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Healing



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Sat Jan 28, 2012 12:00 pm
schoutenoutloud says...



this is my first post, not really sure what to expect. It's a short story but isn't meant to be entirely stand-alone, however just want criticism really.
not really sure whether this counts as fantasy enough for this thread, but it gets there in the end, hang in there.


Her head broke the surface of the water and she blinked rapidly to relieve the sting of salt in her eyes. She felt her heart pounding with adrenaline caused by the buffeting waves, and she started to toss her hair out of her eyes, before remembering that the chemo had rendered that ingrained habit redundant. A young man glanced admiringly her way, and for a moment she felt warm, pleased with his attention. Then a slim 20-something-year-old woman walked past through the foam, and she felt the warmth fade as she watched his eyes follow the progress of that microscopic bikini. She involuntarily glanced down at her own swim-suit, carefully selected for the figure-flattering cut and flab-disguising ruching. Every now and then she managed to forget she was old- well, not old, mid fifties wasn’t old, but she was no longer twenty one. It was no longer her way men were glancing. Heads used to turn when she wore her favourite red bikini, but if she wore that now, they’d be turning for all the wrong reasons. No, those days were over.
She absent mindedly jumped a wave, misjudged it, and ended up suddenly floundering with a mouthful of salt water. Her heart was hammering again, but this time it was less pleasant. Her stomach clenched automatically, and her nose and throat burned as she tried to get her breath back. She tried to open her eyes but the sun was too bright and the wind was to dry and the salt stung too much. The most she could manage was a quick squint in order to make sure she wasn’t going to get knocked over by the next wave. She felt her face screw up and knew she must look ridiculous- a bald, middle-aged woman standing stock still in the surf, with her hands stretched out and just grazing the surface of the water, and her face screwed up like she had just swallowed half a lemon. With effort, she managed to un-wrinkle her face slightly, and squeeze her eyes open a crack. This time it wasn’t as painful, and slowly her eyes managed to adjust once more to the bright sunlight and salty wind.
Deciding that perhaps she’d had enough for one day, Jacquie started making her way back to the beach, timing her steps so that as the ever shrinking waves hit the backs of her legs, they propelled her gently forward. When she finally reached the shore, Jacquie stood for a moment feeling suddenly ungainly now she had left the buoyant embrace of the sea, and tried to pick out her bag amid the swarms of tourists. She located it, an improbable pink colour which had been a get well present from her niece, and draped a sarong round her hips, which matched the scarf she then tied around her head.
The baldness had been one of the side effects easiest to deal with, which seemed to surprise most people. They could only think of the supposed detraction from her appearance. The truth was, the scarves actually suited her. She liked to think she looked a little like an ageing film star, especially with her sunglasses on. People thought the hair loss was the worst thing, but it was just the only thing they saw. They didn’t see her rushing to the toilet on her bad days; they didn’t see her bed-ridden, victim of the germs which were a natural part of her body. Sometimes they commented on how tired she looked, and wouldn’t she like to lie down? But of course a little tiredness, a constant wearing on her body, heaviness in her limbs, was nothing compared with the vast tragedy of the loss of her hair. She did miss it, how it used to drop down her back in raven locks, but it wasn’t the worst thing. As she wondered back to the beachside apartment she was staying at, a present from the family to reward her for having cancer, she could feel the sea behind her as a great throbbing presence, and she remembered how it had stripped the years off, supported her body and made her feel young again. She remembered the eyes of the man, and she wanted that again. She wanted to be able to spend a day at the beach, without having to retreat to her room for an afternoon rest. She wanted to be able to wear a red bikini and not draw gasps of horror at the exposed cellulite. A flicker of movement at the corner of her eye indicated the appearance of yet more of the sandflies which seemed to have colonised the place. She could never get a look at the things straight on though, and it was useless to slap at them, they were too fast. Unfortunately, this had allowed the management to turn a blind eye to the infestation in apartment. They kept insisting that the resort was ‘insect free, madam’. The constant movement at the corner of her eyes had become quite disturbing, and left her on edge, making her feel older and even more tired than ever.
She stood in the shower in her room, letting the hot water course over her, and enjoying the relief it brought to her tensed muscles and aching joints. It felt as if the chemo had aged her by years. Her body had been changed in ways she wasn’t familiar with yet, and she didn’t think she would ever be familiar enough with it to leave behind the resentment. She imagined that the hot water was gradually smoothing and inflating her skin, washing away the extra weight, plumping up her lips, and, yes, running through her long, lustrous hair, returned to its original glossy black splendour, instead of the faded brown it had been dyed before the medication. Afterwards, as she stretched out on her bed in the dimness with curtains drawn, she sighed for what could never be again.
It was dark when she woke up, and she could hear the irritating buzzing of a small cluster of sandflies in the corner of her room. She wanted to get outside, out of the close, insect ridden room, and since the generosity of the family had not extended to a room with a balcony, she decided to go down to the beach and dip her feet into the water. She stood on the edge of the sea, and as she let the first wave wash over her feet, she felt a sudden release of tension. The flies stopped buzzing. The sea swept over her feet in a whispering rush, and, laughing, she untied the scarf from her head and let it fly away into the night breeze which had sprung up. Feeling suddenly reckless, she began wading into the sea, and again felt that delicious sense of buoyancy, as the sea seemed to wash away the years and the ache and the sickness. She waded further out, and her wet skirt clung to her legs like a mermaid’s tail. She was chest deep now, and bobbing on the surface of the waves she felt her feet leave the sandy floor. She kicked, and the powerful motion of her tail propelled her further out. She felt suddenly more awake and alive than she’d felt in a long time.
The following morning, the body of a tourist washed up on the beach. It was identified as that lovely woman from room 45b, poor thing. Must have gone for a late night swim, not really the wisest thing to do, and been caught in a rip, too weak to call out. What a shame, lucky she had comprehensive insurance.
Among the more adventurous tourists further out to sea, a young woman in her early twenties watched as the covered stretcher was taken away. Then, with a flick of her long black hair, she dived beneath the next wave and disappeared from sight.
  





