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E - Everyone

Crossing Borders

by HB1103


There once was a boy named Jack Burton, born into a wealthy household that had amassed their fortune through auctions during the slave trade. Jack's parents were cautious, in a time of prejudice in America, and kept a tight rein on his curiosity.

One day, Jack went to the park with his mother. Clutching her hand tightly, he observed the other children playing with a sense of longing. Their laughter and gleeful shouts echoed through the air, a symphony of joy that Jack yearned to join. As he gazed wistfully at the other children, a flock of birds suddenly descended upon the park, their wings fluttering in a mesmerizing dance. The air was filled with the sweet scent of spring, and the sound of rustling leaves and chirping birds enveloped Jack's senses. In that moment, he felt a surge of curiosity and wonder, a desire to explore the world beyond the confines of his sheltered life. A few meters away, there was a sign... Jack couldn’t make out much of what it said but he realized that in that area, there were only black people. “Mommy?” Jack asked, “Can we go there?” He pointed at the sign further away. “No, now don’t be silly dear,” his mother sighed. Suddenly, his mother looked up at someone. It was another woman; she has blonde hair and a ton of makeup. “Margaret! Is that you?” Jack’s mother gasped, running to her.

Jack stood there awkwardly for a couple of minutes, not sure what to do. He looked back at the sign from earlier, and at his mother who was engrossed in conversation and had her back to him. Cautiously, he crept away from her and paced across the grass towards the sign and into the restricted area. As he walked further into the area, Jack became acutely aware of the eyes upon him, staring at him with a mixture of fear and suspicion. The sound of laughter and play had ceased, replaced with an eerie silence that made Jack's heart pound in his chest.

Just then, he noticed a boy around his age, sitting on a bench and staring at him. Jack hesitated for a moment, then walked over to him. “Hi,” Jack said, stretching out his hand.

The boy hesitated and shook Jack’s hand, “Hello,” he said in a quiet voice.

Jack grinned, “I’m Jack, what’s your name?”

“Michael, Michael Freeman.”

Jack frowned, “You don’t look very free.”

The young boy smiled, “But I will be, one day.”

Confused, Jack asked “What does that mean?”

“I don’t know, my Momma just used to tell me that,” the boy said.

The two boys carried on talking for hours, not realizing the time. At one point, Jack asked:

“Where are your parents?”

“They died, I think... I can’t remember. I haven’t seen them for years,” the boy shrugged, casually, “Where’s yours?”

“They...” Jack paused, where was his mother? He checked his watch, not noticing Michael peering over and gazing in wonder at its mechanism. It was already 2pm.

Jack took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down. He knew that he had made a mistake by wandering off without his mother, but he couldn't help feeling drawn to this place and the people he had met. He looked back at Michael, who was watching him with concern.

“I need to find my mom,” Jack said, his voice shaking slightly.

“I’ll help you,” Michael said, jumping up from the bench.

The two boys began to search the park, calling out for Jack's mother. But as the minutes turned into hours, their search became increasingly desperate. They searched every corner of the park, asking everyone they met if they had seen Jack's mother. But no one had seen her.

As night began to fall, Jack began to feel a deep sense of despair. He was lost in a place that he didn't understand, surrounded by people who looked at him with suspicion and fear. He didn't know how he was going to survive the night, let alone find his way back home.

But then he felt a hand on his shoulder, and he turned to see his mother standing there, her face a mix of relief and anger.

“Jack, where have you been?” she demanded.

“I’m sorry mom, I got lost!” Jack cried.

“Why are you talking to him? He's not like us,” Jack's mother said, eyeing Michael suspiciously.

"He’s, my friend. H-he helped me find you," Jack replied, gesturing towards Michael.

Jack's mother paused, taking a closer look at Michael. She could see that he was a good kid, and her prejudice began to fade.

“Thank you for helping my son,” she said, extending her hand awkwardly towards Michael.

Michael took it, and they shook hands. "You're welcome," he replied.

As the two walked off into the distance, Jack smiled. He knew that he had met someone special in Michael. As the years passed, Jack always visited his friend at the park ignoring the signs acting like a barrier between them. And every day he saw him, sitting on the same bench as always.



Writer's Note:

To be honest, this was a difficult theme to write about. Especially in a short story because there's so much to say when it comes to racism in history. And yeah, I'm writing Historical Fiction now. Also, making a novel: The Spectator's Gambit. Chapter 1 is out now! Also, I'm in love with the cover, made it using a template on Canva, I think it looks a-maz-ing.


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164 Reviews

Points: 177
Reviews: 164

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Mon Sep 25, 2023 3:19 pm
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AyumiGosu17 wrote a review...



Good morning! I'm going to use a Stairs & Stars method to review your short story this morning.

Stairs - Things to improve on
I love how you're attempting historical fiction. It's not very common to see anymore, and it's even harder to see it done well. This is a good start! The story felt a little inconsistent on which time period we were in. At first, it felt like we were reading something that was set in the 1840s-50s ("during the slave trade"), and then maybe the 1930s ("there was a sign"), and at the end I was thoroughly confused. I'm also a little uncertain about Jack's mom and her reaction to her child walking around with someone of a different race. Even though this story seems to be told from a child's perspective, you've set up a situation where racism is thriving, and her reaction at the end felt a little too... patient.

