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Homecoming 1.2

by Elinor


When arrived, Sean bought them both vanilla ice cream cones and they ate them in a shaded spot in Grant Park. It had been two weeks since the fourth of July and yet the city was still packed with people. They hadn’t celebrated, so Rosalie had no idea how this compared to the holiday crowds. Rosalie ate her ice cream cone, searching desperately for something, anything to say.

“So, what do you want to do today?” Sean finally asked her.

“I don’t know,” Rosalie said.

They’d been a family once, but that was a very long time ago. She longed to feel it again, and maybe there was some part of Sean that wanted to feel it too. Rosalie hadn’t thought so before, but the fact they were together now, on her birthday, was something. Still, he had yet to say it. Two words. Happy birthday. “I was thinking we could go see Treasure Island. We’re not far from Uptown.”

“Sure,” Rosalie said. Pirates would be fine. Rosalie had read the book once, and it hadn’t left much of an impression on her, but maybe doing something Sean wanted to do would make him happy. Break him out of the sour mood he always seemed to be in. Nevermind that it was her birthday.

They finished their ice cream, got up, and began to walk. There were on Michigan Avenue now, the hub of the the city. Rosalie liked Chicago, but to her, it always seemed to be a lesser version of New York. At least, New York the way Rosalie always remembered it. New York had her father. Finally, as they walked, Sean acknowledged it. “So, is there anything you want for your birthday?”

Rosalie said nothing.

“I don’t have a ton of money to spend,” Sean said. “But I can buy you something.” Rosalie stared at her brother, dumbfounded. It had been a while, a long while, since she’d gotten any kind of present. For birthday or for Christmas. It wasn’t something their family had talked about in a long while. “Don’t just look at me. Come on, I want to do something nice for you.”

“Maybe, after the movie, we could stop by a bookstore? I’d like a new book.”

“Sure,” Sean said. They walked for a little while longer in silence. As they got closer to the theater, Sean stopped and turned to her. “Are you having fun?”

This caught Rosalie off guard. “Of course I’m having fun.”

“You don’t really seem like it.”

“Sean. I’m having fun.”

“Okay.”

They got to the theater, sat down, and watched the movie. It was fairly crowded. After all, it was a Saturday and the movie had only been out for a few days. It was fine. Nothing spectacular, but not bad, either.

Afterwards, it was more of the same.

“What did you think?” Sean asked her.

“It was good,” Rosalie said.

Somehow, it had gotten even hotter. It was almost too hot to be comfortable. Not that it would be any more comfortable at home. They didn’t have air conditioning; that was only for rich people to afford, rich people with their apartments on Michigan Avenue. And if Rosalie ever complained, her mother would always bring up the Depression, about how good Rosalie and Sean it compared to what she and their father went through when they were just starting out.

Afterwards, they stopped by the bookstore and Sean bought her The Grapes of Wrath. She’d never read it before, but she vaguely remembered her father talking about the movie once. It was funny how much, in his younger pictures, shirt, overalls and flat cap, he resembled Tom Joad. “Dad was from Oklahoma,” Rosalie said. Sean nodded vaguely and bought her the book.

Before they knew it, they were on the train back home, without having accomplished much of anything at all. I can’t even talk to my own brother, she thought. Why can’t I talk to my own brother? It wasn’t always like this. When they got back, Alison must have been lying down, because she was nowhere in sight. Sean went to his room and Rosalie went to hers.

The rest of the summer dredged on. There were so many long, lonely days that the two weeks between Rosalie’s birthday and when Laura came over for dinner felt like much longer. She had enrolled in a summer painting class at Columbia College downtown, so she had a portfolio of some of her pieces with her. As she waited with Laura and Sean in the living room for Alison to finish cooking, they mostly ignored her.

Laura Martin was rather plain looking and always had been, but she had always carried herself with a confidence that Rosalie never had. She had been Sean’s steady for nearly four years and Rosalie was still unsure of what she thought of Laura. Things were simpler when she wasn’t around. She saw more of her brother before Laura. She confided in him more and he confided in her. Rosalie always got the impression that Laura would prefer she was not around, so that she could have Sean all to herself.

