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on the wire [part two]

by Pompadour


Warning: This work has been rated 16+.

It was always the simple, mindless things that sent you into a reel. Even now—as you watch the moonlight wash into the room, painting the room with a transreal, opaque blue glow. Rain patters on the ceiling. The sumo wrestler your nephew drew for you is pasted on the wall opposite you. He glares at you from underneath leech-like brows, his gaze sharp and discerning. It isn’t simple, his crayon-scribble eyes say. It isn’t mindless.

You make a mental note to toss the sumo wrestler into the bin later.

‘I mean—suicide of all things,’ she continues rambling. ‘I don’t understand it. What did I do to deserve this? It’s just—so remarkably selfish of him to go off and do this on his own, no thought of consulting me, asking how it would make me feel.’ She makes a disgruntled sound. ‘I swear if this is all because I threatened to report him for domestic abuse…’

By this time, you are barely registering her words, merely listening to the lulling cadence of her voice. It’s the word ‘abuse’ that shakes you out of your stupor—you blink, your mouth twisting into an odd shape. ‘A...buse?’ you echo.

‘Yes,’ she says, and her voice sounds almost bored. You picture her sitting on her loveseat and smoothing out the creases in a cushion laid out evenly over her lap. ‘Abuse. You know. Punching. Kicking. That sort of stuff. Do you remember the barbeque last year?’

The time you nearly took his eye out with a poker. ‘Yeah, he—he punched you in the face, didn’t he?’ It was makeup. You’d watched her apply it expertly over her cheek, all while complaining that he should talk less to that buxom cousin of his. ‘You’d had an argument and he took a swing at you.’ He’d never hurt a fly. He wasn’t one of those people—aimless, sexual predators who thrived on hurting people weaker than them. He was always the weaker one. Always—putting himself out when he didn’t have to. Letting her walk all over him.

But she loved him, you tell yourself. Not me. Never me. He didn’t deserve her love, so it was the punishment he deserved. Yeah. You shake your head, trying to clear it. The sumo wrestler from across the hall continues to glare at you. You know that isn’t true, it seems to say.

Shut up, you think.

‘You know—it’s funny. Back at art school … all that time we spent together … I could have sworn you were in love with Gareth. He was always especially nice to you. I wonder … maybe if I hadn’t…’ her voice trails off, and you stop yourself from scoffing. Your eyes are round with surprise, and a bitter smile is playing on your lips. Of course she wouldn’t notice. Of course she still hadn’t noticed.

‘I’m not gay, Bee,’ you say carefully. ‘Even though I—you—you know. And all those times he was nice to me—it was pity. I even think he scorned me, in that head of his. Because I wasn’t—you know, like everyone else.’ You breathe in deeply, pinching your nose. All is silent on the other end. It still hurts to know that you can’t admit it to yourself—that it has been twenty five years of you being trapped in this cage of a body, and still being unable to phrase it clearly, for fear that you will make others uncomfortable if you mention it.

Finally, she laughs. ‘I forgot,’ she says smoothly, ‘that you’re an in-between.’

In-between. The word stings, like someone pouring vinegar onto an empty cut, ribbing into your bruised skin with sharp nails. It’s as cold and merciless as peeling away the very skin of your being, but you just hold it in. She doesn’t mean it, you tell yourself. She doesn’t mean it, she doesn’t mean it.

‘Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness a story,’ you say instead.

‘What?’

‘Tolstoy.’ You feel shaken, somehow, your breaths shallow and odd-sounding to your own ears. Abalone stretches in your lap, and your hand moves of its own accord to tickle his tummy. ‘It reminds me of something my mother said, long ago. When I was a kid.’

‘Oh?’

‘Yeah,’ you say slowly, testing the words carefully before you thrust them out from between your teeth. ‘She said I was a flower.’ You close your eyes, then open them slightly, picturing the words guttering out from your lips like black sludge—a viscous waterfall that drips over you, netting your legs to the floor. ‘You know how pollination works—stigmas and stamens and all that, right? Well, some flowers just have male parts. Others—others just have female parts. And some’—you pause—‘have both. They’re special that way.’

‘Oh.’

