Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Short Story » General


The Iolaire

by MillarS


It's been three weeks now, and she still sits on that same soaking rock every day, right next to where dad was found. I can see her out of the window, her bare feet dangling in the waves as they slash around her ankles like they're trying to take her as well. I'm awfully wary every time she sits there, just in case something happens. So far, nothing has. As I look down into the dishwater, I see a reflection that shouldn't be there. I should be where Dad is, beside him, dead with remains of the Iolaire. When I look around the town, I see wives, mothers, sisters, all lost yet not alone. But here I am, alone, trying to cope with Mae. But I know our stay here is almost over. I glance at the small brown envelope that Tom gave me this morning. Now, somehow, I have to make things even worse for Mae, and tell her about our situation.

Drying my hands, I place two bowls on the table and a plate of warmed rolls in the centre. Mae slops into the house through the back door, soaked by the sudden downpour. Her shoes squelch as she plods through the kitchen and around me, to our bedroom to peel off her soaked clothes and change into her nightclothes I lay out for her. When she returns, her her is soaked but she is otherwise dry. She slips into the seat nearest the fire and looks at the rolls, then rolls her eyes at me.

“Soup? Again?”

“Well, we don't exactly have a lot of money, so I can't help it, can I? You're only 8, so you have no idea what it's like to actually work, do you?” I feel bad after snapping at her because her head's now hanging and her eyes are tearing up.

“Sorry, Mae, but now Dad's gone it's getting a lot harder to look after us.”

“I know! But you're not going to give me away, are you? Please don't!”

“Now, why on Earth would I give my little sister away? You silly wee girl, I would never do that!” I walk over with the pot of soup and ladle some into her bowl, kissing her forehead. She's cold, sad and alone. Her small hands are thin and frail and her tiny frame shivers despite being next to the fire. I sit down with my own bowl and we eat for a minute or so in awkward silence.

“John?” her tiny voice says. It's so quiet I almost never heard it. I look up and raise my eyebrows.

“We're not going to live on the mainland, are we?”

She's seen it. The letter. How do I explain this!

“Mae....we might have to, might!” Her face drops. Her eyes turn to stone. Her skin is now totally pale as she glares at me with a look that could burn holes in your head.

“John,” she says in the same way Dad would break bad news, “I. Am. Not. Moving!” She slams her tiny clenched fists next to her bowl, then flips it off of the table and it smashed on the ground. She storms through the hot soup, burning her feet doing so, but manages to hide it well as she runs through to the living room, screaming.

I push myself back from the table and try to catch her on her way out, but she's too quick for me. I start a chase-game with her, but she wriggles away from me each time. She screams and slams her fists against the walls. Finally I wrap my huge arms around her, like a bear enveloping a fish. Her anger is the same as Mum's, but she is relentless. Her spirit is the same as Dad's. When I have her pinned on the couch, I see in her eyes and hear in her wails that she is more like Dad than Mum. It's like Dad's spirit is in her, like all of those days by the sea were spent gathering pieces of him rather than shells and heart-shaped stones she collects in Mum's old hat box. She cries but doesn't struggle. She's limp, she's lost. The girl she always was around Dad is gone. Since he's been gone, her spirit, her happiness, has been drained. I hold her small body close, her shivers run through me as well. Her eyes are half-closed due to tiredness; she hasn't slept more than three hours a night since Dad died. As I release her, she drops softly onto the couch asleep. This amount of fighting in the space of three minutes is far too much for both of us. I kneel beside her on the stone floor for a few seconds, then get up to go and clean the kitchen.

The soup is still warm on the floor. The bowl is shattered all over the kitchen; the contact had sent shard flying onto the counters. Slowly, I pick up the pieces and put them in my own bowl which is cracked. I prick my fingers a few times, but it's nothing compared to the emotional pain. When I stand up I look in the mirror. The face I see staring back look so much like my father's, but too young. The build is similar to his, maybe a bit broader. I am him. I will take his place. But I will not lose Mae through this. I've decided my fate. I'm becoming a Naval Marine.


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
376 Reviews


Points: 16552
Reviews: 376

Donate
Sat Feb 09, 2013 1:48 am
Trident wrote a review...



Hello MillarS, this was very enjoyable to read. Here are my thoughts on how to make it stronger:

It's been three weeks now, and she still sits on that same soaking rock every day, right next to where dad was found. I can see her out of the window, her bare feet dangling in the waves as they slash around her ankles like they're trying to take her as well.


Sometimes it's good to keep information from the reader to build suspense, but here I imagine a full grown woman. I think it would be good to mention Mae here, or at least her age. Then we have a better picture.

When she returns, her her is soaked but she is otherwise dry. She slips into the seat nearest the fire and looks at the rolls, then rolls her eyes at me.


