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Pillboxed 5 (16+)

by Hannah


Gautam was blind and everything around him was either white tile glinting like teeth or white teeth set between wrinkled lips, colored like impatiens, telling him he was worthless and dirty and had never truly loved his wife, her daughter, had always been false, would always be a liar and the lowest of the earth. She cupped water in her wrinkled hand and dripped it lazily over her thick black hair and told him he was not good enough for her daughter. She said this to his face even though years earlier she had poured water into his hand and blessed them and declared to everyone that their children would be beautiful and healthy and live well until the years of their sunset.

He told her to be quiet or to be afraid and she told him:

“I don’t think I will.”

He couldn’t see anything as he pushed her neck against the back of the tub and hoped she would stop breathing. Instead, she screamed and blinded him further, everything turning white and gleaming. Acid coated the inside of his mouth, and he bent over the bathroom sink to vomit. He had held her life in the curve of his thumb and index finger. If he had pushed, he could have broken something. He had already felt her tendons push up into his hands. She was wiry. White and gleaming, and he heard Anjali behind him scream, too, and he let go to turn to face his daughter.

“Anjali,” he said. The word was salty on his lips. He hadn’t known that he’d been crying. The girl was gone in a flash. Deepti skittered out of the tub and into a towel, stumbling over the threshold to the bathroom. She grabbed the door frame for balance and flashed one last look at Gautam. The whites of her eyes were yellowed and bloodshot and looked like rotten fruit around her pupils. He fell back into the space between the toilet and the wall. His breath came in heaves. His breath came in heaves.


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541 Reviews


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Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:17 pm
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Lauren2010 wrote a review...



Ah, so here's what happened to Deepti!

I like having the context, and your poeticness is lovely as ever. However, I think I had the most problems with this bit out of all the others.

First, the switch to Gautam's point of view is jarring. We're settled into Farah's mind and emotions, and suddenly we're here in Gautam's head. Of course, it's very clearly marked that this is Gautam's perspective so it's not jarring in quite that way. I really can't decide if I like it or not. For one it's great to finally see what he's thinking and all the blind whiteness ("white hot rage"? ;)) and everything that we have going on here, but then part of me growls "consistency!" "parallelism!" but that could definitely just be me. xD

The biggest problem, though, is probably that I had a hard time figuring out what was going on in this scene. At first I thought it was Gautam and Farah, some years after Anjali had been taken away, and Farah had grown numb and no longer afraid of him. So of course I thought he was strangling Farah, but then Anjali showed up and suddenly it was Deepti in the tub (who was not washing Gautam's hair, as I thought, but her own?). Really, I think if we know from the start it's Deepti then most if not all of those problems will go away.

Anyway, I do really like this look into Gautam's mind! It seems almost necessary, so I suppose I can be happy with the break in consistent narration in favor of it. It definitely works, and I'm a firm believer you can break the rules if you make it work. ;)

Keep writing!

-Lauren-




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Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:23 am
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PenguinAttack wrote a review...



You are a terrible person, Gautam and I will never love you.

Although I love Gautam as a character, Hannah. He is all kinds of intense and has a wonderful sense of reality about him. It's a testament to good writing that I immediately and completely dislike your character here, he's written right.

This is a good, if short shift in perspective and it's one we needed. As vile as his character is, we need to hear his voice and his excuses away from his wife's thoughts. And this pure look at intention just reduces Gautam to this base of horribleness. There's little about Deepti here except for her obvious strength and her fear in the bathtub, which is excellent.

I feel like the scene is a bit confused though - perhaps the length works against you here? I like it because he's secondary, and so he should be. But the struggle in the bathtub confuses me. Deepti isn't actually in the bath, only washing her hair? That was the main point of confusion for me. I understand why Gautam stayed and why he did it (you terrible person, Gautam!) but I don't understand the blocking of the scene, to use theatre terms. I can't see where Deepti and Gautam are despite the beautiful description.

And again, this is of course excellently written from an aesthetic point of view, reading your writing is just divine. The characterisation is solid, you've not done anything here which goes against how Gautam acts in previous parts, and I think that works really well toward your story as a whole. Here we see that Farah’s worries are so legitimate that it isn't funny. Gautam’s a dangerous, unstable man at this point and you've given us cause to believe he won’t get any better

Thank you for this wonderful read,
~<3




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Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:55 am
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Paracosm wrote a review...



Hey Hannah!

I'm kind of jumping in right in the middle here, so my review won't touch much on characterization, or the actual story. Instead I'll focus on sentence fluency and word choice. I will do my best to talk about voice and idea, but like I said, I'm sort of jumping in at the middle.

Sentence Fluency

Gautam was blind and everything around him was either white tile glinting like teeth or white teeth set between wrinkled lips, colored like impatiens, telling him he was worthless and dirty and had never truly loved his wife, her daughter, had always been false, would always be a liar and the lowest of the earth.

This is a pretty long sentence, I don't think it's a run on though. If this story is broken up into chapters, I would try to make the opening sentence a bit more concise. If it's not, then I wouldn't bother with it, because one sentence will flow right into the other, and the reader probably won't notice.

Word Choice

Acid coated the inside of his mouth, and he bent over the bathroom sink to vomit.

In this instant, I would talk about how the acid tastes in his mouth, how it burns the back of his throat, nice little details like that go a long way. I know you know that because you are very vivid with your descriptions!

Voice and Idea

He told her to be quiet or to be afraid and she told him:

“I don’t think I will.”


Nice! I loved this line.

I also enjoyed the repetition of the last two lines, like it's mimicking his heavy breaths.

Well Hannah, that's all I have. I hope my review is helpful. Keep up the good work!





"He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how."
— Fredrich Nietzche (Philosopher)