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Estranged

by zippyzonks




(draft of first chapter of book i am currently writing)



You could say Sam was a strange person. Although in my eyes, he wasn’t. He was my older brother. He liked volleyball, lemonade made with brown sugar, and the color orange. He hated cooking. Whenever it snowed for the first time every year, he’d jump around the front yard in his underwear, singing random words. We were the bits and pieces of each other. He had our moms green eyes, but his more like a wild jungle. Same brown hair, but his more choppy and short. Same pale, pale, pale, skin, but he had more freckles. I was always jealous of his gap teeth. I’ve never met a mind quite like his before. I’ve never seen anyone dream like him before. He was Sam; inconceivable and brilliant.

But how can someone like him change so drastically? I ask myself the same question, as I see him standing before me. The early morning’s golden light shined behind him in that camouflaged uniform. His blouse’s sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, revealing scar tissue in unexpected places. He wasn’t smiling. A pit formed in my stomach, knowing that he hadn’t in a long time, either.

“Sammy,” I said, opening my arms.

“Hey, Willa,” He said, embracing me. He smelled like Dove’s Original Soap and laundry detergent. I thought about that bottle of blue cologne sitting on his dresser in his room upstairs, collecting dust.

“Why don’t you go upstairs?” Mom asked, patting Sam’s back. “Get changed and you and Willa can go get breakfast.” He let go and made a path up the stairs, not saying a word. I watched him, until I couldn’t even see his shadow.

“Something’s wrong,” I said, looking back at my parents. My father, stereotypically reading the newspaper and drinking coffee, didn’t bat an eye. My mother sighed.

“He’s just not used to being home after two years,” Mom said, leaning against the dining room table. “Give him time, he’ll adjust.”

I thought about her words as I sat in the passenger seat of the car as Sam anxiously flipped through stations. Welcome back to The Talk Box!- Panic 96.7- Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends- Until I heard a click.

“Never anything good on the radio,” Sam joked, putting his hands on the wheel. They were rough and tan.

"Mhmm," I hummed. I didn't know what to talk about. I wondered so many things about him. I wondered who he met out there, and if he had made any friends. I wondered what food he ate, and if he missed Mom's lemonade. I wondered how cold the two winters were that he spent there, and if he'd seen anyone get shot. I wondered what he saw out there, I wondered how he felt.

"Man, I haven't really driven a car like this in forever," He said, smoothing his hands over the light coloured leather steering wheel. "Forgot how much I missed the simple life."

“I wonder how pissed Lizzie is going to be when she finds out we left without her,” I said, turning my head to the window. Lizzie, the youngest of the Brown siblings, had somewhat of an attitude problem. Not your normal teenage attitude, like this kid was mean.

“I feel sort of bad, but I know she’s gonna rake up an attitude the entire time,” Sam said. “Love her to death, of course. Jesus.”

“Well when you go back I’ll be stuck here with her,” I groaned. There was an unhinged amount of silence after that sentence. I wondered if I messed up by saying that. He probably didn’t want to go back, and I reminded him in a horrible way of how he’ll have to. I opened my mouth to apologize, but he spoke first.

“You don’t know?” He asked.

“Know what?” I asked.

“That I’m not going back,”

I didn’t know that there was a kind of relief that could make your eyes sting and your throat feel like it’s about to close. Maybe this was an allergic reaction to good news, I wouldn’t of known. I leaned my head back and let out a slow exhale.

“When did you decide this?” I asked, squinting at him through my blurred vision. He turned his chin to me, not taking his eyes off the road. I knew he didn’t know how to respond. I wish I knew how to keep my mouth shut.

“Well,” He paused. “It wasn’t an easy one. I originally was going for four years, like I planned out to. But as you know, life chooses its paths, and you don’t really get a choice but to follow it.” I didn’t get what he meant, like I always used to. Maybe he was more grown up than I thought. He just turned 20 recently, while I felt stuck at 17. My eyes drifted back to the side window and we passed Scoops o’ Joy.

"Remember when Dad would walk us to Scoops o' Joy?" I asked, running my fingers across the window pane.

"And Liz would always get some weird flavor she didn't like and would scream her head off?" Sam grinned. "God, everyone would stare as she sobbed over Dad's shoulder.""That happened like three times," I said. We pulled into a curbside parking spot and got out. Amparo's used to be a house that got turned into this family owned restaurant. Sam and I only went for the shrimp and grits and the beignets. My flip flops scraped against the old sidewalk and up those old carpeted stairs. 


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23 Reviews


Points: 387
Reviews: 23

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Fri Dec 03, 2021 8:15 pm
CotardDelusionz wrote a review...



Nice I honesty really liked this and it's not often that I find a story with lots of dialogue that I actually decide to read to the end. This means I think you did well in dialogue. The theme so far is left not fully answered which is also good. This is a way to keep people reading. The characters are also interesting. It's light and easy to read but easy to visualize which I like because I get distracted easily and I don't have patience for anything. Only things I suggest for critiquing is establish of where we are seeing the first brother. Like are we all outside and he just got his cab or car and we are ready to greet him or are we inside and we heard a knock at the door to find brother back home. I assumed it was at the front door, because you said you watched him go upstairs. The ending doesn't bother me but from a critical point of view maybe end this piece once we get up the stairs and get to the door where maybe you introduce us to something new but not giving away what it is. Setting could use more detail and that's about it.




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Tue Nov 30, 2021 6:40 pm
BEASTtheHUN wrote a review...



Okay. Lets start by saying that the beginning is good. It makes you wonder about sam, but you do an amazing job describing him. That being said, your ending was very distasteful. It was abrupt. as if you were rushing to finish. I don't know if maybe it was the end of a thought. but the ending needs fixing. Moving on. Certain parts of the text were a wee bit jumpy, but I like the dialogue. especially Sam. His sisters dialogue comes off as broken. Now dialogue is very hard to master, and to be honest I don't really know if that was an intentional thing, but I think you should check out her dialogue. I won't get into grammer, but from what caught my eye nothing stood out in that category. Anyway, thats that. Take the advice you liked and forget what you didn't. Until next time! :)




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Tue Nov 30, 2021 6:57 am
HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm here to leave a quick review!!

First Impression: This was a pretty strong start I think. As far as first chapters go, I think this particular one manages to do its job pretty well and introduces this dynamic quite well and gives us a reason or two to keep reading.

Anyway let's get right to it,

You could say Sam was a strange person. Although in my eyes, he wasn’t. He was my older brother. He liked volleyball, lemonade made with brown sugar, and the color orange. He hated cooking. Whenever it snowed for the first time every year, he’d jump around the front yard in his underwear, singing random words. We were the bits and pieces of each other. He had our moms green eyes, but his more like a wild jungle. Same brown hair, but his more choppy and short. Same pale, pale, pale, skin, but he had more freckles. I was always jealous of his gap teeth. I’ve never met a mind quite like his before. I’ve never seen anyone dream like him before. He was Sam; inconceivable and brilliant.

But how can someone like him change so drastically? I ask myself the same question, as I see him standing before me. The early morning’s golden light shined behind him in that camouflaged uniform. His blouse’s sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, revealing scar tissue in unexpected places. He wasn’t smiling. A pit formed in my stomach, knowing that he hadn’t in a long time, either.


OKay....well, this is an interesting little start here. It looks like we have two versions of a character being introduced here from this other person's point of view. I like the introduction you give there to this character to establish what he was generally like before cutting to the part of the change. It instantly gets that all important message across here right at the very beginning.

“Why don’t you go upstairs?” Mom asked, patting Sam’s back. “Get changed and you and Willa can go get breakfast.” He let go and made a path up the stairs, not saying a word. I watched him, until I couldn’t even see his shadow.

“Something’s wrong,” I said, looking back at my parents. My father, stereotypically reading the newspaper and drinking coffee, didn’t bat an eye. My mother sighed.

“He’s just not used to being home after two years,” Mom said, leaning against the dining room table. “Give him time, he’ll adjust.”

I thought about her words as I sat in the passenger seat of the car as Sam anxiously flipped through stations. Welcome back to The Talk Box!- Panic 96.7- Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends- Until I heard a click.


Okayy...well this is an interesting mix of unease that's being created here. Its a very good little setup here. The introduction of the father as the stereotype of someone reading a newspaper is a little bit on the nose there, but otherwise the subtle feeling that something is not quite alright with this older brother is being done really well here.

"Man, I haven't really driven a car like this in forever," He said, smoothing his hands over the light coloured leather steering wheel. "Forgot how much I missed the simple life."

“I wonder how pissed Lizzie is going to be when she finds out we left without her,” I said, turning my head to the window. Lizzie, the youngest of the Brown siblings, had somewhat of an attitude problem. Not your normal teenage attitude, like this kid was mean.

“I feel sort of bad, but I know she’s gonna rake up an attitude the entire time,” Sam said. “Love her to death, of course. Jesus.”

“Well when you go back I’ll be stuck here with her,” I groaned. There was an unhinged amount of silence after that sentence. I wondered if I messed up by saying that. He probably didn’t want to go back, and I reminded him in a horrible way of how he’ll have to. I opened my mouth to apologize, but he spoke first.


Okayy...well this is already building on that earlier sense rather nicely. With the conversation you can see some generally easy flowing banter that shows they do know each other well but I love that touch of awkwardness you introduce to feed off that extra tension about there being a change here.

I didn’t know that there was a kind of relief that could make your eyes sting and your throat feel like it’s about to close. Maybe this was an allergic reaction to good news, I wouldn’t of known. I leaned my head back and let out a slow exhale.

“When did you decide this?” I asked, squinting at him through my blurred vision. He turned his chin to me, not taking his eyes off the road. I knew he didn’t know how to respond. I wish I knew how to keep my mouth shut.


Hmm, well, it seems this is news that's going to be received well and this person is certainly caught very much off guard by it. I think you do a good job in conveying that pure shock of hearing that news and then the elation that followed.

"Remember when Dad would walk us to Scoops o' Joy?" I asked, running my fingers across the window pane.

"And Liz would always get some weird flavor she didn't like and would scream her head off?" Sam grinned. "God, everyone would stare as she sobbed over Dad's shoulder.""That happened like three times," I said. We pulled into a curbside parking spot and got out. Amparo's used to be a house that got turned into this family owned restaurant. Sam and I only went for the shrimp and grits and the beignets. My flip flops scraped against the old sidewalk and up those old carpeted stairs.


Hmm, I love that slight shift in tone towards the end. Its as if that one elephant in the room about him leaving ended up getting dealt with and then there's just a sudden restoration of normalcy there to end on. I think its a great point to end this first chapter on here.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall, I think this is a pretty good job done here and you've managed to pull of a pretty well executed scene to show the dynamic between the characters, how its affected by these outside circumstances and then how it later evolves.

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry





Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
— George Santayana