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18+ Language Mature Content

Reflecting Hearts - Ch. 3.2 - Between Ties that Bind and Ties that Free

by ariah347


Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and mature content.

Her laugh worked like a balm on my anxiety, and I smiled. “All right, dinner sounds good,” I replied, standing from my bed.

She pulled me by the arm, and we headed out of the dorm in search of food. We drove to the boardwalk and chose a cozy little bistro. Over plates of sandwiches and glasses of cold lemonade, she and I delved into lighter topics, discussing our classes and making plans for the weekend.

We ended up strolling down the boardwalk, passing a small brick front. I peered inside and realized it was an old gallery with a ‘For Lease’ sign in the window. I realized how the artists who may have owned it could not sustain it. It saddened me, and I resolved to help prevent this from happening again. My project had to be the key to solving this problem.

“I hate seeing that.”

“Me too,” she sighed as we turned the corner.

Loud music coming from a discreet brick building greeted us. Curious, Emily peeked in the open door. Black and white photographs decorated the walls inside. A skinny girl with a bull piercing and short, sleek black hair glared at us. She had a few small tattoos on her wrist as she stretched. Her jeans were snug enough that I worried if she could breathe. The short shirt over her midriff had a dreamcatcher on it.

The girl glanced up at us and nodded in acknowledgment before staring back at her phone.

“Um, hi,” I mumbled, looking around.

“What is this place?” Emily added.

“Nexus Gallery,” the girl remarked sternly.

“Do you run it?” I inquired.

“Yeah, I’m the curator,” she replied coldly.

“I’m Abigail.” I offered a friendly smile, but the girl stared at me.

“And I’m Emily.”

The girl stared blankly, uninterested, before looking at her phone, engrossed in something. Emily and I exchanged a look. The photos featured on the walls caught my attention. I looked around, admiring each image.

“These photos are amazing,” Emily gushed as she stared at an image of a child smelling a flower.

The girl looked up from her phone, surprised. “Thank you, but they’re not mine.”

As I continued to examine the photographs, my heart skipped a beat when I stumbled upon one that felt strangely familiar. The portrait depicted a young man with captivating dark eyes and a charismatic smile. The image distortion caused the black and white to blend into a blur. I could not understand why, but I felt like I knew him. Was he who I thought he was?

“Emily, come look at this!” I beckoned her over with a wave.

She joined me, peering at the photograph I was pointing to. “Wow, it’s a powerful shot,” she commented, unaware of the connection I was piecing together.

The girl watched us from a distance, observing our conversation. “He’s an amazing subject,” she remarked cryptically.

Emily and I exchanged puzzled looks, unsure. I gathered my assumptions were correct, that the boy was Zeke.

I shrugged the girl off as we walked toward the exit. The girl did not notice us leave. We stepped onto the boardwalk, and the cool breeze of the evening swept over us, carrying with it a hint of salty sea air. How that girl treated us, and the photograph of whom I was sure was Zeke, made me wonder if she was his girlfriend or ex. Why else would she be so rude?

"I think that was Zeke in the photo I pointed out," I mentioned as we walked away.

Emily’s shoulders perked up in surprise, and she glanced back at the gallery. “You think so?”

“I can’t be entirely sure, but his eyes and smile looked familiar. But I could be wrong. Maybe it only resembled him.”

Emily shrugged, not as bothered. “Guess we’ll never know!”

As we walked down the boardwalk, the setting sun painted the sky in hues of pink and orange, changing the blue ocean to a hazy color. The sound of seagulls and wind filled the air, and the tension that habitually lived on my forehead melted away, replaced by wonder. For me, the beach was synonymous with tranquility. It was as if the waves’ movements were washing over me directly.

“Hey, let’s get some ice cream,” Emily suggested, breaking the silence. Walking further down, my gaze fixated on a billboard towering above, displaying my father’s image. His intense gaze and that ever-confident, almost precocious smile felt like it was staring right into the depths of my soul. As I stared at him, I realized this image, this portrayal, was my father’s public face–a face of power, wealth, and self-assuredness.

Father's Armani suit, made specifically for him, was expensive. My eyes shifted to the Rolex adorning his wrist, likely one of the high-end models encrusted with gleaming rhinestones. It was, without a doubt, an ostentatious timepiece, bragging of its luxury only attainable by the elite.

The ornate details revealed a truth I couldn't escape: my father cared deeply about money and his public image. Despite living in that perfect portrait, I never felt at home. I never defined success by the size of our family’s wallet. I hated the way people treated us. My belief was that we should not receive preferential treatment based on our privilege, as it was unfair and undeserved. Richness is attainable for the poorest man through love, passion, and the right relationships. Wealth was not the sole concern for my father. It was about flaunting what he had, plastering it on buildings and billboards.

