This short story was submitted by a young writer who is on the LTC Insider Mailing List. I do not look at grammar and spelling, just the telling of the story. My comments are in coloured text. If you wish to have your story considered for this feature, please join the Insider Mailing List and watch for special submission calls. – Laura
- I like that the title is pulled from the last line. It works. However, the theme of taking a deep breath before making a big life decision needs to be developed more thoroughly in the story.
“Just get out! I just-, I can’t handle this right now!” - I like that this story starts mid-action. I want to keep reading.
The door slammed in my face, hard. My ears were still ringing from my wife’s abnormally shrill voice - Why abnormally shrill? and her smeared makeup seemed to be the only things I could see. - This last part does not make sense. I wasn’t sure what I could even do at this point, so I walked. And I walked, and walked, and walked. I kept walking through the empty streets; everything was dark and cold and lonely. I wandered into a park with a simple swing set adjacent to a worn out yellow slide all surrounded by sand. I’m not sure why I stopped here, maybe because I missed the simplicity of youth or maybe I couldn’t comprehend why everything was falling apart instead of falling into place.
Isn’t that what’s supposed to happen? You grow up, you pay your dues, and you get through it. I’m twenty eight years old, this shouldn’t still be happening, I thought to myself. Her face popped into my head; it wasn’t like it should have been. It wasn’t a pretty picture, it wasn’t happy; it wasn’t the way I should see my wife of ten years. Her smile straining to stay on her lips, her forehead ridden with wrinkles. My heart broke for every tear that strayed down her cheeks. - The description here is a bit cliché. Could you describe something about her which is more specific about the woman, something that tells us more about her character and hints at why there is a problem.
The wind whipped my skin as I sat on one of two swings, I could feel everything close in on me. It was like everything I’d ever pushed to that dark corner of my mind came running at me from every direction with an urgency I couldn’t handle. I ran my hands through my hair and gripped ad hard as I could. I needed to hold onto something, anything, that meant stability, sanity. - Very vague. I might cut this paragraph or go deeper.
“Rough day?” The sound of my neck cracking rippled through the dead air as I turned to face a lean man, slightly older than myself, with faded jeans and a kind face. He had a two day stubble that should be shaved along with shaggy head of hair that could use a buzz. The man sat on the swing next to me, it almost scared me that I completely missed his presence. - Why did this scare him? He leaned towards me, flashing me a yellow toothed grin. -Does the colour of his teeth matter to the story?
“Yeah, you could say that. How could you tell?” I chuckled sheepishly.
“Because I’ve been divorced and you, my friend, are a carbon copy of the married man I use to be.”
“What? No, I’m not, I mean,” I cleared my throat. “We’re not getting a divorce.”
“Well, should you be?”
“Uh, no?” He gave me a long, long look. It was an expecting look that pinned you in your place because it said how obvious it is that you’re lying through your teeth. - It is not clear who is speaking.
“So, why’re you married to her?” It wasn’t a question I was ready to answer. Without another word, he stretched his arm out to me. A pack of opened cigarettes was in his hand along with a white Bic lighter. - Again, not clear. Keep the actions and dialogue of a single character together. When you change to the other character, start a new paragraph.
“Not a smoker?” I shook my head slightly. “Well, this means you have two choices then, my friend.”
“You can grab one, take this lighter, and accept your fate same as mine.”
“What’s my other option?” I asked as I eyed the carton with a desire I wasn’t familiar with.
“You can leave right now and fix things with her.”
I stared at him, then the box, switching my gaze back and forth between the two without really seeing either. The image of the purple bags under my wife’s red rimmed eyes splattered my vision. With a shaky hand, I placed my first cigarette between unsure lips and inhaled a deep breath of what I believed was my fate. - Okay ending, but not particularly satisfying because we don’t know enough about the character’s problem or get to see his struggle. I need a bit more so that I will care that he has decided to get a divorce.
More Feedback: This is a really good start. It is a rough sketch but with some work could be very engaging. Most of the description is not really adding to the plot or to characterization and could be redone once the writer goes deeper into the protagonist’s decision-making process. It’s a good lump of clay and an interesting concept, but needs a few revision rounds before it will be ready to submit to a contest or publication.