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Three Shots

by Plume


Three shots was all it took for Harris Williams to capture the hummingbird in his backyard. He lined up his camera, and kept it steady. It was strange, he thought. Hummingbirds weren’t usually out this late. Three clicks later, he examined his work, satisfied. This would get him the first place prize for sure.

Three shots was all it took for Jamie Levi to become tipsy and stumbling in her high heels. She wandered the club, searching for someone to lean on. She found her phone in her hands, opened to a draft of a message to her ex. His chest would do nicely for support. She banged out a text, ridden with typos, and sent it. In the meantime, she could use some more drinks.

Three shots was all it took to incapacitate Pippin Arthur. One in his thigh, one in his shoulder. One between his ribs. He lay on the ground at the front of an alleyway, high out of his mind. He had come there for drugs and gotten bullets instead. His boyfriend would be so disappointed.

----

Two heaves was all Harris needed to lug his photo gear inside. It was supposed to rain tonight. He carried his camera in last, cradling it like a baby. “You’re going to get me a win,” he whispered to it, when a buzz on his phone distracted him. An illegible text from his ex-girlfriend, Jamie, popped up on his notifications. So she was drunk. Again. He rolled his eyes, set his camera down, and left his house. The first raindrops began to fall as he started the ignition.

Two heaves was all Jamie needed to barf up her dinner. She had eaten a plate of nachos at the beginning of the night; she finished them all and could recall the fabric of her mini dress pulled taut over her full stomach. The remains of the nachos now resided in the toilet behind the bar. She collapsed against the porcelain bowl. No one was there to hold her hair back, and no one was there to have her back.

Two heaves was all Pippin could manage as he struggled for breath in the alley. He suspected that blood had entered his lungs; he was coughing it up and spattering it on his clothes. It was a pity; he liked the sweater he had on. His boyfriend had bought it for him a few weeks ago, on their one year anniversary. It was blue, the same color of his boyfriend’s eyes. He imagined the sweater was a hug from his lover as he bled out.

----

Harris would always remember that date for a number of reasons. For one, the rain. He hated driving in it; it would always muck up his windshield even with the wipers on. It was also dark out. His hands gripped the wheel in anxiety as he drove to pick up Jamie from her favorite club. He would find her outside the bathroom, crying her eyes out. When he placed a hand on her shoulder, she sobbed harder. “Harrsss,” she slurred. “Harrsss. You came.”

Jamie would always consider that unofficial date their last. When Harris had shown up, she had known his scent meant safety. She vaguely recalled being helped up, cleaned up, and sobered up (slightly) by Harris. He had bought her a coffee, brought over some napkins and water, and helped her walk on her stilettos out of the club. She remembered walking to his car, which he had parked a few blocks away. She remembered passing an alleyway, when all of a sudden, his steady gait and strong arms weren’t there to guide her anymore. She had turned--almost falling--and found Harris crying at the feet of a dead man.

They served dates at Pippin’s funeral. It was strange, mostly due to the fact that anyone who knew Pippin well enough would know that Pippin hated dates. Harris was one of those people, so when offered one by the staff he politely refused. He felt that it would be an insult to Pippin’s memory. He nearly laughed when he remembered the conversation they had a month into dating each other. Pippin had said dates tasted like if someone turned the elderly into fruit. Now, remembering Pippin’s lighthearted wit made Harris’s heart ache. His dark suit felt like a mask, shrouding him in a dark cloud that hid his true emotions from everyone else in the funeral home. Several people had approached him, offering their condolences. Nothing could ever be enough to remove the pain, yet he grimaced and thanked them for their concern. Though Pippin was the one who had been shot, Harris swore he felt the bullets himself. His heart was bleeding, and he didn’t think it would ever stop.


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51 Reviews


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Tue Apr 13, 2021 7:00 pm
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Spearmint wrote a review...



Hi Plume!! I've browsed through (quite) a few of your works now and ahh I had no idea you wrote scripts and stories too! Somehow that makes me admire you even more, and hehe sorry if I spammed your notifs with the likes I left xD But honestly, each of those pieces deserved them!! Okay and now I've found this piece, which is probably one of my favorites so far (despite it being one of your older works), and so I've decided to give it a review!

So, overall thoughts: I love all the wordplay and repetition in this piece, and the way you start off with those three threads of stories. It was super neat to read about these three people, and slowly figure out how they're all related, and then that ending-- gosh, I felt bad for Harris. Poor guy, he had to pick up his drunk ex-girlfriend and see his current boyfriend dead, all in the same night. :'( I guess I was also a little sad for Pippin, but I felt like Harris was the main character, so (to me) his grief hit harder. (Okay that was just a random thought :p) Ooh and I also liked the organization of this piece, with the three shots, then two heaves, then the remember/consider/dates sections! Another reviewer mentioned that they'd love to see the pattern repetition continued at the end, but I think it also works as is, because the breaking of the pattern makes the last paragraph stand out. And in my experience, that's usually good if you want the reader to pay attention to the ending. There's also the date repetition in the last three paragraphs, which I think is pretty cool, especially with the way you managed to tie in the food dates (and still have the story make sense-- truly an impressive feat c:)!

