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Homecoming 3.3

by Elinor


Jim cracked the door open, and saw that they were both awake. “Can I come in?” He asked. His right was behind his back.

They nodded. He closed the door and went to kneel down next to his children. “I know,” he said in a soft voice, “that we celebrated Christmas earlier, but I have more presents for you.”

“More presents?” Rosalie asked.

Jim smiled, and revealed what he was holding behind his back. It was a small bag, with two small boxes wrapped in tissue paper. He handed one to Sean, and one to Rosalie. “Now, these are you to put away for awhile, and wear when you’re older.”

Rosalie opened hers. It was a silver necklace with a simple diamond pendant. “Daddy, it’s beautiful.”

Jim smiled sadly and stroked his daughter’s cheek. Sean had opened his now. A nice watch. He looked at it in awe. “Thank you, Dad,” he said.

Jim bit his lip. “I love you both so much.” He hesitated. “Now, it’s very important that you don’t tell Mommy about this. I don’t want her to get the wrong idea.”

Rosalie hadn’t understood what he meant at the time, but she did now. “I’m afraid I won’t come back. Maybe part of me knows I won’t. I’ve been thinking a lot about the people you’re going to grow up to be. These gifts reflect that. I don’t want your mom to know I’m thinking that I’m going to die, so don’t tell her. She’ll be upset, and I have to be strong for her, even if I’m scared out of my mind.”

Lying alone in her room now, Rosalie felt the memory slipping, and she fought desperately to hold onto it. 

“I don’t want you to go,” Rosalie told her father.

“I know, pumpkin,” he responded.

Jim told them that they had better get some sleep, because they had to wake up early the next morning. Rosalie pleaded for him to stay a little while longer, and he relented.

“Tell us a story,” Rosalie said.

“What do you want to hear?”

“About how you first met Mommy.”

Jim laughed. “I’ve told that one so many times.”

“But it’s my favorite.”

He turned to Sean. “What do you say?”

“Sure,” said Sean.

“Well,” Jim said. He took a breath, and his look grew distant. He was in that other time and place. “When I first met Mommy, things were very bad in our country. Nobody had money or anything to eat. I was living in the city on my own, just trying to get by. There are these places called soup kitchens for people who can’t afford to eat. And when I met Mommy there were a lot of them. I was waiting in line one day, and I saw her behind me. She was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. I knew right away she was the one I was going to marry. I’d wanted to talk to her, but I was too scared. But we did. And I asked her to go dancing with me. I was so pleased when she said yes. And then we fell in love and got married and had you.”

Rosalie thought, even then, that she hoped one day she would have a love as deep. Jim lingered for a while before he eventually left. 

“I know, pumpkin,” he responded.

Jim told them that they had better get some sleep, because they had to wake up early the next morning. Rosalie pleaded for him to stay a little while longer, and he relented.

“Tell us a story,” Rosalie said.

“What do you want to hear?”

“About how you first met Mommy.”

Jim laughed. “I’ve told that one so many times.”

“But it’s my favorite.”

He turned to Sean. “What do you say?”

“Sure,” said Sean.

“Well,” Jim said. He took a breath, and his look grew distant. He was in that other time and place. “When I first met Mommy, things were very bad in our country. Nobody had money or anything to eat. I was living in the city on my own, just trying to get by. There are these places called soup kitchens for people who can’t afford to eat. And when I met Mommy there were a lot of them. I was waiting in line one day, and I saw her behind me. She was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. I knew right away she was the one I was going to marry. I’d wanted to talk to her, but I was too scared. But we did. And I asked her to go dancing with me. I was so pleased when she said yes. And then we fell in love and got married and had you.”

Rosalie thought, even then, that she hoped one day she would have a love as deep. Jim lingered for a while before he eventually left.

The next morning they’d driven out to the army base and said goodbye. Alison cried the whole time, and again, Jim tried to be strong for her.

Rosalie got dressed and ready for school the next morning without having slept much. Her mother was not awake as she usually was to make them breakfast, so Rosalie made some scrambled eggs. She found herself craving coffee, but she didn’t really know how to make it and didn’t have the time to figure it out, so she poured herself a glass of orange juice and made a piece of toast to go with it, and ate in silence.

As she did, she found herself thinking about Mark and if she would see him again. Since he was a senior, they didn’t have any classes together, and the next meeting of the paper would not be for another week. But maybe she’d see him in the halls. Ever since they’d talked at the diner she’d thought about him constantly. Sometimes, just she’d just rest on the image of his face in her mind, and imagine that they were dancing or driving down the road at night or sipping shakes together or any of the other things that couples were supposed to. He had to at least somewhat feel the same way about her, otherwise she didn’t know if he would spend as much time as he did talking to her.

The feelings both excited Rosalie and made her nervous. She’d had somewhat of an infatuation with Robert Walker, and another with Jack Pickford that had started when her mother had introduced her to the silent films she’d loved as a child. But the former was married and the latter had been dead for seventeen years. There was also Burt Lancaster, but he was married too, and about her father’s age. The only time she’d ever even come close to having something real was with Ben, a boy in her first grade class who told her at lunch he wanted to marry her and then changed his mind by the end of the day.

Rosalie often wondered if anyone would love her that way. She saw it so often around her, and it seemed like such a given thing in life that not having it frustrated her. And no one could tell her that she was too young because there were girls her age getting married. Her mother had only been two years older than her when she’d met her father.

She didn’t know what she was going to do if this didn’t work out. Being alone, and having no one to talk to, exhausted her. 


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760 Reviews


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Sat Sep 01, 2018 7:43 pm
ExOmelas wrote a review...



Hey Eli, I'm very behind on these reviews but since I have to leave soon I decided to review the shortest chapter on my list :P

Nit-picks:

“I’m afraid I won’t come back. Maybe part of me knows I won’t.

Would he really be this frank with his children? I guess I don't know their ages, and he seems to respect them a lot, but still... your father talking about his own death... I would have thought he'd want to spare them that.

“I know, pumpkin,” he responded.

I'm unsure if this repeated line is meant to be here. I guess it could be the sequencing of the memory rather than the event but it just seems to jut out a bit. Oh oops it's a whole repeated section. I'm sure someone will have mentioned this by now but I don't tend to look at other people's reviews til I'm done.

As she did, she found herself thinking about Mark and if she would see him again.

Okay so I thought this might come up. Without a tense switch the flashbacks are kind of confusing. Maybe an extra line break, some italics or something would do the trick. It just throws you off and wrecks your immersion.

He had to at least somewhat feel the same way about her, otherwise she didn’t know if he would spend as much time as he did talking to her.

This seems like a stretch, given what I know. I like the idea that this is her thinking and not necessarily meant to be hers, which is what I assume is the case, but just so you're aware.

Overall:

I think this was a much better infusion of the flashbacks and the present than some of the others. I know I basically said the opposite but that was just a formatting thing. I think here the flashback has obvious relevance to the plot, which I really like, because it gives the present more impact without having to hype up the drama to ridiculous levels.

I think that impact could be strengthened by Jim saying slightly more in depth things about his love for Alison. At the moment it's fairly generic, and doesn't really feel that deep, but knowing that that's the point of it makes me as a reviewer able to apply that to the present to get that impact. Me as a reader, maybe I'm more sceptical :P

I continue to worry about Rosalie getting her hopes crushed...

Hope this helps,
Biscuits :)




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Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:08 am
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manilla wrote a review...



Hi, long time no review, so I'm a little rusty! Let's get right into it, shall we?

--

Forgive me for not reading the previous works in this series, but I will do the best I can! Nitpicks first:

His right was behind his back.


Huh? What's this? :o

Also, I may not be fully aware, but I feel like you repeated a section in which Jim tells his kids how he met his wife.

I have no other nitpicks, but now for the rest!

You seem to fall in the common area of telling instead of showing. Try to add more detail in how you write, and this will 'characterize' your characters more. It will also make your story more believable and vivid to the reader. Show us what's going on in the story by adding details that lead us to conclusions.

“Tell us a story,” Rosalie said.


Go into the characters' emotions, not just in their internal monologue, but when they do day-to-day things.

Example of anticipation: "Tell us a story." Rosalie shifted in her silken bed, looking right at her father's face. What was he going to say next?

One last comment - Describe the setting! You might have done this in earlier chapters, but it never hurts to elaborate some more.

That's all from me, and I hope this review wasn't too critical. I enjoyed reading this story, and this set me back in time during the 1950's, when family life and dynamics were oh, so simple compared to today. You do a nice job of developing Rosie, but don't forget to let other characters have the spotlight!

-Manilla out!

(Feel free to disregard any comment that seems rude or unhelpful. That was not my intention.)




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Sun Aug 26, 2018 7:01 pm
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StellaThomas wrote a review...



Hey Ellie!

First things first, there's some of this chapter which is doubled up, from "I know pumpkin" down appears twice in the text ;)

Next, I saw you talking yourself down in your status, and saying that people would be disappointed by this chapter. Don't do that to yourself! Have you ever heard that theory about what you would do to someone if you heard them talking about your best friend that way? Exactly. So stop talking yourself down ;) You mightn't be totally happy with these chapters, but it's a first draft, and it's always going to be rough. It's important to focus on the positive parts and the parts you're proud of, and ignore that little voice in the back of your head. And remember that reviews are just there like notes, for you to look at whenever you get to a second draft. If you don't find them helpful, maybe don't even read them until you're *ready* for that second draft. But don't put yourself down. Okay?

It took me a moment to reorient myself into the 1950s here and to work out which war he was going off to etc etc. While his dialogue holds a lot of the dread, I think it could be reflected more in the prose. I think this is probably a bit similar to what I was talking about last week as well and honestly, it probably comes from you changing gears from being a script writer to being a novelist. While I love dialogue and personally rely on it a lot as a writer as well, it's important to recognise the bits outside of dialogue too, description and character actions and reactions. At the moment, this chapter is majority dialogue or introspection. And you do both of these really well! But they can seem a little bit naked without that prose dressing them up. Don't be afraid to take time and luxuriate in description. She doesn't know how to make coffee? Is she staring at the rings still left in the French press from her mother's daily cup? She's thinking about boys - where is she? Is she walking down rows of lockers checking out the various species of high school boy? You've so much capacity for richness in your setting, enjoy it, bathe in it. I promise it'll be fun.

Looking forward to next week!

- Stella x





A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.
— W.H. Auden