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18+ Language

Where I Stand

by TheLeakyPen


Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language.

“Come on Ellie!” I giggle and dance away from you. The moon is bright and illuminates your pale face.

Your eyes glance quickly from side to side, “Marie, I don’t think this is a good idea.”

I push the shaggy blond hair away from my eyes. “Scared much?”

You rub your goose-bumped arms, “N-no I just don’t think we should be this close to the edge when it’s dark out.” I laugh out loud and the sound echoes around us. I slowly start to walk backward closer and closer to the edge.

“I double dog dare you.” I can sense that my eyes are glistening with the sparkle Dad always described as mischievous. You shake your head quickly making your blunt auburn bob swish back and forth. I roll my eyes, “So we came all the way out here, in our bathing suits, just so you could chicken out?” You stand silently with your towel wrapped around you tightly.

I throw my hands up in exasperation, “Ellie, it’s the beginning of our goddamn senior year! Do you know what that means?”

Your voice is meek as usual “That we’re gonna be applying to colleges soon?”

“No!” I can feel my cheeks flushing pink from the chilly air. “It means that this is the year to be remembered! We make our legacy this year! Do you always want to be known as the boring wallflower?”

As soon as the words exit my mouth I know I’ve said the wrong thing to you. Your eyes fill with tears and your bottom lip trembles.

“Oh El,” I say as I walk over and wrap my arms around your small frame. “I didn’t mean it."

“No you’re right,” you mumble into my shoulder, “I’m a nobody.”

I pull away and look you straight in the eyes. “Do you want to change that?”

It took some convincing but eventually, I persuaded you to do what we had come to do. You stood on the edge and looked down at the dark area below. “It looks really far down, Marie. Are you sure about this?”

“I’m positive. There are no rocks and the water is the perfect depth. You can do this.”

“I don’t know i-”

“Do not back out on me now Ellie Montgomery.”

You look at me with your big fawn eyes and whisper, “But-.”

______________________________________________________________________________

Where I stand today is where I made the biggest mistake of my life. Where I took you, Ellie, a sweet innocent girl and made you do something that turned my life upside down.

Where I stand is a place that will forever haunt me. It is the place where I know that I could have made a different decision and changed the way my life would go.

Where I stand is the root of the rumors. It is what could have stopped people from whispering about me and you in the hallways of our school.

“Did you hear that Marie Montgomery made her sister…” That line is something that I have heard every day since I made my mistake.

Where I stand is a graveyard. That large rock right there, the headstone. It marks the place where a life was ended far too soon. A life that I took.

________________________________________________________________________

“But nothing El!” I yelled at you. “You have no fucking excuse to back out on me now!” And then I did it. I pushed you. I pushed my amazing twin sister off of a ledge that fell down down down into freezing water. Simply because I wanted something to leave behind. And I got it.

______________________________________________________________________________

So tonight, I stand in the place where we stood that night. Tonight, I graduated high school. I received my diploma, shook hands with my teachers, and threw my cap up into the air with my fellow peers. But there was one thing missing at my graduation ceremony. You Ellie. You. You should have been by my side throughout the whole night. You should have been with me when I learned we both got into Cambridge. You should have been with me every night after that one night.

Where I stand tonight is the last place I will ever stand. You didn’t deserve to die Ellie. You didn’t deserve what I did to you.

I told you we should leave a legacy behind for our senior year. And we did. And for that I am truly sorry.


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6 Reviews


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Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:29 pm
Koitsubaki wrote a review...



Hi TheLeakyPen! It's Koitsubaki here again!


I saw that you needed a review on this short story for a competition, so here I am. Let's get to it.

Outline:
+ Interesting application of second-person POV
- Lacks feeling of setting
- Hard to root for characters
- Punctuation errors
- Use of all-caps

+ The interesting choice to employ the second-person POV in this plot creates a tone that is equally so, and effective too. Second-person is a rarity compared to first and third, and most of the ones I've seen are used in an aggressive or angry tone. What this story does differently is use it in an apologetic context. It then feels sincere and regretful in a way that's heartfelt. We viewers are often detached from the story in the other POVs, but here we are directly involved, we are the subject of the words of the main character. You should definitely keep this if you plan on revising this story, because this is definitely one of its best parts.

On a quick side note, I'm pretty glad that this looks like a short story now instead of a poem. There's punctuation, paragraphs, and all the qualities of prose writing. Good job on that! owo

- I think the setting those two are at -- on a cliffside, facing a large body of water, at night -- is a pretty awesome yet scary place to be. The moon, along with its reflection on the waters ahead of you, will be the only guiding light gently bathing your surroundings, and there will be a chilly wind keeping you from ever feeling hot, but at the same time there's a hazard zone right in front of you, which keeps you from getting lulled into a peaceful trance.