‘But—you know, you don’t really ask, “hey, does this flower have both male and female parts?” A flower’s a flower, right? And there are other things you look at--the shape of its petals, the scent, the history it carries and the symbolism people give it.’

You shift slightly on the floor, to get the feeling back in your bum. ‘Yeah—anyway, sorry if I made you uncomfortable. I just—hey, do you mind if I tell you something?’ You loop the phone cord around your fingers again. A spiralling staircase. At the top, a prince lying fast asleep. You picture it all in your head, waiting for her answer.

‘Not at all,’ she says, her voice sounding monotone. ‘I mean—I called you, so…’

‘I’m in love with someone, Bee,’ you say. I’m in love with you.

‘Oh! That’s—who?’ She sounds curious, despite herself, and your heart skips a beat.

You. The word is on your lips, single-syllable, so close to being said—but you pause, thinking. The rain shreds the moonlight seeping into your apartment. Everything seems unreal, an instance frozen in time as the word stills on your lips. Abalone paws at you, and you look down at him. You are perplexed to find him wearing the same look as the sumo wrestler—perplexed and rattled. His great, green and yellow eyes shine round and smooth, like marbles picked out of an aquarium. You feel cold, as though someone dropped a wet sponge on the back of your neck.

Abalone hisses. You don't just tell anybody your dreams like that, he seems to tell you. And if you do—at least, it's just dreams that they are ready to hear.

Does she want to hear it? you think. At the same time, a nasty voice at the back of your head asks: Do you even love her? You have barely a moment to ponder the question—the moment shatters, and you are again sitting on the cold hallway floor, static buzzing in your ears. You rub your forehead wearily.

‘I’m not saying,’ you respond finally, faking a cheery, cheeky tone. The phone cord around your wrist winds—unwinds—winds… ‘I’ll tell you someday.’

‘Tease,’ she says, and you both laugh, before lapsing into silence.

‘I hope they find your dog,’ you say.

‘I hope so, too.’

It is midnight by the time you hang up. The sculpture you were working on earlier is placed precariously on the dresser in the lounge, where you left it earlier that day. You can see it from your perch against the floor—and you cock your head at it, slightly, smiling. You wonder what Bee would say if she ever saw her replica: the perfectly sloping nose, the eyes open wide, brimming with mirth and cold satisfaction—a gaze that always thrilled you every time you caught it resting on you. You—the person who was bullied throughout school, who found it difficult to trust people, who detested the fact that they couldn’t even feel upset over their best friend’s death.

I am a terrible person, you think.

You gaze dumbly at everything—at the sumo wrestler across from you, with his ever-sadistic grin, and you raise your hands to your eyes once again. Something within you is brimming. Confusion and hate and—a sense of bruised pride. Your veins look like telephone wires. You feel the strongest urge to reach into your skin and pull them all out.

On an impulse, you reach for the phone, and dial Bee’s number.

She picks up, eventually, after ten minutes of trying. Her voice is groggy and tired, but you have never felt more wide awake.

‘Hello?’

‘Hey, Bee.’ Your voice is soft, but you feel like it is ringing loud enough to wake everyone—dead and alive—from here to Beijing. ‘I’m in love with you.’

This announcement is followed by a heavy silence. You wait with bated breath for a response—anything, a yes, a no, an, ‘I’m so sorry, but my husband just died…’ but there is nothing. Thunder rumbles in your stomach. The wind blows, rattling your window—you can hear the branches of the birch tree outside brushing against the windowpane.

The silence is broken—finally—when she laughs. It’s a deep laugh, one that quakes and rumbles richly against your ear—expectant, pressed hard against the receiver. She laughs and laughs and with every passing moment, it feels like her breath is sucking the happiness of your confession from your bones, until all that is left swirling in the pit of your stomach are the dregs of your brave impulse.

‘Oh, Mill,’ she says breathlessly. ‘You’re so indecisive. You don’t fit into any boxes—I can’t compartmentalise you.’

‘Compartmentalise … me?’ The knot in your stomach tightens.

‘Yes, yes!’ She laughs again. ‘You couldn’t possibly think—well, that I would fall in love with you. You’re so hopeless—hopeless and innocent and oh, God, I love that about you. Gareth loved that about you, too. You’re like a little chick—so unusual—just demanding for some angelic presence to shield you with their wings. But then again, your kind are like that, right?’ Her tone is dismissive, matter-of-fact.

