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The Paper Boat

by RandomTalks


No one saw it coming.

The black clouds had gathered out of nowhere, and descended upon the people without any warning, disrupting their routines and pulling them out of their structured plans for the day. Shops pulled down their shutters, people ran for shelter and the dogs, well, they just disappeared. Thunder rumbled in the sky, lighting it up with sudden flashes of white light. The rain drops hit against the roofs without much mercy, and the streets collected all these tears that the sky had suddenly exploded with.

For the seven year old boy in his room, it didn't matter much if the sky decided to drown the earth. All that mattered to him was the paper boat, that he was now making with his brother. He watched Max fold the paper intricately, his eyebrow scrunched in concentration. He could not take it anymore, the excitement of sailing his first paper boat of the year getting the better of him. He bounced around the room and said, "How is this taking so long? Hurry up!"

"Shut up Patty," Max said without taking his eyes off the boat.

"But this is taking so long!" he complained.

"Why don't you do something other than whine, huh? Go bring me the glue, I think I left it in the kitchen," Max said.

Patty got up and almost ran down the stairs. To say he was excited would be an understatement. He was thrilled. He had made boats before, but they never stood in the water for longer than five seconds. Max on the other hand was brilliant at it. He made the best boats ever. He had watched many of his boats sail down the road without the slightest reluctance; and so they had made this deal between them - Max made the boats and Patty launched them.

He walked into the kitchen and got the glue from the table. A flash of lightning lit up the sky for a second, making shadows on the table. He covered his ears against the oncoming thunder and waited for it to pass. However as the noise of the thunder receded from his ears, he heard something else - voices, and they weren't exactly quiet about it either. He had no problem recognizing the source however, he had only heard it so many times in his short life.

"If you had just bought the Tv I had picked out for us then maybe there would be something to watch on this damned day!" he heard his father's voice booming through the living room. He found himself walking towards the curtain that separated him from them. He did not understand why; it was the last place where he wanted to be.

"Maybe if you found some work instead of sitting around on the couch all day, you wouldn't have to complain about the Tv," his mother hissed. "Besides there's nothing wrong with the Tv, signal is out. It's raining outside, in case you haven't noticed."

"You calling me stupid, woman? Just because you wait tables all day, it makes you superior, does it?" Patty flinched as he watched his father get up, his voice increasing in volume until it almost drowned out the rain outside.

"At least I am doing something! And what are you doing? Lounging on the couch and drinking your beers all day!"

"Well it was my money that bought you those pretty clothes, you know? You should be more grateful," he said in a tone that made the hair on Patty's arm stand up in alarm.

"You know what? I am! I am grateful for those beers you keep drowning yourself in. Because at least when you drink yourself to death, there will be one less mouth to feed. You are just useless!"

His father made a move and Patty found his legs involuntarily stepping towards the scene. However before he could do so, a soft arm pulled him back and a hand covered his mouth. Max pulled him back into the kitchen and turned on him with a frown.

"What are you doing? I asked you to get the glue. Why couldn't you just do that?" he hissed.

Patty looked up at him with tears in his eyes. "What's going to happen?" he mumbled in a shaky voice, and flinched as the voices in the living room grew into shouting. Thunder rumbled in the sky, and he was glad for the momentary silence it brought from the room.

Max looked at him for a while and then pulled him into his arms. He could tell that he was trying to comfort him because Max hated hugging him, or rather, people in general.

"Nothing's going to happen," he said in a steady voice. "We are going to go upstairs and you are going to help me build this boat and then, we are going to launch it down the street."

He looked up at him incredulously, "You still haven't finished the boat?"

Max rolled his eyes and they started upstairs. "How can I when you won't bring the glue like I asked you to?"

They finished the boat and Max even let him apply the wax this time. He still snapped at him a lot and told him he was doing everything wrong, but Patty had a feeling he didn't really mean any of it. Also it made him forget about the voices downstairs and he felt strangely weightless as they both looked out the window and waited for the rain to slow down.

"Why don't you make your own boat?" Patty asked suddenly. "Don't you want to launch it?"

Max didn't look away from the window. "I make the boats Patty and you sail them. That's the way we work."

Patty sighed and then said with a smile, "I think I am going to be a sailor when I grow up."

Max smiled this time and looked at him curiously, "You do know that real boats are different, right? You have to steer them and -"

"Look!" Patty interrupted, refusing to let him destroy his fun. He pointed outside, "We can go out now!"

