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“You’re such a classic, you know that?” I felt the warm tinge of saliva behind my ears. Jack’s. Slow, steady breaths, stroking uncomfortably at my skin.
Inhaling. Exhaling. In a one-way conversation, it’s times like this when silence makes sense. Is this regret?
“One fucking classic.” He continued to say, laughing. It was mechanical, the way a person would when he had a sort of nervous, insecure desperation about something he was about to do.
I tried to say something, but heard only a muffled voice. Only after awhile did I become aware that I was gagged. With something between your teeth, you can’t really say anything, not even mutter basic linguistic sounds. All that comes out is faint, senseless attempts at speech. For a moment, I thought about people who were born with the inability to speak. I was never good at paying attention.
The bitter taste of the cloth around my lips brought me back to my senses again. An uneven, fluffy texture – dirt. I breathed in dust and coughed, only to feel the heat circulate in my mouth.
Jack was not always like this. No, never. Words were never his way of communicating. Countable syllables were considered a verbal success for him. Most of the time, his lips just wore a quiet smile. Empty, weak, and unfeeling. He thought of me as his best friend. I did the same. Not because he was easy to trust, but because he trusted me so easily. Friendships were what I called the rock-strewn roads of disasters. With Jack, getting away was a free ticket, effortless. Sorry Jack. Sorry Jack. Sorry Jack. All I needed to say. What an addiction. Sometimes, I liked to joke that if that synthetic smile of his were worn any longer, it might just get worn out. Well, maybe it did. At some point, I probably did wear that smile out. I’m not sure. I was never good at paying attention. Is this regret?
“I’ve sewn your lips shut, Mike. Now, embrace the silence.” This was Jack, now. Jack – let down, revengeful, insane, and whispering disturbingly into my ears. And then, there it was – a feeling of cold steel, creeping up my neck, brushing my hair away and pushing against my scalp. It seemed as if my heart stopped for a split second. My blood froze, and the only heat I felt was Jack’s breath against my ears, and the icy metal end of Jack’s gun. The only assurance I had was that the only pain I might feel would last for a shadowy second. I screamed and pleaded inside my head.
The recollection in the past tense is now over. This is how my life is going to end. Gagged and breathing dust, with no last words and a face which will be replaced by blood and brains. Is this regret?
But no. “I can’t do this.” Jack begins to cry. “I wish I had what you had, Mike, when you did this to my parents, but I can’t do this.” Tears. It was an accident, an accident. I’m sorry, Jack. Dust and senseless speech again. I feel the cold sensation lifted off my head. Thank you, Jack. I breathe a sigh of relief through the cloth. I’m sorry, Jack.
And then, I catch the familiar sound of the trigger being pulled. Click. No, Jack. I was never good at paying attention. In the fraction of a second, I hear the combustion of gunpowder. Jack! The splatter of flesh, bone, and blood against the wall. The gun is fired.
After that, I hear nothing. Jack? Not Jack’s steady breaths. Jack? Not his mechanical laugh.
In a one-way conversation, it’s times like this when silence makes sense. Because silence becomes the only sound you hear, consuming any grasp of the world you have left. Any life. Or any point of it.
Inhaling. Exhaling. The silence continues to scream. This is Jack’s gift to me. This is how my life is going to continue.
| Well, I don't think in terms of nit picking that there's really much left to be said here. I would pick on one tiny thing that I don't think has been mentioned; the use of 'awhile' as in 'Only after awhile did I become aware...' In a piece as immediate as this is, 'awhile' doesn't hold any meaning. It could be three seconds or it could be two hours. Perhaps 'Seconds later...' or 'Soon I become aware...' would be more suitable??|
Also, the repetition at times can be a little... repetitive. I think I understand what you're trying to put across with this -that the main character is really panicked and remorseful and trying to understand his feelings with little time to deal with it all- but because so many phrases are repeated ( Namely 'Is this regret?', 'Sorry Jack' and 'Inhaling. Exhaling' ) I just started to ignore them and that's never a good thing for a reader to be doing.
Anyway, I did really enjoy this piece, you have managed to describe the action in detail without slowing the pace at all and I had a vivid idea of much of the smaller things that were going on in the scene; the feeling of the gun on his neck and taste of the cloth in his mouth. So I hope the criticism didn't sound like I'm knocking the piece in general cos I ain't...
|| Posted on 2005-11-29 00:00:00 | by manintheshack | [ Reply to This ] || Glad you have some enthusiasm.|
OK, questions of clarity, content, and flow:
"...ears. Jack’s. Slow..."
Here, I'm not sure which sentence to connect "Jack's." It's possessive and it works either way, but because of it's generality, I could read it as a continuation from the preceding sentence or as a continuation to the succeeding sentence. It's just a matter of flow. Specify which you would prefer.
"Only after awhile did I gain awareness that I was gagged."
"gain awareness" doesn't hold much strength. I might use something like, "become aware." It's more direct and powerful.
