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Caught in Quicksand

by JenTep


“I don’t think this is healthy but I don’t care right now.” I seized his hand and pulled him with a smile, store to store, we were like a couple. We had gotten dinner after months apart and now that dinner was over, I couldn’t let go. Work would suck in the morning, but I didn’t care. I had missed Ryan every day since starting college. When I studied abroad, he came to see me for a week in London. A stint in a neighboring state from our hometown had him over at least once a month. I was only two hours away, it was almost every other week we would spend time together. We both needed the affection and it felt so real with each other, it felt right.

Then in the middle of a clothing outlet, he answered his phone and gave me a smile. I linked my arm around his, head on shoulder and smile wider than it has been in forever. I tried not to let a sigh out, I was not the only one that needed him. The guilt rode up as he hung up on his call, reciprocating the affection.

“Everything okay?” I nuzzled into his jacket sleeve, without breaking stride with him.

“Yeah, Sandra just wanted to say goodnight and tell me about her day.” Everything felt natural despite the lump of something telling me to be upset. To let go and never come back. Instead, I slid my grip to his hand and pulled him to a shoe aisle. Swallowing my pride, I asked him about his girlfriend. It came off so nonchalant but it faded away when he hugged me from behind, eyeing a pair of heels he thought would look cute on me.

I tried them on and, like a young doe, wobbled back and forth to his amusement. The good times ended only when she called again. This time Ryan slipped away with a look and I pretended to care about shoes. I placed the heels back on their shelf when he came back, obviously fighting his own battles.

“She’s upset I’m not home yet.” His voice went all shrill and dramatic as he mimicked her, “Dinner doesn’t take three hours! She’ll live. Want to do this again in two weeks? My schedule isn’t set to change so I can meet you half way again.”

I’d spend every day with him. But with school, work and her, it was impossible at the moment. I took him up on the offer in two weeks. He’d made enough sacrifices for me, I wanted to give back somehow.

In the line for the late night ice cream parlor we were talking about something. I was too caught up in being around him to listen. We held hands all night, but at that moment it felt so warm and inviting. I placed his palm against my cheek and he just smiled, dropping whatever he had been saying.

“I love you,” He said.

“I love you too.”

I’d never feel guilty for saying it. We said it again in the dead of night, in a crowded parking lot. Just us. He pecked my cheek, the corner of our lips glanced each other and we acted natural. My sheepish grin couldn’t contain itself though. I pulled him down and planted a kiss on his forehead.

“This is very unhealthy.” He joked, probably not, but neither of us let it faze us. We embraced once more before separating into our own cars. I looked forward to our next friend date.


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17 Reviews


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Fri May 08, 2020 5:20 pm
Flyingsquirrel42 wrote a review...



Hey JenTep!

This is a great story. Ryan's inner battle between choosing his girlfriend or his friend who he's becoming attracted to is apparent yet subtle, which is awesome.

That being said, I focus more on the grammar and diction-type stuff than the plot, so here are a couple quick fixes.

“I don’t think this is healthy but I don’t care right now.”
This hook does an admirable job of pulling readers into the story, but I would add a comma between "healthy" and "but" and delete "right now" at the end of the sentence. The "right now" isn't necessary and sometimes keeping things short and sweet is better. I did notice that at the end of the story, Ryan says, "This is very unhealthy" and I like how that ties back into the beginning.

Moving on!
I seized his hand and pulled him with a smile, store to store, we were like a couple.
Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe there's a comma splice at the end. Just use a period between "store" and "we" instead of a comma and you're good to go.

Work would suck in the morning, but I didn’t care.
This is more nitpicky but I wouldn't advise the use of the phrase "I didn't care" so soon after its presence in the hook. I'm not sure what to replace it with or even if it should be removed - up to you!

Then in the middle of a clothing outlet, he answered his phone and gave me a smile. I linked my arm around his, head on shoulder and smile wider than it has been in forever. I tried not to let a sigh out, I was not the only one that needed him. The guilt rode up as he hung up on his call, reciprocating the affection.
Just a couple small issues here. You could have a better sentence flow by replacing "Then" with "But" or adding a comma if you choose to keep the "Then" or simply deleting it altogether. For the second sentence, I would rewrite it as "I linked my arm with his, resting my head on his shoulder and smiling wider than I had in forever." This is more grammatically correct and easier to read than what you have currently. For the third sentence, it would be best to replace the comma between "out" and "I" with a period - again, there's a comma splice there, which is grammatically incorrect. "The guilt rode up" could be replaced with "My guilt grew," which a) has some lovely alliteration and b) sounds less awkward than "rode up." "Rode up" is fine, but I feel it could be replaced with something better.