Max seemed to agree and they both made their way downstairs, Patty all wrapped up in Max's raincoat. They tiptoed outside and Patty tried real hard not to fall down as they made their way through the knee deep water. It was black and muddy and Patty loved it. He bent down on the ground and set his paper boat steadily on the water. It really was magnificent.

He held Max's hand and they watched it float down the street, a little reluctantly at first and then swiftly and steadily. He looked up at Max and watched the tiny drops of rain shine on his black hair. A single ray of sunlight pierced through the clouds, like a torch in a dark room. It wasn't enough  to light up the sky, but it was still something.

"Hey Max?" he called, "Don't worry, I will always help you sail your boats." Max smiled, but didn't say anything.

"Even if I can't steer," he added.

This time, he laughed and held his hand just a little more tightly.


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Sun Jun 06, 2021 2:07 am
Mika Honeydew says...



Hey there, I enjoyed reading your story. There are many descriptive words which really makes the story interesting and eye-catching. one of my favorite was:" Thunder rumbled in the sky, lighting it up with sudden flashes of white light. The rain drops hit against the roofs without much mercy, and the streets collected all these tears that the sky had suddenly exploded with."




RandomTalks says...


Glad you enjoyed the story!



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Sat Jun 05, 2021 9:28 pm
Poetry Misfit wrote a review...



Hi there!
I would love to share my thoughts on your story.

You have such an amazing opening line, which can honestly make or break a story, but yours definitely MAKES it.

"The black clouds had gathered out of nowhere, and descended upon the people without any warning, disrupting their routines and pulling them out of their structured plans for the day."
(You use very strong, descriptive language here such as "descended", "disrupting", and "pulling" which helped me to better visualize what was happening).

"Thunder rumbled in the sky, lighting it up with sudden flashes of white light." (This is just me, but I would recommend restructuring thiss sentence to make more of an impact and help it flow a little better, i.e "The sky lit up with sudden flashes of white light while the thunder rumbled loudly," or something like that.)

"The rain drops hit against the roofs without much mercy, and the streets collected all these tears that the sky had suddenly exploded with." (I love the way you describe the rain as tears, it definitely stirs emotions).

I got so caught up in the description of your first paragraph I was expecting something extreme to happen, but then when you panned to a simple scene of the boy watching his brother make a paper boat, it created some very nice juxtaposition. I was a little thrown off at first, but I really liked it.

""Shut up Patty," Max said without taking his eyes off the boat.

"But this is taking so long!" he complained.

"Why don't you do something other than whine, huh? Go bring me the glue, I think I left it in the kitchen," Max said." (This is nitpicky I know, but I would recommend replacing one of the instances where you use "Max said" in this dialogue with a different word like "Max responded" or "Max snapped", so that there is less repetitiveness, and the emotion behind the dialogue is more strongly expressed).

"To say he was excited would be an understatement. He was thrilled. He had made boats before, but they never stood in the water for longer than five seconds." (This made me laugh. I can relate to Patty's lack of paper boat-making skills).

"A flash of lightning lit up the sky for a second, making shadows on the table." (Again, this is just me but I would recommend replacing "making" in regards to the shadows with a stronger verb, i.e "casting" or "projecting").

""If you had just bought the Tv I had picked out for us then maybe there would be something to watch on this damned day!" he heard his father's voice booming through the living room." (I love how you used "booming" when describing his father's voice, which mirrored the thunder outside. There seems to be a storm brewing inside the house.)

""At least I am doing something! And what are you doing? Lounging on the couch and drinking your beers all day!"

"Well it was my money that bought you those pretty clothes, you know? You should be more grateful," he said in a tone that made the hair on Patty's arm stand up in alarm.

"You know what? I am! I am grateful for those beers you keep drowning yourself in. Because at least when you drink yourself to death, there will be one less mouth to feed. You are just useless!""
(This dialogue is very tense but you wrote it very well. I think you did a good job of portraying the fight through the boy's perspective as well.)

"Max looked at him for a while and then pulled him into his arms. He could tell that he was trying to comfort him because Max hated hugging him, or rather, people in general." (This line hit me real deep).

"He held Max's hand and they watched it float down the street, a little reluctantly at first and then swiftly and steadily. He looked up at Max and watched the tiny drops of rain shine on his black hair. A single ray of sunlight pierced through the clouds, like a torch in a dark room. It wasn't enough to light up the sky, but it was still something." (I love everything about this paragraph: the imagery you used to describe the sunlight, and the way that the sunlight is a symbol of the brothers' companionship in the midst of the storms both inside and outside the home).