All right, moving on to suggestions... I think I just have one (haha it was hard to find anything to improve on for this piece). When reading this story, I kind of found it hard to relate to the characters. That could be because of the age difference, or the fact that I haven't been in a relationship yet, but also I feel like it might make this story better if you tied in more emotions or something (sorry, I'm not completely sure how to phrase it, but I guess what I mean is adding a little more detail, and sort of fleshing out the characters more?) For example, maybe Harris feels some guilt about not being there for Pippin, or he might think about all the lost possibilities? But I do see how that could be difficult for a short story, and honestly I don't even know if this suggestion would help much (the story's awesome as it is). So yeah, this is completely optional! C:

As for specifics, I couldn't find any grammar errors, and your sentence phrasing looks great! (No comma splices I could see xD) The piece flows really well and it was a joy to read! Ah and upon re-reading, I see how the sentence "Hummingbirds weren't usually out this late." subtly (but effectively) lays context that it's evening. Oh and there are so many other little things that all add up to make reading this such a pleasant experience! I wasn't confused at any point during the story, which shows that you're a very talented writer!!

Okay I hope something in there was helpful, and I just have to say it again: this story is incredible!! Keep writing!! ^-^




Spearmint says...


Ah wow I think that was one of the longest reviews I've done so far! xD Thank you so much for the tips, they helped a ton!!



Plume says...


Aaaa the notif spam was totally fine! I'm so glad you enjoyed it, and I'm honestly blushing from all your sweet commentary. And your review was so great to read!! I'm so glad some of the stuff I said helped you, and a lot of the stuff in the review is helpful to me!!



Spearmint says...


Yay that's awesome!! :DDD



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Tue Apr 28, 2020 8:11 am
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Tawsif wrote a review...



I was really touched reading this story. It had a sort of dramatic, suspenseful tone that kept me intrigued throughout. Well done!

"No one was there to hold her hair back, and no one was there to have her back."

That was an excellent literary line.

".....and helped her walk on her stilettos out of the club."

Throughout the story you used lovely imagery. I loved how you mention 'stilettos' instead of 'shoes'. It actually created a striking image in my mind.

To be honest, I was slightly disappointed at the end. You maintained a sort of similar patterns in the story. "Three shots", "two Heaves".... it was quite creative indeed. And I also loved how you brought the three characters together slowly. But in the last part, the similar pattern was missing.

"Harris would always remember....."

"Jamie would always consider......."

"They served dates at Pippin’s funeral......."

See? The pattern isn't there. I would LOVE to see the same pattern repeated here as well. It will be difficult for you, no doubt, but it'll surely make the story more interesting.

Another point I'd like to add is that there was something missing in the story's plot. Harris is heartbroken for the loss of his boyfriend. You portrayed his heartache very touchingly. But in the end I expected more. With the dramatic opening you had, I thought you were building up for something really substantial. I expected for something even more interesting to happen. Forgive me if I'm being harsh, but maybe you can work on the story more. You can do more justice to the creative 'similar patterns' technique you used. You can elaborate it, explain how Harris and Jamie used to be when they were in a relationship, whether Harris is a bisexual or not, and things like that. There's a lot of room for elaboration.

I'm sorry again if I hurt you. But I like your writing style, and hence the suggestion of plot development.

KEEP WRITING.




Plume says...


Yo. Thank you so much for this review. No worries, I'm not hurt AT ALL. You have a lot of good suggestions. I've gotten tips in the past to be more understated in my writing (i.e., not reveal too much and to let the reader kind of figure it out for themselves) but your comments let me know that perhaps I was a little too understated. Thank you so, so much for this review!!



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Sun Apr 26, 2020 12:14 am
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Icon wrote a review...



I love this story. Plain and simple. One of my favorite things about it is how you had something that could've become gimmicky and annoying very quickly, but you kept the story serious and might I add, wonderful. I couldn't stop reading it! The use of homophones was smart, and well thought out. I think you have a lot of talent, and I cannot wait to read even more work of yours.




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Sat Apr 25, 2020 4:29 pm
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ryleigha says...



Hi there! This was an amazing short! I really liked the mirroring between the three characters and the theme of three that you continued! This is really solid writing, especially with the grief aspects at the end with Harris. However, the time jump at the last paragraph seems a little disjointed because it doesn't follow the timeline of the preceding paragraphs but it is easy to get through because of the parallels with the dates! Well done!




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Sat Apr 25, 2020 4:28 pm
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ryleigha wrote a review...



Hi there! This was an amazing short! I really liked the mirroring between the three characters and the theme of three that you continued! This is really solid writing, especially with the grief aspects at the end with Harris. However, the time jump at the last paragraph seems a little disjointed because it doesn't follow the timeline of the preceding paragraphs but it is easy to get through because of the parallels with the dates! Well done!





Nobody wants to see the village of the happy people.
— Lew Hunter