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The Train Man

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111 Reviews

Gender: Female
Points: 4300
Reviews: 111
Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:51 am
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Ruth says...

The title is dreadful, I know, but my brain just decided to stop working, so suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks!

He must be divorced - or maybe he was never married, and made some mistakes in the past? But he has a daughter now, five or six years old, and speaking English in comparison with her father's foreign tongue. His face lights up when he calls her from the train, and we, sitting across the carriage, can't help but smile at his fatherly tones. Maria is pregnant, and he's watching her smooth her abdomen. She realises that he's staring at her, and awkwardly smiles back.

His tone, as well as language, obviously changes when the mother speaks to him, but they must have long since worked out their differences, and can stand to call each other "friend". He closes his phone, and kisses it with such deep emotion that I wonder if he's contemplating the idea of never seeing his child again.

His ticket is for London, I know that much from his conversation with the ticket man back in Manchester, but he gets off in Oxford. When the train starts to roll away, I watch out the window - and see him remove his jacket and cut the red wires of the Hamas bomb strapped to his chest.
Last edited by Ruth on Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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1729 Reviews

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Points: 92080
Reviews: 1729
Fri Oct 01, 2010 7:41 pm
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BluesClues says...

Oh! That's terrible!!!

Don't worry, not the story. The story is actually very, very good, and I know you think "The Train Man" is an awful title, but it actually captured my interest and made me click on the link. So I vote to keep it, unless you just really hate it.

But the ending - OH!!!

I mean, it's good, it just took me completely by surprise. Which I guess is actually a good thing, especially if that was your intention, to catch the reader by surprise. And, well, it was depressing, but I suppose not all our characters can have happy endings, however much we may secretly want them to. It reminds me of - have you ever read "A Fine Balance" by Rohinton Mistry? It's a long but very good book that takes place in India and follows several characters there between 1947 and 1977. And this one character (*SPOILER WARNING!* :D) named Maneck Kohlah, steps out in front of an oncoming train RIGHT AT THE END OF THE FREAKIN' BOOK! Which is terribly exciting and climactic, as it should be, but - OH!!!!!!!

So that's how this story was, but it was very good. I just always have an "OH!" moment when I get to the end of a story and suddenly everything's terrible for the characters.

The only two suggestions I really have are these:

This line:
and English-spoken to her parents' Arabic (or some such Middle Eastern language).
It's a little vague and rough. Kind of confusing. I assume this means that the daughter speaks English even though her parents speak Middle-Eastern, but it's a rough sentence. Also, I was wondering - well, at first read-through I thought that this man killed himself because he was depressed about "never seeing his child again," like I thought that maybe the mother was getting full custody or something, but at second read-through, especially with this line (wow, that makes me sound like a stereo-type follower, doesn't it?) I thought he must be a suicide bomber instead, that his intent is actually to blow up the train station or whatnot in Oxford. Oh, my. But it's interesting to see this from his point of view - maybe not his motive behind it or anything, but the fact that he has a family and a little daughter that he loves dearly. I like that you make him human - and then throw us off with his being a bomber in the end. WOW.

The other line is...hang on, gotta go find it...Oh, right, this line:
and we, sat across the carriage, can't help but smile at his fatherly tones.
It should be "and we, SITTING across the carriage, can't help but..." It threw me off at first, I was like, "Huh?" but then I realize that it was a single, simple grammatical error. So fix that, and you're good.

All in all, great story, even though (like Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery") it has a totally unexpected ending. (I can admire that since I myself have never once come up with an unexpected ending. Maybe one day.)

Keep writing!


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199 Reviews

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Points: 14356
Reviews: 199
Fri Oct 01, 2010 8:35 pm
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Apple says...

It's short, rather short. You cannot really say much with a short post. If you're low on time then save it using the button below and then return to it. As reviewers like to review big (though not to big), short little posts such as these do no let us help you actually imrpove this peice to it full potential. I am not trying to be rude, as I usually always do this. I just want to post something no matter how short or long, but...I'm a ditz, what can you say?

But I having something else to say to that! A bomb! This ending is EPIC! WOW, I never would have thought that. What is with that guy? Geez louise, that was great.

But he has a daughter now, five or six years old, and English-spoken to her parents' Arabic (or some such Middle Eastern language).

I do not understand what you mean here. As Blue said, it's vague and confusing. What do you mean exactly? That she is English-Spoken to Arabic parents or that she speeks Arabic to English parents? I'd suggest that you this over, check what you wanted it to say and change it as quick as possible as it only muddles the reader. I spent ten minutes trying to decipher what you were saying with no avail.

Another thing I didn't like is how you link Middle Eastern area to this, though. Whilst I do not take offence, some people may as they will think that you are implying only Arabic people would tape a bomb around their chest. I'm not saying to get rid of it in the least - as I still don't understand what you were trying to get at with the 'speaking' part - but just be careful with future works such as this. And you probably weren't intending that, but as scoped as I am, I pick up on detials that aren't even relevant. :D

I haven't really got much else to say. As it is rather short. I could reccomend where you should lengthen it. The MC for example, I know nothing about he/she. You could work on that a little to really bring out that character. I get that they are human, so that's good. You have a realistic character, but I failed to learn the MC's gender, which isn't that good. And something else might be the setting. Just explain a little on the train, you don't have to as there is some setting add in here, but then again, don't leave the reader hanging. That's really about it. As it should be kept rather short and sweet, I think that this peice is ACE.

Keep up the good work,

I spy!

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362 Reviews

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Points: 4206
Reviews: 362
Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:51 pm
wonderland says...



Thats one showstopper of a piece, so congrats.

I really loved the ending. They way you used a bomb, thats pretty unseen, and unusual.
THe only thing I'd suggest to do is slow down and clarify a bit. Ask yourself this. Why?
Why would he commit suicide, why with a bomb?
THink about that, then explain

Write On
'We will never believe again, kick drum beating in my chest again, oh, we will never believe in anything again, preach electric to a microphone stand.'

*Formerly wickedwonder*

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202 Reviews

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Points: 14895
Reviews: 202
Sat Oct 02, 2010 5:31 pm
Pretty Crazy says...

Okay, that's a short story. Wow, I'm amazed at how much you could squeeze in there! The emotion, the setting, and then the tragedy. Seriously, good job. Is there going to be more, or is that it?
Either way, I applaud you.

Looking for someone who won't disappoint you?
Look to Jesus.:)

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Points: 1040
Reviews: 3
Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:40 pm
JamesB says...

Great story is so little words!
When the train starts to roll away, I watch out the window - and see him remove his jacket and cut the red wires of the Hamas bomb strapped to his chest.

Well, I didn't see that one coming. I'm guessing he's depressed from losing his wife and child? Real emotion, definately write more of these. The title fits it perfectly, because it doesn't give anything away.

Good Job!

Very well; I hear; I admit, but I have a voice too, and for good or evil mine is the speech that cannot be silenced.
— Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness