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E - Everyone


by Tawsif

The moment mom fixes her eyes on me, I feel consumed, overpowered. It’s as if right at this moment nothing exists except those small round eyes.

“Did you do it or not?” Mom asks again.

As I grasp the words, there’s only a fraction of a moment when my senses return to me; then they surrender again, making way for the spell of mom’s penetrating eyes to take over. It sets off an angry storm deep inside me. The more I resist, the more brutally the storm blusters.

Helpless, I let it out at last, “Yes, I did it.”


The angry storm is back. It’s crushing the defending forts within my mind, and it won’t be long before all the forts fall and the concealed truth is exposed.

I need to answer straight away if I am to sound convincing. Still, nothing passes my lips.

Suddenly, perhaps out of an impulse, the words spring out: “No. I-I didn’t do it today.”

Mom leans closer, so close that I can perceive every hint of emotion in her eyes. In a split second I’m ensnared in an ocular inspection.

“Are you sure? Don’t lie to mom.” She’s still calm and composed, bereft of even a shred of anger.

My insides tighten with an ineffable fright. It was better to simply give in than reenter this battle. But there’s no turning back now. I reply, “I’m perfectly sure.”

A slight furrow appears in her brows. She keeps her eyes on me for another moment, and then turns away.

My head feels incredibly light when I return to my room. I can’t quite believe I’ve successfully conquered what for a long time seemed unconquerable.

But the relief soon ebbs away and something else takes its place. Something strange.


I stare back at mom and say, “No, I didn’t do it today.” The confidence in my voice thrills me. And even a week ago, my inner self tells me, you thought she could throw some kind of a spell with her eyes!

I expect mom to furrow her brows, but she doesn’t. She gives me a tiring look, her eyes no longer the fierce, unforgiving pair of fireballs, before looking away.

A flame of euphoria surges through me fleetingly. Then that strange, alien feeling dismisses it.


I steal another glance at mom. She’s rummaging in her purse’s side pocket where she usually keeps cash, her eyes glinting with suspicion.

My heart thuds. Though mom’s stare doesn’t quite work magic on me these days, foreseeing the tiniest possibility of meeting those eyes is like a hundred needles piercing my brain. And I can feel those needles right now, knowing mom can call me any second.

But all she does is gaze at the purse for minutes.

And then, she heaves a sigh, an intimidating and meaningful sigh, which makes my skin prickle.

The familiar alien sensation occupies me again. And for the first time, I understand what’s triggering it.

I miss mom’s stare.

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108 Reviews

Points: 13147
Reviews: 108

Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:06 pm
Asith wrote a review...

Hi there! If you remember, I actually reviewed the old version of this piece too. That's why I wanted to write this; to give some advice on what changes I felt made the piece stronger, and what made it weaker. Assuming that's what you wanted, of course. If not, I'm still going to review this piece on its own merits as well :)

Firstly, I miss the way you defined the "Look" in the previous version. You called it a stare immediately, which really helped tie the whole thing together when you reference the stare again in the last line. In this case, the word state is missing from the opening paragraph. However, I really like the added description of her eyes. I like your descriptions so much that I strongly recommend you use it more and describe other aspects throughout the story, instead of just focusing on her eyes. :)
Personally, I found the phrase "yes, mom" from the last version stronger than "yes, I did it", but that may be up to preference!

Moving on, I really really love the second and third parts of this piece. The descriptions of the mother's composure and expressions; your wonderful vocabulary; the absolutely brilliant use of the verb "conquer" to describe the lying -- they all make for a great section! A lovely improvement, if you ask me :)

I have to say that the final section was also very strong, and a great change from the previous version. The *only* gripe is, once again, the "stare" hasn't been directly foreshadowed this time around. However, the way you write about the feelings that are brought out here, the way the mother acts, and the narrator's slightly sullen "these days" are really effective!

All in all, I think this piece is now far more polished. I hope this was at least somewhat helpful, even if you didn't want someone to compare the two versions.

Tawsif says...

Actually, I did need the comparison. Thanks a lot, bro.

Tawsif says...

