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Genetic Savings & Clone

by Lauren2010

Warning: This work has been rated 18+.

My mother died on a Sunday afternoon. When it happened, I wished I was somewhere else. Someone else. I wished I was my sister, sitting in the driver’s seat of her husband’s SUV bobbing her head along to some slow-jam her husband insisted was music and waiting in the Kiss & Ride lane at the big metropolitan airport for her gaggle of kids and our extended relatives to stagger off of their four-to-six hour flights booked last-minute in hopes to see grandma one last time before she went. Never in my life had I so wished to be in Kim’s place, to be the one with a husband and kids and Responsibilities that could excuse me from watching an old comatose woman fade from the world.

There’s some sort of irony in the fact that I was the only child there to watch our mother go. Kim should have been there, she really should have, being mom’s favorite and all. I shouldn’t have scoffed at the idea of driving two-and-a-half hours each way into the city in highway traffic. I should have smiled, gladly offered to give Kim the extra time with mom, put up with her kids and her husband and our siblings asking where I’d been last Christmas, Thanksgiving, and every holiday for the last six years.

Naturally, it would be me. It was always going to be me, sitting stiffly in the rocking chair I had given her ten years before that she had hated so much she relegated it to daddy’s den after he was already too dead to argue about it. It was always going to be me, blowing hot air into my cupped hands, shivering beneath the sub-arctic air conditioning, looking on as her heart monitor flat-lined and she presented me with the last magnificent “fuck you” she could give as she faded from the world without so much as one miracle moment of clarity for spending her long and overwhelmingly healthy life as the World’s Shittiest Mom.

To say that I did not love my mother is an understatement.

There wasn’t much to look at in my father’s old den, my mother’s new tomb. On one wall stood a towering set of bookshelves built into the frame of the house, filled with six total editions of The World Book Encyclopedia interspersed with very traditionally old-man knick-knacks like expensive cigars he would never smoke and brass coated bulldog statuettes. Hung over where dad’s desk used to be was a copy of that painting with the dogs playing poker that my brother Randy had painted for him when we were teenagers. Only instead of playing poker, they sat around the table reading newspapers and drinking coffee. Randy had painted lewd pictures of women under crass headlines on each paper, but dad’s vision had always been too terrible to notice. He proudly showed that painting off to every business client he brought into that office and no one ever had the heart to tell him.

The only thing that was ever of interest in that room, anyway, was dad’s hand-carved desk he built with my older brothers while my sister and I looked on in envy. That desk got dragged out to the curb when mom’s hospital bed went in, none of my siblings wanting to bother with directing a crew of movers to take it cross-country to one of their homes or offices.

Of course, neither did I. But sometimes, like that moment I sat in the sharp legato of mom’s flat-lined heart, I wished that I had.

I leaned forward, flipped off that then-useless heart rate monitor and let the house deepen into the kind of quiet that follows a lifetime of noise. For the first time in fifty years, my childhood home was without the tornado that was my mother. Without her dishes clanking in the sink as she obsessively washed and rewashed our dinner plates four, five, six times. Without her designer heels clicking up and down the uncovered wood floors and stairs of our old house because she insisted carpet attracted mites. Without her words sneering at me while I holed myself away in my shared bedroom with my cello, a stack of books, my headphones blaring sound thick enough to cover her. Without her telling me that I was sick, that no one would ever be able to put up with me like that, that I was meant to spend my life alone.

I sighed, ran my hands over my knees. I was thin, everything about me was then in those days, my corners so sharp they threatened to tear straight through my skin. I could only imagine what my mother would have had to say about that. “Oh, Theresa, what are you doing to me? Did I raise you to hate food? Are you trying to pretend I neglected you?”

I raised myself from the rocking chair and stretched, drawing my arms over my head and yawning. Goosebumps trailed my bare legs and I adjusted my spandex shorts, wrapped my arms around the dull grey sweatshirt hung loosely over my shoulders. I shuffled to the thermostat in the hallway, jacked the temperature up twelve degrees and stood shivering in the hallway as the vent overhead dusted me with hot, stale air. I looked into the kitchen at the end of the hall, debated whether to put something on the stove, or at the very least start a pot of coffee (maybe order a couple pizzas?) when a knock at the front door shattered the silence enveloping my mother’s house.

I counted back the hours; Kim would be just now pulling into the Kiss & Ride lane at the airport. Her husband, Roger, would be loading the family’s bags into the car-top carrier Kim had told me—beaming with marital satisfaction—that he was so proud of. The neighborhood knew not to come knocking on Patricia Woodruff’s door. She had been a nuisance even before she got sick, always peeking through her heavily-curtained windows to watch you strolling down the street, carrying in your groceries, playing with the kids in your backyard. When the cancer hit, she became a downright hermit.

Uninterested, I ignored the knocking and padded into the kitchen. The coffee pot sat washed and dry—three times, Kim had insisted while I rolled my eyes, in honor of mom—on the rack beside the sink. It would be hours before the family got in, but the extra warmth seemed pleasant in the meantime.

Twenty minutes later, after wrestling the fancy coffee maker my brother Dan had bought mom last Christmas that she’d apparently never learned to use, I had mug of something passable, and the knocking kept on.

“Fuck everyone,” I muttered to myself. I dropped my mug on the kitchen island, dark coffee sloshing over the edges onto mom’s pristine countertops, and strode toward the front door. My hair was a mess tied at the base of my neck, my thin face shadowed by dark circles and aged far past my twenty eight years, and I didn’t care. The neighborhood knew what to expect if they came knocking on Patricia Woodruff’s door, but they knew even better what to expect from her washed-up exile of a daughter.

The hallway was a haze of dust particles drifting in the shafts of light that bled through the cracks in the heavy curtains draped over every window. I focused on the knock at the door, at the sound hanging around my shoulders as I cut through the thick silence that had finally caught up to my mother. I ignored the way the photos that covered the walls towered over me, each of them a memory that smirked at me, reminded me of everything every person who shared my blood had done wrong. Of everything they would never know they had done wrong.

I threw open the front door, satisfied at the way it cracked into the table of knickknacks and key bowls my mother had collected beside it. “What?” I demanded of the squat, moist man stood out on my mother’s front porch. He extended a hand through the doorway at me, a stack of pamphlets stuck under his arm, his smile criminal. “Harley Carmichael, Genetic Savings and Clone,” he introduces, throwing my hand in an over-exuberant greeting. “I hear your mother has passed?”

My brow drew into a glare, my only interest in returning to my coffee for a moment in peace before my sister dragged the noise back in. In the back of my mind, my mother growled, “Oh, Theresa, smile for once in your goddamn life. Make a good impression. Don’t you care about your mother?”

“Look,” I told the guy, wrapping a hand around the doorknob and dragging the front door toward me. “I don’t know how the hell you know that, but there’s something called respect for the dead so if you could so kindly get the fuck off my porch—”

“I’m here today to offer you a one of a kind opportunity, Miss Woodruff,” Harley interrupted, edging himself into the doorway, his foot stuck between mine braced in his path. He looked up at me, towering a good foot over his balding, sweat-streaked head. “Truly one of a kind,” he continued. “You won’t get this deal anywhere else.”

I shifted a step back, but kept my hand firmly on the doorknob. “You’ve got the wrong house,” I told him. “There’s no way you should even—”

“Know?” Harley raised an eyebrow, his small mouth tightening into a deeper grin. “Of course you might think that, Miss Woodruff, but my organization has been watching you for a very long time. We like to keep our interests in order, and everything indicates you would be the perfect candidate for a study of this magnitude.” He slid a pamphlet from the stack under his arm and waved it in my face.

“Alright I don’t know who you think you are,” I said, planting a hand on his shoulder and giving him a shove out of my mother’s doorway. He barely stumbled onto the porch, my already meager strength waned in the face of the last week with Kim and my mother. “But you can’t just go around telling people you’ve been watching them, not to mention the ethical grey-area of stalking someone, and if you don’t get off my mother’s property right now I swear I’ll call the fucking cops.”

Harley’s grin widened and he whipped the pamphlet around in his hand. Over a two-tone color scheme and poorly photoshopped graphics read, in bold letters: Genetic Savings & Clone: Giving to Tomorrow What Yesterday Stole. He flipped it open, jabbed a thick finger at a string of side-by-side photos of dogs and slightly smaller, somewhat similar looking dogs. “We’ve spent years perfecting the science, and we believe we can do it,” he says. “We can bring your mother back.”

My jaw dropped, my grip tightening on the doorknob. “And why the fuck would you think I’d want to do that,” I sputtered.

Harley’s spectacle faltered for a moment. He frowned, eyebrows dipped together as he pulled a notebook from his pocket. “Just one moment,” he murmured, drawing a fat finger down a list of names. He looked back at me. “Kimberly Woodruff?”