I don't really feel that setting though. It mostly feels like two people talking in a half-formed, incomplete environment. I suggest you take more time and words to develop the setting a bit more. Describe it in greater detail. Make us feel the presence of their surroundings more.

- Although the story is pretty sad, I didn't feel much for either of them. They're kind of still strangers and fictional characters to me.

Maybe it would help if you flesh out these characters more. You can do this giving these two more backstory; maybe you could explore their very special relationship as twin sisters prior to this point in time. We humans are historical creatures, and we like to hear the histories of others. I'm very sure Marie and Ellie have lived lives of their own outside of this story, and I'd like to hear about that or at least see a bit of it too.

Or you could make both of them feel more human in their present actions. What I mean is detail their physical actions more and dive deeper into what they're thinking. We humans recognize each other through our body and psychology, and once we see that your characters act and think and feel like we do, then we start to see them less as fictional characters, but more as real people.

The key to writing character-driven dramas like these is to make the readers invested in your characters, and the key to that is to make these characters human to the readers.

- I'm noticing your errors in punctuation. Here's a grammar tip: keep all commas and periods inside the quotation marks. Don't leave them outside.

Also, if the quotation isn't asking a question and doesn't end a sentence, end the quotation with anything but a period. If it does end a sentence, end the quotation with a period or whichever punctuation mark is appropriate.

There are more rules that I haven't mentioned that you can look up on the internet, but don't you worry. They're not at all so hard, and you don't have to memorize them all. Just keep in mind the ones that you feel are useful in your writing.

- Like DarkPandemonium said, using all-caps is AMATEURISH. It usually shows a writer that doesn't really know how to use tone, body language and context to manipulate the emotion in which certain bits of text will be read. It's only effective and cool when the old fiction masters like Poe do it.

And those are all for my points! Some people (like your writing buddies, casual readers or young teens) may like your short story, but as it is, it would probably be very easy to find better short stories among your peers. I hope you revise this with all I said in mind. If anything I said happens to be unclear, please tell me.

That's all for me now! じゃあね!

~こいつばき




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Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:58 am
DarkPandemonium wrote a review...



Hi, TheLeakyPen! Pan here to review. Let's dive straight into the nitpicks. Blue text = suggested changes.

Nitpicks

I can sense that my eyes are glistening with the sparkle Dad always described as mischievous.


I don't really like this line. I feel like it's forcing what would naturally be third person description into first person, and it doesn't translate very well. How you can you sense your eyes are glistening?

You shake your head quickly making your blunt auburn bob swish back and forth.


Just be careful about pigeonholing description in where it isn't natural. I don't feel it makes much sense for Marie to draw attention to Ellie's hairstyle because she'll have seen her sister almost every day of her life. It would be like me looking at my sister and saying 'she shakes her long, shoulder-length brown hair out of her face'. Her appearance is so familiar to me that I'd never think that - I'd just think 'she shakes her hair out of her face'.

Also remember that we don't actually need to know what the characters look like. In a novel, it is nice to get a sense of a character's appearance, but it honestly isn't that important in short fiction. Don't feel like you have to force a description in somewhere.

I throw my hands up in exasperation. “Ellie, it’s the beginning of our goddamn senior year! Do you know what that means?”


Your voice is meek as usual. “That we’re gonna be applying to colleges soon?”


“Oh El”. I say


Remember: commas close dialogue that is followed by a speech tag. This should look like:

"Oh, El," I say

“It looks really far down Marie.


This is the second time I've noticed this, so I'll just drop a pointer. Usually, when someone addresses someone by name or some kind of placeholder for a name, you put a comma before it. Like this:

"Did you see it, Carla?"

"Welcome home, dear."

"Stop hitting your sister, Jem!"


It's just a writing convention, and it helps to eliminate confusion in sentences like this:

"Pass me that Joe." = Asking someone to pass you a person called Joe.

"Pass me that, Joe." = Asking Joe to pass you something.

There will be sentences where the meaning is clear either with or without the comma, but it's best to always put it in just so the rules are consistently applied.

With all that in mind, the quote should look like:

“It looks really far down, Marie.

You make this error quite a lot of times in the piece, so see if you can correct all the other instances yourself.

“I don’t know I-”


“Do not back out on me now, Ellie Montgomery”.


Avoid using CAPS LOCK for emphasis. It looks quite amateurish. Italics are a lot more widely used.

“BUT NOTHING EL!” I yelled at you. “YOU HAVE NO FUCKING EXCUSE TO CHICKEN OUT!”


Same thing here. Do away with the capital letters. It just looks hammy and over-dramatic.

Overall Thoughts

Writing Style

The writing style is mostly fine. Most of the grammar errors are very minor - missing commas and full stops, stuff like that - and the story as a whole is easy to follow. There are two things, however, that I'd like you to work on.

1) More description of the scene. They're on a cliff at night, yet you dedicate no time to describing what Marie can see from where she's standing. There's scope to talk about the moonlight shimmering on the sea, the jagged rocks underfoot, the smell of cold and sea salt, the sky and stars and all that jazz. You miss a trick by not taking advantage of that. I want to feel like I'm there on the cliff with them, which means you've really got to get into Marie's perspective and pay attention to all of the senses.

2) This may be a personal preference thing, but I'm really not fond of the overdramatic, mononlogue-y style that you use in parts of the piece, most notably in the last section. It feels like you're trying too hard to make it profound and emotional, so it actually has the opposite effect. To me, actions speak louder than words. A paragraph where a character laments about their guilt and how sorry they are is not nearly as hard-hitting as a paragraph where the character - with no clear indication of what they're going to do - walks up the cliff in their graduation robes, looks down at the water trashing below and steps off the edge. It's the difference between showing and telling. When you're trying to shock people and make them emotional, I always think less is more.

Character

It's a short story, so I'm not expecting the characters to be completely rounded and four-dimensional, but I think you did a good job. I like that Marie's desperation to be approved of is what causes her to make the biggest mistake of her life. It's always good when characters have a fatal flaw which acts as the catalyst for the whole story.

I wouldn't mind having an extra scene or two before the cliff incident, because I'd quite like to see how Ellie and Marie act around one another under more normal circumstances. At the moment, we sort of have to take Marie's word for the fact that she and Ellie are so close, but having a few extra interactions between them would help the reader believe more in their relationship. Seeing evidence of their closeness beforehand would make the scene on the cliff all the more emotional.

Story Content

It's a great idea for a story, if an incredibly depressing one. Having Marie jump from the same cliff she pushed her sister off is a grimly poetic end, one I can't help but quite like. Nevertheless, there are elements of this story which I think could be expanded on. Not too much, of course, because it is a short, but I would like more exploration of Ellie and Marie's relationship before the cliff incident, and potentially more exploration of the aftermath of Ellie's death. The whole story moves quite fast and glosses over some areas that could be really interesting, and I think Marie's decision to kill herself would feel like it made more sense if we saw some of the fallout following what happened to Ellie.

These are all suggestions, of course, but give it some thought. You might find that there's more you can tell about this story. It feels like a snapshot of something larger, and I'd quite like to see how you could develop this into something more substantial.

That's all for this review. I hope I critiqued this in time, because I think I remember you saying that you were going to enter this in something. Best of luck with that, and, as always:

Keep writing! :D
~Pan




TheLeakyPen says...


Thank you, Pan! Thankfully this story is not due for some time so I have time to make corrections. This was a very rough first draft so I will be making many edits. I will take your advice on the more descriptive setting and going more into the background of Marie and Ellie. Again, thank you!





You're welcome!



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Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:07 am
Radrook wrote a review...



Wow! Very impressive writing skills! This is one of those stories which really grips the reader’s attention. I could literally feel the somber painful regret in the tone of the grieving sister who in one foolish moment took her sister’s life. I loved the dramatic dialogue between the two twin sisters which very effectively shows the difference between their personalities: one very self-confident while the other extremely shy and withdrawn. The impression that one sister has always been psychologically subordinate to the other is very skillfully conveyed via both action and words. So the story’s characterization is excellent. The dramatic soliloquy part of the satory in which Marie addresses her dead sister as if she were alive and expresses deep regret is also very skillfully done.

Here are some things I thought about during and after reading.

Why is Marie assuming that their claim about that leap would be considered the truth when it might just as likely be viewed as a lie? That made me wonder if there were others watching but soon came to realize that the sisters are being described as totally alone. If indeed the sisters were alone then the other students were informed about what happened by Marie herself. I assume that her admission was in a court of law during the investigation since one can’t just push someone of a cliff-admit it-and then walk around Scott free without any legal consequences.

suggestions:

[You rub your goose-bumped arms.] For economy of words.

“I’m a nobody[,]”.

“....from whispering about you and I in the hallways of our school.”

Please note that it’s “...from whispering about you and me in the hallways....”

The way to tell is by testing it like this:

“From whispering about I and whispering about you,”
“From whispering about me and whispering about you.”





It always seems impossible until it's done.
— Nelson Mandela