You feel like choking on air. ‘My kind?’ you repeat, full of incredulity. ‘You just—assumed that all people should be put into boxes? By classifying us as a kind. I’m not a kind. I’m a … a’—Sculptor, you think. Painter. Person. The words refuse to form on your lips. ‘You—’ You tremble, half with rage, half with another emotion you cannot fully identify. ‘Did you even hear what I said?’

‘Yes, of course I did.’ It rattles you how—amused she sounds over the phone. ‘I have to make some calls, Mill, talk to you later—real nice chatting again.’ There is a dull thud as she drops the receiver on the other end.

You stand there for a while, bathed in the desperate sound of your silence. Then you drop the receiver to the floor, grab your car keys, and stride out of the apartment.

For some reason, you cannot feel the road under your wheels today.

There is madness in the way you steer, the way you cut into corners and swerve on the wide, empty road, as though avoiding ghost vehicles. Past apartment complexes, past cinemas and electronics’ shops, and a huge fallen billboard that reads ‘Pretty in Pink!’ Sticking your head out of the window, you yell until your lungs unknot themselves in your chest. Rainwater speckles your face—mud grates under the tyres. You call Gareth’s name and Bee’s name and your own name, louder and louder, until your voice seems to have become one with the thunder, until you and the sky are the same.

You and the sky are the same.



You hit the brakes, finally, when you see the sea. Stumbling out of the car, you realise that you do not know where you are—there are no buildings to speak of, and the beginnings of dawn spear over the horizon. It has been four hours since you started driving, and now that you have stopped, you wonder why you did. Would it not have been wiser to just keep driving, on and on, until the world and everything within it disappeared? You rub your eyes with the back of your hands, then walk along the coast, coming to sit down in the sand.



The coast almost seems to breathe—or perhaps, you think, it is the sea that is breathing, and the coast that serves as its shroud, heaving as its companion does. At five o’clock on a monsoon morning, the lines between sea and land seem to blur into one, as do road and pavement, and earth and sky.

Suddenly, you realise that you are not alone. Someone sits next to you, their bare feet propped up on a cushion of sand. You turn your head to look at them, their features hazy, face sliding in and out of view as if hidden behind a smokescreen.

Gareth grins widely. ‘Hi, Mill.’

You look at him warily. ‘Hi.’ A pause, then—‘I would scream, but I don’t quite have the lungs for that right now.’

‘Yeah.’ Gareth stretches, and his entire visible being seems to shudder again. ‘Liaison phoned to tell you the details?’ You nod. Gareth sighs. ‘Yeah—I asked them to. Figured you should know.’ There is an awkward silence, then Gareth says: ‘I know she’s telling everyone I killed myself. I think that’s very unfair.’

‘It is…’ You roll the word around your tongue. ‘Unfair. A lot of what Bee says is unfair.’

‘That’s Bee for you.’ Gareth looks at his watch, then at you. ‘Mill—I don’t want you to … you know, get hurt by her. Bee—she … isn’t the nicest person…’

You snort. ‘You pull an Albus Dumbledore on me, only to give me that middle-grade crap? I know what she’s like. But she’s been one of the only people I could talk to and not feel—you know, like—you pitied me, too,’ you burst out angrily. ‘My entire life, whether it was art or—or just—the way I am.’ You beat your fist against the sand. ‘Does it take much for people to just accept me? My parents—nobody—could ever just decide what I was. Sometimes it was skirts. Sometimes it was shorts. When I told them I was agnostic, they said, “Well, you can’t just decide something like that for yourself.” Like my sex—I had no choice in picking a religion either. Constant identity dysphoria. And now I’m spilling my heart out to a dead man. Whose death I do not feel sorry for.’ You crane your neck to glare at Gareth, and your heart twinges at the look on his face. It makes you feel ashamed, so you concentrate on looking at the horizon instead.

‘Hey, Mill,’ he says. You turn to look at him, and his outline flickers in the sun. ‘Did you really hate me?’



You hesitate before answering. ‘Yeah. I mean—it wasn’t so much hate as resentment, and I did … I did admire you, for as long as my ego would allow me, but…’ You stare at your feet, nervously running a hand through your hair as you try not to meet Gareth’s eyes. ‘You were like family to me, but I really did hate you.’