Ire built like plague between my ribs. “No,” I said. “Her sister.”

The man squinted back at his list and nodded. “Ah, of course,” he said. “Just as well I’m sure.” He shoved the notebook back into his breast pocket and returned to the pamphlet. “As I was saying, we believe we have perfected the science to allow us to bring our loved ones—or, in your case, not so loved ones—back from the dead. Or, at least, a version of them.”

He glanced up at me. “You see, this isn’t your science fiction clone project.” He turned a page on the pamphlet, tapped a block of text. “She wouldn’t be your mother, per say, but more of a…genetic equal. The same pieces put together from the start, a second time around.”

“Look, buddy,” I said, inching the front door closed. “I don’t know what you’re on, but you’ve got the wrong person here. Now you can get out of here on your own or wait for the cops to make you, but I’m really not interested.”

“But Theresa,” Harley insisted, planting a meaty palm on the door and smiling his criminal smile. “I’m telling you, your mother would get a second chance at a whole new life, from the very beginning. And you would get a second chance at your mother.”

I could only stare, blankly, back at him. “You want me,” I said, “to raise my mother as my child?”

Harley nodded in a way that suggested he had not considered it this way before. “In so many words, yes.”

“You’re fucking nuts,” I said, acid on my tongue. Harley opened his mouth, pamphlet held in midair as if to demonstrate an oncoming point, and I slammed the door in his face. I locked it twice for good measure and fell back against it, the dusty hallway hanging around me like a daze. Anger vibrated through my limbs, and I wondered if I ought to call the cops anyway, get rid of this lunatic before the more sensitive, less sensible Kim got home and had a chance to be persuaded. She had been talking about her and Roger trying again.

I sighed and covered my face with my hands. My mother’s voice rang in my ears—“Quit slouching, Theresa. No one wants to see you slumped over like that, you’re going to ruin your good posture.”—and I was back sitting at my mother’s kitchen table, dinner plate in front of me. I was the only one left sitting there, my dinner cold, my siblings having ran off long ago to play Nintendo. I could hear their arguing from there, but mother wouldn’t scold them. That was often a right reserved especially for me.

“Theresa,” she said, wet to the elbows in dishwater as she scrubbed at the sink. She didn’t look at me while she talked. She never looked at me when she talked. “Theresa, are you trying to make me look like a bad mother? I mean seriously, what sort of child refuses to eat their dinner day in and day out. You're already so thin, the neighbors will notice.”

I cringed at the way she said thin like an insult. “Mom, I don’t like meatloaf.”

“Of course you do, darling, meatloaf is your favorite,” she insisted.

I frowned, turning over a crumbling slab of meatloaf with my fork. “No,” I told her. “Meatloaf is Randy’s favorite.” But I knew she didn’t hear me, or didn’t listen. They were always the same when it came to me.

“Really, it’s an excellent meal I don’t know what your problem is,” she continued, dishwater slopping over the edge of the sink as she furiously scrubbed at the dinner plates for the third time that night. “That’s your grandmother’s recipe you know. That recipe has won awards, Theresa, but no it can’t please some stupid kid who doesn’t know any better.” She was talking to herself then—she talked to herself more and more when I was around—but she didn’t bother to keep it to herself. I used to think maybe she didn’t know I could still hear her, that she couldn’t gauge her own volume. Eventually I started to believe she did it on purpose.

There was a crash as a dish fell to the floor, shattering over the tile like a soapy star gone supernova. I froze. I could still hear my siblings arguing over the two functioning Nintendo controllers. I could hear my father on a late business call in his den, shouting at someone on the other side of the world. But there in the kitchen, everything was too quiet.

“Goddammit, Theresa,” my mother shouted, spinning to face me. She jabbed a pruned finger at the mess on the floor. Her hair had fallen out of its tight bun, strands floating frazzled around her face. “Look, look what you made me do.”

In an instant, though, her anger melted away and her shoulders fell. I was crying and she was tired. She sat across from me at the kitchen table, edged my plate closer to me with a pleading look in her eyes. “Come on Theresa,” she said. “Please just eat your dinner. I’m trying to be a good mother. Can’t you just do this one thing for me? Why don’t you want me to be a good mother?”