Alison announced dinner and the three of them sat down at the dining table. Shortly thereafter, they all began to eat. It was a quiet, rather awkward dinner. There was a lull in the meal, at which point Sean took Laura’s hand and it got very quiet.

“We have something that we would like to announce,” Laura said.

Alison and Rosalie both turned to them. Sean spoke. “We talked it over this afternoon. We’re going to be married.”

Rosalie felt numb. She already saw how it was going to go. They would marry. Move in to their own apartment. Start their own life. Rosalie would be left with her mother, and she would be even more alone than she was before. Alison didn’t seem thrilled either, but still, she began to ask questions. About the wedding. If they had a plan. Without a word, Rosalie got up from the table, walked into her room, and slammed the door. She could feel their eyes on her but she didn’t care.

I’m alone. I’ve always been alone. 


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Thu Aug 23, 2018 8:29 pm
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CaptainJack wrote a review...



I don't read too many coming of age stories but this is certainly starting to match up with what I know. A lot of my summary is based on the last line and the way of "being alone" or at least the character feeling like they are totally alone. Probably not the right emotion to be showing but that's the only part about this story that I love?

There's a lot going on here. Definite whirlwind of events and a quick jump to the conclusion. If you've heard any of this from the other reviewers, sorry if I'm repeating it back to you.
From the rushed pace, the best I would say is that this would be better if extended, at least to some extent. I'm guessing that you probably skipped forward because you wanted to get to the engagement announcement but I think you might want to give more of a description in between. Those two weeks may either be brushed off as nothing or it can be extended and enriched with more of the issues she's struggling with.

It sort of bothered me that I didn't find out the slight setting of this story until pretty far into this second chapter. That might just be because of how I like to know some things from the get go. I guess it feels natural here but it could have just as easily been known from the first chapter when Sean suggests the idea in the first place.

There's not much dialogue so far so I think I'll hold off on commenting about it until the next chapter. Of what there is, it has been falling sort of flat to me? But I also haven't gotten a good sense of the characters which might be playing into these judgements.

See you soon.
- lizz




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Mon Jul 23, 2018 3:05 am
Lauren2010 wrote a review...



Hello my darling!

Oh dear, Rosalie <3 I remember what it's like to be just-nearly-adult and watching the world begin to pass you by. Her brother is setting off, her mother is distant, and she has no one left beside her yet isn't grown enough to head off on her own.

Speaking of, does Rosalie not have any of her own friends? Anyone her age she spends time with? I wouldn't be surprised if she's distant from her classmates as well, but I would be curious to know why. I remember what it feels like to feel so young and alone, but that feeling is almost always a trick. Something distracting you from the real and good things in your life. But since this is a third person narrative, we can see the things that Rosalie isn't able to see. So I'm interested to see some more of that.

Otherwise, this chapter feels quite rushed. It's only a third of the whole first chapter, but the events here could take up an entire (or even two entire) chapters on their own. On first read, I totally missed that we skipped several weeks between the visit to Chicago and the announcement of Sean and Laura's engagement. It read very much like it happened all on the same day. This is, I think, a symptom of another thing I'm noticing: I have no idea what Rosalie wants. I don't know what she's after, or what is at stake for her if she doesn't achieve it. Those are the ingredients of plot. Rosalie is lovely and sad and I adore reading her, but that only gets you so far. We've got to see more.

The language is top notch and it's always a pleasure to read this story! I just find myself wanting more to latch onto with Rosalie, to make me care about her life and the challenges she encounters.

Thanks so much for sharing! Keep writing <3

--Lauren




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Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:29 pm
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soundofmind wrote a review...



FINALLY HERE FOR A REVIEW and I hope you don't mind me keeping it a little short since I've been short on time and also you got a few reviews up in here already ayyyy.

It had been two weeks since the fourth of July and yet the city was still packed with people. They hadn’t celebrated, so Rosalie had no idea how this compared to the holiday crowds.