The tagline, “Winslow’s will do it,” placed boldly below his imposing image, only reinforced the idea that his empire was all about doing it, whatever ‘it’ meant, and doing it in grandiose. The message lacked subtlety and humility. This billboard was like a smack upside my forehead, reminding me I was an extension of that image to him.

As I stood there, a knot of resentment formed in my stomach. My heart felt heavy with disappointment, realizing that his desperate desire to maintain that image at any cost made him unwilling to support my dreams. This was a larger-than-life reminder that he would remain within those superficial trappings of success above all else, even if it meant sacrificing our relationship. An overwhelming detachment glossed over my eyes as I looked away.

Following where my eyes had been staring, Emily nudged me to order. Once we received our frozen treats, we savored their taste with each lick. I suggested spending some time on the beach. A golden reflection formed on the water as the sun dipped below the horizon as we sat on a bench. I took out my sketchbook from my bag and drew what I saw with charcoal, setting my eyes where the sun descended into the watery abyss. My breathing slowed, matching the rhythmic crashing of the waves. Charcoal stained my fingertips as I captured the view’s spirit.

As the last rays of sunlight sank below the horizon, leaving a trail of fiery embers in their wake, I held out my drawing to admire and compare. I glanced at Emily, who was taking a selfie, and suggested, “Let’s get back before it gets too dark.” 


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317 Reviews

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Reviews: 317

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Sat Jun 08, 2024 9:29 pm
RavenAkuma wrote a review...



Hello Again, My Friend!

It's me, Raven, and I'd like to review the next chapter in this great story using my Familiar method! Let's dive in, shall we? Heh heh heh...

What The Black Eyes See...

Ah, I enjoyed this a lot! A more glum chapter to remind Abigail what she's up against, and the challenges she will face. Both in the world abroad and the more common struggles of an artist, and in her personal world with her father's oppressive nature. Let's get into the details though.

Where The Dagger Points...

Not much to put here! I loved your descriptions, and the many complex feelings you relay from Abigail's perspective. There were just a couple of things that I thought to recommend in good faith, free to take or leave, and both are quite minor.

Her laugh worked like a balm on my anxiety, and I smiled. “All right, dinner sounds good,” I replied, standing from my bed.


I feel like starting the chapter by only saying "her" instead of introducing her as "Emily" caused a little bit of confusion. I would personally recommend changing this to "Emily's laugh worked like a balm..." But this is subjective of course.

The tagline, “Winslow’s will do it,”


This is a nitpick, but when referring to a group of people by their last name, I think the proper grammar is to write it without an apostrophe. "Winslows."

That's all! And of course, this is just my opinion and I am not a professional, so please always take my advice with a grain of salt. This chapter was great regardless ~

Why The Grin Widened...

Oooo, I liked that Abigail was able to see some real-world examples of artists displaying their work, with both successful and failed projects. One to remind her of the risks associated with this career path, and one to inspire her going forward -and hey! Finding this easter egg was interesting:

Emily and I exchanged puzzled looks, unsure. I gathered my assumptions were correct, that the boy was Zeke.


So Zeke has dipped into photography, as a model at the very least? I wonder what his connection to the photographer is! And the phone-locked worker of the gallery, since she seemed familiar with him as well.

As we walked down the boardwalk, the setting sun painted the sky in hues of pink and orange, changing the blue ocean to a hazy color. The sound of seagulls and wind filled the air, and the tension that habitually lived on my forehead melted away, replaced by wonder. For me, the beach was synonymous with tranquility. It was as if the waves’ movements were washing over me directly.


I have to say it again -your descriptions are just beautiful! The poetic notes of tranquility and abstract feelings relayed through Abigail, and the sensory notes that bring it all to life. Ah, great work!

Wealth was not the sole concern for my father. It was about flaunting what he had, plastering it on buildings and billboards.


Abigail's entire internal monologue about her father was fascinating. It tells us more about her father's character, but as this is solely her perspective, I feel like there's just enough room for doubt and possible redemption in the future. A slim chance given his overreactions to this class already, but interesting to think about nonetheless. In the meantime, I love these observations of his character, and their role in motivating Abigail to break the chain and be something different.

And ending with a calm sketch on the beach, with a supportive friend, was the perfect conclusion for such a chapter!

Our Mad Thoughts...