I realized I’ve been holding my breath and it bleeds through my clenched teeth. I was back in the hallway again, the dust and warped glass of the pictures on the wall holding me in a half-hearted embrace. A piece of paper slid through the mail slot on the door and landed between my feet. I picked I up, crumpled it into a ball in my hands. “I’m calling the police,” I shouted back through the door. Kim would be home soon, with Roger, Randy, Dan and all the kids. I didn’t want her to see this.

Kim would have jumped at the chance to bring mom back, wouldn’t she? It was a favorite daughter’s wet dream. Honoring your mother in the greatest way imaginable. Though I could hear her voice in the back of my head, the same voice she had every time I came to her with a baby squirrel fallen from its nest or a plan to start a backyard freak show with the neighborhood cats or my idea to spend three years traveling the country in a log cabin hitched to the back of my pickup truck. “Don’t you think that’s kind of weird, Theresa?”

I had never been the kind of daughter Kim was capable of being. There was guilt in my bones where I should have had something more. There were so many things I was incapable of as my mother’s daughter, but for there to be something that Kim couldn’t—wouldn’t—do for her, that was a new experience entirely.

I shuffled back to the kitchen. The mug of coffee left sitting on the kitchen table had gone cold, but rather than pour myself another from the pot I sunk into the same kitchen chair I had occupied every night for the entirety of my childhood. I sat with my knees apart, back straight as a rod, palms pressed hard into my thighs. It had been years since I had picked up my cello, but I wasn’t sure I would ever erase the memory from my muscles. Wasn’t sure there would ever be a day I felt the cold sting of anxiety crawl over my shoulders and didn’t immediately assume that musician’s posture.

In those moments it was like stepping straight back in time, to long afternoons spent sat on the stool in my shared bedroom with my back to the door and cello propped between my knees. I could hear my mother down the hall, laying flat on her sheets pulled taught over the bed as she chatted with one of the few friends she managed to maintain over the years of neuroticism. “My Theresa is just a dream on the cello,” she’d tell anyone who would listen. “Really you should hear her. There’s nothing like it.”

My mother’s words stuck to my spine, filled the places between my ribs. If I could do nothing else right, I could play the cello. Never would anyone have called me a prodigy, far from it. I didn’t go on to audition for Julliard or even play regularly past my eighteenth birthday, but to my mother I was divine. To my mother, this was the thing I could do right.

Without a thought, I’m standing in the doorway of Kim’s and my childhood bedroom. It has barely changed since I moved out at nineteen but for the pile of boxes full of dad’s old stuff stacked conveniently on my bed only. Kim’s is as well made as the last day she slept in it. I’m drawn, though, to the old cello propped neatly against my rehearsal stool, a stack of my old sheet music left on the wooden stool worn down by hours on hours of playing until my fingers bled. My mother never once told me to practice, never once sneered at me that I could never be good enough. Late at night, I would see her reflection in the darkened glass of my bedroom window. See her standing there in the doorway, eyes closed, swaying slightly as my bow swept over the strings. I played like that every night, waiting for her every night, until the day my dad died. After that, even the music couldn’t be good enough for her.

I drifted across the room, let my fingers slide across the strings. It was my first cello, one I hadn’t played for so many years, long ago replacing it with newer more expensive models. But mom had kept it all this time. I wondered if I had kept on, if I had made the effort once in the last ten years to drag my cello out to my mother’s house and play for her, if it would still have made her proud. If I could have filled all my thinning, empty places with that pride. If it could have washed out all the grief for good.

Somehow, I knew it wouldn’t have.

In my hand I held the pamphlet Harley stuck under the door, the cheap slick paper still damp from his big, sweaty hands. I didn’t even remember picking it up.

Downstairs, the front door swung open and a waterfall of noise washed into my mother’s silent house. Kimberly called my name, her heels clicked along mom’s bare wood entryway back to the den. I counted her steps to the door, left hanging open, the room abandoned. “Theresa,” she shouted my name, heels rattling as she ran to my dead mother’s side. “Theresa where are you? What happened to mom? Theresa what happened?” There were sobs stuck in her throat, and I could hear her urging Roger or Randy or Dan to keep the kids out, take them out of the house, distract them for a while.

“It’s okay, Kimberly,” I said out loud, though not loud enough for her to hear me all the way up in our childhood bedroom. I looked to the pamphlet in my hand, the spaces between my ribs full of something thick and new. “Mom’s gonna be okay.”

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272 Reviews

Points: 10554
Reviews: 272

Mon Jan 26, 2015 4:53 pm
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beckiw wrote a review...