OKAY SO THIS IS SUCH A SMALL LITTLE NIT-PICK thing but I almost feel like there should be a "but" or something between these two sentences? Cause like, you say there are big crowds but then you say Rosalie basically wouldn't know if the crowds were bigger than normal anyway? And since this is kind of told from her perspective I guess maybe like... maybe word it in a way that doesn't sound like you're saying something that you kind of negate after b/c it turns out the crowdedness doesn't mean much to Rosalie anyway? IDK IF that's helpful but!! Yeah.

Still, he had yet to say it. Two words. Happy birthday.

you are giving me a sad Elinor >:(

“Sure,” Sean said. They walked for a little while longer in silence. As they got closer to the theater, Sean stopped and turned to her. “Are you having fun?”

This caught Rosalie off guard. “Of course I’m having fun.”

“You don’t really seem like it.”

“Sean. I’m having fun.”

“Okay.”

Okay so this........... hit way too close to home lol. ALL THAT TO MEAN this is super realistic for families that have strained relationships and stuff. It sounds like Sean is trying, but doesn't really know how - and has like, these expectations (maybe unrealistic?) of things being really happy despite how their relationship has been really distant and is almost like, not in touch with the reality of what their bro and sis relations have been like up until now and is just like: "We should be having lots of fun. It's her birthday. Why isn't she having fun? People have fun on birthdays." It's like... holding her to a standard that's out of touch w/the reality of their situation and everything which is honestly something very real and my dad has done that w/me a lot... like had basically this exact kind of convo right here lol. SO YEAH HONESTLY GOOD JOB and just my rambly thoughts on that. It pains me to see how... awkward and tense their interactions are but it really gives me a good picture of where they're at.

about how good Rosalie and Sean had it

Just a little missing word I think!

I can’t even talk to my own brother, she thought. Why can’t I talk to my own brother? It wasn’t always like this.

UGGGGHHHhhH your'e giving me super hardcore relatable feels right now

The rest of the summer dredged on.


OH WHOOSH uh!! OKay!! Haha, that felt like a really sudden transition!! I wonder if you could almost make this smoother by maybe just adding one of those little centered "~" dividers or something and maybe just tying off the end of that last paragraph above this a little more? Just so I don't get whiplash going like OH OKAY LOTS OF TIME PASSED SUPER FAST.

It was a quiet, rather awkward dinner.

This, like everything else, is just a suggestion but - if this is a common occurrence, maybe mention that? Like a "like every other dinner" or something, but in your better, less awkward, more Elinor words.

Rosalie felt numb.

OKAY SO I LOVE THIS WHOLE PARAGRAPH AND how we get to know how Rosalie is feeling, but I almost feel like one of the questions Allison asks should come just before you say Rosalie feels numb? Idk. I'm a flow obsessive reader so.... take that with a grain of salt.

BUT ANYWAY I really did like this and you are making my heart ache for Rosalie :,((( BUT I really look forward to what's next!! Aaaay

-sound <3




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Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:02 pm
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ExOmelas wrote a review...



Hey again, no nit-picks this time so I'll just get right into it.

So, I think I'm going to need it explained soon why they seem to be quite so distant. The loss of a family member can do strange things, yes, but I'm going to at some point have to know what those strange things are. Did Rosalie do something to Sean? Did she blow up about Laura once and he's angry with her? Did she withdraw so far into herself that she wasn't able to be there for her family and Sean resents her for that?

This stilted dialogue when they're out is the kind of thing I was looking for, but it also seems kind of unrealistic that they would say quite that little to each other. I feel like it would make sense to either say that they had stumbled through some inconsequential small-talk, or for Sean to not ask if she was having fun. Because like, in the case that they literally weren't saying anything to each other, what would there be to enjoy?

I really like the ending though. I'm actually kind of currently dealing with this, except it's my flatmate being in his first relationship since we started living together. We'd become really close as friends, and while I have roughly as little desire to date him as Rosalie has to date her brother, it's like having a supporting wall taken away all of a sudden, except that you're meant to be happy because it's a good thing happening for your friend. What I'm saying here is that I think you've touched on a really interesting dynamic to explore, and I'm looking forward to seeing that more.

Hope this helps,
Biscuits :)




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Sun Jul 08, 2018 2:09 pm
Chase7 wrote a review...



Hey Elinor

I would first like to thank you for posting such a good piece for me to read :). I personally enjoyed a lot of the things that you had in this piece. The way you hinted the awkwardness between Rosalie and her brother gave a very good idea of their relationship in our heads. You even suggested that Sean didn't really know his sister anymore when you wrote:

"Pirates would be fine. Rosalie had read the book once, and it hadn’t left much of an impression on her, but maybe doing something Sean wanted to do would make him happy. Break him out of the sour mood he always seemed to be in."

This really reveals what type of relationship they had as well as what type of person Sean is.

I would though, reconstruct the following sentence:

"Sean bought them both vanilla ice cream cones and they ate them in a shaded spot in Grant Park"

To:

"Sean bought them both vanilla ice cream cones which they ate in the shaded spot in Grant Park"

Just to make it more fluent.

Apart from this small adjustment i extremely enjoyed this piece because of the way you described the relationship between the characters and their own lives. And they way you hinted her father every now and again shows that she misses him where ever he is and that there is a story somewhere there.

The sentence:

"They didn’t have air conditioning; that was only for rich people to afford"

Really conveyed what type of people they are as well their financial class. There are a few places where there's too much exposition (less is more) but even with it the piece is amazing. I really can't wait to see how this story unfolds, why Rosalie is lonely? what is her dad's story? This piece really creates curiosity for the readers and i hope you can inbox me when you have sen out the next one so i could read it.

Great Readings
Chase :)




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Sun Jul 08, 2018 9:43 am
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StellaThomas wrote a review...



Hey Ellie! Thanks for the ping (even though I already knew you'd posted ;) But I appreciate the ping anyway!)

So I know that you were worried that this part was going to be boring. I didn't think it was boring at all! You're not telling an action story, so far this is very much character driven, and it's okay to spend a long time looking at your characters, picking them apart.

There's a couple of things I'd like to talk to you about about style. You do very well here to evoke Rosalie's life where she finds no excitement or thrill. Part of that is definitely being prosaic. But there's a few places where I thought that less could definitely be more. I'm not in the habit of doing line-edits in reviews but I'll give you a couple of examples of what I mean:

It had been two weeks since the fourth of July and yet the city was still packed with people. They hadn’t celebrated, so Rosalie had no idea how this compared to the holiday crowds.


This seemed too much like exposition - which it is in some ways, but we're going to try to disguise it a little. In fact, if you wanted to lose everything after, "They hadn't celebrated" we don't lose any of the meaning.

The same goes for:

After all, it was a Saturday and the movie had only been out for a few days. It was fine. Nothing spectacular, but not bad, either.


And:

They didn’t have air conditioning; that was only for rich people to afford, rich people with their apartments on Michigan Avenue.


From both of these, I could extrapolate from "it was fine" or "they didn't have air conditioning". A lot of my time is spent telling authors on YWS that they need to explain things more, but honestly I think that you could benefit from explaining things less! It's not going to change your story, but I do think that it would give your writing a slightly more mature tone, that you are writing for readers who don't need everything spelt out for them.

The transition with "the rest of the summer" seemed awkward - I would just go for "two weeks dredged by" or something - and maybe consider using an asterisk or something to split up the birthday and the next scene.

I'm intrigued, but I'd love to know a little more about Rosalie. Her family are splintered, so what is she relying on? She doesn't seem to have any friends - why not? She's clearly lonely. But hopefully that's something that we'll see in future chapters!

At present, all you need to worry about is getting words on the page, and I wouldn't worry too much about worrying what those words are. I hope that my review will be helpful for second draft, but for now, don't worry about it.

Looking forward to see what happens next :)

Ping me again? :)

- Stella x





The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.
— Chinese proverb