"mutter basic audible linguistic sounds"
"audible" is repetetive overkill. With "sounds" and "mutter" surrounding it, audible is useless and slows down the reader.
"cloth tied across my lips"
"tied" is more repetitiveness. We know the character is gagged, and "around my lips" would be more effective.
"I breathed dust and coughed, only to feel the heat circulate within the roof of my mouth."
First off, "breathed" doesn't work when followed by "dust." Use "breathed in" or "sucked in" or "inhaled."
Secondly, "within the roof of my mouth" doesn't work with "within" as it's preposition. Unfortunately, the only preposition I can think of that would work is "on" and that is not very effective. Play with it.
"Empty, weak and unfeeling."
Add a comma after "weak."
"Not because he was easy to trust, but that he trusted me so easily."
Change "that" to "because."
"Sorry, Jack. Sorry, Jack. Sorry, Jack."
The commas stop my reading. Take them out to keep this one continuous stream of thought. You might even consider making the periods commas to show the fluidity of thought clearly.
"let down, revengeful, insane, crouching behind me, whispering disturbingly into my ears."
The first thing I thought when reading this was that you forgot an "and" after "insane," but then I saw that the sentence continued with another phrase, "whispering disturbingly in my ears." "crouching" and "whispering" are both actions unlike the other descriptions in your list, and I would just leave one of them in. Here's my preference:
"let down, revengeful, insane, and whispering disturbingly into my ears."
"And then, there it was: a feeling of cold steel"
Leave colons for lists. It's meant to stop a reader, while this should read like one continuous phrase. Try,
"And then there it was, that feeling of cold steel"
Experiment with different connections until you are happy.
Later in the sentence,
", brushing my hair away and then pushing against my scalp."
Eliminate the "then."
"was Jack’s continuous breath against my ears, and the icy metal"
Get rid of "continuous" and the comma. It'll strengthen the sentence.
"This is how my life is going to end. Gagged and breathing dust, with no last words, and a face which will be replaced by blood and brains."
Since the second sentence cannot stand on its own, connect it with the first with a comma or semicolon.
Once again, change "breathing."
Get rid of the comma after "last words."
"I’m sorry, Jack."
"Thank you, Jack."
Again, get rid of the comma.
Sidenote - Here you use a lot of intermixed thought and action and do a very good job with it. The flow and patterns work well.
"of flesh, bone and blood"
Add a comma after "bone."
"Because silence becomes the only sound you hear."
A fragment that readers will not know what to do with. I would suggest connecting it with the following sentence, but don't let it stand alone.
Hopefully you've lived through this.
Dissecting it as I have, I have more appreciation for the repetition of some sentences and ideas, my favorite, "Is this regret?"
If you've got any other questions about your writing, feel free to ask.
|| Posted on 2005-11-11 00:00:00 | by Eggman | [ Reply to This ] || Those are some nice opening lines.|
It represents something many writers have trouble with; you can jump in and just show us a story. You didn't bother giving us any background details. You didn't bother trying to explain your reasoning. You just jumped in and forced us to accept the situation as it was.
That's the mark of an actual story rather than an attempted story.
But that doesn't mark it as a good story.
You took a very dark tone and successfully navigated us through it with a 1st person narration. That's tricky. I'm impressed you were capable of throwing action and thought together and keep the flow. You made it understandable and easy to follow.
The title felt a little too poetic and deep for something so short. That's not a problem, though - just an observation.
That 4th paragraph had too many breaths for me. It's similarity to Fight Club does a great job of giving us an image of the entire scene without much description. Some would argue against it for purposes of originality, but it's effective so don't listen to them. My only arguement against it is its persistance on speech and the mouth - try to refer to them in a different way, maybe metaphorically.
"In a one-way conversation, it’s times like this when silence makes sense."
You use this sentence more than once, but I can't say I'm entirely sure what you mean. A one-way conversation? I can interpret that in many ways, none of which actually make sense in this structure. All I have is a vague idea of what you're actually getting at.
Grammatically, it was fine, but I came across a few sentences with clarity issues. I'm not going to name anything specific, but be aware(if you want me to, tell me and I can come back when I have more time). I have the same problem myself. Reword a few sentences here and there and you'll be in good shape.
I enjoyed this.
It shows your knack for writing.
|| Posted on 2005-11-10 00:00:00 | by Eggman | [ Reply to This ] || Breathtaking - I like the way you used dhort, chopy sentencesin some places to sort of pound the message through. Also, your use of repition was very classy. It's a skill I admire, not many can pull off such a dramatic event without overdoing it. It really seemed like every single word was vital to the whole piece - well done!|
I know in a comment your not supposed to just sing praise, but I really can't find anything to critique. BTW - I wouldn't call this prose so much as an explosive moment narritive - pun not intended. :)
|| Posted on 2005-11-10 00:00:00 | by Starless Knight | [ Reply to This ] |