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Corrupted Courage Chapter 8

by Vita


As I left the wharf district, the air became staler and heavier. The breeze that blew in from the ocean got lost in the twisting streets and rusting buildings. Smells hung in the air longer in the narrow, stagnant streets of the Rubigo District. Gasoline, garbage, and questionable street food made up the body odor of what many called the armpit of the city.

I began to relax as I drew closer to home. My surroundings were dilapidated, but familiar. I passed the parking lot where I learned to roller skate, the playground my sister used to love. When did she get too big for playgrounds? How did I miss her growing up?

I passed the diner where my best friend and I used to study for tests. When had we stopped meeting there? I struggled to remember. Had it been after mom got sick, when I stopped have money for milkshakes? Yes, that must have been it. I remembered the last time we’d spread our notes and textbooks across the sticky counter, remembered the panic when I’d opened my wallet to find it empty. They’d offered to pay for me, and I refused. We had such a fight over it. Had I ever apologized properly for my pride, or did they forgive me as they always did?

Lost in thought, I barely noticed as I passed the building that the gangs burned down, and the window shattered by a bullet. I passed graffiti murals in neon paint that was bright even in the darkness, and breathed in the fragrance of potted flowers coaxed into bloom on stoops and balconies.

I passed the ghosts of my childhood, passed through memories of another life, and arrived home with the echoes of another life trailing behind me like cloak, disguising what I’d become to those who knew me best. I hoped it would be enough.

Home was a gritty, vibrant place for my family and me. Home was a thousand stories in the cracks of the sidewalk, the slurred songs of drunks stumbling on the sidewalk outside. Home was in the neon signs that shown through our windows and served as our night-light, and in ivy that scrawled like cursive script up the concrete walls.

Home was apartment 7B in a five-story apartment complex sandwiched between a twenty-four hour Laundromat and a payday loan shark. The dingy hallway was carpeted in linty green and brown checks. The faint buzz of the fluorescent lights in the stairwell drowned out my labored breathing as I slowly climbed the 3 flights to my family’s apartment, the banister groaning under my leaning weight.

I fumbled in my pocket for my keys, dropping the bag of medication in the process. The bottles of pills inside rattled loudly, too loudly. I muttered a curse under my breath and quickly stooped to pick them up, but a pair of wizened, twiggy hands beat me to it.

“Careful, Dearie,” The old woman in front of me murmured, handing the bag of pills back to me. I jerked backwards.

“Where did you come from?” I hissed in shock, glancing around the small landing. There were two other doors in addition to my own, but all of them were closed and bolted. The way the hinges in this building creaked, I was sure I’d have heard if one of them had opened.

The old woman smiled, but her lined eyes were full of sadness. “I’ve come a long way, my dear. A long, long, way.”

I frowned at her in confusion, taking a step back to look at her better. She was very short but not hunched, with frothy white hair curling out from her head in every direction. A plum colored shawl embroidered with branching gold thread was draped around her bony shoulders like a blanket. Her eyes were the green tinged brown of rotting wood returning to earth.

She cocked her head to the side like a bird and stared back at me, waiting to see what I would do.

“Wha- what do you want,” I stuttered nervously.

“I’m just doing the neighborly thing,” She replied, her voice at once very young and very old. It was then that I realized that I had seen her before. She lived in the apartment across the hall, appearing very rarely to check her mail or collect groceries delivered to her doorstep. This was the first time I’d spoken to her.

“It’s when neighbors abandon neighbors that everything begins to fall apart, don’t you think?” the old woman continued.

“Um, I guess,” I muttered a bit distractedly, desperately trying to think of an excuse for being out this late at night.

“Don’t worry about me,” the old woman assured me, seeming to read my mind, “My lips are sealed. But if you ever need help, you know where I live, yes?”

“R-right,” I stammered, unsure. “Thank you.”

“Anytime,” the old woman said, turning toward the door of her apartment. Just before she vanished inside, she turned back. “Take care of those broken ribs now, Maisie.”

It took a moment for what she had said to register.

“What did you say?” I blurted out, forgetting for a moment to keep my voice down.

The old woman paused with her door almost closed. She peered out at me through the barest sliver of open space, her watery eyes pinpricks of reflected light. The apartment beyond her was pitch dark.

“I only meant to remind you to give your wounds time to heal. After all, you’ve a hard battle ahead of you.”

“You know about the mayor?” I asked, dropping all pretense of innocence.

“I know about the mayor.” The old woman confirmed, “But that wasn’t the fight I meant.”

With that, she shut the door with a bang. I heard the lock click shut a moment later.

