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  1. #1
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    *Constructive* Critiques wanted, please!

    Recently, several of my local high schools have been dealing with a rash of bullying related suicides, one of whom was a cheerleader on a team that I coached. Her parents have been very actively trying to get the schools more involved, and have decided to publish a weekly e-zine for the student body geared towards raising awareness of bullying. They asked me to write a piece for the first issue, and I wanted some general opinions from you guys before I send it to them!


    Its cold here. Cold and dark in this little hole I’ve found in my mind. I think it might be where my conscience used to live.

    I don’t have one anymore, I guess. I didn’t listen to it once, and I haven’t heard from it since. It’s okay, though. My conscience could't possibly be more disgusted with me than I am. Two weeks ago, my life was pretty awesome. I thought I had friends, I thought I had goals, I thought I was a good person. I’m only 17 years old and my life, I realize, is worthless. I’m not a good person.

    A good person doesn’t do what I did, no matter the cost, no matter the consequences. What gave me the right to do that? WHAT GAVE ME THE RIGHT TO PLAY GOD? Because that's what I did. That girl is gone now, and even though she took her own life, her blood is still on my hands. I judged her, I condemned her, and then I displayed it for everyone to see, with all the smug, self absorbed, delicious cruelty that can only be wielded by teenage girls.

    I just wanted to fit in. I didn’t want to stand out, didn’t want to make waves or cause a scene. Just be you, my mom tells me, but I hear what she’s really saying. Just fit in. Be popular, be cool, be perfect. And I was. Just another perfect, plastic doll with the right clothes, the right attitude, the right accessories. Can you believe I used to think those things mattered? It’s all gone now. None of it matters anymore, because she’s gone, and I didn’t stop it.

    I could’ve said no, could’ve walked away, should have said no, should have walked away. The other girls, they would have followed me. At least... I want to believe they would have. I was high enough on the social ladder that it would have been acceptable to follow me. But Libby… Libby was testing me. She wanted to see how far I would go to fit in, to be part of her group. I could see it in her eyes. So I stood there and watched. Smiled when Libby took the pic of that girl, naked in the locker room. Giggled when she posted it on Facebook. Laughed to cover up the fact that I was choking on my own self-loathing.

    Oh, God… that poor girl. The pain in her eyes, those beautiful crystal blue eyes. I could feel those eyes burning into me, begging for someone to stand up for her, to be decent and stop the madness, to be human. Not one of us did. And now, I’m alive and she’s not. So, here I am. Worthless. Despicable. Disgusting. That cold, dark hole in my head has been growing bigger, and I'm just too damned tired to try and fight it anymore, so I'm crawling into it. Here's hoping it swallows me whole.

    If I’m lucky, my conscience will find that girl and tell her that I got exactly what I deserved.



  2. #2
    Senior Member Gilfindel's Avatar
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    Typo: you have "couldn't" instead of "couldn't".

    This seems a bit heavy-handed to me, although I can't say I've had any involvement with bullying (directly or indirectly). My concern is that the narrator's self-loathing is so deep that it's not clear there's any chance of redemption. Correct me if I'm off base here, but shouldn't the themes for a piece like this be (1) the affect of bullying on all parties involved, and (2) some way out to a more normal relationship? I see (1), but I don't see (2). You'd like your audience to recognize that bullying is wrong, and help them find the proper path.

  3. #3
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Yeah, dark and awful. Sounds like another girl ready to kill herself. How about this: a girl is about ready to kill herself because of bullying - you show her pain and why she just wants it to end. But then, one girl befriends her and steers her back into the light. I think it's better to show what happens if just one person stands up rather than show what happens when one doesn't.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Gilfindel's Avatar
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    Just realized that "could't" got auto-corrected on me...

  5. #5
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    Oh, guys, I'm sorry. There is a second part to this, lol. It was too long to put everything in the original post, so I thought I posted the second part in a comment... Obviously it didn't post, so I'll put it up now.

  6. #6
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    Sammy's not looking so good, lately. I see her at school, creeping at the fringes, hunched up and closed in when she used to be so bright and alive. Her hair's a mess, clothes are ragged, and she just seems... less, somehow.

    I saw the picture. Heard all about what Libby and her little gang, Sammy included, did. But when word got out about Ashley Daniels killing herself, Sammy was the only one who seemed to feel any kind of guilt. She stopped talking to Libby and the rest, and didn't seem to care about the whispers, the little conversations that followed her down every hallway.