I saw you posted and couldn't resist having a read :)

Then I thought I might plunge in for a review? Comment? I don't know. Probably more like a ramble.

You already know I love your writing so I won't like drool all over it...again.

I agree with some of the reviews below that you're intro was a little difficult to get into. The long sentences kind of tripped me up a bit and I felt myself rereading because I knew I didn't want to miss any of that detail but it was also quite tricky to take in at once! So maybe have a play around with that. Maybe play with the first and second paragraphs, bring in the bit about how her sister should've been the one sitting there and then delve into how she wished she could be her sister? Just something that makes jumping into this world a little easier?

I think the Cloning company is such a cool idea but I kind of see it as like a side note in the story rather than the story itself? In that way I think it could be interesting if you made it more like common place in this world. At the moment it's all sort of under hand and creepy and 'we're watching you' which makes it feel as though it's going to go somewhere and then it doesn't. So maybe that's why people feel like it's a bit random? I think it would be interesting if you made it so that this service is just like I dunno...organ donation. A sort of run of the mill thing that happens when someone dies (if you're like semi-wealthy). Then I think it becomes less of an inserted plot point and more part of the story if that makes sense?

And I'm gonna say that I quite liked the ending. Because I never got the sense that she played the cello because she remotely wanted to? It was something she stumbled across and then she saw that she got a reaction from her mother, a positive reaction from her mother, and so she kept doing it. She so badly wanted that positive praise. Then she stopped because when her Dad died that praise went away. Now that her mother is dead that potential for praise is gone forever, that pride her mother felt for Theresa because of the cello is gone. The one thing that sort of made her feel like she had worth and a use above what her siblings gave her mother was the cello. So to me it read like, she wanted that praise back, that sense of worth back and not necessarily that she suddenly decided she loved her mother and wanted her back? And I just had this sense of melancholy at the end because she had a chance to be free but instead she's trapped because her sense of self is so tied to her mother and IT'S SO SAD DAMN IT. The cycle of abuse still continues even after her mother has died.

Anyway, as usual lovely work! Your characters always come alive for me and your scene setting and descriptions are just so annoyingly good. ATMOSPHERE. How do you do that?? Tell me!

This was well worth breaking my review silence for!

If you have any questions you know where to find me :)

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890 Reviews

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Reviews: 890

Mon Jan 26, 2015 1:46 am
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PenguinAttack wrote a review...


So you already know that I like this, so let's launch into what I have to say about it.

I think your intro is clunky. It may be done intentionally so show us just how jumbled she feels and the awkward clutter of her thoughts running into each other at the time. But for me it also means I take that little bit longer to sink into the narrative, into Theresa.

I like Theresa, I like her bitter, ugly anger and the way her body explodes outward in corners and in sloppy coffee and rattled knick-knacks. I like that she hates her mother and was shaped by her and that she sits at the table even though she isn't going to eat and she could have walked away but she's so rigid in her forced attendance to her mother, just like she is in these last moments with her.

Her mother was awful and abusive and I don't care at all about her brothers or her sister or her father even though I enjoyed the idea that no one kept the desk even though they loved it and it was worth keeping. We get her entirely from Theresa's perspective as is only right, and she comes across as obsessive and abusive and you've NAILED the voices here, they're perfect.

The ending is gold. It's gold because she's still living in that horrible abused state that says if she just worked out what she'd done wrong maybe she could have fixed it. She spends all of this hating her mother and it doesn't change even at the end, she still hates her mother. She hates her mother and nothing is going to change that because what might come of this won't be her mother, it will be something different, maybe filled with cello music and a little more love. She never even says that she loves the cello, it was just another way to try and fill in a gap of what her mother is missing in her. She was always going to give in, and she was because she's coded to TRY for her mother, even if it's trying by sitting and waiting to be dismissed.

I do still think something needs to happen in your intro to hook us in a little bit better - those drawn out sentences are great to show she's breaking up but a little awkward. You have a great voice and I really, really enjoyed this.

Thanks for posting! ♥♥

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Reviews: 1125

Sun Jan 25, 2015 6:42 pm
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StellaThomas wrote a review...

OH HEY lovely. I know you've had a ton of reviews on this but how could I not say something after enjoying such a lovely piece of writing?

As always, your prose was delectable, so polished and crisp, how your sentences and paragraphs are like variations on a theme but not repetitive. You retain a voice throughout the whole piece and it's so strong. You know I'm a massive fan of your prose, but I'm just reiterating.

