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E - Everyone

Of Dust Balls

by Far1812


Monday, June 4th, 2007

3:49 P.M.

Jamie stared up at his creation, his eyes squinting under the simmering sun, the summer heat a blanket over his sleepy afternoon. He wiped his sweaty palms on the front of his shirt, but the effort proved fruitless; dirt smears worsened on both surfaces through his attempts.

Jamie turned from his work and squinted some more, this time trying to read the clock in the kitchen from across the backyard. His feet shifted him forward, the grass scratching skinny ankles unfavorably, and yet the digital numbers evaded his gaze. Annoyed, Jamie made the trek to the sliding doors and, taking care not to smudge the glass, went inside.

Sweet relief in the form of air conditioning hit Jamie in full blast, and for a moment he let the coolness lessen the red on his face and neck. He slipped off his well-loved sneakers and placed them into the bin by the door, basking in the temperature drop.

Then the phone began to ring, interrupting his tranquility. He ignored the blaring sounds, instead dragging a stool across the woodwork to a spotless counter, enjoying the screeeeeeeech it made as it moved; his parents hated the noise, but they weren't here right now, were they?

While grabbing a cup from its boarding place, he heard his mother's recorded voice coming from the speaker, and then old Mrs. Leereigh was speaking. "Hello? Hellooo? Benjamin?"

Jamie hopped off the counter, prize in hand, wincing only slightly upon impact; he swiped the phone from the island and held it up to his ear. "Wickman residence, Jamie speaking," he recited obediently into the mouthpiece that was a bit too far away from said mouth.

"Yes! Hello, Benjamin," the woman answered. "You shouldn't keep someone waiting on the phone like that. Bad manners..."

Jamie nodded, then realized she couldn't see that. "Yes, Mrs. Leereigh," he said.

"Your mother asked us folk to keep an eye on you while she's working and you're not in school," she said for what seemed to Jamie to be the 1,347th time. "Ray and Melinda stopped by earlier, yes?"

"Yes," he affirmed.

"Good. Did they leave anything? I gotta have a word with Mel. How was her knee?" Jamie tried to answer, but she kept talking. "Reminds me of Sandy Pope. Fell down the stairs and shattered her kneecap, the poor thing. Wonder how she's doing. That was 20 years ago, mind. Hmm."

She seemed to be lost in thought for a moment, until, "Shaundra should be back soon, so I needn't send anyone else over. I was only calling to check up on you. Do you need anything? Maybe I should get Gary to-"

"No!" he blurted, a bit too quickly. "I mean...I promise to stay in the backyard until mom- Shaundra- gets home."

A sigh from Mrs. Leereigh. "A nice boy, aren't you, Benjamin? Ooo-kay. I'll talk to you tomorrow. G’bye!"

"Bye," Jamie mumbled, world-weary as ever, and hung up.

It wasn't that Jamie didn't like Mrs. Leereigh; it was just that they had the same conversation every day, and she was boring--in a sweet, old lady-like way.

What he wouldn’t do for a neighbor his own size, he thought, towing the stool back to (approximately) where it had been before. The fridge hummed as filled his cup with chilled water; the boy didn’t dare touch anything inside the monstrous white appliance.

After his drink was sufficiently sipped, he placed his cup in the dishwasher, stuffed his feet back inside his shoes, and re-entered his backyard.

The giant dust ball sat where he had left it, large as ever.

Of course, the moment he touched the thing, it exploded.

A shout out to my young nephew, who wrote the skeleton of this story with me on a summer day much like this one.


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Wed May 25, 2016 5:04 pm
Carlito wrote a review...



Hello! You probably thought I forgot about you, but alas I have not! I apologize for taking forever to get to this.

Overall, I thought this was a really intriguing first chapter. I appreciated the simpleness of it - not every story needs to start with flashes and bangs. But there are so many interesting little seeds planted here and I'm really excited to learn more about Jamie and what is going on here.

I think the writing itself is also strong. I like your style - it's rich, but you also say a lot without a lot of words. I'm going to go back through and read this chapter again and give some specific thoughts about things.

He wiped his sweaty palms on the front of his shirt, but the effort proved fruitless; dirt smears worsened on both surfaces through his attempts.

This is a pretty minute detail, but I'm not feeling what comes after the semi-colon. I think the wording is a bit awkward and almost redundant. I'm not sure I like "surfaces" because I don't think of a shirt or a hand as a surface, I think of things like a table or a counter as a surface. "through his attempts" feels a bit redundant to me because you've already shown us what he's attempting to do. I think you could cut what comes after the semi-colon. The dirt smears detail is kind of nice though, so if think that should stay, try to weave that in without using a semi-colon.

His feet shifted him forward, the grass scratching skinny ankles unfavorably, and yet the digital numbers evaded his gaze.

"His feet shifted him" makes it seem like he's not in control of his actions at all and that his feet have a mind of their own. (Which maybe they do, but I'm kind of thinking not :p). I think you could do "He shifted forward, [why]. The grass..." The why (I'm guessing) is that he's trying to read the clock better. And then "his" before "skinny".

Jamie hopped off the counter, prize in hand, wincing only slightly upon impact; he swiped the phone from the island and held it up to his ear.

I'm not sure what this "prize" is and what impact just happened.

"Your mother asked us folk to keep an eye on you while she's working and you're not in school," she said for what seemed to Jamie to be the 1,347th time. "Ray and Melinda stopped by earlier, yes?"