Overall, excellent writing job all the way through, nicely done! :D

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Sat Apr 06, 2024 9:12 am
22Midnight wrote a review...



Hi names 22Midnight but you already know that XD
as usual I hope your doing well, let's get into it!

First Impression: Right now as I start reading i'm just like, Emily is going to go take her out to eat sit her down make Abigail laugh for once in awhile, and just enjoy themselves and not worry about boy's or work or parents, that sounds like a good plan for Abigail now lets see if that's what comes true *fingers crossed*

Her laugh worked like a balm on my anxiety, and I smiled. “All right, dinner sounds good,” I replied, standing from my bed.


yes go get dinner together otherwise you'll be depressed, and its more interesting with two then it is with one.

She pulled me by the arm, and we headed out of the dorm in search of food. We drove to the boardwalk and chose a cozy little bistro. Over plates of sandwiches and glasses of cold lemonade, she and I delved into lighter topics, discussing our classes and making plans for the weekend.


YAY it seems like my dream for her to have a nice evening came true now she should just relax, Emily is such a good friend and really noes how to cheer Abigail up, it's like she has this happy contagious bubble around her that start pulsating whenever she is around anyone

We ended up strolling down the boardwalk, passing a small brick front. I peered inside and realized it was an old gallery with a ‘For Lease’ sign in the window. I realized how the artists who may have owned it could not sustain it. It saddened me, and I resolved to help prevent this from happening again. My project had to be the key to solving this problem.


this makes me sad to it's like walking past one of your favorite restaurants but it closed down because the rent got to high, hopefully all her dreams come true and maybe just maybe she can buy this place in the future.

“I hate seeing that.”

“Me too,” she sighed as we turned the corner.


*sighs* well that was a dampen to a brilliant evening guess they'll need some cheering up now

Loud music coming from a discreet brick building greeted us. Curious, Emily peeked in the open door. Black and white photographs decorated the walls inside. A skinny girl with a bull piercing and short, sleek black hair glared at us. She had a few small tattoos on her wrist as she stretched. Her jeans were snug enough that I worried if she could breathe. The short shirt over her midriff had a dreamcatcher on it.


don't go looking for trouble no, no turn back! and you found trouble i can feel it and what are you going to do your going to wanna talk to them because of course you need more drama in your life
great way to introduce a new character, super excited to learn if we get to see her more in the story from this point on, she sounds like a bad ass who don't take boy problems.

The girl glanced up at us and nodded in acknowledgment before staring back at her phone.

“Um, hi,” I mumbled, looking around.

“What is this place?” Emily added.

“Nexus Gallery,” the girl remarked sternly.

“Do you run it?” I inquired.

“Yeah, I’m the curator,” she replied coldly.

“I’m Abigail.” I offered a friendly smile, but the girl stared at me.

“And I’m Emily.”


What did I say, the classic of going and looking for trouble at least the girl knows photography, maybe its someone that Abigail can try but fail to get along with just because I don't think they have anything in common from the looks of it, i mean art isn't photography.

The girl stared blankly, uninterested, before looking at her phone, engrossed in something. Emily and I exchanged a look. The photos featured on the walls caught my attention. I looked around, admiring each image.

“These photos are amazing,” Emily gushed as she stared at an image of a child smelling a flower.

The girl looked up from her phone, surprised. “Thank you, but they’re not mine.”


leave her alone she looks like she don't care about your problems and her phones her best friend, WAIT she didn't take the photos did she take any at all! now i'm worried.

As I continued to examine the photographs, my heart skipped a beat when I stumbled upon one that felt strangely familiar. The portrait depicted a young man with captivating dark eyes and a charismatic smile. The image distortion caused the black and white to blend into a blur. I could not understand why, but I felt like I knew him. Was he who I thought he was?


maybe Zeke got a portrait and asked someone to put it up for him just so she could see it when she comes by. QUICK HIDE HIS STALKING YOU!! okay for real maybe Zeke work's as an assistant of some kind here and had to get his portrait taken to work there.

“Emily, come look at this!” I beckoned her over with a wave.

She joined me, peering at the photograph I was pointing to. “Wow, it’s a powerful shot,” she commented, unaware of the connection I was piecing together.

The girl watched us from a distance, observing our conversation. “He’s an amazing subject,” she remarked cryptically.

Emily and I exchanged puzzled looks, unsure. I gathered my assumptions were correct, that the boy was Zeke.


YES I new it, like really I literally did a leap in the air when i read that last sentence there. but why is his photo there and amazing subject in what why, oh wait i see his photogenic maybe he wants to be model or something.

