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Asking the Time

by Liminality

I’ve learned so much giving the time to people on the streets. Each day brings in something new, as if the world is putting handmade candies on the conveyor belt of life: each unique from all other things, but that they are all things. Things that happen. Things that are real. Things that leave a taste in your mouth, one way or another. We know so little of the things we care most about. It’s why I withheld my tongue when I saw you, sir, marching down the pavement with your briefcase in hand, the tie waving from the inside of your pocket. Immediately I could feel the urge to lean over and pull it out, overpowering me like the smell of familiar aftershave and soap. I wanted to loop it around your neck and demand you wear it properly. So much so that, when you asked me the time, I failed my duty; the years had slipped from my fingers and with it went the months, days and hours between when I last held a tie and now. I watched your back push past me, recede, fade, searching for someone else with a watch. I watched you until you were nothing at all. And then I went home, and I made dinner, and I spent another Chinese New Year fatherless.

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153 Reviews

Points: 2501
Reviews: 153

Sun Mar 03, 2019 10:48 am
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4revgreen wrote a review...

First of all, I loved this little short story and would love to hear more about this character!
The simile in the second line did seem a little weak, and I think there are plenty of other things you could have compared it to. However, I did like the repetition of the word "Things" as I think it really highlighted that "Each day brings in something new," because you wont know what it is each day, as it's new.
Your varying use of sentence types (Short, declarative, complex) and punctuation made the story flow well and not seem clumsy.
The description is very vivid, and helped set the scene very well. I liked the direct address to whoever the narrator was talking to, made it seem quite personal.
Overall, this was a very well thought out and crafted piece of creative writing. I really enjoyed it! Keep writing :-)

Liminality says...

Thanks for the review!

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452 Reviews

Points: 18918
Reviews: 452

Thu Feb 07, 2019 11:08 pm
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Tuckster wrote a review...

Hey there Liminality! Tuck here for a quick review.

Each day brings in something new, as if the world is putting handmade candies on the conveyor belt of life: each unique from all other things, but that they are all things.
I didn't think this metaphor was very strong. I liked where you were going with this, but I felt that you kinda let it drop off. Adding more specificity than "things" would be a good place to start, and candies on a conveyor belt was a very specific and somewhat unintuitive.

overpowering me like the smell of familiar aftershave and soap.
I think this is an odd way to describe being overpowered. It creates a nice image, but doesn't really fit with the idea of being overpowered. Still, this description could be more directly applied to the man with the tie—saying that the scent of his strong aftershave overpowered her would be a better usage of this image.

I spent another Chinese New Year fatherless.
This seems like a really heavy way to end the story, in my opinion. The Chinese New Year part was also something new that I think should have been introduced earlier, and I fail to see how the fatherless part is relevant except for the part that it adds a little bit more punch to that final sentence, but I think in this case it's a bit unnecessary.

Overall Thoughts

I think the premise of this sort of official time-keeper is intriguing, but it does seem a little odd and I can't really find it realistic in my mind. I think it needs a bit more set-up to carry the emphasis that you want—is this a world in which only some people have watches? Do cell phones exist? Is this an established figure? Why do people know how to find him? Questions like those help flesh out the premise a little bit more.

Additionally, I think that some of your metaphors could be strengthened. I already pointed out what I thought was holding them back, so to speak, but manufacturing another one or modifying these is up to you. I liked the metaphor of slipping through your fingers—that was well-executed and helped stoke the main character a little bit by adding some urgency.

All things considered, I liked the way this story ended! The short, simple duty; the inability; the sad follow-up, all of it combined to make something that was intriguing but also had a bit of a sober ad solemn ending to it that made it feel real, while also having that fantasy element. I don't know how to explain it, but what I'm trying to say is that it evoked some good emotions and got me thinking a little bit, which is always high praise for literary works in general, but particularly something as short as this. I really enjoyed this short little blurb and look forward to seeing what you do with it! As always, if you have any questions about my review, just let me know and I'd be happy to provide clarification!


Liminality says...

Thank you for your review! I found your comments very helpful. I'll likely be reworking this into something a bit longer in the future (once college isn't so busy) and I'll definitely keep what you said in mind. Thanks again!

The most important service rendered by the press and the magazines is that of educating people to approach printed matter with distrust.
— Samuel Butler