Stars - Things that I loved
I love how vivid your descriptions are! You make sure that we see every detail, and your writing has a storytelling quality to it. It's whimsical and engaging. Very good job!




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121 Reviews

Points: 15926
Reviews: 121

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Sun Sep 24, 2023 9:40 pm
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LuminescentAnt wrote a review...



Hi! I'm going to review this story using the YWS S'more Method today!

Oh my goodness I loved this story so much! It wasn't too sad, which is great, but it was also so meaningful! You are really great at writing historical fiction pieces.

Top Graham Cracker - What I Know
This piece is set at a time where segregation in America was considered normal. A young white boy from a wealthy family goes to a park, where it is split so that one side has only black people, and one has only white people. He suddenly decides to go to break the rules and talk to one of the black boys playing there. He is very friendly, and they talk to each other for a really long time, and ignore the rules. But then one of them realizes he needs to find his mom, and they look for her together. When they find her, at first she is skeptical of them being friends, but then when she hears that he helped find her, she changes her mind, and thinks differently about the racism. And ever since then, every day they talked to each other, and they were very good friends.

Slightly Burnt Marshmallow - Room for Improvements
One thing I thought you could improve was that you could clarify if it were the black kids that were staring at him or the white kids when he was entering the restricted part, because wouldn't the white kids also be concerned? Or maybe just clarify that he walked past them to go to the part of the park he wasn't supposed to go to? I was just a teensy bit confused, but this is just a suggestion.

Chocolate Bar - Highlights of the Piece
I love your imagery description in the story, like how you described what Jack was seeing when he saw the kids playing, it was really elaborate and well written! You used lots of figurative language to convey the message across in a meaningful way, and it worked really well! I also loved the storytelling and just the story in general! The concept is so heartwarming and hopeful to the fact that maybe this could have happened, and that one person can make a big impact to change views about something. The message is really prominent and powerful and nicely sewn into the piece.

Closing Graham Cracker - Closing Thoughts
Overall, this was a really well written story about segregation that used to be present in America, and racism that sometimes still comes up. I really enjoyed reading it, I hope you'll write more historical fiction stories in the future!
Happy Writing!
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65 Reviews

Points: 31
Reviews: 65

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Sun Sep 24, 2023 7:09 pm
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VengefulReaper wrote a review...



Hey HB! I saw your work in the green room for a while and decided to give it a read. So, without further ado, let us get into it!

First Impressions

This is a really solid piece that conveys its theme really well. I think there are points you can expand on and a possible novel hidden in here somewhere (after all... a lot of novels start off as a one-page story).

Themes

The theme of racism is very much prevalent and you convey it in really interesting ways. The novel I'd liken it to is The Boy in Striped Pajamas. It's historical fiction as well about a german kid and a jewish kid who develop a friendship during ww2. I would recommend it if you need a bit of inspiration.

Some highlights here:

Jack's parents were cautious, in a time of prejudice in America, and kept a tight rein on his curiosity.

I like this small addition. This really shows how his parents has an effect on his views. Limiting a child's exposure to other races at a time when they are the most curious is something that really fuels racism, so I am glad you included it even if it is just in passing.

Jack grinned, “I’m Jack, what’s your name?”

“Michael, Michael Freeman.”

Jack frowned, “You don’t look very free.”

The young boy smiled, “But I will be, one day.”

Confused, Jack asked “What does that mean?”

“I don’t know, my Momma just used to tell me that,” the boy said.

This is probably the most innocent part of the story yet it tells us so much about how simplistic their minds are. That simplicity/lack of prejudice or judgment is precisely what allows them to bridge a gap that some people of this era find difficult.

Some things to consider

One day, Jack went to the park with his mother. Clutching her hand tightly, he observed the other children playing with a sense of longing. Their laughter and gleeful shouts echoed through the air, a symphony of joy that Jack yearned to join. As he gazed wistfully at the other children, a flock of birds suddenly descended upon the park, their wings fluttering in a mesmerizing dance. The air was filled with the sweet scent of spring, and the sound of rustling leaves and chirping birds enveloped Jack's senses. In that moment, he felt a surge of curiosity and wonder, a desire to explore the world beyond the confines of his sheltered life. A few meters away, there was a sign... Jack couldn’t make out much of what it said but he realized that in that area, there were only black people. “Mommy?” Jack asked, “Can we go there?” He pointed at the sign further away. “No, now don’t be silly dear,” his mother sighed. Suddenly, his mother looked up at someone. It was another woman; she has blonde hair and a ton of makeup. “Margaret! Is that you?” Jack’s mother gasped, running to her.


This paragraph seems quite long. I'd recommend breaking it up at the emboldened place. It shifts the focus from what Jack sees to what he feels so I think that would be a good place of separation.

Closing thoughts

Overall, I think this story was really succinct in covering the topic of racism. I really liked the different aspects you added to it and the fact that the mom overcame her prejudice (even if it was for just that one boy, it's a step in the right direction). I think this has a lot of potential to expand into a novel. I also love the fact that it feels almost like a bed time story with the whole "there once was a boy" thing.

That's all from me! Keep well and keep writing!
-Reaper

also, I am really tired so if my review makes zero sense, tell me and I'll rewrite a bit when I am not tired lol.





A ruler leads by example, not force.
— Sun Tzu