You are surprised to see that Gareth smiles at this. ‘Glad to know that I was still considered family. After you got that scholarship and left for Canada—I just … we never talked the same way.’



‘You got famous,’ you say quietly. ‘And I was only good for whittling. You married Bee, and I watched. You suffered, and I laughed. It’s strange.’

‘It is,’ Gareth agrees. He checks his watch again—an old model, like the kind you wore as schoolchildren. ‘I should get going. The Liaison were kind with giving me the time to talk to you. Even though I haven’t said what I wanted to say yet—I’m sorry. And, you should know I really didn’t pity you.’

You shrug. ‘Doesn’t matter.’



Gareth gets to his feet. ‘It’s almost time,’ he says. ‘I’m afraid they’re going to put you to sleep after this.’ You both stand up, and he smiles at you. ‘Goodbye.’



‘Goodbye.’ You reach out to grip his hand. ‘Gareth,’ you say, earnestly. ‘I’m sorry. I hated you because I hated myself.’



‘How does one stop hating themself, Mill?’ Gareth asks.



‘I dunno,’ you say. ‘I’ve never really tried.’

You open your eyes to a blinding sun, a sun that at first you fail to recognise for what it is. It rains. It snows. The sky changes colours. Seashells are scattered in the cosmos. You reach out for them, but they disappear. A giant heart pulsates in their place—a sculpted heart, made of wood. You reach out for it, too, but it shatters the moment your fingers skim its surface. You scream. In every shard, you see your own face—but different. As though every reflection is a different person. Mill the weatherman seems to be a form from eons ago—a lighthearted jest.

Who are you? you ask the numerous reflections.

The city within, they answer.

You wake up on the floor in the middle of the hallway, Abalone stretched out on your stomach. It is four o’clock. The microwave hums. All over the floor are scattered pieces of wood—a nose here, an ear there.



Outside, the sun shines on the telephone poles. You watch, gaze unblinking, the sun bleach the earth dry. Slowly, pigeons swoop down on the wires, curving their claws around the lines and tucking their small heads between their wings. The strangest image forms in your head, as you watch the pigeons settle—rows and rows of them, like an audience sitting down to watch a tragi-comedy on some famous stage. You imagine yourself among the pigeons, a crow trying to tuck its head in the same way as them, trying to copy their mannerisms. Every time they coo, you squawk. The pigeons attack you, and you jump from the wire, wings tucked in tightly at your sides—lower, lower, spiralling to the ground. You picture all of this: the crunch of bones against gravel, truck horns blaring, traffic whizzing by, avoiding you by barely an inch—if at all. You picture it all: cold and warmth at the same time. Life and lightness, and a hole opening up in the earth to swallow you, away from all the chaos, away from the cries of a city that has done nothing but forsaken you.

The telephone rings, and a voice resonates through your skull: ‘Hello, this is the Liaison speaking. We are calling to inform you…’


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Fri May 04, 2018 5:30 pm
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Dreamy wrote a review...



Hello, Pomp! How have you been?

I read this last night and I dreamt about the storyline. It was a bit vague though. The sceneries by the sea were all I kept coming back to.

While the story is wonderfully woven with gripping and mesmerising narration, sadly the characters fell short. I’m down with character having a faulty behaviour or menacing nature, after all, those are few qualities that set the story and draws an audience. But here I, as a reader, was very frustrated with Mill Nazir for not having the proper reaction. I know I sound like a proper Idiot for demanding to see the characters react the way I want but, please understand when I say that Mill’s indifference to Bee’s discriminative remarks was almost offensive. (If I’m reasonably allowed to take offence that is.)

I think the frustration simply arises from the fact that we don’t know if that’s who Mill really is: indifferent and unresponsive.

I understand very well that this is a short story where you don’t have the leisure to set the characters in or their behaviours. But a similar indifferent and unresponsive scene could have helped understand Mill’s stance very well.

I debated with myself that you have set Mill’s unresponsiveness with the scene where Mill receives a telephone call informing Gareth’s death. But Mill hates Gareth; of course, there is no response there. But the telephone call with Bee is different. Mill loves Bee. Do you understand my frustration here?