Final thoughts: I really enjoyed the way you told the story through Patty's perspective, and you did a good job of interpreting the events through the eyes of a 7 year old. I believe you mentioned that you wrote this story to help with writer's block, but this story was seriously so well written, I can't imagine what your non-writer's block stories must be like! This story is a gem!

Great job!
Poetry Misfit




RandomTalks says...


Thanks so much for the kind review!



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Sat Jun 05, 2021 2:21 am
starlitmind wrote a review...



HELLO HELLO! ^_^ This story caught my eye, and I would love to leave you a review :) I lightly skimmed through the other wonderful reviews you have gotten, so if I mention anything someone has already brought up, I do apologize! I really am not trying to be repetitive :)

The black clouds had gathered out of nowhere, and descended upon the people without any warning, disrupting their routines and pulling them out of their structured plans for the day.


Ah, the latter part really contributes to the "out of nowhere" feel since the clouds had disrupted their "structured plans"
The two parts I bolded are basically saying the same thing but with different words; I don't think it would hurt to remove one since having only one + the latter part of the sentence already gets your point across. But I can see how you're trying to emphasize the randomness of the storm. So I think either is fine, but I just thought I'd point out that repetitiveness! ^_^

Thunder rumbled in the sky, lighting it up with sudden flashes of white light.


Does the thunder light up the sky? Because the "lightning it up..." is referencing the thunder, and I feel like it's more of a lightning thing :p Also, if you want to avoid repetition with "lighting" and "light," you could replace the "white light" with something like "white sparks" c: Just a thought! ^_^

the streets collected all these tears that the sky had suddenly exploded with.


Ooh there is something so cool about the idea of streets collecting tears, that is really neat c:

For the seven year old boy in his room, it didn't matter much if the sky decided to drown the earth. All that mattered to him was the paper boat,


This is a super intriguing hook!

He watched Max fold the paper intricately, his eyebrow scrunched in concentration. He could not take it anymore, the excitement of sailing his first paper boat of the year getting the better of him.


It is a little confusing who the "he" is that you are referencing - I think it wouldn't hurt to put the guy's name in there since both of your characters go by "he" c:

"How is this taking so long? Hurry up!"

"Shut up Patty," Max said without taking his eyes off the boat.

"But this is taking so long!" he complained.


Accurate sibling behaviour lol

He had no problem recognizing the source however, he had only heard it so many times in his short life.


Ooh I love how you included this sentence to show that his parents arguing is a pretty common occurrence :/

Patty flinched as he watched his father get up, his voice increasing in volume until it almost drowned out the rain outside.


Yesss I was really hoping you were going to make a comparison between his father and the weather outside! c: You could even compare his voice to the booming thunder in a similar manner to the rain if you wanted to!

He could tell that he was trying to comfort him because Max hated hugging him, or rather, people in general.


Ahh this is sweet :') I love how you show the softer side of Max here

Max seemed to agree and they both made their way downstairs, Patty all wrapped up in Max's raincoat.


I love this little line also, because here again we see how much Max cares for Patty. You really portray their sibling relationship nicely - of course, they are going to bicker as siblings do, but they really do love each other and care for one another :)

It was black and muddy and Patty loved it. He bent down on the ground and set his paper boat steadily on the water. It really was magnificent.


I feel like the first and last sentence are saying the same thing, so you could combine it or take one out to avoid repetitiveness. Just a thought ^_^

"Hey Max?" he called, "Don't worry, I will always help you sail your boats." Max smiled, but didn't say anything.


I feel like it wouldn't hurt to reintroduce Patty's name instead of saying "he said" since you've been using "he" for awhile c: just to help the reader keep track of characters ^_^

This time, he laughed and held his hand just a little more tightly.


Ahh oh my goodness, I think this is such a beautiful note to end this on :)

I really loved this story <3 It was such a neat and super unique idea to portray the tight relationship of two brothers though sailing paper boats - how they will always work together to accomplish a goal. How they will always be there for one another to fill in the gaps of what they may lack.

I also think there was a great amount of characterization in this short piece c: Especially Max. Patty seems like a sweet, innocent, and naive young boy. Max is more aware of what's going on with his parents, scene he's older. He takes on the protective role, shielding Patty from what he has witnessed himself. He may come off as cold, but he's really heartwarming and caring and looks out for others

Overall, this was a super neat story :) I love how you use paper boats as a vessel to show a sibling relationship; it made the story all the more special. I hope to read more from you soon, and I hope this helped! ^_^




RandomTalks says...


