This story was submitted by a young writer who wants feedback and is happy to share that feedback with a bigger audience. My feedback and comments are in coloured text. Note, I will not be correcting grammar and spelling, just the telling of the story. – Laura
The Last Goodbye
- generic title which does not really fit the story – better “Daniel’s Stone”
I ran all the way from the town hall with my bag in hand, I rushed pass my backyard and through the foot path in the forest. I cursed my shoes as I tripped and stumbled; kicking them off, my toes sank into the soft earth. Without the restraints clinging to me, I bolted bolted is distracting, better to just say ran to our spot as quickly as my feet could carry me. My frizzy blonde hair flowed behind me catching the air in waves of wind, for a minute I took in the sunlight as it brazed my skin. way too many descriptive details up to now – I’m anxious to get to the story problem I reminded myself of the importance of the run and left my daydreams along with my shoes. I came to a clearing where the sun gently grazed the ground; the warm stones were drying up in the mid-day heat. I placed my hands on my knees and heaved in a choppy breath. this whole paragraph could be boiled down to one sentence
“You really need to pace yourself, Ashley” A voice broke through the silence cut this – we know there is a voice and I spun around with a smile plastered onto my face watch the details, keep it simple – just say smile. Daniel sat with his back pressed against a stone this stone needs some descriptive attention because it is so important! next to me as if he appeared there instantly, he had a crumpled paperback book cracked open in his hands. His teeth shined brightly back at me as he smiled a cheeky grin; I grinned back, pushed a golden strand of hair away from my face and plopped down across from him.
“I’ve missed you” I cooed, my voice as soft as silk cliches – avoid them, Daniel always said I could sell honey to bees with the way I talked. I never saw it. I heard the birds chirp and the animals scuttle through the forest as the silence dragged on for longer than I hoped it would.
“I missed you too” He whispered to me sincerely, gently closing the cover of his aged novel and looking at me. My eyes scanned the scenery, taking in the emerald green of the trees on the verge of the wavering brown of autumn. too much description – still waiting for story to start I stared at Daniel for a while, taking in his messy hair and the bags that formed under his eyes; he looked disheveled and spent. This may have been from the way our relationship was going, always there but never really happening. I averted my gaze down at my twiddling fingers as I picked at a blade of grass with my long finger nails. I wanted to ask him to love me again, like the countless moments we spent in the each other’s comforting arms what seemed like years ago. But my moment to speak up seemed to slip through my fingers and instead I looked at him with pleading eyes and grabbed his hands in mine. His fingertips were rough and callused as if he had been working all day. But as he rubbed his thumb along my finger it calmed my sorrows.
“Daniel” My fragile voice chocked out with a tone of sadness “Why won’t you look at me like you used to?” this problem could have been introduced in the first paragraph as she was running – then by now I would be anxious for her – some of the history of their relationship, like a memory could have been introduced before now
I leaned forward hoping for the answer to be affectionate but nothing came. I sat there desperately as Daniel raised his face to my own, locking his beautiful brown orbs onto me and giving me a sad smile.
“I wish I could” He said and I could already feel the tears forming under my eye lids, as I blinked they slid down my cheeks leaving wet trails. Wrong answer. He gently used his thumb to prevent the warm tears from slowly dripping from my eyes, not letting them fall to the ground; acting like if they vanished, I would too. more dialogue less description of tears – we get she’s upset – I want to hear their discussion – all of it
I sat frozen for a second and then he brought his lips to my ear. “I did love you Ash” He reassured me, his hot breath tickling my ear as he softly spoke to me. His confession made the tears fall harder as I smiled them away; Daniel leaned towards me and softly brushed his lips against mine. I wrapped my arms around his neck and snuggled my head onto his chest. I could hear the constant soft thump of his heartbeat “I still love you, Dan” why doesn’t he love her any more? why should I care? what is this all about?
I shut my eyelids and breathed in his scent, a mix of home and summer days; safe, familiar and comforting. He started humming a smooth tune and was playing with a loose string of my hair. I sat there wondering to myself. Why was this, us, so straining.
“This is breaking so many rules” what rules? tell me more Daniel informed me losing the smile he had held onto the moment before; I wished I had my camera to capture the moment. I shrugged, what else had I to lose now. I sat up and returned upright, our hands still closely intertwined.
I sighed and asked the question I feared the answer to the most. “Do you have to leave?” The water works threatened to spill over once again as I bit my lip, almost breaking the skin. Discreetly he shook his head up and down. I wiped my face with my hands and they came down with black streaks of ruined mascara. I looked away for a second, when I looked back I was sitting alone on a patch of grass. you lost me here, you didn’t give me any little clue that she was with a gravestone, not a boy, you need to leave little breadcrumbs that will lead to my “aha” moment Holding out my hands for no one, feeling nobody’s warmth. He was there in an instant and gone in the next.
I sat across from the rough edged stoned Daniel had leaned his back against as he skimmed through the pages of his book; the setting sun cast a long shadow on the surface. It was simply a piece of stone formed by the earth, but it symbolized much more than a rough edged slab of hard granite. Sprawled across the top were the words:
Loving Son, Brother and Boyfriend
“Goodbye” I silently whispered to the heavens, one last tear fell to the earth.
More Feedback: This is neat idea for a short story. I really like the imaginative twist at the end, but the end needs a set up. We need to care more about her story before we are going to care about the ending. What are the details of the history of their romance? How did he die? There are a lot of blanks that need to be filled in. I would also cut almost all the description and add breadcrumbs that would deliberately lead us to the twist at the end. Like “his thumb was damp and soft on her cheek” which really means her cheek was touched by a leaf but that she is imagining it is him.
Thank you so much for the feedback, it’s great! I’m so glad to have help with my writing and I will definitely take your feedback and use it. – Author of “The Last Goodbye”