|Hi. I read your story.
Your request-review is my favorite type of request-review because the whole concept of reviewing is kind of vague and nebulous, so when you provide "prompts" it makes the process a lot easier.
"So, however much you read, tell me how far you got"
I got to the end, and didn't understand it, so I reread it, and now I'm pretty sure I understand it, but I keep bouncing back to it while writing this review.
"how you felt where you stopped"
Generally, I felt happy that I had figured out the gist of the story. Like, think of a time when you've completed a jigsaw puzzle. You don't really feel anything (happiness, elation, etc), just a sense of satisfaction at having taken X number of pieces and fitted them together, and now you're looking at the fruits of your work. It's that kind of satisfaction. But is that what you're asking? I'd be interested to know what other people might feel. This wasn't really a sad story, I don't think, nor was it a happy one. I'm glad (ie satisfied) that I read it.
I think the best I can do along the lines of "helpful" is to report my understanding of the story and you can see how it aligns with your original intentions.
The in-a-nutshell overview of the story is that there's a girl named Fiona who lost her boyfriend to a suicide-by-sleeping-pill-overdose. The experience upsets her, which in turn upsets her father, who crashes his car in what appears to be a suicide. The whole sequence of events has a sort of catastrophic personality-splitting effect on Fiona, who runs away to become Helen and marries a hapless fellow named Harvey. Fiona/Helen is a tragically ironic character, because her efforts to prevent harm from coming to Harvey end up harming him.
Breaking it down into bits: the story opens with my first inquiry about the story, which is in the aftermath of a situation that ended with a broken mirror and Harvey's blood. Originally I thought the broken mirror was a figment of Fiona's imagination but that it wasn't clear that it was Fiona's imagination. What happened, exactly? Were the broken/bloody shards of glass figments of Fiona's imagination foreshadowing the bloody knife from the story's climax? Or did Fiona and Harvey have a tiff? If so, what did Fiona do to A) break the mirror, and B) splatter it with Harvey's blood? Slam his head into it?
Next Fiona is sitting in her cruiser and she's harassing Dr. Feingold, because he prescribed Harvey sleeping pills, which she fears will kill him like they did Franklin, so in her first of many ironically-detrimental-to-her-relationship-with-Harvey acts, she abuses her power as a cop and pulls him over to tell him to stop seeing him.
Another inquiry: who is John Frank? The context in which the name appears is that Helen is Harvey's wife and (ostensibly) knows what's better for him than Feingold. She name-drops Frank and Feingold seems to recognize the name, but who is he? At first I thought you'd meant Helen's first husband and written "Frank" instead of "Franklin", but Franklin was Fiona's husband, not Helen's, and the two personalities are separate. Feingold mentions that J.F. is a member of Helen's family, but if Helen is a constructed persona, who would be her relative? Is he a relative of Harvey's? That makes the most sense, but if he's, say, Harvey's brother, why is Helen name-dropping him in this context? Why would it make her qualified to know what's best for Harvey? And confusing the issue: Franklin's name appears literally in the next sentence, so regardless of J.F.'s true identity, I'd recommend changing the "Frank" bit, because it's confusing regardless of whether or not he and Franklin are the same person.
Feingold disappears. Enter Sharon and Carl.
Another inquiry/statement of confusion: The interaction between Carl and Sharon and Helen throws me off.
SIDEBAR-SPURRED-BY-FEELINGS-OF-SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS: I'm going to digress for a moment here to point out that there's a good chance that some of these points I bring up have nothing to do with the story and may instead just be a failure of interpretation on my part as a reader. Look, this story has -- at the time of this writing -- what look to be 25 reviews, and if I'm the only one who doesn't understand what's obvious to 25 other readers, then the problem is that I probably should have paid closer attention to the text, IE is my own shortcoming rather than yours. /END SIDEBAR
The way I'm reading the sequence: Fiona asks a question and realizes that the Helen "mask" she's wearing has slipped, because "Helen" would have known that Carl had gotten married. It seems strange that Fiona would have forgotten a detail as significant as Carl getting married, though, especially if he'd been at the range seven times that week.
Sharon tells Fiona that Harvey was robbed. Fiona is upset. Tail-end exposition reveals that O'Leary Sr. was a police officer.