    I don't run with the popular crowd. Too much drama, backstabbing, and work to be cool. But, I see the way they run things. Libby's a shark, and once she saw how Sammy was reacting to Ashley's suicide, it was like blood in the water. Since Ashley was beyond her reach, she needed a new target, and Sammy had a bullseye painted dead center of her back.

    It's been a couple weeks. Long enough for Ashley to fade into the background, and for Libby to start the rumor mill. Sammy was the one who snapped the picture. Sammy was the one who uploaded it to Facebook. Of course, no one really believed it. Sammy had never been intentionally cruel. But you don't argue with Libby, unless you want to deal with your own suicide, of the social variety.

    The breaking point came at lunch today. Sammy was at a table in the back corner of the cafeteria, all by herself, hunched into a ratty gray hoody like it would protect her from all the vicious little words being tossed at her.

    I was a couple tables away, with a few of my friends, when the room went suddenly quiet. Look up, and there's Libby, cruising through the sea of teenage misery just like the shark I compare her to. There's a second's hesitation, where I ask myself if it's really worth it, but then I'm on my feet and moving. My friends are hissing at me, asking me where I'm going, but someone has to take the first step.

    Sammy's turned in her seat to face Libby when I reach them. Libby's hurling words at her, and she flinches at each one. Sad little mouse.

    "Shut up, Libby." I say it calm and quiet, but she hears me and whips around to stare at me in disbelief.

    "Excuse me?" she spits out. Libby's a pretty girl, normally, but right now... her face is all twisted with hate, and I swear her eyes are burning with excitement. Sammy's just staring at me, dead eyed and defeated, and my heart gives a little twist as I remember seeing the same thing in Ashley's eyes, the day before she killed herself. I couldn't help Ashley, but maybe I can help Sammy.

    "You heard me. What did Sammy ever do to you?"

    "It's not what she did to me. It's what she did to Ashley Daniels. That poor girl killed herself because of Sammy, and she just sits here like it's nothing. I just don't think it's right, that's all." Libby smirks at Sammy, knowing that Sammy won't correct her. Sad little mouse, but still obedient.

    "Please. Who do you think is stupid enough to believe that?" I laugh. Libby stares at me, the warning in her gaze unmistakeable, but I hold my ground. "That picture was uploaded from an iPhone, Libby. Says so right beneath it. I'm sure the cops saw it when they took the post down. I know I saw it."

    Libby's looking a little uncertain now, and she knows I've got everyone's attention.

    "So what? What does that have to do with anything?" she asks me.

    "Sammy doesn't have an iPhone, Libby... but you do. A couple other girls in your little group do too. Wonder which one you'll go after next?"

    Libby starts to say something else, but I ignore her and turn to Sammy.

    "Hey, Sam. Why don't you come sit with me and my friends?" Sammy's eyes dart back and forth between me and Libby, but there's something different about them. There's a little spark of hope. She gets up, grabs her bag, and gives me a little smile. We walk back over to my table, leaving Libby to stand there, choking on her defeat.

    It's not much, but at least someone made the right decision. Hopefully, Sammy won't be a victim. Hopefully, someone else will remember what I did the next time they see someone being bullied. It has to start somewhere, right?

  7. #7
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    The second part is good, the first part tries too hard.

  8. #8
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    This is part of the original post? That's quite a disparity in tone. In the second post, the narrator says "I don't run with the popular crowd.", but in the first post, it sure sounds like she does, like she was a part of the whole thing. Or is the first post one girl narrating and the second post a different girl narrating? If so, you need to make that clearer.

    I still vote you write a story about a suicide being prevented rather than the aftermath of a completed suicide. I think that would be a whole lot more positive.

  9. #9
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    Pendragin, tries too hard in what way, exactly?

    John... yes, it is two viewpoints. Sorry about that, I'll work on clarifying that. As for writing about preventing a suicide, that's precisely what the narrator in the second party does. I'm trying to show both sides of the coin. Someone who did the bullying, and feels guilt... and someone who cared enough to try and stop it. Sorry for any typos that may exist here, I'm posting from my phone!

  10. #10
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    I don't see anywhere where anyone prevented a suicide. Bullying, yes; suicide, no.

    So...the first post...is that supposed to be Sammy as narrator, or who? Who's the second narrator?
    Last edited by John Oberon; 08-20-2013 at 10:15 AM.

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