in the middle of the lonely highway, a crossroads waiting ahead.

    The boy looks towards the left, to the sleepy town beckoning. His plans laid out for him, his purpose clear. Before the night is done, he must whisper his secret.

    *******

    “My name is … My name is Kate. I … I had a son. His name is…” Here she stops. A small cry emits from her throat, somewhere between a gasp and a sob. She chuckles almost involuntarily as the tears spill down her eyes. “Was,” she corrects. “His name was Henry. He … he was my baby boy. He was only four when it, when he … when … I’m sorry. I can’t do this.”

    “It’s okay. You’re doing well. Why don’t you tell me about the funeral?”

    Kate laughs. She turns away from the mirror, letting her auburn hair to fall across her face. Her husband leans across the bed to push the stray strands back behind her ears.

    “You know, no one is expecting us to feel fine. We have a right to our grief. But we have to be ready for Monday. We don’t want Dr. Nichols to think wrongly of us.”

    “I don’t see the point of going to that meeting. Why can’t we cope with the loss in our own way?”

    “Your parents are worried about you. You haven’t eaten well since it happened. They suggested this therapy for the both of us. We both need the help.”

    “You mean I need the help.” Kate turns away from her husband with a sigh, her gaze falling on her sea green eyes in the mirror. “He looked like me. Out of the three of them, he’s the only who looks like me.”

    “Looked,” her husband corrects. Kate sobs, burying her face in her hands as she cries. Her husband stands and moves to her. He places a hand at her shoulder, to steady her, to offer comfort, to let her know he was there. It doesn’t work. Kate feels them drifting. She needs time to grief, to allow herself to be truly broken. But already her husband wants to move on, to continue life as if Henry never existed.

    As if my baby never even was born. How can he be so cruel?

    Kate shrugs away his hand. “Please don’t touch me.”

    “Kate…”

    “How can you be so cruel?! How can you be so heartless? He isn’t even a month gone and already you want to move on. How can you ask that of me?!”

    “You’re not the only one suffering here!”

    “It sure feels that way.” There is silence for a long time. Finally, her husband turns away from her, walking towards the door.

    “I loved Henry. I loved him just as much as you did. Before you start putting guilt on me, remember I’m not the one who’s forgetting we have two other children to look after. Two kids who need their parents, now more than ever. I can’t afford to wallow in my grief. I don’t expect Henry to want me to either.”

    “Don’t talk about him. Don’t you talk about my baby boy! You have no right. You just want to forget him. I wish it had been you. It should have been you!”

    For the first time there are tears in her husband’s eyes. His hands shake as he stands there, crying. “You heartless bitch. You think I don’t wish that same thing? Do you know how many times I’ve wished it’d have been me on that cart? You’ll never stop blaming me will you?”

    “Get out! Get out you bastard!” Kate grabs the first thing she finds and flings it at him. Her husband ducks and the perfume shatters against the wall, glass shards spilling in all directions. The flowery fragrance envelops the room. As Kate prepares to launch another projectile, her husband cries out in rage and storms out of the room, slamming the door after him.

    Kate sobs. She curls against herself, her body sagging with the strength of her weeping. Her shoulders shake, her body convulses and she retches, dry-heaving. She kneels on her bedroom floor, afraid, alone. She can hear the voices below. Those of her father mingling with her husband’s as he explains what happened. Kate can hear the explanation, the anger, the questions of her two other children. She can even see her father as he stands and walks towards the stairs.

    In a flash, Kate scurries to the door and locks it. Moments later, there is pounding against it. Her mother’s voice calls from the stairs. Her father knocks again, and this time he rattles the doorknob too. Kate ignores it all.

    “Leave. Me. Alone!” she screams. The pounding and the shaking stop. Kate hears her father’s footsteps as he returns to the kitchen below.

    Leave me alone. Like Henry left me. That’s how I want to stay.



  2. #2
    Julian Ruberte
    Guest

    Re: Would you critique this?

    Haha, look at the little I's. Just imagine those are italics. I still don't know how it is you can get the text to look like that.

  3. #3
    Ray Veen
    Guest

    Re: Would you critique this?

    The bad news is that this needs a lot of work. The good news is that you can learn to fix it.

    Where to begin? Okay... I was gonna say something about my personal aversion to present tense, but you know, it does add to the creepiness. So, if that was intentional, good job.