Thanks so much for the kind review! It really helped a lot!



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Fri Jun 04, 2021 6:20 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi RandomTalks,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

This is a very beautiful and heartwarming story you've written. I love how you build up the sibling relationship here and despite all the beautiful things they have, there is a brief slap in the face with the parents incident. You create it in an extremely good situation that doesn't feel fake or artificial, but real. It feels good to read (even if the argument isn't that great) because it doesn't come across as clichéd, but as if it (the relationship) was a volcano that is only now coming to erupt.

You also manage to make me not think the story was what you were going for at the beginning. :D I thought it was just a great, uplifting short story that wanted to motivate the reader. But now, even seeing the title, I realise how quickly paper can break, and also how much you can cut yourself on paper. I see this boat that Max and Patty like the parents' relationship. It floats on the water and yet one day it can collapse.

You create an excellent atmosphere with your good style - especially with the introduction and one is immediately drawn in as a reader, into the childlike streak that the two siblings have. I especially like how the story gets to the end with Patty wishing to become a sailor. It makes it all the sadder when as a reader you don't know how the story will end and what the future will be like. I hope it all works out. :D

Stylistically, you have a good writing style. I haven't found anything dramatic now that needs to be changed or improved in any way. You create tension and emotion in your lines and paragraphs that go to my heart a lot. I like that. It seemed in parts like you were just writing down what your heart wanted to pour out.

Here are some things that struck me while reading:

Shops pulled down their shutters, people ran for shelter and the dogs, well, they just disappeared.

The sentence seems half-finished to me. You start with the shops, then the people and the dogs, and suddenly you conclude that they have all disappeared. I would add a "and..." and something like the trees, or grasses that are now algae or something to finish the sentence.
For the seven year old boy in his room, it didn't matter much if the sky decided to drown the earth.

I like your description here of "drown the earth." Now this expression in conjunction with the sentence seems much sadder when you realise what is in front of the siblings.
He bounced around the room and said, "How is this taking so long? Hurry up!"

I love this interjection. You can clearly feel Patty's excitement and I know this from my younger brother.
"If you had just bought the Tv I had picked out for us then maybe there would be something to watch on this damned day!"

Just the interjection here that you wrote Tv like that in some places, where it should be written TV.
I make the boats Patty and you sail them.

Here I would insert a comma after "Patty".
A single ray of sunlight pierced through the clouds, like a torch in a dark room. It wasn't enough to light up the sky, but it was still something.

Oh, that is such a beautiful description and again so ambiguous with what just happened with the parents. Even if the siblings can play a little now, it won't help what the future holds for them.

A really emotionally beautiful story!

Have fun writing!

Mailice




RandomTalks says...


Thanks so much for the kind review! I loved your interpretation of the paper boat and I am glad you loved the introduction. Popular opinion was that it did not seem to fit with the rest of the story.



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Fri Jun 04, 2021 4:11 am
SpunkyKitty wrote a review...



Hi! Spunky here to review!

No one saw it coming.

The black clouds had gathered out of nowhere, and descended upon the people without any warning, disrupting their routines and pulling them out of their structured plans for the day. Shops pulled down their shutters, people ran for shelter and the dogs, well, they just disappeared. Thunder rumbled in the sky, lighting it up with sudden flashes of white light. The rain drops hit against the roofs without much mercy, and the streets collected all these tears that the sky had suddenly exploded with.

Nice beginning! It brings some drama into the story already. I really like the description as well. Especially the part where you say that the streets were collecting tears.

However as the noise of the thunder receded from his ears, he heard something else -

A comma is needed after however

You calling me stupid woman? A comma is needed before woman

He could tell that he was trying to comfort him because Max hated hugging him, or rather, people in general.

They finished the boat and Max even let him apply the wax this time. He still snapped at him a lot and told him he was doing everything wrong, but Patty had a feeling he didn't really mean any of it. Also it made him forget about the voices downstairs and he felt strangely weightless as they both looked out the window and waited for the rain to slow down.

This bit of description and the paragraph is nice, both because it show something about Max’s character, and that Max understands what is going on and is sorry for his brother.