Also, I only demand to see Mill’s reaction because you have taken time to wonderfully narrate the mundane things Mill does before the telephone calls. I’m pretty sure you would have done the same in narrating the pain as well, instead of jumping in a car and escaping the reality and the terrible telephone calls.

I’m assuming that the second person narration is to keep Mill’s gender private. If that’s one of the reasons, I applaud you. Though, I don’t think Mill is a Transgender but a Bisexual/Pansexual. With my limited knowledge, I’m pretty sure Transgenders wouldn’t want to refer to themselves as “both”. They are born into one gender and discover that they are the other gender but not both. I just thought I would type this out and not go in any further; otherwise, the noble thought to keep the character’s gender a secret would be ruined.

I like how at the end it all appears to be one of Mill’s dreams but continue to become something more like Mill is stuck in a loop: going through it all, all over, again and again.

I hope this wasn’t too harsh or help disguised as a rambling. Just so you know, you’re one of my favourite writers on the site, so I care.

Keep writing!

Cheers!




Pompadour says...


hi, dreamy! thank you for the review~ i'm still a bit confused by what you meant about Mill's reactions being indifferent? did you mean this in the sense that they come off as completely emotionless or just repressed? (because if the former is the case, then i desperately need to rewrite this.) if the repression comes off as offensive, then i apologise, but on my part that was intentional.

something i would like to clarify--i use the second-person narration partially because i am comfortable writing in it, and the i like the general air it has (although my ability to utilise second-person to its fullest potential definitely falls way off the mark, that i can guarantee). however, Mill is not transgender, nor is second-person used explicitly to hide his gender--i do not make this explicit, but Mill identifies as male; he is intersexual (which is different from being transsexual /and/ transgender). i feel that in trying to be subtle i may have been over-careful, perhaps? although initially i felt the opposite. i assure you, there is no 'noble' backing to my wanting to keep the character's gender a secret, because the story, in essence, amounts more to sex than it does sexual orientation or gender (although both sexual orientation and gender do, of course, feature into the mix). i hope this isn't confusing? if you have any suggestions to offer on how i could perhaps portray this better, i'm always up for a chat!

thanks again~<3



Dreamy says...


Hey, Pomp~ I wrote a reply and YWS ate it. D: So I%u2019m typing it again.

I%u2019m terribly, terribly sorry. I should have worded my review properly. I think you%u2019ll agree to the fact that sometimes we feel frustrated on behalf of the character, in some stories. And these frustrations usually arise from misunderstanding the author%u2019s intention or because of our genuine love for the character. I think using the word %u201Coffence%u201D wasn%u2019t very smart of me. Disappointment maybe?

Take part one, for instance, Mill is a very reflective person. He sees himself in everything, he reacts, feels and is very contemplative. The narration in the first part is majorly dedicated to how he feels and reacts to even the simplest things in his life which, I%u2019m guessing, is also his routine. Especially, when he%u2019s relieved to have realised that he%u2019s not made like the man on the bus who sighs loud and long. To have written such a character%u2014an individual who is poetically reflective shut down in a scenario which is literally his place to go off like a bomb is disappointing. I hope you see my point, I think the entire point of this story is of confession and rejection through discrimination. And when the characters don%u2019t show enough reaction it might not serve the purpose.

I don%u2019t want you to think that I%u2019m imposing or dictating what you should or shouldn%u2019t do with your story and I%u2019m sorry if my comment comes across like that.

And thanks for the link, I learned something today! C: People who might not know what intersex is, when they read this story could misunderstand due to subtlety. Include the word, or elaborate a scene suggesting the identity.

If you want to discuss more, PM me.

Cheers!



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Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:58 pm
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elysian wrote a review...



Hello, happy review day! Here to get this work out of the Green Room :-)

**disclaimer: I will most likely focus on negative aspects more so than positive aspects when reviewing, and this is just to help you grow as a writer! It is totally okay not to agree with something I say! Also, If I repeat anything already said, it's probably because it needs to be changed!**

Also, I have not read part one so I apologize if the interferes with my commentary.

I always start with grammar issues, so here goes:

Of course she wouldn’t notice. Of course she still hadn’t noticed.


