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Botched Sayings and Formalities

by Liminality


The kid has your eyes, darling – I mean it.

They’re the ones you kept in a pickle jar on the dresser beside our bed. She’s cradling them to their chest – still in their container, thank goodness –the way you’d hold a newborn. It’s strange, isn’t it? One man’s forgotten keepsake really can become another’s treasure.

Why is there a kid in our apartment? It’s not ours, I can tell you that. Secret children only exist in my writings; real me wants nothing to do with them. The child came up in the lift at midnight, soaked to the bone by the storm. I let her in and went to get her a towel. She must have come across the jar while I was in the bathroom.

It’s weird, isn’t it? A stranger has more familiarity with the nooks and crannies of our home than I do. The existence of that Mason jar had been cropped out of my mind space long ago, probably to make room for the half-a-manuscript I have piling up in the living room. I don’t stop the kid, opting instead to gaze into the pickled eyes with the same grotesque wonder as she.

The jar thumps against the coffee table as she sets it down. Wordlessly, she gets up and goes about making tea. My mouth opens, wanting to say something, but my throat declines the offer. Only the sound of drawers opening and closing disrupt the one o’clock vacuum. The kid doesn’t use a stool as she pours hot water from the kettle. With only her arm extending above the countertop, she tips half a mug of the steaming liquid into a cup. I should stop her. I find myself glued in place.

There’s been some sort of breeze passing through me since I opened the door: one that I can’t call a chill. It’s something temperature-less, something distorting the outline of my being the way holograms shiver in sci-fi films. You never liked that, I remember. There’s not much of a point in being able to see through a TV screen.

When I look up I find the kid has made a cup for me as well. It’s sitting on the coffee table, next to your eye jar. Otherwise it’s almost as if she hasn’t seen me. She sits cross legged on the other end of the table, back turned as she gazes out at the skyline. Once again, I feel an urgent need to speak – only to choke on nothingness and fall back into silence.

It’s nice like this, surprisingly. She doesn’t move as I clear the papers around her, as I put them away by the open door of my study. I sit down to sip at my tea. Was the carpet always this comfy? I note a few changes in the window view since I last saw it: the blinking streetlights, the vanished forest, the skyscrapers that have suddenly sprouted. We sit there, taking in the post-storm city as it resets itself in the dark.

Dawn comes. My eyes are wide open. The girl gets up to leave, placing her mug next to the jar on the table. Like a robot, I rise with her, fingers undoing the lock. It clatters when it falls to the ground. I haven’t the strength to pick it up.

I think the sound has startled her. For an instant she turns her head and tilts it sideways, almost as if she’s scrutinizing me, considering me, recognizing me – but she does not. Her footsteps echo in the corridor, and I wait until the sound dies down utterly before I slam the door shut. I sink down into the carpet, head in my hands.

You know what? She really does have your eyes. 


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Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:17 pm
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BigBadBear wrote a review...



Liminality,


I enjoyed reading this because, as the reviewer before me mentioned, I had to read it twice to understand what I was reading. As far as content, I feel like a flash fiction story like this can be so effective in not only being creepy (as what I feel like you might have been going for here), but also tells something of humanity--some part of it at least.

I'm not so concerned with the fact that this woman (I'm only assuming it's a woman, seeing as the new-born reference at the start infers maternity) is keeping her lover's pickled eyes in a jar. I can accept that! What I am concerned with is the sudden appearance of this child how she seems to not only recognize the woman, but knows her way around the apartment.

I am also curious as to the age of this child. I imagine, reading this, she's probably six to eight years old, but she also made the narrator a cup of tea, which suggests maturity? I don't know. But I feel like adding this detail would enhance the story visually for me.

In writing flash fiction such as this, it's important to understand that there needs to be a beginning, and middle and an end, condensed into a page or two. There also needs to be a reason for this story. Why did you write this? and what is the reader supposed to take away?

I love that the girl has the supposedly? dead lover's eyes. There's some weird mystery behind this, and while you don't have to come outright and tell us who this child is, I feel like I need more to be satisfied.

I enjoy your writing style. It's easy to read and clear. With this emotional story though, I would like to see more descriptive, cryptic writing. Maybe some hidden meanings in things, such as the eyes, that would help the reader connect the characters together.

Thanks for this piece,

Jared




Liminality says...


Thank you for the review!
I agree I wasn't giving quite enough detail on a lot of things in the story, because I might have been trying a little too hard to create the sense of mystery. Midway through my focus drifted a lot to how the words sounded and flowed together.
What I meant to imply in this story was that the lover had been reincarnated into this little girl, which is why she seems to know her way around the house. The girl is doing this almost unconsciously, as if in a trance, which is why she barely interacts with or acknowledges the narrator. I realised it's quite open to interpretation, the way I left it. The whole thing spawned as a result of a play on the common phrase, "He/she has your eyes."
Thanks for the pointers - I found them very helpful! Hopefully, I'll be able to fix these issues for my next piece. :D Thank you again.



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Wed Aug 08, 2018 4:43 pm
LMAuthor312 says...



I really, really like what you've written here. It's slightly suspenseful and eerie. I had to reread it a couple of times because I felt like I kept missing pieces of information. Honestly, parts don't make a whole lot of sense, but I think that's what I like about it! It's a little choppy and weird. But you make it work and I really want to know who the girl is. I want more information about who he is talking/ writing to. You have me intrigued. If you decide to continue with this, I'd love to read and review it. Thank you for writing it!




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Wed Aug 08, 2018 4:43 pm
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LMAuthor312 wrote a review...



I really, really like what you've written here. It's slightly suspenseful and eerie. I had to reread it a couple of times because I felt like I kept missing pieces of information. Honestly, parts don't make a whole lot of sense, but I think that's what I like about it! It's a little choppy and weird. But you make it work and I really want to know who the girl is. I want more information about who he is talking/ writing to. You have me intrigued. If you decide to continue with this, I'd love to read and review it. Thank you for writing it!




Liminality says...


Thank you for the review!
My intention (if you don't mind me spoiling) was to imply that the girl was the reincarnated form of the main character's dead spouse. I didn't really intend for this piece to stretch out for very long, because I feared it would lose its punch/ become repetitive, but it may have a rewrite in the future if I find something substantial to add to it or figure out how to present it better. I'm really glad you liked it. Thanks again!



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Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:27 pm
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jamalkadiorovna wrote a review...



I really liked this short story!
I'm a great fan of absurd and weird writing and this one surely falls into that kind. Your style of writing really draws me into the story and I like that you don't explain everything but keeps the reader guessing a bit. The fact that it's written in 2nd perspective is great for the kind of unnatural and surrealistic feel of it and the presence of a child makes the story even stranger as if you've written it a bit wryly, if that makes any sense.
Anyway, I really liked it and I kind of want it to continue but at the same time, it's so good in this length. So good job :)




Liminality says...


Thank you so much for the review!




If you're paranoid that you're making your novel worse with each passing decision clap your hands
— Panikos