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Just Any Other

by storyisking


“I guess the truth is that most of us are inherently selfish. Selfish, greedy human beings who--who pine after what they will never have, bring other people down to feel better about themselves, and who in the end only truly, really care about them and no one else.”
The cigarette, which she already lighted, came in contact with her chapped lips. She inhaled the smoke almost violently, trying to let out some pent up aggression. A slight pink tinge blossomed her cheeks. She carefully removed the cigarette from her mouth and blew, the whitish smoke dissolved into nothingness. “That’s my point.”
He stared at her intently for a millisecond then flapped down on the bed. “Christ. I’m married to a complete pessimist.”
She did not take too well with that statement. Her fanciful, almost paper doll-like expression quickly morphed to one of exorbitant aggravation. “I am not a pessimist, I am a realist. They are two completely different personality types; learn to separate them.”
“I disagree. They are, technically, the same thing.” He decided to sit up then, wincing only slightly at the strong pain comfortable at his upper back. “In this world, being a ‘realist’, as you so proudly define yourself, means always expecting the more bleak outcome of a certain situation because that’s what realistic. What is pessimism, then? The exact same thing!” He laughed a throaty laugh, the kind she used to hate (or, pretend she used to hate.) “Realist is just a more hieroglyphic, sweet way of saying pessimist.”
“You’re wrong!”
“Well then, prove me wrong.”
“A realist doesn’t just look at the negative outcomes of a situation. They also take the time to see the positive outcomes as well, and they acknowledge that both are equally possible. They’re thinking down two different highways--not necessarily choosing a path. Therefore, we are much more adapted to thinking then you short-sighted ‘optimists’ and ‘pessimists’, who think they have to be one or the other and not a mix of both.”
Satisfied that she had settled this tedious and incredulous debate, she was ready to turn to her left side and turn off the bedside lamp, a surge of triumph sweeping herself until
“Okay, fine. Let’s say…hypothetically, I do agree with your definition of a realist
(she was growing ill of that damn word)
and how different it is from the definition of a pessimist. But just a minute ago, you were making a cruel generalization of all humans, saying we’re all just a bunch of selfish assholes. Not some humans, all humans. You were clearly not taking into careful consideration that some humans, while flawed, are also good and sometimes remarkable. Now tell me how that’s not being a pessimist.”
A pregnant silence followed his words, and he knew--knew--he had her stumped then, had completely dejected her side of the debate. His wife was a clever, brilliant, and insightful person who had a tact for sharing her opinions in such a assured way that at first, it was as if no one could debunk her. But she was not the only smart person who lived in this tiny house.
The consistent hsssss stemming from the radiator, becoming louder during frequent periods, was the only sound either of them could hear in their squared room for a couple of minutes, and he wondered for a moment if he had gone too far.
She tapped the ashes of the cigarette on the ashtray before stumping it out all together. She looks positively pensive, resigned. Her elbows laid on the mattress, her eyes looking straight ahead. “I like to believe I’m a good person.”
“You are a good person.”
“Then why don’t I feel like it half the time?”
Her eyes are blue. He’s known her for seven years and yet there are still times when he’s overtaken by the fact that her eyes are blue. When she was down and he didn’t know what to say, he’d always look at those eyes as if the answer was held inside them somehow, safe and waiting.
She turned her head to him then.
“You had a bad day. You got pissed at the world for a little bit.” He shrugged. “It happens. But I’ve known you for seven years, been married to you for five of them, and I can honestly say you’re…you’re good.”
She turned away from him.
“You’re alright. I reckon most people feel like they aren’t good, half the time. It’s just human nature. We can have great moments of viciousness and great moments of compassion the next, and it can royally confuse the hell out of us.”
“Now who’s making the generalization?”
And that’s how he knows they’re okay, that they’ve successfully drove through the hurdles of another day. “I guess I’m a walking, talking paradox. Thought you knew that by now.” He glanced at the clock, saw the time. Past midnight. “Thinking it’s time we get to bed?”
“Yeah. Probably.”
She turned off the bedside lamp finally, and they both laid on their backs. He’s about to drift off into another dreamless slumber, his eyelids closed, when he feels her staring at him and he opens them.
Her eyes are alight with an ease, the right tip of her mouth visibly struggling not to turn upwards. “You know, I’m going to file for those divorce papers tomorrow.”
It was an old joke. He knew how to play along.
“You always say that. But you never do.”


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Sat Feb 09, 2013 8:27 pm
Trident wrote a review...



Hi storyisking, nice little piece you have here. Here are some of my thoughts and hopefully they can be of help:

“I guess the truth is that most of us are inherently selfish. Selfish, greedy human beings who--who pine after what they will never have, bring other people down to feel better about themselves, and who in the end only truly, really care about them and no one else.”