The first interaction between Fiona and Harvey: is well done in my opinion. The whole interaction seems stilted and tense and uneasy in a way that's hard to pinpoint, and I mean that in the sense that it seems organic. One line that sticks out is the bit where Fiona goes to hug Harvey but instead seems to hold him at bay, which I think underscores the irony of her character -- Fiona/Helen's (sanity? stability? happiness?) is contingent on Harvey's continued well-being, which means that if Harvey gets hurt, Fiona gets hurt. In that way, Fiona has given Harvey a lot of power over her, which puts him in the paradoxical position of being both her the most important and most dangerous person in her life. Hence the moment toward the end of the conversation where Harvey takes a swing at her, and -- jumping ahead -- the moment where she inadvertantly stabs him with the knife. Fiona is in this vicious self-perpetuating cycle wherein she creates a bigger and bigger threat out of Harvey and then has to defend herself from the consequences of her own creation.
Harvey finds the pills, comes home, tries to throw away the knives. Rhetorical question: does Harvey throw away the knives because Fiona/Helen might hurt him with them, or does Fiona/Helen hurt him with them BECAUSE he throws them away?
Possible formatting flub: there's a paragraph break between Harvey saying "I don't want you getting hurt" and Fiona thinking "my own husband" in italics that doesn't look like it's supposed to exist.
Next: Fiona/Helen locks something up. Inquiry: what is she locking up? Is she locking up her knives? The word-usage in this story is pretty economical (I mean that as a positive attribute) but in this section it might be a bit too economical, because I'm not sure what it is she's doing. Did she put padlocks on the drawer? My initial suggestion would be to get rid of Fiona/Helen drilling the [whatever] entirely, but I think the dynamic it represents -- of Fiona wanting to protect but also destroy Harvey -- is necessary, so maybe just clarify what it IS that she's drilling. I think literally one line would do the trick. Something like: "I stood back to look at the shiny new latches, which shone in the morning sun", or whatever.
Also, another paragraph break that may or may not need to exist: between "He paused and shrugged" and "what do you say".
Also: between "you think I'm a monster" and "he got up and walked over to me".
SIDEBAR: Reading through the Fiona-angrily-cutting sequence again, it strikes me that the knife could serve as a symbol of castration. Was this intentional? The text doesn't specify WHAT she's cutting; I'd recommend going the Freudian route and clarify that she's cutting something phallic, like carrots. /END SIDEBAR
The big reveal: Harvey knew all along that Helen was Fiona, because he'd seen her on TV.
SIDEBAR: Wait, what did Fiona do that landed her on television? I feel like Franklin's death would have obviously been a suicide, if he OD'd on sleeping pills unless we're talking a force-feeding scenario like in that movie Seven, which seems like a stretch. And she didn't seem to have anything to do with her father's death, because her mother later says that O'Leary Sr. died in his "cruiser", and it seems unlikely that Fiona would have been A) with her father when it happened if he was in a police cruiser, or B) under suspicion for brakes that were installed faulty.
[[SIDEBAR-WITHIN-A-SIDEBAR: Would a police department let an officer change his own brakes? Like, wouldn't they want to avoid a situation wherein a police officer, say, installed his brakes improperly? Yeah, I know I'm being obtuse and nitpicky at this point and wouldn't be offended if you were to tell me as much, but one does wonder. /END S-W-A-S]]
Otherwise the only thing that would land Fiona's face on a television would be if she was a missing person, which seems unlikely, because her mom later refers to "the O'Leary stupidity", which suggests to me that if Fiona disappeared in the aftermath of Franklin's suicide and her father's death, she'd chalk it up to the O'Leary stupidity rather than reporting it to the police. The point to all this: maybe there's another way Harvey could have figured out that Helen was Fiona O'Leary? I don't think he needs to be a master sleuth to deduce it. At one point Harvey berates Helen for leaving her knives all over the place, so Fiona/Helen doesn't strike me as being a particularly organized creature.
FINAL QUESTION: There seems to be an explanation in the final paragraph that I think I'm missing. The "misspelled your name" line Fiona's mother delivers seems to reference something, but I'm not sure what it is. Is that how the police figured out the connection between Fiona and Helen? Or did she misspell her fictional last name, IE "Helen"'s last name?
OVERALL: It's a good read with a neat concept. There are a couple of hazy spots and if I were to point out one overarching opportunity for improvement I'd say that while the writing is sparse and the economy of words is impressive, the text seems "malnourished" in places and there are lines that seem to be missing context.
It does occur to me that there's a sister piece available, and I made the conscious decision to only read/review this initial piece. Logic: that while a piece of literature can have counterpart-pieces, each piece should stand on its own. Exceptions, obviously, for prequels, sequels, etc -- an exception that doesn't seem to extend to this piece, because impression I get is that Drive it Home tells the same story from Harvey's POV.
Those are the thoughts. Take 'em, leave 'em, integrate 'em, ignore 'em. Hope it helps.