I shrugged the girl off as we walked toward the exit. The girl did not notice us leave. We stepped onto the boardwalk, and the cool breeze of the evening swept over us, carrying with it a hint of salty sea air. How that girl treated us, and the photograph of whom I was sure was Zeke, made me wonder if she was his girlfriend or ex. Why else would she be so rude?


just ignore her, also know he can't have a girlfriend his got a possible one right here already, she could be a perfect Ex though that mean person who doesn't want him to be happy because he destroyed her for no apparent reason. :shock: i get way to excited.

"I think that was Zeke in the photo I pointed out," I mentioned as we walked away.

Emily’s shoulders perked up in surprise, and she glanced back at the gallery. “You think so?”

“I can’t be entirely sure, but his eyes and smile looked familiar. But I could be wrong. Maybe it only resembled him.”

Emily shrugged, not as bothered. “Guess we’ll never know!”


NO! Emily your supposed to fish for details and ask her when she's going to dump the Jake lemon and go after the man she is currently fancying over, Emily is so funny just unconcerned about life.

As we walked down the boardwalk, the setting sun painted the sky in hues of pink and orange, changing the blue ocean to a hazy color. The sound of seagulls and wind filled the air, and the tension that habitually lived on my forehead melted away, replaced by wonder. For me, the beach was synonymous with tranquility. It was as if the waves’ movements were washing over me directly.


Yes embrace you inner peace, let your worries melt away *raises voice* because you don't need em!!

“Hey, let’s get some ice cream,” Emily suggested, breaking the silence. Walking further down, my gaze fixated on a billboard towering above, displaying my father’s image. His intense gaze and that ever-confident, almost precocious smile felt like it was staring right into the depths of my soul. As I stared at him, I realized this image, this portrayal, was my father’s public face–a face of power, wealth, and self-assuredness.


yes ice cream! Oh Yuck way to ruin the mood wart not another buzz kill, wow he really does have his ugly face splashed all over the place doesn't he.

Father's Armani suit, made specifically for him, was expensive. My eyes shifted to the Rolex adorning his wrist, likely one of the high-end models encrusted with gleaming rhinestones. It was, without a doubt, an ostentatious timepiece, bragging of its luxury only attainable by the elite.


he really likes to dress fancy doesn't he, guess this is why she is always in trouble for not carrying on the great name, because it really is splashed everywhere.
well I got some advice for this dad of hers now listen up please. being rich doesn't buy you a good relationship with your daughter!

The ornate details revealed a truth I couldn't escape: my father cared deeply about money and his public image. Despite living in that perfect portrait, I never felt at home. I never defined success by the size of our family’s wallet. I hated the way people treated us. My belief was that we should not receive preferential treatment based on our privilege, as it was unfair and undeserved. Richness is attainable for the poorest man through love, passion, and the right relationships. Wealth was not the sole concern for my father. It was about flaunting what he had, plastering it on buildings and billboards.


she is right about a poor man's way of gaining money, Abigail you are a kind soul who cares about other people hold on to this for the rest of your life and don't let go of it, also to her dad why to rub it in other peoples faces that your rich. Also EMILY do something to lighten the mood here.

The tagline, “Winslow’s will do it,” placed boldly below his imposing image, only reinforced the idea that his empire was all about doing it, whatever ‘it’ meant, and doing it in grandiose. The message lacked subtlety and humility. This billboard was like a smack upside my forehead, reminding me I was an extension of that image to him.


Well you listen here Abigail you are your own person and he can't control you, just because you have different dreams then what he wants you to have isn't your problem, he should be super proud of you.

As I stood there, a knot of resentment formed in my stomach. My heart felt heavy with disappointment, realizing that his desperate desire to maintain that image at any cost made him unwilling to support my dreams. This was a larger-than-life reminder that he would remain within those superficial trappings of success above all else, even if it meant sacrificing our relationship. An overwhelming detachment glossed over my eyes as I looked away.


Shame it must be hard to feel and to know that you have know support behind you, this part here really got me upset almost crying for Abigail because of the hard situation that she is in despite all her talent with her art that he just can't see because its not his image that he imagined for her.

Overall: so I think i'm going to end it at there, because i found the other two lines a good way to finish of the story but I really needed to say something for this last quote and the review is very long already XD sorry about that. last thing though i feel like Emily should try to say something to her here to cheer her up a bit instead of just nudging her like she is ignoring the fact that she is effected a lot by her fathers photo.

anyway that's it from me

hope you have a great dawn/dusk/midnight

See Ya





"Yesterday you said tomorrow, so JUST DO IT."
— Shia Labeouf