Overall: This is a nice story! I kinda think that the first paragraph was in a bit different voice and tone then the rest of the story. It seems a bit off. Other than that, you did a fantastic job.




RandomTalks says...


Thanks for the review! I inserted the commas where they were missing. Thanks for pointing it out!



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Thu Jun 03, 2021 11:18 pm
Spearmint wrote a review...



Hi there, Spearmint (mint) here with a review! ^-^ I loved the dynamics between Max and Patty in this story, and the ending was really heartwarming. I also appreciated the way you set the scene with all this rain and stormy weather, and the figuratively stormy situation with the parents, and then you described this sweet moment between two siblings making the most out of the rain. :3 Overall, I really enjoyed reading this short story!

Okay, but this is a review, so here are a couple points you might want to think about! (Each of these are just my opinion, though, so take them with a grain of salt C: )

Firstly, your opening sentence is a neat hook (wondering what "it" is made me want to read on), but I'm not completely sure how it ties into the rest of the story. This sentence makes me think of the potential consequences of something that's completely unforeseen, but the main story seems to be related to Patty and Max sailing paper boats. With the hook you use, the readers might expect a story more related to characters having to adjust to what they didn't see coming, or something about change. So... perhaps you could think about grabbing the reader's attention a slightly different way, like a line of dialogue from either Max or Patty, or a description of the water filling the streets or something? This line is pretty powerful, in my opinion: "...if the sky decided to drown the earth." A hook like that could potentially work. Feel free not to take this suggestion, though! It's just usually a good idea to keep in mind what the readers will be expecting from your first sentence. :]

The part about Patty bouncing around the room while Max was making the boat made me smile. I don't have any siblings myself, but I was able to visualize Max's exasperation and Patty's impatience through your use of dialogue. I thought it sounded really natural, so great job with that!

Now for a few specifics~

The rain drops hit against the roofs without much mercy...

The part "without much mercy" seemed a bit awkward to me. Like, it made me wonder if it's possible for rain drops to hit roofs with just a little mercy? :P Changing it to "without mercy" could help it flow better, in my opinion ^-^

Patty got up and almost ran down the stairs.

There's a similar thing here-- I think "almost ran" could be replaced with just one verb, like "skipped" or "dashed." It would make it more concise and maybe even easier to visualize!

...he had only heard it so many times in his short life.

Hmm correct me if I'm wrong here, but I think the phrase "only heard it so many times" is used to imply that someone hasn't heard that thing very often? Perhaps you could replace it with something like, "heard it too often throughout his short life".

It was black and muddy and Patty loved it.

Heh this sentence is awesome XD I love how you started off with two words that people generally wouldn't like water to be, and then ended with "Patty loved it." =D

So, this was a super sweet short story and a pleasure to read! ^-^ I hope you keep writing, and have a wonderful day/night!!




RandomTalks says...


Thanks for the review! And you are right maybe the first para does not fit into the story. I just wanted to create a setting with it and show how the rest of the world holds no meaning for a 7 year old.



Spearmint says...


Ooh okay! And that's a very true point ^-^



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Thu Jun 03, 2021 8:29 pm
WinnyWriter wrote a review...



Hey, there! I really like this short story. It is engaging and heartwarming. A lot of stories by young writers seem to focus on teens in the center of the conflict, but I like the fresh perspective of using a child.

For the most part, your punctuation and grammar are really good. Great job with separating dialogue with paragraph breaks. This makes it professional and easy to read. Here's one spot where I saw a slight issue. It is in the sentence, "Patty looked up at him with tears in his eyes and said, "What's going to happen?" he mumbled in a shaky voice, and flinched as the voices in the living room grew into shouting." You have the dialogue tag "said" right before the quotation, but you also have the tag "he mumbled in a shaky voice" right after the quotation. Both dialogue tags aren't necessary, especially since they are placed in the same sentence here.

One thing I really like about this story is your creative, interesting wording. You've done well with adding flavor and color without getting too fancy with your word choice. You have a nice style. Great job.




RandomTalks says...


Thanks for the review! I took your suggestion and made the edit, so thanks!



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Thu Jun 03, 2021 7:22 pm
LilPWilly says...



This is so great. You mix just the right amount of poetry into a plain and simple story to help the emotion grab. The perspective and characterization is perfect too.




RandomTalks says...


Thanks!!




cron
I tell the neophyte: Write a million words–the absolute best you can write, then throw it all away and bravely turn your back on what you have written. At that point, you’re ready to begin.
— David Eddings