I like how you start the story off, and it really needs to be dialogue like you have here. It is a tad whiny, yes, but that is because the character is being whiny. Nice start. It drags me in, wondering who exactly would say this and why.

The cigarette, which she already lighted, came in contact with her chapped lips. She inhaled the smoke almost violently, trying to let out some pent up aggression. A slight pink tinge blossomed her cheeks. She carefully removed the cigarette from her mouth and blew, the whitish smoke dissolved into nothingness.


Some odd phrasings here, and I feel like that is because you are trying to draw out the suspense, but be careful. We likely can figure out that a cigarette brought to the lips is lit. No need to tell us. And using blossomed as a transitive verb like that doesn't seem right. The last line is a bit boring.

Okay so you have this whole big debate on the semantics of the word and that can be cool and interesting, but it's terribly cerebral right now. What I would love to see is like an example. A situation where our characters can tell you how an optimist, pessimist, and realist would think/react. I think that would eliminate some of the blandness you have with the whole argument section.

Satisfied that she had settled this tedious and incredulous debate, she was ready to turn to her left side and turn off the bedside lamp, a surge of triumph sweeping herself until


This would be a good part to have in your story, except I am tired of the argument too. We should be able to feel this feeling within us, but we shouldn't LITERALLY be experiencing the emotion.

A pregnant silence followed his words


I'm not a fan of that phrase, it's just tired and cliched and I don't think it translates very well anyway.

“I guess I’m a walking, talking paradox. Thought you knew that by now.” He glanced at the clock, saw the time. Past midnight. “Thinking it’s time we get to bed?”


I like this line about the paradox, and I get a little humor out of the divorce papers thing, but I'm left really underwhelmed about the ending of the story and what we are left with. It just sort of tapers off, not playing off the whole realist talk. I mean, maybe if you could work the idea of the divorce papers in with the realism conversation, it might have greater impact. Right now, it's a bit dull.

Feel free to contact me if I can explain anything further.




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Sat Feb 09, 2013 8:02 pm
mistielovesyou wrote a review...



I really like this story. I have to say that it is interesting, the way that the ideas bounced between the married couple. It reminds of something I'd see in Mad Men. The laziness of the conversation, along with the poignancy of it, was really compelling to me. You seem to have a knack for letting a conversation bounce between to characters naturally. The dialogue didn't seem forced or rushed. There were nice little moments, like the hum of the radiator and the fact that he was overtaken by her eyes.

Even though I liked the way you wrote the story, and found the plot elements to be well done, there could still be a little work done there. It'd be better if their little debate ended on a more...ambiguous note, don't you think? It would add to the naturalism in your writing. Right now it kind of seems like you had an agenda from the start, and that can be a little off-putting.

I'd actually suggest you see an episode or two of Mad Men, in order to get what I'm talking about when I say your writing reminds me of it. Maybe you should look into screenwriting?




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Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:04 pm
beckiw wrote a review...



Hey storyisking :)

Welcome to YWS! I hope you're enjoying it. Remember to have a look around at other people's work. I'm sure they'd love you forever and if you have any questions then feel free to fire them my way.

Nit-picks ahoy!

1 - 'She inhaled the smoke almost violently' - I'm not entirely sure how you inhale smoke violently? Any way I try it in my head just seems really...well amusing. I'd think about taking that out because it made me laugh for a while.

2 - 'wincing only slightly at the strong pain comfortable at his upper back.' - I'm not entirely sure how a pain can be comfortable? Maybe you meant like...persistent?

3 - 'He stared at her intently for a millisecond then flapped down on the bed.' - I think you meant flopped.

This was quite interesting. I like the idea of a conversation between two people that know each other well. I know me and my boyfriend have these random existential conversations occasionally about religion. So it seems kind of fitting here. I think when you get comfortable with someone you start voicing these thoughts that spin in your head.

The one thing I would say is that sometimes I would start to lose interest half way through the dialogue. My eyes would start to skim over what they were saying and eventually you don't really care what they are talking about and just want to move onto the next development. Like if they're going to properly fight or one is going to win. So maybe you can inject a bit more life into the dialogue or break it up a little.

Also, when you write, I think you need to be careful about the phrases you slot in because sometimes they don't make much sense. It's like you're trying to be highly descriptive and profound but it just comes out weird. So don't try so hard, it's ok to use simpler words!

Anywho, hope that helped! If you have any questions then feel free to PM me :)

Bex x





When you cut pieces out of the truth to avoid looking like a fool, you end up looking like a moron instead.
— Robin Hobb