I nuzzled into his jacket sleeve, without breaking stride with him.
Just delete the comma between "sleeve" and "without" and this sentence is all set. By the way, I love the imagery that comes with "nuzzled"! It fits the comparison of the main character as a young doe when she tries on the shoes.

“Yeah, Sandra just wanted to say goodnight and tell me about her day.”
"Goodnight" should be switched to "good night" since it's two words instead of one.

It came off so nonchalant but it faded away when he hugged me from behind, eyeing a pair of heels he thought would look cute on me.
I would switch the beginning of the sentence to "It came off nonchalant, but it faded away [rest of sentence here]." But beyond grammar, there appears to be some head-hopping - how would the main character know that Ryan thinks the heels would look cute on her? This is an opportunity to add dialogue, where Ryan tells her they would look cute on her and the main character reacts to that positively. Or you could delete "he thought would look cute on me," which could add mystery since the reader wouldn't know why he's eyeing the heels. That being said, how does the main character know Ryan is looking at the heels if he's hugging her from behind? It's difficult to see both the face of the person behind you and what they're fixated on...just my opinion, though.

His voice went all shrill and dramatic as he mimicked her,
I would delete the "all" since it's unnecessary and would change the comma to a colon or a period.

"My schedule isn’t set to change so I can meet you half way again.”
I would add a comma between "change" and "so" and delete the space between "half" and "way" since they're one word instead of two.

"But with school, work and her, it was impossible at the moment."
To use the Oxford comma or not to use the Oxford comma? You could put a comma between "work" and "and," but that's my personal preference. (I like Oxford commas. 😀) I would also remove "at the moment" at the end of the sentence - same idea as removing the "now."

He’d made enough sacrifices for me, I wanted to give back somehow.
There's another comma splice here - I would suggest using a period instead of a comma or adding an "and" after the comma to keep the sentence flowing. The "somehow" could also be cut - it doesn't add much.

In the line for the late night ice cream parlor we were talking about something. I was too caught up in being around him to listen. We held hands all night, but at that moment it felt so warm and inviting. I placed his palm against my cheek and he just smiled, dropping whatever he had been saying.
I would change this to "At the late-night ice cream parlor, we stood in line, talking, but I was too caught up in his presence to listen. We held hands all night, but at that moment, it felt so warm and inviting. I placed his palm against my cheek and he smiled, dropping whatever he had been saying." Even with these suggested changes, I'm not sure what "it" means in "it felt so warm and inviting" - that could be clarified.

“I love you,” He said.
Ah, dialogue grammar. This takes a while to learn. If there's a dialogue tag (in this case, "said"), then you don't need to capitalize the pronoun. However if there's an action (let's say it's "I love you." He walked toward me) then you would capitalize the pronoun. I would advise Googling dialogue rules to familiarize yourself with them. In any case, this sentence should change to "'I love you,' he said."

We said it again in the dead of night, in a crowded parking lot. Just us.
I'm confused - the parking lot is crowded, yet they're alone? I sense that the parking lot is crowded with cars but no people, which I feel is a bit unrealistic. I also feel like a dark parking lot implies that everyone's gone home and the two are alone in the parking lot, without any cars. I would say "in an empty parking lot" instead of "in a crowded parking lot."

He pecked my cheek, the corner of our lips glanced each other and we acted natural. My sheepish grin couldn’t contain itself though.
I would change the first sentence to. "He pecked my cheek. The corners of our lips glanced each other and my sheepish grin couldn't contain itself." This shows how giddy she is about the prospect of kissing him and gets rid of the "we acted natural" - I'm not sure what that phrase adds.

“This is very unhealthy.” He joked, probably not, but neither of us let it faze us.
I would change this to "'This is unhealthy,' he joked" - and I'm not sure what to do with the "He joked, probably not." I feel like you're trying to say that he said it in a joking tone but still had reservations about being romantically involved with his friend. I'm not quite sure how to make that clearer, though.

Given all that happened, I also feel like the last sentence is anticlimactic...feel free to change it.

This review was longer than I expected! Great writing, though. I hope to read more from you soon and I hope this was helpful.




