Happy November! I feel honored to have had the chance to review your story.
Keep in mind, I am but one opinion. I would like to point out the parts I liked or felt worked well. I would also like to make suggestions that I think may be helpful. Use what will be beneficial to you, but please, don't hesitate to discard what you don't agree with.
I quite enjoyed your story. It was like getting a look at a slice of one man’s lifetime. The story felt very believable; like my far away friend had penned me a letter. I felt privileged to have had this shared with me. I found my self defending Patricia: trying to explain to Richie how she was feeling and why she did the things she did. In the end, I was sad Richie never found someone he could hold, be best friends with, and call his own. One could only hope he went on to find the woman of his dreams, but in the story, he was left with longing for Patricia eternally. The sadness I was left with will probably linger with me for a bit.
I would have liked to have known early on what era the story was set in. I thought it was probably in the 50s by the way you described the courtship and the use of the “glider” like it was common porch furniture. It wasn’t until a little under halfway through your story that you gave me the name of a song. I wasn’t familiar with it, so I looked it up to see if this story was indeed set in the 50s. Turns out it was the 60s. In some cases, not knowing what time period a story is in, the reader will pick one they are most familiar with. When they do find out, it almost feels like the whole story has been a lie. Everything they knew about the tale will have to be revamped. They will have to go back and replace their Mustang GTs with Studebakers.
The two paragraphs, where Richie meets Linda and talks about her, kind of threw me. It is important information to the story, but it comes in at the wrong time. You had taken me to meet Patricia. Nothing indicated we were going to go back in time and talk about Linda. I couldn’t figure out why we were talking about a Linda. Reading on, I realized how much talking about her mattered. The story would flow better if you made those two paragraphs about Linda the first ones after the pause: the first segments where the narration reminisces about intimacy. If you move them, in the second paragraph of those two, you would want to take out Before I met Patricia since we haven’t met her yet. We would wonder who you were talking about. It might be a little distracting.
There were other parts where I felt like important information was left out:
After dropping off tools at the uncle’s house the two boys walked back down the street. My vision was that they had driven there. I had to reread the former paragraph to see why I had seen that. You hadn’t said how they got there, but you said Richie was 16. I assumed Norm was the same age: driving age. The other thing that made me think driving was the mode of transportation was because you made a point to tell me the uncle lived in Lawrenceville. That sounds far away.
Events seemed to happen so fast at times I wasn’t sure I was getting the whole story. Richie meets Patricia one day. The next day, he walks to see her. On the way there, porch lounging Linda asks if he is going to go see his girlfriend. How does she know so quickly how Richie feels about this other girl?
When he gets to Patricia’s house they embrace. He just met her the day before. Why does Patricia trust this older boy enough that she would fall into his arms without a word spoken and very few the day before?
The Break Down
In this section, I throw in my commentary as well as suggestions. My commentary will be in blue, and your writing will be in green.
I have come to know some rules about punctuation, but am not yet an expert. The very first paragraph stumps me. Every sentence is an explanation of the first. All of them are incomplete sentences, aside from the third sentence. They are depending on the very first sentence for their subject. I’m not sure how that would be punctuated other than maybe a colon after the first sentence. I’m not sure where to look to find my answer, so I will leave that one alone for now. I just wanted to make you aware of the fact that I think it needs something. Aside from that, it is quite a lovely paragraph. It is a list of activities that happen during dating. This list put me in the mood for the story to come.
In the third sentence of that paragraph, the comma is misplaced. With the position it is in, it reads as though you are arm-in-arm with the snow. If you were to move the comma down a few words and place it in front of “while” the sentence would sound better.
The first sentence in the paragraph that introduces Linda to the reader doesn’t quite belong. That segment is about Linda, but that first sentence, and only that sentence, is about Norm. It would work better in the paragraph where Richie first meets Norm’s female cousin. However, the Linda paragraph would have to come before the Patricia paragraph.
I think you are trying to tell the reader that Norm’s intention is to set Richie up with his cousin. Am I getting that right? What makes me think that is: Norm is trying to break the spell, and he doesn’t tell Richie about the cousin. You may want to make that a bit clearer by letting us in on why Norm didn’t tell Richie about Patricia. Does Norm know his friend won’t follow him to his uncle’s house if he is trying to hook him up?