"Hair" I think you mean. Also, rolls and rolls are too close together there.

Finally I wrap my huge arms around her, like a bear enveloping a fish. Her anger is the same as Mum's, but she is relentless. Her spirit is the same as Dad's. When I have her pinned on the couch, I see in her eyes and hear in her wails that she is more like Dad than Mum. It's like Dad's spirit is in her, like all of those days by the sea were spent gathering pieces of him rather than shells and heart-shaped stones she collects in Mum's old hat box.


This is a nice little section, but you keep going back and forth, Mum, Dad, Mum, Dad. I would try to stick with one and really focus on that relationship. Otherwise it's a bit clunky.

I prick my fingers a few times, but it's nothing compared to the emotional pain.


This is rather poking us in the eye with the revelation. I would try to incorporate it subtly. Make it obvious with imagery.

I've decided my fate. I'm becoming a Naval Marine.


Oy, we have this beautiful story that reveals so much about the two siblings and then we're stuck with this ending that is part melodrama and part machismo. I would really back off of this. Being a naval marine is nothing bad, but writing it like this is putting this thing on a pedestal that is untouchable. It needs some nuance.

Also, I know that there are mentions of the father at sea and everything, but this ending seems to just come out of nowhere. And it's confusing. We've just read that the protagonist doesn't want to leave his sister, but then he's going to sea? Perhaps I am just not quite familiar enough with the life of a naval marine to really understand how that works, but then most of your audience won't be either. If this is all there is to the story, I think you'll need to explain that to us. No need to keep it out of the story.

Otherwise, this was terrific. Good writing, truly. You have a talent to make those characters' inner feelings real.




User avatar
247 Reviews


Points: 3414
Reviews: 247

Donate
Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:40 pm
Searria H. wrote a review...



Hey there, MillarS! Sea here to review. :)

I think this piece had a very nice overall flow. I didn't have too many jolting moments of confusing or subject change. :) Your style of narration is pleasing to read, and you kept my attention through the entire piece (which is hard to do; I'm pretty distractable. :) ).
I do have a few nitpicks, though. :D

:arrow:

she still sits on that same soaking rock every day

For some reason, the word soaking rock bothered me a little. My first thought was soaking in the sun, but then she came in all wet. You do have a nice series of alliteration, though. ^^
:arrow: Speaking of "soaking," that word was used quite a bit in the second paragraph, and I found it distracting. Try substituting some other words like "drenched" or just plain old "wet."
:arrow:
When she returns, her hair is soaked but she is otherwise dry.

Simple typo
:arrow: Your narration was so nice that it made your dialogue stand out as unnatural and awkward. I've always thought that dialogue is one of the most difficult aspects of writing. You have to figure out a way to put forth the information in such a way that your characters would present it, not you. It's a little like acting, I've always thought. :) You just need to spend a little time with your characters and figure out how they talk. I think these two are really the only ones that caught my attention:
“Well, we don't exactly have a lot of money, so I can't help it, can I? You're only 8, so you have no idea what it's like to actually work, do you?”

This felt as though your narrator was aware of a third person and tried to slip them information without his little sister knowing. You gave us two points of information that his sister obviously already knows: the fact that they're poor and her age. It makes it seem a little unnatural.
Now, why on Earth would I give my little sister away? You silly wee girl, I would never do that!”

This also felt weird, and I think it was "little sister" and "you silly wee girl." It feels forced...or something.
But you know your characters better than I do, so just play around with it. :)
:arrow:
I prick my fingers a few times, but it's nothing compared to the emotional pain.

This was a little...much for me. This is purely opinion based, but you crossed over a little bit into melodrama here. I'm just really sensitive to that. But some people aren't, so it's totally up to you. :D
:arrow:
“Mae....we might have to, might!”

I would suggest a dash rather than a comma here to give more of a sense of pausing.
:arrow:
like all of those days by the sea were spent gathering pieces of him rather than shells and heart-shaped stones she collects in Mum's old hat box.

Loved this clause, but I think you might want to put "the" before "shells."
But I will not lose Mae through this. I've decided my fate. I'm becoming a Naval Marine.

This seemed a little contradictory. Correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I can tell, these siblings are living on their own, making your main character the sole care-taker of Mae. He's saying that he will replace his father, but not lose Mae. But if he becomes a Marine, won't he have to leave her? What would happen to Mae then?

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this. I like your voice and style, and your character development was really good for such a short piece. If you have any questions or comments about the review, please PM me or drop a message on my profile. I'll do the best I can to help you out. :)
Happy writing!
-Sea-



Random avatar
ela00051u says...


this is really good theres so much good description nice job :)




You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.
— Stephen King