*Of course,
(on both)

It still hurts to know that you can’t admit it to yourself—that it has been twenty five years of you being trapped in this cage of a body, and still being unable to phrase it clearly, for fear that you will make others uncomfortable if you mention it.


*twenty-five

A spiralling staircase.


*spiraling

Everything seems unreal, an instance frozen in time as the word stills on your lips.


*is frozen

His great, green and yellow eyes shine round and smooth, like marbles picked out of an aquarium.


*no comma after smooth

You can see it from your perch against the floor—and you cock your head at it, slightly, smiling.


*on

On an impulse, you reach for the phone, and dial Bee’s number.


*no comma after phone

She laughs and laughs and with every passing moment, it feels like her breath is sucking the happiness of your confession from your bones, until all that is left swirling in the pit of your stomach are the dregs of your brave impulse.


*no comma after bones

You don’t fit into any boxes—I can’t compartmentalise you.’


*compartmentalize

Rainwater speckles your face—mud grates under the tyres.


*tires

You call Gareth’s name and Bee’s name and your own name, louder and louder, until your voice seems to have become one with the thunder, until you and the sky are the same.


*no comma after louder

Stumbling out of the car, you realise that you do not know where you are—there are no buildings to speak of, and the beginnings of dawn spear over the horizon.


*realize
*no comma after of

Suddenly, you realise that you are not alone.


*realize

‘Yeah.’ Gareth stretches, and his entire visible being seems to shudder again.


*being seemed

‘How does one stop hating themself, Mill?’ Gareth asks.


*themselves

You open your eyes to a blinding sun, a sun that at first you fail to recognise for what it is. It rains. It snows. The sky changes colours. Seashells are scattered in the cosmos. You reach out for them, but they disappear.


*recognize
*to

You watch, gaze unblinking, the sun bleach the earth dry.


*bleaches

The pigeons attack you, and you jump from the wire, wings tucked in tightly at your sides—lower, lower, spiralling to the ground.


*spiraling

The telephone rings, and a voice resonates through your skull: ‘Hello, this is the Liaison speaking. We are calling to inform you…’


*no comma after rings

PHEW!!! now that we're through all of that, I think I'm just going to read it in full and make a few generalized comments after I finish reading it.

It was always the simple, mindless things that sent you into a reel. Even now—as you watch the moonlight wash into the room, painting the room with a transreal, opaque blue glow. Rain patters on the ceiling. The sumo wrestler your nephew drew for you is pasted on the wall opposite you. He glares at you from underneath leech-like brows, his gaze sharp and discerning. It isn’t simple, his crayon-scribble eyes say. It isn’t mindless.


I just wanna say wow. This is such a beautiful description, and usually, I would hate this structure but the details you've added throughout really help it not be too annoying.

I love that this is written in second person. It really puts the reader in the story, and it's not very common which helps this story stand out.

Okay, I just finished, and I'm speechless. That was beautiful, and I think you captured the feeling of her loss so perfectly. Your imagery and vocabulary is perfect, and it helped this story really come together. I especially enjoy your use of metaphors and symbols to give it a greater and deeper meaning.

amazing job <3

- Delonie




elysian says...


I just wanted to add the I just found out the UK spelling for "realize" is "realise". That's my mistake xD



Pompadour says...


thanks for the review!



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Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:30 pm
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ShadowVyper wrote a review...



Hey Pompadour,

Shady here with a review for you! I haven't read the first part of this, so I might not make as much sense as I otherwise might have, but I will attempt to give helpful feedback regardless. If nothing else rescue it from the Green Room ;) Let's get started ~

It was always the simple, mindless things that sent you into a reel. Even now—as you watch the moonlight wash into the room, painting the room with a transreal, opaque blue glow. Rain patters on the ceiling. The sumo wrestler your nephew drew for you is pasted on the wall opposite you. He glares at you from underneath leech-like brows, his gaze sharp and discerning. It isn’t simple, his crayon-scribble eyes say. It isn’t mindless.

You make a mental note to toss the sumo wrestler into the bin later.


This is an excellent start. I really like your word-choices here to describe the imagery -- it gave a vivid mental picture and was really well done. And I liked the bit about the sumo wrestler, and the mental argument that ensues with it as other things take place in the chapter. It's a nice quirk.