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Sun May 03, 2020 12:30 pm
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Gravitem wrote a review...



Ahoy Jen! I'm Grav (lame intro (I've said this in so many reviews. People DON'T change (I'm talking to myself))). Okay!!! Firstly, I love this story 'cause well, it's awesome and a bit of a dream. I've never had someone I love (I'm not talking about family) make sacrifices for me. Forget a sacrifice this big.:((

Okay! So, let's get started!

“I don’t think this is healthy but I don’t care right now.”

Now, I always say that it's always good to start your piece with a little imagery so that the reader can see what's happening in their head, but when you add speech, it gives the reader an idea of what's going inside your character's head.

I seized his hand and pulled him with a smile


My my. Boy, are you equipped with vision. You've given both a feel of what's happening and also an image. I really love your writing. I realized that I'm still writing about the first two lines. Please excuse me.

like a young doe, wobbled back


This was a great use of similes, it really gives a clear idea of how she feels. Clear would be an understatement (R.I.P vocabulary).

“This is very unhealthy.” He joked, probably not, but neither of us let it faze us.


A display of the uncertainty in her head, possibly also the hurt she's feeling. Isn't uncertainty a female dog?(sorry about the sneaky curse(I kinda had to))

I enjoyed reviewing your story, and I hope it helps you.

KEEP WRITING!!!!

Yours sincerely,
Grav :D




Arch Stanton says...


<user has been removed due to passive swearing>



Gravitem says...


lol



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Sat May 02, 2020 8:21 am
thegoldenbird wrote a review...



Hey JenTep!
I just went through your work and wanted to tell you that it has been written nicely. Well expressed, precision in thought along with the right amount of feeling. Simple and beautiful. Yes, it happens to many of us. And that's what makes this work even better-- it's relatable.
However, I happened to come across a few errors which I would like to point out. So here goes:

1. "Studying abroad, he came to see me for a week in London." This line seems grammatically incorrect. As the whole story is in past tense, this should be in the past participle. Also, this seems to have a problem in cognition. Perhaps make this: "He was studying abroad and had come to see me for a week in London."

2. " Now I was only two hours away..." seems wrong and causes confusion as "now" the narrator is actually with Ryan. I know you meant the distance from Ryan's workplace to the narrator's place, but it takes a moment to realise that's what you meant. Remove the "now" and the inconsistency will be taken care of.

3. "I knew I am not the only one that needed him." Due to the past tense everywhere, this should have been "I was not the only one".

4. "Swallowing my pride, I ask him about his girlfriend. It comes off so nonchalant..." Again, the use of present tense out of nowhere. This should have been "I asked him... it came off..."

5. "Like a young doe, I tried them on and wobbled back and forth to his amusement. " There's a very common cognition error in this sentence. You see, a young doe wouldn't be trying shoes. But it would be wobbling. What you meant to say was: "I tried them on and, like a young doe, wobbled back and forth to his amusement."

6. " The good times only ended when she called again." There's nothing typically wrong with this sentence, but I think the language would be improved if you make it: " The good times ended only when she called again."

7. "I take him up on the offer in two weeks, I can get my shift covered if I need to." Another error in tenses. Make the whole sentence past tense.

8. "In the line for the late night ice cream parlor we were talking about something, I was so caught up in being around him to listen." There are actually two complete sentences here: "In the line for the late night ice cream parlor we were talking about something" and "I was so caught up in being around him to listen." You could either split these into two sentences by the use of a period or keep them together by using a semicolon. The use of a comma is grammatically incorrect. Also, "I was so caught up in being around him to listen" is actually grammatically incorrect and causes a cognitive error wherein the reader thinks that this sentence is incomplete. Make it "I was too caught up in being around him to listen."

9. “I love you,”
“I love you too.”
We kind of know who's saying what because of the sentences before and after, but it wouldn't hurt to make it:
" "I love you," he said.
"I love you too." "

10. "We said it again in the dead of night, a crowded parking lot with no people." Make it "in a crowded parking lot".

11. "He peaked my cheek..." I checked all meanings of the word "peaked" everywhere I could find but I didn't find the what you meant. I think you were going for the word "pecked".

Again, the above are just my suggestions. You are the creator of this work and you can accept or reject these suggestions as you like. Once again, great story.
Keep writing!





We are all broken. That's how the light gets in.
— Ernest Hemingway