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E - Everyone


by bnnina

I can remember that day like it was yesterday. The sharp, salty smell of the air coming up from the sea caressed my face. The wind was blowing about, picking up my shoulder-length, curly, gold-brown hair from my face and tossing it around playfully. The water was a deep, dark blue that day. Its vastness captured the eye, making you want to keep looking. If you looked out straight ahead at the horizon, it seemed like the sea and the sky met. Dark, velvety blue to robin's egg blue joined and became one. Whitecaps were forming here and there, rustled up as the wind whipped about. In the distance, I could hear the sharp cry of seagulls over the crashing of the waves breaking on the gray, pebble beach.

I loved the sea. It was like a second home to me. Having grown up in a little house merely half a block away, I spent most of my childhood roaming on its beach. My mother and I had moved here when I was four. I can't remember living anywhere else. This was the only home I had known. I have gotten to know this little cove so well. It became like a best friend to me. To be honest, I probably spent more time here than at home when I was a kid. I used to whisper my secret thoughts to the wind and let the breeze carry them away. Everyone needs someone to talk to, to tell their thoughts and feelings to. Some people write in diaries; others talk to their friends or parents; I talk to the ocean. Now, as an adult looking back, it seems rather silly admitting to it, but back then it felt right. I never told any of my school friends about my conversations, as I had a feeling that they wouldn't understand. My mother for one, couldn't fathom my fascination with the sea. She would come down here during the summer occasionally when the heat got too much to bear, to take a dip in the cool water. But that was about it. I on the other hand, used to come to the sea year-round almost every day. I loved watching how quickly it could change its tune. One day it could be calm and still as glass with only the smallest, gently rolling waves. The next, a wind could whip in from nowhere and it would have big crashing waves.

I closed my eyes, breathing in the cold, salty air. It felt good to be back. It had been too long since I was here last. I released my breath. My mother had always done as well as she could for me. Being a single mum with a low-income job and virtually no outside support we had lived paycheck to paycheck barely scraping by on her salary. Nonetheless, my childhood was a good one. I never went hungry, I just couldn’t go to university, a fact I just had to make peace with.

Now I was back, having been granted my request for a week off work, to visit my mother. I hadn’t been back here for over five months and did it ever feel good to be back. To see my piece of ocean again so familiar and exactly the same, as if I had never been gone at all. I was on my way to our house, but I just had to stop here first, before I went and surprised my mother. She didn’t know I was coming over. I had thought I would keep it a surprise to see her reaction.

I stood there, my eyes closed, enjoying the sea for about another blissful ten minutes before I felt an unexpected hand on my shoulder. A quiet, deep voice said my name.

"Alice Wright?" Surprised by this unexpected attention I turned around, curious. In all the years I came here no stranger had ever come up to me like this.

“Yes, that's me” I looked up questioningly, still smiling slightly from my reverie. I noticed immediately he was wearing a police uniform, a slight sense of unease stirred in my stomach. Something told me it wasn’t going to be good. I stood there for a split second, the wind blowing back my hair, not knowing that my world was about to be shattered into a million pieces around me.

---- ----- ---- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----

“Mam, I am the chief officer of the local police” his voice was grim. I froze, this wasn't going to be good. The smile that had been on my lips faded away. What could the police want with me? I hadn't done anything wrong. Or had I? My heart started pounding in my chest. Somehow, I could sense the news wasn't good. “I am sorry to have to be the one to bring you this news. Your mother was found dead in her house, and we have reason to believe she was murdered.,...”

My ears started to ring after that, I found it hard to concentrate on what he was saying. From there my memory blurs. I really can't remember anything. It was like a dense fog had blown in from the sea and came to settle over me. I let it envelop me, hold me, protect me, it was my only way of staying on my feet.

Over the next few days, after my mother's death I vaguely remember that I was on the phone a lot. Either with a sad relative offering their condolences, or exchanging heated words with lawyers and the police who all seemed to be circling my mother like ravens that spotted a roadkill. No one offered to help me. I was on my own. I had tried to call my father, who I hadn't seen since I was four when my parents had gotten divorced. I could hardly remember how he looked anymore. But my calls kept going to voicemail. I left him countless messages, but he never replied, so I concluded that he was either dead or just as mean and uncaring as my mother had always portrayed him to be.

I didn't have any siblings, and none of my relatives were close at all, it was just me and mother and now she was gone. I was entirely on my own.