The silence is broken—finally—when she laughs. It’s a deep laugh, one that quakes and rumbles richly against your ear—expectant, pressed hard against the receiver. She laughs and laughs and with every passing moment, it feels like her breath is sucking the happiness of your confession from your bones, until all that is left swirling in the pit of your stomach are the dregs of your brave impulse.


This is so sad :( </3

mud grates under the tyres.


Okay, so this makes me think that you must be some sort of European, which is cool. Not the way Americans would spell that word. But since I noticed it, I thought I would point out another thing I noticed -- is it common in British English to use single quotation marks for dialogue?

I personally found it kind of confusing, and hard to keep track of who was talking and when. I mean I'm used to dialogue being contained in a double quote mark (") with other things that you're referring to in the single ('). Like "My 'kind'?" Does that make sense? Like a way to almost verbally quote someone; add a bit of emphasis.

I don't know if the single quotation mark for dialogue is technically correct in British English so you might be cool to go with it -- but that is the single most confusing thing in the chapter for me so far. I keep expecting the single ones to be something like I mentioned above, and then having to adjust to realize it's dialogue, and then sometimes I'm not entirely sure what's thoughts and what's dialogue. Especially with how the dialogue is sprinkled throughout paragraphs.
~

I was a bit confused about the scene with Gareth. At first I thought it meant that Gareth faked his death. And then it kinda started seeming like it was Gareth's ghost talking, which is cool. I just was confused by that part.

I suspect that if I'd read the first part this entire work would've made more sense to me. But even with the confusion, I thought this was a very good piece of writing. Your descriptions are absolutely enthralling. I am legitimately impressed at how good they were, and how much more of a connection it made me feel to your writing than I would've otherwise.

Anyhow, I think that's about it. And and in honor of Review Day, which brings you this review courtesy of Team Red: Schadenfreude and Fahrvergnügen. ;)

Keep writing!

~Shady 8)




Pompadour says...


thank you very much for the review! yes, the single commas are intentional--i stick to British English when i write, though i can see how that may be confusing, haha.



ShadowVyper says...


Huh, that's really interesting... it's like the exact opposite of American English lol.



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Hattable wrote a review...



Heyyy, Pomp!

Finally got around to this second part. My memory of the first part is a bit spotty and mixed up with some other things I've reviewed since then, but you know me-- I focus more on grammar. Let's go!

You are perplexed to find him wearing the same look as the sumo wrestler—perplexed and rattled.

I went a long way through this before finding anything to correct, haha. Here, I take it that you're reinstating the perplexed feeling that the character is experiencing, but it kind of sounds like the cat and sumo wrestlers' expressions are perplexed and rattled. Maybe switch it around a bit, to make it clearer?

And if you do—at least, it's just dreams that they are ready to hear.

This sentence was difficult to read/comprehend, but it might be nit-picky of me to point it out. I'm not the best at comprehension after all. *finger guns* You may want to reword it some, though. Dunno--

You have barely a moment to ponder the question—the moment shatters, and you are again sitting on the cold hallway floor, static buzzing in your ears. You rub your forehead wearily.

The “barely a moment” and then the moment immediately passing being in the same sentence feels odd, but it's probably not too unusual. This whole quote is kind of weird, though. Why is there static buzzing in our ears? It makes it sound like the phone hung up, or something, but Bee's still on the line, so I'm not entirely sure what you were going for.

On an impulse, you reach for the phone, and dial Bee’s number.

Uhh, how much time has passed? It says that they talk until midnight, and then our character is just gazing around the room, thinking. Then goes and dials her back again? But she sounds to have been sleeping. Has it been a day? A few hours at least? I'm not quite clear on the span of time separating the hang-up with this new call.

I thought this scene may have been a dream, and then I started thinking it was a nightmare as Bee laughed and downright dehumanized our character. But it doesn't look like it was a dream. Oh no, Pomp, why do you do this--

Past apartment complexes, past cinemas and electronics’ shops, and a huge fallen billboard that reads ‘Pretty in Pink!’ Sticking your head out of the window, you yell until your lungs unknot themselves in your chest.