I just have a few little points:

-weirdly, it's per se and not per say as we all think it should be.
-I'd love to know *just how many* siblings she has. Maybe you were keeping it purposefully vague, but for the first while I assumed Kimberley and she were the only sisters but no, there were others. And I kind of wanted to hear a bit more about their treatment. Obviously she has a complex about Kimberley, but where were the others placed on the spectrum?
-Similarly, I think you could have said "The room I shared with Kim" the first time around, because I really wanted to know with whom it was a 'shared bedroom'.
-I thought it was a present-day story, so the Nintendos seemed like an anachronism to me but if I am wrong then ignore me.
-why is there a heart monitor there? This puzzled me, simply because it's not in line with palliative care the way I know it. If she is being left to die, they tend to take all the medical equipment out of the room. Is it to do with the cloning company? If so, fair enough, but if not it just seemed weird to me. But then, maybe that's what they wanted, and maybe that's what Patricia herself with her neuroticism would have wanted. But yeah, it just seemed out of place to me in a palliative care setting.

I really liked how you showed the obsessive similarities in their two personalities - OCD and eating disorders and the way they're connected, and how much her mother's opinion shaped Theresa's adolescence, and is clearly still shaping her adult life. And originally I thought her grief was displayed weirdly, but it's almost like there's that numb period where she's still putting together what happened and then there's the outburst at the man at the door, and then finally she breaks down. I just thought it was really well done, that at first I thought something was off - but of course it was, given their relationship - and then it all comes to a head.

One last thing, regarding the cloning company - I would have liked to known, were they purely watching Theresa? How about other family members? And why her? I think it just needs a little flesh, but then, it's kind of kooky and bizarre as is and that's kind of nice.

Lovely job darling!

Hope I helped, drop me a note if you need anything!

-Stella x

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155 Reviews

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Reviews: 155

Sun Jan 25, 2015 3:09 pm
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fallenoutofgrace wrote a review...

Hi fallen here for a review, now before we start I must apologize for mis-spellings I'm on a ipad that despises me. So let's get started :)

Now let's get started what are the pros to this story:
I really liked your diction, how your words elegantly flowed from sentence to sentence. It kept the reader wanting more. I also enjoyed your description of the desk in dads den, though I'm still confused on why it was so important I still loved it. Next, I liked your charachter dynamic you showed clearly the realationships between everyone, an example would be Kim(moms favorite) sobbing and breaking down when seeing her mom was dead. And theressa mom with the final malecifant 'f u'.

Now cons(more like questions)
I'm a little confused where cloning and genetics come into play, if you could explain or touch on in a bit. Because right now its just completly random. Only thing I could thing of was maybe thressa was kims clone I don't know.

( This I'm not sure about if I'm wrong please ignore I'm not all knowing when it comes to complex compound sentences.)

Your sentences seem during the begining to made up of commas and just one period. A suggestion read over it and where you stop naturally add a period, now like I said before you can completly ignore this because I dont know about those kinds of sentences.

Other than that you are a brilliant author who captures the readers intrest with your beautiful works. And I can't wait to read more from you


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878 Reviews

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Sun Jan 25, 2015 2:48 pm
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Demeter wrote a review...

Laurennn <3

I didn’t check the other reviews, so forgive me if I repeat stuff people have already said!

I don’t know if you do this intentionally, but in the first paragraph you have a few pretty standard shortish sentences and then the next one takes almost the whole rest of a paragraph. It could be the narrator’s way to show just how much she wishes to be the sister, but there is so much information in the sentence that it’s a bit hard to follow. But the last sentence of the first paragraph is beautiful.

The description of the den is very well written, but it does seem to drag a little. Like, I realise the description is necessary to set the scene and show things about the dad’s and brother’s responsibilities, but since the story stops during it, I found myself starting to wish something would happen soon instead of just enjoying your beautiful words. Also, I’m not sure I understand why the desk is the only interesting thing in the room when you’ve just described a very interesting-sounding painting, for example.

Without her designer heels clicking up and down the uncovered wood floors and stairs of our old house because she insisted carpet attracted mites.

Here, the cause and effect seem a bit off. It sounds like the designer heels click up and down BECAUSE she insisted carpet attracted mites, when I’m sure you really mean that the floors are uncovered *because* she insisted carpet attracted mites.

I love “marital satisfaction”. xD

The neighborhood knew not to come knocking on Patricia Woodruff’s door.