I need you to do me a favor, Asith. Can you take another look at this piece and tell me if it's too unclear, especially what the narrator is lying about? I'm asking you to do this since you read both the versions of this piece and so have a clear idea on what I'm trying to say.
I hope I'm not asking too much.

Asith says...

What the narrator is lying about is entirely unclear, but I thought that was the point. It's clearly something that deserves guilt, and has some connection to money, but other than that, the reader definitely doesn't know. Stealing from mother to buy something not so nice, perhaps? But yeah, it's definitely unclear, and maybe spelling it out to the reader isn't the best idea either? The vagueness helps keep the story open to interpretation, and makes the events seem more universal to his life than just about some specific thing. But hey, it's your story, so if you want to be specific, then go for it! If that's really your goal, then yes, it's definitely unclear right now

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641 Reviews

Points: 46598
Reviews: 641

Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:12 am
Panikos wrote a review...

Hi, Tawsif! You asked for an honest review, so here I am.

I'm going to start with the criticisms, just to get the negatives out of the way. The first thing I noticed is minor, but it's still worth discussing:

It’s as if right at this moment nothing exists except those small round eyes.

Sometimes, you can strengthen description and imagery by making it seem literal. By saying 'it's as if...' you remind the reader that your description isn't exact, which weakens the overall image and gives it less impact. However, if you took away that hedging language...

Nothing exists except those small round eyes.

Suddenly, it has much more punch. It's still a metaphor, but it doesn't admit that in the language itself. Changes like this are small, but they can really bring your prose to life.

So, moving on to my overall impressions about the piece. If I'm honest, I would've liked just a bit more of a sense of what the narrator was actually lying about. You definitely don't need to spell it out to us, but you were so abstract and so mysterious that it left me feeling rather bereft. I also found it quite difficult understand the timeline and progression of this story. I think you were trying to convey the narrator's transition from feeling too frightened of their mother to lie to her, to becoming so competent at lying that they almost miss the feeling of fear. Is that correct? It was a bit obscure.

I think it's a good idea for a piece. It's a really nice idea for a character arc, and seeing the changing relationship between the mother and child could be fascinating. Lying, like anything, is something that people get better at with practice. But I can't help but think that the piece would be more interesting if, like I said, we had some sense of what the narrator was lying about. I don't understand why they need to lie, or what the consequences would be if they were found out, which means there's a lot of tension missing from the story. You can still be subtle, but maybe just consider extending this piece a little, delving into each of the individual scenes and fleshing them out so we get a better sense of the surrounding context.

You could definitely do with more supporting description, because this entire piece seemed to take place in a white room. Most of the description seemed to be about the mother's eyes, which - while I understand it is a main theme - got a little wearing at times, because it felt like you were running out of ways to describe them ('ocular inspection' stood out to me as the most awkward phrase. It's supposed to be unnerving, but it just makes it sound like the mother is an optician).

So my main suggestions for this piece just boil down to one thing - extend the story a little, give it more room to breathe, flesh out your description and your characters. Give us a little more information about the relationship between the mother and the narrator, and about why the narrator is lying so often to her. By no means do we need to know everything, but even knowing a little will make this all the more intriguing. Because the piece has bags of potential - I love the proposed character arc, and I can tell you have it in you to do some really interesting description. Your verb usage is really good, and you know not to go overboard on the detail.

That's about all I've got to say on this on. If you've any other questions about something I didn't mention, please do ask.

Keep writing! :D

Tawsif says...

Thanks very much. You definitely were being honest.

You see I'm writing this for a flash fiction fiction contest, with a word limit of 500! So naturally I had to really constrict the story so I could finish within the limit. That's why, the story read like that to you.

I'd love any more suggestions on how I could make the story more interesting within the limit.

Panikos says...

Ah, that is an issue! Flash fiction can be really difficult to write. Though I think you probably could still make this work within the word limit, even while adding a little more detail. It's more about how you use your words. Perhaps by cutting back a few of the lines describing the mother's stare and eyes, you could use the spare words to place a few hints about what the narrator has lied about. Like I said, you don't need to tell us everything - just let it be the tip of the iceberg.

Best of luck with your contest! :)

You can't fool me! I listen to public radio!
— Squidward Tentacles