    Overall, I'd say its maybe too dramatic. Especially some of the dialogue. A LOT of passive sentences. I also noticed quite a few awkward phrasings: She felt all warmth, all feeling sap from her -- a way to light the darkness which threatens to overcome us -- a sudden breeze stirs up -- It lifts dirt into the air, making swirling shapes with it --

    I think the main problem here is that you're trying to use a too-mysterious tone, and its coming across as slighly cheesy. Sorry, Julian, I'm not trying to be mean, but it wouldn't help you if I lied. Maybe, just for an exercise, try to tone it down and see how you like it. Better yet, try understating some of those overly dramatic phrasings. Understatement can be powerful.

    One last major thing I had a problem with were the short segments near the beginning. Are these short chapters? Multiple prologues? Epitaphs? They do sort of help set the mood, but this one has to either be cut, or be worked into the narrative somehow. It's all 'telling'.

    Do our dear ones ever really leave us? Is there nothing after death? Ghosts are spoken of almost every day. Different people, different cultures search for ways to explain the afterlife. All of them after the same thing, an answer to the unknown, a way to light the darkness which threatens to overcome us. The darkness we must eventually travel into.

    Don't feel bad, Julian. I've written some absolute crap in my time, but then I killed myself trying to learn more, and now I never make the least little mistake - ever. (Just kidding - I'm sitting here drinking Guinness) Seriously, though, you're doing the right thing by pursuing knowledgeable feedback. Even though it hurts, its stuff you need to hear in order to improve.

    I do see some promise here.

    Other ways to improve: read books on writing, read books in general, join a local writer's group, take a writing class, etc.

    Good luck to you.

  4. #4
    Gregory White
    Guest

    Re: Would you critique this?

    Yes, I would definitely read the dialogue out loud if I were you. It is a little melodramatic and doesn't sound like real speech.

    The writing in the beginning of this piece sounds like an outline more than a completed story. But, if this is the first draft, that might explain it.

    Gregory

  5. #5
    Julian Ruberte
    Guest

    Re: Would you critique this?

    Thanks so much. I really appreciate the input.

    Ray, you're not being mean. I rather have an honest reaction than anything else. If I wanted nothing but praise, I'd just give this to some family member of mine.

    Robert, you're right. It is a first draft. And yes, it needs a lot of work. Again, thanks.

  6. #6
    Joe Zeff
    Guest

    Re: Would you critique this?

    Using square brackets for italics and bold is BBS style. Use angle braces ( < > ) instead.

  7. #7
    Ray Veen
    Guest

    Re: Would you critique this?

    That's the winning attitude, Julian. People like you go on to learn, and make their writing better, and eventually get something published, while people who stamp their foot, and lash out at the critique-ers, and make excuses for their mistakes - they wind up becoming bitter, frustrated hacks.

  8. #8
    Rogue Mutt
    Guest

    Re: Would you critique this?

    they wind up becoming bitter, frustrated hacks.

    Hey, I resemble that remark!

  9. #9
    Ray Veen
    Guest

    Re: Would you critique this?

    Disclaimer: any similarities between my remarks and actual persons, living or dead, are merely coincidental, and do not in any way reflect the attitudes or opinions of WritersNet nor any of its affiliates.

  10. #10
    Nan Hammond
    Guest

    Re: Would you critique this?

    ...

    I liked this.


    ok lets see...


    Looked,” her husband corrects.
    --> Yeah that's just cruel I don't htink anyone would do that. It may hang unspoken, everyone is thinking it, but I don't think the husband would intentionally jab his wife like that.


    Also I wasn't feeling the anguish here. It was there, granted, but I just wasn't feeling it. Its not something I can relate to. So my initial reaction is an inward sigh. My dad and I have the same reaction when my mom is watching a weepy movie. We look at each other and make annoying sniffling weeping snotty noises. i wanted to do that here. In fact I had to scroll down because I'm in an office and someone might hear me.

    I agree with Ray about the passive sentences. They threw me. As a result I was wondering why you were writing like that instead of concentrating on the story.

    That said, you had my interest to begin with, and lost it with he weepy lady. Perhaps try to find a way to make that emotion more accesible to the reader in a less in your face way. Such huge emotion right from the get go needs build up and that build up wasn't apparent.


    Keep truckin'!

    -Nanominion

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