This is a bit confusing, because you’ve just finished telling us about Kim and Roger in the same paragraph, and I didn’t know at first who Patricia Woodruff is.

What an interesting and strange story this was! You're a really strong writer, as I'm sure you know, and you're able to really make the characters stand out as unique personalities who have their own ways of talking and doing stuff. It's such a pleasure to read something like that!

In general, I was slightly confused about the story. The whole cloning thing just seems so random, even though it's what makes this story really interesting as well. I wasn't sure why the company would've been watching the house for a longer time and whether it'd be more powerful if the guy was just doing his normal rounds, delivering his selling speech to Theresa like he would to anyone else, without Theresa/her mother being somehow more special than everyone else? I don't know. I should totally read more by you though because I really enjoy the way you write. :)


EDIT: Sorry, I totes meant "personalities" not "responsibilities"!

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308 Reviews

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Sun Jan 25, 2015 4:57 am
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GoldFlame wrote a review...


As I was finishing the nitpicks and trying to come up with a few words to say overall, I realized I'd run bare. I honestly just read the piece because I enjoyed it, not because I felt obligated to read the whole thing for my review. Pace, voice, character development--all spot-on. And I like that it was primarily character-driven--for some reason, I don't see much of that on YWS anymore. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough. But anyway, I read it again, trying to pinpoint something wrong with it so I could offer a bit of help besides technical mistakes, and again I ran bare.

The opening sentence established the piece's purpose, as it should: unraveling the narrator's relationship with her mother. And I really love that you managed to weave this sad, nostalgic atmosphere without sacrificing character dimensions, as nostalgic atmospheres sometimes do--they transform the narrator into this boring brittle person with a nougat-y center, like some chocolate truffle. (I should warn you I'm prone to weird similes.) Kim possessed the depth of a novel character, too.

Overall, I guess it read more like a character sketch than it did a short story, but I'm okay with that because there's an established beginning, middle, and end. The conclusion impressed a sense of finality; all was good and well-structured.

So here's a few lame ramblings on technical mistakes.

My mother died on a Sunday afternoon. When it happened, I wished I was somewhere else.

I feel like this opening sentence is too ... bleached. You want it to trigger off a firework of questions, and it didn't do that for me, or ensnare my interest; instead, I expected a paragraph loaded with cliches to ensue.

Try combining the sentences--"when my mother died"--or just reworking the paragraph entirely. Giving the reader something fresh to pique their interest.

Also, this paragraph is punctuated with a lot of short clauses and sentences, with one preposition-packed run-on for good measure. I could pick out the run-on as a stylistic effect, but it looked too strange, contrasted too weirdly with statements like "My mother died on a Sunday afternoon." I found myself skimming it. Maybe it could work if you inserted more commas, or trimmed a bit of information here and there? Just playing around?

to see grandma

With no possessive pronoun before "grandma," it should be capitalized.

and Responsibilities that

I love how "Responsibilities" was capitalized; it really contributes a nice effect.

being mom’s favorite

Same thing here: no possessive pronoun, so "mom's" should be capitalized. Just keep a look-out for slip-ups like these.

brass coated bulldog statuettes

"Brass coated" should be hyphenated--two words serving as a singular adjective.

twenty eight years

"Twenty eight" should also be hyphenated.

a haze of dust particles drifting in the shafts of light that bled through the cracks in the heavy curtains draped over every window.

Egh. A "that" stuck in the middle of a sentence is never happy news. Also, I counted five prepositions, not that it's extremely relevant, but it's generally a good guideline to go by to contain a max of three prepositions within each comma.

Maybe if you just poured the sentence's focus on a couple select nouns: "dust particles drifting in the light that bled through the cracks in the curtains." It still looks bulky, but it's cleaner and it works, somewhat.


Previously, "knickknacks" was hyphenated--just check that you remain consistent.

one of a kind opportunity

"One of a kind" should be hyphenated. (Gah, I'm sorry for all these petty insignificant nitpicks.)

“Alright I don’t know who you think you are,” I said

Comma after "alright." Parenthetical expression.

I realized I’ve been holding my breath and it bleeds through my clenched teeth.

The tense fluctuates here. Check that everything corresponds to past tense.

I picked I up

Typo: "it."

“Theresa where are you? What happened to mom? Theresa what happened?”

When you're addressing someone, you require a comma before and after their name, like: C'mon, John, let's go. Here's a quick article.

