|Hi AliceLvs2Write ,
I am reviewing your short story, "Ill-Timed" , as one of the judges for April's official contest, "Journey Through Genres: Official Contest" . Thanks for entering, and good luck!
This review is in affiliation with "WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group" . Please remember any views are purely my own, and any advice is given with the sole intention of being helpful.
My first thoughts: This story held my attention all the way through. I was hoping we would learn the identity of the mother, and we did. You didn't leave me hanging. I suspected it would be Olive, but I wasn't sure. I really enjoyed the mystery. I felt so sorry for Sheila. It sounds like she had the worst start to the day ever! I'm not surprised her nerves were frayed.
Plot: This is the story of one woman's horrendous morning. Everything has already gone wrong for her by the time she sees a woman with matted, blonde hair dropping a suspicious object into a garbage can. The woman leaves, and Sheila takes a peek. It is a baby! She phones the police, gives a statement, and goes on to work where she has a Zoom call with a prospective client. After the call, police arrive and inform Sheila the woman who dumped the baby was her client. But, why? Why did she do it? Only after the police leave is Sheila able to turn on her phone, where she finds a text from the woman, asking her to take care of her baby. (I love how you dropped in the little detail of her phone battery being dead early in the story.) The main thing that confused me is, if this woman was so concerned about the baby that she asked Sheila to look after it, why did she leave it in a Walmart bag in a dumpster? The two things don't fit together. Also, the question that never gets answered is, why did she dump the baby? I wonder. Another place I wasn't sure about is when Sheila was explaining why she was late, even as far as to mention not being able to shave her legs. I can't see why she would have said that. She had enough of an excuse with the baby being dumped. Just one more thing: In the middle of Sheila explaining to her boss why she is late, and telling her all about the baby, her boss says, "You're behind on a sale this month." Then, in the next breath, she is talking about the baby and checking on how Sheila is doing. I don't think you need the boss to mention her sales here. I would cut it. Sheila mentions being a sale behind shortly after, and that is enough.
Characters: Sheila is the main character, but Olive (you sometimes write Olivia, so I'm not sure which it is) is the one with all the mystery and intrigue. Sheila tells us a lot that she is nervous and freaked out, but I didn't really feel it. Her legs jittering and hands shaking was good. You tell us her heart is racing, but can you show us how it makes her feel? I would love to feel it more than I did. Olive is a great character. There is something slightly off about her on the Zoom call. I can't quite put my finger on it. But you do a great job of making her seem a little unstable.
Grammar: Just a couple of suggestions. I have put them in this dropnote:
What I liked: The element of surprise when we find out the woman has dumped a baby. I wasn't expecting that, and it made me gasp. I love the character of Olive. You paint her really nicely as this slightly unstable woman. I wonder what was really going on with her, why she dumped the baby. Also, why didn't she dump it at Sheila's door to make sure she could find it? But, if she is unhinged, maybe that is reason in itself.
Suggestions: My only suggestion is that I'm not sure about the title of this story. I wasn't sure how it related to it. Was it ill timed in that Sheila was late for work? Or that she was th one who found the baby (although, that would probably have been well timed)? Or does it refer to Olive's comment that the timing isn't right for children? It doesn't really do the story justice, in my opinion. Something about the Zoom call, or the dumpster, the baby. I'm not sure. It's just a thought.
I enjoyed reading your entry. Thanks, again, for entering.