I like the poles that looked like licorice sticks. I have seen poles like that. That was a good description.
If Patricia was frowning, how did Richie know there was instant attraction between them? Was it a feeling?
I jumped, stretched, and wiggled. There should be a comma after stretched. When I was in high school, that was not the rule but things change, even in punctuation.
Richie tries the suave approach, but I’m not really feeling suave from just “Hi”. Does he lean against the pole? Does he put his hands in his pockets and rest his weight on one foot? How is he being suave?
Back at the Linda paragraph, you wrote Linda lived a few houses up the street and I would see her sitting on her front steps wearing short shorts. Since you are joining two independent clauses with the conjunction word “and” there would be a comma before “and”. …up the street, and I would see her…
In the next sentence, you have "each other" twice. Using the same words twice bogs down a sentence. If you left off the second “each other” it would give the sentence more pizazz and not take away from the meaning.
mhm, Linda developed into a teenage tigress, and she knew it too. I don’t much care for that girl. I’m just saying.
…eyes devoured me, and she ran her hand… The comma before the conjunction rule applies here.
In the next paragraph, instead of a period at the end of the first sentence, a semicolon would work better. You would then need to make the “B” lower case. …the last two years; but she kept my panting… It is not a big enough breath for two separate sentences, but you’re going for a bigger pause than a comma.
There doesn’t need to be a comma between “wavy” and “black-haired”. You would only use a comma when the two words could be switched and still make sense. You wouldn’t say "black-haired, wavy Italian". Since it can only be one way, no comma.
Norm was ready to leave., doesn’t really belong in that paragraph. It should be a paragraph of its own. Being where it is right now is like someone smacking you to bring you out of a soft, gentle daydream.
Her eyes sparkled, and a smile softened her face.
Nice visuals on the description of the heart palpitation. I like the creative way you wrote it.
…blond hair up and down, and I waved goodbye…
The next evening should have a comma after it. It is the introductory element. The real subject of the sentence is I. You could just as easily put “The next evening” at the end of the sentence.
She smiled, and her blue eyes sparkled.
I reached out my hand, and she took it, and we held each other.
…strings go ping, and I knew…
In the evenings, we would sit…
…her languorous eyes, and my hand slipped…
We went to movies and sipped sodas on drug store swivel stools. While reading that sentence I automatically inserted “and”.
Instead of using the word “swivel” again, perhaps you could use another word from a thesaurus.
She pulled out a silver coated comb, and her face grew somber, and her eyes penetrated mine. If you wanted to be really dramatic and show the intensity of her eyes, you could make …her eyes penetrated mine a sentence of its own.
I heard what she said, but I couldn’t react.
…put my hand over it, and pushed down.
For the next sentence, there is no need to start it with the word “Then”. We already know what you write next happens after the sentence preceding it.
…to stop the bleeding, and suddenly…
Oh snap! What is Richie thinking still messing around with Linda? That is what you meant when you wrote she had a physical hold on him wasn’t it?
Sometimes, she would fall asleep, and I would…
…her senior prom, and I couldn’t resist.
…White-gloved arm, and her prom dress…
We had our picture taken, and she looked like…
…with another couple, and she wouldn’t…
I could really feel Richie’s anxiety getting to Patricia’s house. I like the way you described how he walked, then ran and how he was out of breath by the time he got there.
For months, I drifted along…
…both my loves, and I was…
I giggled picturing the balls repeatedly hitting Richie while he was distracted.
Then we both looked at her and knew… There is no need for “then”. The reader wouldn’t be confused about the sequence of things.
What is Tarentum? Is that a town? Is it a school?
…one summer night, and I heard that…
By then, I couldn’t care less…
…to visit Patricia and her family, to apologize to her, and to wish her.. This sentence has a list.
She took me outside, and we talked
She grabbed my arms, and her eyes were pleading.
…to marry Harry, and I won’t.
I was bitter, and I stuffed…
…to turn brown, and I tried to put…
I hope I have given you something you can use, Richard. Even if you use nothing, I appreciate the opportunity to have read your story and the learning experience that came with it.