I stood on the landing for a moment, clutching my keys in one hand and my medicine in the other, trying to figure out what on earth had just happened.

Exhaustion and confusion warred in my mind. Eventually, exhaustion won out, and I retreated into the safety of my apartment, my bed at the forefront of my mind.


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Points: 456
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Thu Jul 02, 2020 2:38 pm
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Lezuli wrote a review...



Hi! Just wanted to write a quick review for you!
First of all, I love this story! It's a totally awesome concept and idea, I love stories where good and bad aren't in a clear-cut line!
Second, just some minor things-
1: In the last chapter, Maisie maced the doctor's face off for coming too close to her, but she wasn't at all wary of this random woman who popped out of nowhere. Maybe it was just because she was tired. It's nothing too major, just something to keep in mind for later.
2: In the past chapters, you mentioned how Maisie's mom worked for minimum wage before she got sick, so how did Maisie afford those shakes? Did she have a part time job or something along those lines? Again, this isn't anything major.
and finally: Your descriptions are amazing, you totally pull your readers into your work! I can't wait to read Chapter 9




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Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:14 pm
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zaminami wrote a review...



Hello, Vita! My name is AJ/zaminami, and I've recently come back to YWS! I've never read your other chapters, but I'll try my best with this review <3

This reads like a poem, especially with the descriptions of the setting and of the main character's reminiscence of the past. I do have a few nitpicks that I would like to discuss:

First of all, after you hit the dialogue, your story changes style. It becomes more and more simple, going from "As I left the wharf district, the air became staler and heavier. The breeze that blew in from the ocean got lost in the twisting streets and rusting buildings" to "I heard the lock click shut a moment later", which feels more a tell and not a show like you did earlier.

You also tend to use words too much or try to make it fancy - I'm a huge hypocrite since I do the same thing, haha - like in these examples:

my bed at the forefront of my overtired mind.


Here is an example of you being too fancy. You don't need "overtired". In fact, you could leave it out completely! (I understand that this isn't a conscious decision. Trust me, I do it too).

I struggled to remember. Had it been after mom got sick, when I stopped have money for milkshakes? Yes, I remembered now. I remembered the last time we’d spread our notes and textbooks across the sticky counter, remembered the panic when I’d opened my wallet to find it empty.


This is an example of using words too much. I think I know what you're trying to do - you're trying to do the repeating-word thing in poetry - but using the same word over and over makes me skip over the paragraph. Also, as a side-note, past tense and "now" are a bit contradictory.

There's also one small grammar issue that you do a few times, and that's when you accidentally end a dialogue with a comma and use a capital letter after it. You don't need the capital letter!

I thoroughly enjoyed this read and I adore this writing style a lot! Good job! I hope that you have a great day, okay? <3

~~ AJ/zaminami <3




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Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:25 pm
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whatchamacallit wrote a review...



Hey Vita! I'm back for Chapter 8!

This is another really great chapter. You've got such a nice balance of descriptions and action, so that the reader can picture everything in their mind, but it doesn't feel like it's slowing the story down. Also, you a really nice blend of unique and interesting, but at the same time unpretentious and easy to read, descriptions. Like even in the very first paragraph

The breeze that blew in from the ocean got lost in the twisting streets and rusting buildings. Smells hung in the air longer in the narrow, stagnant streets of the Rubigo District. Gasoline, garbage, and questionable street food made up the body odor of what many called the armpit of the city.

You combine poetic with down-to-earth in a smooth and flawless way, which makes your writing enjoyable but also easy to read and honestly, I'm just really impressed. I have nothing to critique about that.

Also, Maisie is just great. Even when she isn't going through huge plot twists or interacting with important characters, we still get to see so much of her personality. From simple memories of her childhood, to her responses to the old lady, everything develops her character in some way.

I only found one very very small nitpick -
I passed the parking lot where I learned to roller skate, the playground my sister used to love.

Technically there should be an "and" after the comma.

And can I just say I think it's awesome that you so casually introduce a nonbinary character? Like that's just amazing.
They’d offered to pay for me, and I refused. We had such a fight over it. Had I ever apologized properly for my pride, or did they forgive me as they always did?


The only thing I can think of as a critique for the chapter overall is perhaps that you could use more descriptions when the old lady and Maisie are talking. But honestly, that's super picky.

Sorry I don't have more suggestions, but there's not much to fix (: I hope this review is helpful at any rate, and I can't wait to read Chapter 9!

Keep writing!

whatchamacallit


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No man or woman who tries to pursue an ideal in his or her own way is without enemies.
— Daisy Bates