First sentence, I'm not sure the apostrophe is necessary or even proper in “electronics' shops”, but I could be wrong. Second sentence needs to start a new line, I think. It would read smoother and even though it goes along with the rest, it feels like a good place to start a new paragraph? Don't want your paragraphs winding on for too long.

You pull an Albus Dumbledore on me

Did Dumbledore ever fake his death, or am I applying this to the wrong aspect of Gareth's actions?

Or I misinterpreted the scene entirely and Gareth is dead, but his ghost is talking to our character?//It's a vision? I'm still not quite sure, but if it's this, then the Albus Dumbledore comment makes a lot more sense, lel-- *reads on*

‘I should get going. The Liaison were kind with giving me the time to talk to you.


Oh, okay, Gareth isn't dead? I don't understand the context of the liaison in this story. Are they helping Gareth fake his death? Is he really dead and this is ghost biz? I'm confused by all this, but it's probably just me.

You watch, gaze unblinking, the sun bleach the earth dry.

This could be a really good line, and I understand what you mean in it, but it's awkward to read. I can't think up a good example of how to fix it, but the break for “gaze unblinking” stunts the flow, and initially reads like you're just restating that they're watching. “You watch, gaze--” see?

The strangest image forms in your head, as you watch the pigeons settle—rows and rows of them, like an audience sitting down to watch a tragi-comedy on some famous stage.

The first comma can be omitted and the sentence would work just the same. Too many commas isn't a great thing, so--! Thought I'd point it out.

Life and lightness, and a hole opening up in the earth to swallow you, away from all the chaos, away from the cries of a city that has done nothing but forsaken you.

The comma after “swallow you” could also be omitted. I think it would read better without it. “Swallow you away from all the chaos, away--” It's smoother, neater, more orderly. I dunno--


Aaand, the end.

This was great! Nice ending, though with my confusion of what the liaison's part in this story is, it gives me some fantasy undertone vibes. Not sure how to explain that, so I won't mention it again-- uhh. The ending was cool, though.

The imagery in this, and the previous part, was amazing. Your vocabulary, again, is also incredible. I loved reading this. Pacing was good, consistent, and I have no complaints regarding it. Flow is a bit different than pacing, in my head, and I'll mention it a little bit below. (I apply pacing to scenes and how the plot moves, and flow to the actual words and sentence structure and punctuation of the story itself. Hopefully that makes sense).

Also, transgender character? I hope I'm not wrong in assuming that, but it seemed either that or some other form of LGBT+. Which was pretty cool. I dunno if it was implied any in the first part, but I completely missed it if it was (or just don't recall it. I've reviewed a few other works since and my mind is still picking up scenes from those).
I think you portrayed this character nicely, but I can't speak from personal experience and I don't wanna touch on it too much in case I'm wrong and you portrayed them terribly.
Jk, though.

Bee is evil and I hate her and how dare she. Gareth, I didn't learn to hate him as much as the main character did, but I'm not sure if you wanted me to hate him.

Overall, a great story, a great part on its own, and very nicely-done characters.

A few notes on, like, general grammar things. You've got a lot of chunky paragraphs, usually caused by dialogue and scene biz being stuffed together. If you could find places to break them up so they aren't as winding, that'd be great for flow, I think.

You've also got a lot of st-st-stumbling and... repeating... and-- your characters are constantly stuttering. It fits the characters' emotions and the scenes, but it gets repetitive and a bit obnoxious to read. If you could go through and cut back on a few of these moments, it might also benefit your flow. Otherwise, your dialogue is pretty good! It's always clear who's talking, and it sounds realistic (albeit extra stumble-y).


Anyway, that's all! I hope this review was helpful, and keep up the great work!

- Hatt




Pompadour says...


yo, i'm late, but thank you so much for the review! the MC is supposed to be intersexual, but i'm not sure how clearly that is depicted--i was trying to be subtle, but i may have sidestepped the issue entirely in trying not to be blatant, haha.



Hattable says...


ohh, I wasn't aware that was a thing, so oops-- no prob for the review! lel



Hattable says...


waaait I googled and I was sort of aware but didn't know that was the phrase for it, oops-- sorry about my misinterpretation, lel



Pompadour says...


haha, it's okay! <3 XD




In short, Mrs. Pontellier was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human being, and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her.
— Kate Chopin, The Awakening