I liked the way you did this. It's a subtle way to explain to the reader why this woman is calling and why Jamie answered the phone. I like that you included that she has said this to Jamie a lot because that's an interesting little character tid-bit. I'm assuming now that this woman is older and maybe has some memory issues or that she's a bit eccentric and repeats herself a lot.

It's also interesting that his mom feels that people need to check up on him during the day and I wonder why that is. Is it a reflection of his age? maturity? her fear? a past mistake or problem on his part? something else entirely? Only time will tell :)

"No!" he blurted, a bit too quickly. "I mean...I promise to stay in the backyard until mom- Shaundra- gets home."

I'm curious about why he doesn't want anyone else to come over? trying to assert his independence? it's embarrassing? he doesn't want anyone to know about what he was doing in the backyard?
I'm curious about why he says he's going to stay in the backyard and why this woman doesn't say anything about that. Is it normal for him to stay out in the backyard when he's home alone? Why? It's hot. It's that a bit dangerous?
I'm curious about why he starts to say "mom" and then corrects himself and says her name. I'm really looking forward to meeting this mom and getting an idea of what her personality is like and what the dynamic is between her and her son.

A sigh from Mrs. Leereigh. "A nice boy, aren't you, Benjamin? Ooo-kay. I'll talk to you tomorrow. G’bye!"

"Bye," Jamie mumbled, world-weary as ever, and hung up.

Did she mean to not call him the correct name? Does this happen a lot and that's why he doesn't have much of a reaction about it?

What he wouldn’t do for a neighbor his own size, he thought, towing the stool back to (approximately) where it had been before.

This feels like foreshadowing - like soon he'll have a neighbor his own size and that will be an important plot thing.
And I might be looking into things way too much, but I get the feeling that you're very intentional with your writing and you don't mention things unless they're important. So Jamie's action of moving the stool back to where it was before and trying to make it seem like he wasn't inside or he didn't move anything around is interesting to me too.

Of course, the moment he touched the thing, it exploded.

This ending left my head absolutely buzzing. There is so much I want to know and I have so many questions, there's no way I won't be able to read on. I think you have a very successful opening here. Once I've read a little farther and have a better sense of where the story is going, I can assess whether or not I think you started in the right place, but as for right now I think this is good. You introduced our main player and the situation but left enough little seeds and clues to keep your reader guessing and wanting to read on. So nice job! :)

That's all I've got for you for now. Please let me know if you have any questions or if anything I said was confusing! I'll be back for the next part very soon! :D




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Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:20 pm
Stori wrote a review...



Okay, well, this is short. I only saw one grammatical error, so here goes:

enjoying the screeeeeeeech it made


Some things of interest:

the mouthpiece that was a bit too far away from said mouth.


Very droll.

After his drink was sufficiently sipped


I don't like this. It's perfectly all right to write "after he'd had enough to drink" even if your story has a formal tone to it. Dunno, try reading the sentence aloud- that should demonstrate its awkwardness sufficiently. ;)

I like the way you ended this segment: "Of course, the moment he touched the thing, it exploded." Did it really blow up, flames and all, or just burst outwards? We'll have to wait till you post your next chapter to find out.




Far1812 says...


Thanks for reviewing this! I appreciate any and all thoughts, whether they be practical or opinion-al. I'll take what you said into consideration.





I, personally, like Far's sense of humor when she says:
After his drink was sufficiently sipped

Though that may just be me, knowing Far in real life and her sense of humor .





I, personally, like Far's sense of humor when she says:
After his drink was sufficiently sipped

Though that may just be me, knowing Far in real life and her sense of humor .



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Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:29 pm
BlueJayWalker10 wrote a review...



Hey, Jay here, your friendly neighborhood critic!
WOW
UM
That escalated quickly.
#0000BF "> Grammar 'N' Stuff
I don't really think that'd be necessary for me to do, because you did the same program as I. . . And your grammar has always been better than mine. Didn't notice anything iffy.
#BF0000 "> Characters 'N' People
Now, as I know this is, well, kinda like a prologue, there isn't too much going on. But it's still good to know more than two things about three characters: Jamie is probably a seven-to-eight year old child, who is very bored. Mrs. Leereigh is an old lady who is kind to Benjamin, but it's always in a bored, old ladylike way. Mel--Melinda--has hurt her knee in some way.
Tell me more! Is Jamie adventurous? It seems like he's obedient, from the fridge mention, but what else? Is Mrs. Leereigh strict? Where is Jamie's mother, Shaundra? At work? With his father?
Sorry if I came off harsh here; I personally have a very hard time with character development unless its over a very long period of time--like two books out of a five book series.
#0000BF "> Descriptions 'N' Surroundings
You're better than I am at describing surroundings, but that's not saying much, sister of mine. You can never have too many descriptions. What's the color of the countertops? Is the floor tile, or wood? Because I imagine the place to look like our house when I was five.
Overall, pretty good for a prologue sorta thing. Lulls you into a sense of: "Really? This is Teen Fiction and Supernatural? Where's the vampire!?" and then explodes in your face.
Good job!
-Jay





The bigger the issue, the smaller you write. Remember that. You don’t write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid’s burnt socks lying on the road. You pick the smallest manageable part of the big thing, and you work off the resonance.
— Richard Price