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In My Way

by marzipan


Beginning of a short story I haven't gotten around to finishing. Title needs to be different. (Song credit: Leonard Cohen)

Like a bird on a wire

Like a drunk in a midnight choir

I have tried in my way

To be free

Like a worm on a hook

Like a knight from some old fashioned book

I have saved all my ribbons

For thee

She never quite got it, never quite felt what it was about the droning voice that made Walter tip his graying head over the top of the leather easy-chair and take deep, shaky gulps of the musty air. He always seemed to like having her there, would set her on his knees and trace her shoulder blades the way she liked, the way that made her fall asleep if he did it long enough. It was always nice in the basement, cool and dark but still cozy. The record, scratched lovingly by the old diamond needle, turned round and round, and Ruthie always watched to see if she could read the words as they went speeding by. She thought she could, but maybe it was just because she’d read it so many times when it was still, when it sat patiently on the machine and waited for her father’s hands to bring it to life. Leonard Cohen’s Bird on a Wire. Sometimes Walter would put on Elvis, or sometimes classical music. Then he’d dance, he’d swing her around and he’d laugh, and Ruthie would be happy, so happy. And then sometimes they would just sit, just sit there and listen, her to him and him to the song, and she would wish he’d talk. In his big arms, she leaned back against him, turned her cheek to his chest and pressed her ear tight to his heart. Heard the steady thump, heard it slow as he breathed, in, out, in, out. And listened closely with the other ear, wishing she could hear what her father heard in that croaky voice, wishing she could feel what he felt and know why.


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Fri Jun 24, 2022 10:36 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!!

Anyway let's get right to it,

She never quite got it, never quite felt what it was about the droning voice that made Walter tip his graying head over the top of the leather easy-chair and take deep, shaky gulps of the musty air. He always seemed to like having her there, would set her on his knees and trace her shoulder blades the way she liked, the way that made her fall asleep if he did it long enough. It was always nice in the basement, cool and dark but still cozy. The record, scratched lovingly by the old diamond needle, turned round and round, and Ruthie always watched to see if she could read the words as they went speeding by. She thought she could, but maybe it was just because she’d read it so many times when it was still, when it sat patiently on the machine and waited for her father’s hands to bring it to life. Leonard Cohen’s Bird on a Wire. Sometimes Walter would put on Elvis, or sometimes classical music. Then he’d dance, he’d swing her around and he’d laugh, and Ruthie would be happy, so happy. And then sometimes they would just sit, just sit there and listen, her to him and him to the song, and she would wish he’d talk. In his big arms, she leaned back against him, turned her cheek to his chest and pressed her ear tight to his heart. Heard the steady thump, heard it slow as he breathed, in, out, in, out. And listened closely with the other ear, wishing she could hear what her father heard in that croaky voice, wishing she could feel what he felt and know why.


Okayyy...this is an interesting piece. For a change something marked as a short story is very clearly intended to stand on its own and does in fact manage to stand on its really well here. You definitely get a decent sense of everything going on here and then get a decent enough ending there for us readers. Its certainly the sort of piece that gets your attention.

Diving a bit deeper in here, we get a sense of some sort of nostalgia tinged ever so slightly with something that appears to be loss here. It seems as if you're trying to capture almost something like a person whose just gone through some sort of loss or tragedy in life, or maybe even just been separated from this person they love for reason and said person is just reflecting on this one grounding moment and trying to wish for something of a simpler time. There is also towards the very end there almost a sense of regret at not having gone through with something.

Overall, for such a short piece, there's a surprising amount of stuff to try and unpack here. I think you've done a very solid job in terms of this piece here.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

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

Stay Safe
Harry




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Wed Sep 12, 2018 5:25 am
JustPerks wrote a review...



Hello there.

I'm here to give you some feedback that is very long in coming, but at least it's here finally.

First off, I think that opening this story with song lyrics emphasizes how short this is, straight away. I know you said in a note that you meant to finish this, but as of right now, I'd honestly like to have this cut into a couple of paragraphs. That's just a glaring, large block of text and it's easy for me to lose track of where my place was, unfortunately.

This also reads halfway creepy to me, since I at first thought Walter was her husband since I can't really figure out how old Ruth is. The details of him "tracing her shoulder blades" made me a double take as that seems something a lover or significant other would do to their partner, not a father to a daughter. I don't think that it helps with this taking place in a basement, as that definitely makes it creepier even if that wasn't your intention. I doubt it was.

Finally, I do find this kind of cute, especially when Ruth wants to find what could have entranced her father with the singer's voice and lyrics. However, I do want more in either some dialogue to better represent Ruth's age or even just another memory of her father listening to Leonard Cohen.

Overall, I want more of this story, but with what is here, I think there are some parts to improve. The idea is cute at least.

I guess that's all for now.




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Tue Sep 17, 2013 1:30 am
dragonfphoenix wrote a review...



I felt this was a very short short. You have good imagery, but you leave almost as much to be explained. How old is Ruthie, especially compared to her father? You make him see almost like a grandfather (which is what I originally thought he was until you said he was her father). This is the only awkward sentence in the entire paragraph: "Then he’d dance, he’d swing her around and he’d laugh, and Ruthie would be happy, so happy." I feel like you should break it up into two sentences. Simply replace the comma after "laugh" with a period. Hope this helps!




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Sat Dec 11, 2004 9:45 am
Liz says...



Well-written. There isn't much so far for me to judge, but I do like it.




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Wed Dec 08, 2004 12:45 pm
mim says...



I like this -especially the poem at the beggining. I think its a very unusual yet intriguing way to start a story. I don't really have much to say about this other than well done and please continue it - i want to read on!





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