Your writing style is absolutely beautiful. The description's clean, the imagery vivid, and everything just read wonderfully. Looking forward to reading more from you!


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1272 Reviews

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Reviews: 1272

Sun Jan 25, 2015 4:17 am
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Rosendorn wrote a review...


Allow me to be blunt: I hated this ending.

You had the possibility for a wonderful resolution where an abused daughter finds herself and her peace back in with something her mother had condemned her for in the end, finding a missing piece of herself she'd shunned because she'd been abused too much, but instead you give us this convoluted hope spot that she might want her mother back.

That is one of the single most unrealistic things I have ever heard of, especially for the hatred and disdain, the understandable hatred and disdain, you had laced in here beforehand. Had she been devastated that her mother was dead, that she'd never been good enough, that'd be one thing, but she's not— she wants absolutely nothing to do with her mother ever again until the last hundred words.

The emotional "resolution" is not an emotional resolution. It's the exact opposite; forced and trying to show you can forgive abusers with an aesop that does not hold with lived experience. Every single abused person I know with the attitude your narrator showed in the beginning lives by the mantra "you do not owe your abusers the time of day let alone love and forgiveness", and this tends to go double for those who have parental abuse along with the message of "you should love your parents" shoved down throats by society. If the person was still attached and desperately seeking resolution, that's one thing, but you do not establish that at all. Instead it is piles and piles of wanting nothing to do with her anymore then this cryptic ending of a new start in the blink of an eye over a cello.

If that cello segment was meant to show how yes, she does actually want her mother's approval, it fell flat on its face. It read to me like her own personal escape, her own personal love, the one thing she went back to when life became too much but she stopped because she was abused too much to go back to it. Instead we get a sudden new feeling that, as I said, reads so untrue to life any emotional attachment I had to the protagonist before is completely and utterly shattered because it's so against everything set up in the whole previous part of the story.

Either make her still desperately seeking her mother's approval and making it obvious, or don't have her change her mind at one single memory. It doesn't work that way. If you want to end on a hopeful note, have her fall in love with herself and her music again, because she loved that despite her mother, and now has the freedom to go back to it.


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Sun Jan 25, 2015 3:25 am
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Masquerade wrote a review...

I'm going to just start with some nitpicks:

a husband and kids and Responsibilities that could excuse me

I believe responsibilities is not supposed to be capitalized.

everything about me was then in those days

Everything about her was thin I think you mean?

I demanded of the squat, moist man stood out on my mother’s front porch.

I think you mean standing.

I noticed you switch tenses once or twice, too.

Apart from that I thought it was pretty awesome. I really enjoyed reading things. It flowed well, the voice was strong. I like how the sci-fi element of this story isn't a huge part of it. A similar story could easily exist without any sci-fi elements, but you just threw that one little sci-fi detail in, and I thought that was really neat. I love stories that blend genres or break out of genre conventions.

Overall, a really awesome piece. Good job.

Happy Review Day,

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Sun Jan 25, 2015 2:58 am
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Kale wrote a review...

Happy Review Day!

The title of this is what caught my eye as I was scrolling through the Green Room, so good job on that. ;P

“What?” I demanded of the squat, moist man stood out on my mother’s front porch.

I believe you're missing a "that" after "man".

He looked up at me, towering a good foot over his balding, sweat-streaked head.

This sentence just reads awkwardly. I'd recommend sticking in a "who was" right before the "towering".

“And why the fuck would you think I’d want to do that,” I sputtered.

I think there should be a question or exclamation mark here, unless she's supposed to be saying this more flatly. It still reads weirdly with a comma there.

to long afternoons spent sat on the stool

"Sat" should be "sitting".

laying flat on her sheets pulled taught over the bed

Wrong "taut" here.

I wondered if I had kept on, if I had made the effort once in the last ten years to drag my cello out to my mother’s house and play for her, if it would still have made her proud.

This would read better if there were a comma after "wondered". Right now, without the comma, it sounds like she's wondering if she had kept on or not (like she can't remember), instead of about the results of if she had kept on.

Overall though, all I can do is nitpick. The voice of the narrator really makes this story work, with all the flashes of scenes and details that reveal something more when put all together, and you did a good job transitioning the bitterness into regret and finally hope, though I can't help thinking that it won't wind up going nearly as well as Theresa is hoping.

I really enjoyed reading this.

“And how shall I think of you?' He considered a moment and then laughed. 'Think of me with my nose in a book!”
— Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell