| Hi Kairi,
Well, this is certainly a very poignant beginning. Make no mistake, I think it is a provocative subject implied and I think it brave for you to choose it as your first posting.
Again, let me offer a hearty “Welcome to WdC” We are for the most part an excellent resource for feedback. Though it takes a while to build up a group of friends and followers to expose your works too. And even then, most of us (just like you) have active lifestyles, filled with daily work and family duties. Once you make more friends, and I am more than willing to introduce you to some here, I’ll even tag a few at the end of this review to get your WdC family growing.
(These are just a few folks, who I think you will find very friendly and empathic to your writing. I am tagging them so they see this review, and know that I am putting them on the spot. Hopefully, they will stop by too and welcome you to WdC. There are over two hundred in my friends and fan files, these are just a few that I am sure you will find crazy fun. Lord knows I do! )
Mare ~ extended hiatus
Elycia Lee ☮
Now, I will offer our customary disclaimer, in that, you must always remember that there are no experts in the art of creative writing. There are some experienced folks, but no experts, and I recommend you stay clear of any who might imply they are. As for the rest us, we all struggle to find our place on the page. I, like many others, am still developing my voice and style, and unless you are sandbagging us, I assume you to be doing the same.
The best way to get feedback is to give feedback! By that, I mean real productive reviews. That does not mean fluff if you like something it’s okay to say, “Wow, I like that!” but be a good reviewer and let the author know why you liked it, explain any emotions it stirred, tell them about the images that popped into your head. (For me this is very important as I want to know if the reader is seeing a scene I am painting the same way I have it in my warped brain.) And you need not be afraid to say you don't like something either, just explain what rubs your feathers the wrong way and it's great. For me, I learn more from my detractors than from a hundred sweet praisings, (they just make my head swell). There is a role in the world for the fluffer, but it's not in this art form
I believe every word written has value, there is no such thing as bad writing, however, there is a distinction between everyday soul cleansing and what one can get published in the conventional marketplaces. But today, getting published and finding one’s novel on the best sellers shelve at the corner market is an extremely challenging task. But make no mistake, that dream is attainable!
Okay, my next review will not start with as much verbosity, though I will offer that I am long winded, and I frequently get distracted and off topic. I have more than once been accused of being “Stilted,” But then, I do not despair I love trying to write with some Vim and Vigor. (Although, not much in my port reflects that talent.)
Okay, on to your posting, 203 words to start this story. As I said at the beginning very intriguing, you spin a good hook, Which I have learned is a must for getting readership. It is plain to see that you are willing to, as I sometimes metaphorically say, "Stand naked before the throne." What I mean, I think writing is about dragging your reader into your skin, and they are not going to do that until you convince them you are real, You have been there, that you understand why they are reading your story instead of dancing at the Casbah.
I will comment that many reviewers will make notes, about SPAG issues. (Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar) however, back in my school days, they scheduled my English class and my nap time for the same period and I was not as good at multitasking back then. But luckily, I didn’t see anything noteworthy. So, you are already a mile beyond me. Though, if It's something obvious I will note it for an author, in this posting I saw nothing wrong
Contextually, your story provided intrigue and I had no problem seeing the target you were aiming for. It is quite powerful. Though, I wonder if you worked on adding more Show vs Tell, could you pack a bit more emotion into this opening? Mind you, remember what I said to start, about other people’s suggestions for your writing. In the meantime, I'll say that I hate going here, as the mantra of "Show" vs "Tell" is used so often by folks who can't think of anything else to comment on. But in this case, I think adding a bit of show is all you could do to crank up the juices in this one.
Please, forgive me if, for a second, I pretend to be James Patterson, (you know that famous best-selling guy who buys other people’s stories, edits them, and then claims them as his.)
This is important! I am not suggesting that you change a single word in your post. No, the rendition below is just a vision that I saw in my head after reading your short. I only offer my adaptations as something to spark a bit of imagination and hopefully, I can manage to fit a small bit of “Show” over “Tell”
That is not to say that the “Tell” is bad, but today’s readers need action, emotion, and the rawer it is, the better they seem to like it. You cannot write everything as all “Show” or your story becomes “real time” and takes thousands of pages to share. No, we need the “Tell” it is our time machine, our magic transporter. It is how we convey the parts that are needed but contain little or no emotion.
The trick is to know when to Show and when to Tell. My best mentors explain to me that if a story element is important then we must try to reveal it with Show, and the other stuff, like your character getting from point A to point B we use the “Tell”
I am told that we should never tell our readers what a character is thinking, as our readers can read minds, and facial expressions. That is if we let them see the twisted brows, wrinkled noses, and thin twisted lips.
We are admonished never to “tell” the reader what the character is feeling, instead let the reader figure that out from the character’s reaction to the events happening to them. No need to tell anyone the character is sad if she has a river of tears dripping from her chin to stain her blouse.
Which is a more vivid scene, saying she was scared, or relaying that the character sat trembling, crunching her knees together, fighting against the crushing pressure pushing on her bladder?
We are always supposed to put an action in their acts. That means, we find a way to let the reader see her face, feel the tears running down her cheeks, we need to punch the reader in the gut so they can empathize with our protagonist. To do this, we plant images in the reader's mind. Things they might have experienced for themselves. the most skilled of us learn how to do that over several sentences even a page if they most.
Stop for a second and think of yourself standing on a rooftop, the wind is gently blowing, the sun warm on your skin until, out of nowhere a gust blasts you. Pretty exciting image, yes?
But imagine the difference if instead of telling you “a gust of wind blasted you,” a giant’s hand reached out and grabbed you by the hair, and yanked you back so hard your scalp felt as if a torch fired poker combed through.
Anyway, here is a little different twist to your story. I hope somehow it gives you an idea of what I am trying to share:
I couldn’t take my eyes off it. The gnawing in my gut churned and twisted my bowels into a knot. It was like I was standing in the middle of the street knowing a huge bus was coming, I could hear it in the background, but no matter how hard I stared, it somehow stayed invisible.
I pushed the bed back in place and tucked the rest of the lamp cord behind one of the table’s back legs.
“Aunt Jonnie, why is this thing so damned nagging, it’s Déjà vu like. Where did it come from? Was it Mom’s?”
“No, dear, it was Uncle Luke’s. I thought it's simple lines would match the rest of your bedroom. Anyway, we need to empty out his storage locker, and Lord knows, your new apartment could use a little more filling.”
“Well Thanks, I do need…ha-ha, just about everything. But there is something about this thing that seems…I don’t know…foreboding.”
“Ha, the nightstand was about the only thing left fit to use. Men are such pigs, and your uncle was one of the worst. I am sending that bed of his to the dump.”
After some tea, and a long hug goodbye, Aunt Jonnie went home and I returned to my unpacking. But try as I might, every time I stopped, the image of the little table popped back into my mind.
It was a horrific dread, the unnerving anticipation like when you go to the Doctor and are told you needed a shot in the bum. You stand there bent awkwardly over the end of a padded bench, waiting with your pants at half-mast. Every muscle in your legs screaming in stress, your back aching as your vertebrate fuse together to hold you steady. Waiting, and waiting, afraid to look back, and thus admit you are about to piss your pants if the nurse doesn’t poke you soon, it seems like an hour even though it’s only 20 seconds.
I tried to block it out, even more so, when I realized I was crossing my legs at my desk, dreading, resisting the trip to the bathroom. “Oh, for shyte sake, it's ridiculed,” I said to the empty apartment as I ran past the end of the bed, I didn’t notice that I closed and locked the bathroom door behind me.
When I came out, I stood and stared from the foot of the bed, but there was no answer. My glance turned to the reflection in the mirror, “You are either really tired or going crazy” I said aloud to break the stillness that seemed so suffocating. No, the sense was more like that urgency you have just before you come up for air after diving off a three-meter platform.
I went into the other room and spent the rest of the night at my keyboard. Awhile later, I looked at the clock on the microwave and it read 1:30 AM. Damn, I got to get up in five and a half hours.
I changed, pulled back the covers and slid into bed. But sleep would not come, I tossed and turned flipping over a dozen times, until, I gave in, opened my eyes, and let out a mournful sigh. The beam from the streetlamp outside shone through the window like a spotlight onto the bedside table.
I just lay there staring at it. Then its smoky brown finish came to life, crawling like a snarl of serpents that pulsed with my every breath. Then, it happened, in the nook, that space between the upper tier with the lamp and the bottom table base. I could see it; a large crystal ashtray, it filled to overflowing with a thousand silver coins.
A bulky darkness settled in, pinning my arms and legs as a building paralysis crushed the air from my lungs. The scent of Old Spice and beer washed over me, so pungent, it burned my eyes. My tears, now a steady rivulet, streamed over my cheeks collecting in my ears.
I laid there, unable to move, my eyes bound to the coins, I was counting them to determine how much money there was. I was going to take it all. Yes, run, run away as far as it will take me.
The room rocked with the intensity of a California quake until the mass on top of me rose up like a whale breaching the ocean surface. A Roman candle shot off and the fireballs chewed at my lower stomach like a rabid Pitbull. I screamed and sat up.
Looking around the room there was nothing, it was empty, nobody there. My nightshirt was drenched, my sweaty hair matted to my face covering my right eye like a leather pirate’s patch.
A chill rushed over me from the wake of the squeaking ceiling fan. I turned and looked at the nightstand, gone was the ashtray, there were no coins, nothing there, but the lamp and my alarm clock, which read 4:30 AM. But it didn’t matter I knew now why it haunted was me.
I kicked the covers off my legs it fell onto the floor. When I rolled out of bed onto the floor, it was like hammers had smashed my knees when they hit, but I gave the pain no mind. Standing, I snatched up the table letting the lamp and clock crash to the floor, their cords still plugged into the wall.
I ran for the apartment front door, I didn’t stop running until I was beside the complex’s trash dumpster and I tossed the table in as my other hand pressed the button to start the compactor motor. I watched as the huge ram slowly crushed the table, smashing it into splinters.
And for the first time since my Aunt Jonnie had come over, I drew in a breath that didn’t taste of seaweed and salt. I collapsed on the curb as the tears started again, only this time, I remembered where they came from.
“For Christ sake, how could I not remember and damn you all, how could you have let it happen. I was just a little girl.”