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Sat Jan 28, 2012 6:14 pm
Love says...



(forgive me if I make some mistakes in this myself. This is the first time I am reviewing something in detail)

Paragraph 1: Much wrong with that...

Her head broke the surface of the water and she blinked rapidly to relieve the sting of salt in her eyes. She felt her heart pounding with adrenaline caused by the buffeting waves, and she started to toss her hair out of her eyes, before remembering that the chemo had rendered that ingrained habit redundant.


'She' is used 3 times in a very obvious manner. 'chemo' is not the best term, try 'chemotherapy'. The start of the sentences is not entirely well-done, although otherwise, it is reasonably well-structured.

A young man glanced admiringly her way, and for a moment she felt warm, pleased with his attention. Then a slim 20-something-year-old woman walked past through the foam, and she felt the warmth fade as she watched his eyes follow the progress of that microscopic bikini. She involuntarily glanced down at her own swim-suit, carefully selected for the figure-flattering cut and flab-disguising ruching. Every now and then she managed to forget she was old- well, not old, mid fifties wasn’t old, but she was no longer twenty one. It was no longer her way men were glancing. Heads used to turn when she wore her favourite red bikini, but if she wore that now, they’d be turning for all the wrong reasons. No, those days were over.


'glanced admiringly her way' just does not sound right to me... Try 'at her'. 20-something-year-old? Try something like 'youthful' etc. 'microscopic' is not entirely the appropriate word... Bacteria are microscopic. Don't overdo it. 'ruching'? Does that word even exist? Many of use are not knitters, and have no notion of it's definition. I can't even find it on the first page of google. 'her' I would suggest to have made Italic, but it is your choice.

Summary: Although there were the problems which I have mentioned, the first chapter is rather interesting, and already game me details about the main character in numerous subtle ways, with traces of humour.

Chapter 2:

She absent mindedly jumped a wave, misjudged it, and ended up suddenly floundering with a mouthful of salt water. Her heart was hammering again, but this time it was less pleasant. Her stomach clenched automatically, and her nose and throat burned as she tried to get her breath back. She tried to open her eyes but the sun was too bright and the wind was to dry and the salt stung too much. The most she could manage was a quick squint in order to make sure she wasn’t going to get knocked over by the next wave.


'absent mindedly' basically means 'without a mind'. Maybe 'absent-mindedly' would work better? 'bit this time it...' I would suggest that you substitute the 'it' with 'the experience' etc. The sentences could be written much better, as they are somewhat simplistic and not in their optimal state at the moment. 'And' is used too many times. Again, it all falls back on the fact that the sencences could be phrased much better. I can't really give any concrete description of this, but if you read much, especially a range of literature ranging from 1900 to 2010, then you will be able to pick out the fact that it could be written better. Make sure that you read much. It is not entirely clear to me what is going on in this scene...

She felt her face screw up and knew (suggestion: 'that' here) she must look ridiculous- a bald, middle-aged woman standing stock still in the surf, with her hands stretched out and just grazing the surface of the water, and (REMOVE) her face screwed up like (I would suggest to replace with 'as though' she had just swallowed half a lemon. With effort, she managed to un-wrinkle her face slightly, and squeeze her eyes open a crack. This time it wasn’t as painful, and slowly her eyes managed to adjust once more to the bright sunlight and salty wind.


'Screw up'??? Is that actually a legitimate expression? 'Half a lemon'? Why not a full lemon, or a quarter? Don't be so specific in places where it is unnecessary, as it will only cause confusion. Again, somewhat simplistic language. Wait, why were they unadjusted again?

Summary: More mistakes than in the first paragraph. Somewhat unclear, at least to me, on as to what happened to her. Somewhat simplistic language.



So, I need to leave for now. Will hopefully finish reviewing your work later. See you :)
I was Amareth :)
  








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