For that first week, I recall feeling numb. I felt like a ghost walking through life day-by-day. It took a while for me to start to accept what had happened. I was on my own and my mother was dead. I was sitting on the couch in our little house staring unseeing at the window. It had been her favorite place to sit. Our neighbors, who lived three houses down the street, had just been over to express their sympathy and to offer their help if there was anything that they could do. I knew they meant well, but honestly I just wanted to yell at them that there was nothing anybody could do, and their coming only made it worse.

I had never felt so incredibly enraged or violent in my life before. Pure rage and hatred at the unfairness of it all had coursed through my veins like hot burning coals. I had spat out at them, saying that if they really wanted to help they should leave immediately. After they had left, I calmed down a bit and realized what I had done. I felt ashamed. My mother would not have liked it. Then I cried, for the first time since her passing I allowed myself to feel the grief that I had kept bottled up inside of me, too afraid of what it would do to me once unleashed. I felt, like the green glass, patterned vase I had once dropped accidentally as a child, shattered into a million pieces.

…………….. ……………….. ……………...

I walked, I wasn't sure where. I had no idea where I was going or what I was doing. I just walked. It was all I could think of to do, all that my brain could manage. I just needed to get away. I didn't care where I went, as long as it was away. Away from my pain, away from the people with their sad, understanding eyes. They all pretended to know what I was going through, but they really didn't have an idea. I needed to be on my own. This was my way of coping if you could call it that.

My strides were brisk and purposeful. My body seemed to know where it was going, while my brain lagged on behind. I was going to the ocean. It was the place I had always gone to in my time of need as a child. It had always been there for me.

When I reached the cove, half running, I didn’t even bother to go to the stairs. I threw my legs over the concrete wall that had been put in place to keep the hightide from washing over the road. The drop was probably around six feet, but I made it with an ease I didn’t even know I had.

I sought the shelter of a large piece of driftwood log that had been washed up. I stayed there, for I don’t know how long, sobbing, until I could no more. Then I just lay there, half curled up, resting against the hard wood of what had once been a tree rounded down and smoothed through the constant batter of the waves.

It was nearing dark when I stood up from there to return home. I would have stayed if I could, were it not for the rising tide and the chill from the disappearing sun. I was nowhere near healed, but I felt a little more peace than I had in days.


The next day the chief police officer, the same one that had first given me the news, along with two of his co-workers came to my door. I let them in, wary. I didn’t invite them to sit down, instead, I kept them standing right there by the door. I wasn’t in the mood.

They apparently wanted to talk to me about my mother and everything I knew about her, particularly if there was anybody out there that I knew would want to harm her. I told them there was nobody that I could think of, most people loved my mother. She was a friendly and kind person who enjoyed company.

“Ok, thank you very much for your cooperation, it makes our job much easier. Now just one more question. I haven’t seen any sign of your father. Is he out of town?” He seemed to want me to say something.

“Yes.” they waited for more, watching me intently. I was starting to feel slightly uncomfortable. “Well, he and my mother got divorced when I was four, I haven’t seen him since.”

“Did your mother ever mention him to you? Have you any idea how she felt about him?”

“I mean yes, the way she talked about him, I don’t think she had a high opinion of him.” I was slightly confused about their strange interest in him.

“Did he ever try and make any contact with you or your mother that you know of?”


“Do you have any idea where he might be now?”

“What? No. I just told you he left us. I have no idea where he is or if he is even alive. He never made any contact with us, and I have no way of contacting him if that’s what you're going to ask next. I thought I had his number, but he never picked up. I don’t even know his last name. I have my mother's last name and I can’t remember her ever mentioning his.”

“Thank you for talking to us. What you have told us has been very helpful. Now if you will excuse us, I think we have a lot to look into.”

Once I closed the door behind them, I turned and pressed my back against the wood. I slid down slowly till I was sitting on the floor. They suspected my father. Nobody had to tell me that, I could see it in their faces, hear it in their multiple questions. Was it truly him? Some man that I can barely remember who didn’t care enough about his daughter to even try and make contact with her. I desperately wanted it not to be him, not because I didn’t want him to go to jail. I didn’t care about that, but because I didn’t want to be the daughter of a man that would murder his ex-wife. For what?

My mind went back to that day. The police said she had died about an hour before they got there. An hour! What if I had just been a little faster in leaving. What if I hadn’t stopped at the ocean and had gotten there earlier. Would I be dead as well? Or would I have been able to save her somehow by having been there? Could I have prevented her death?

………………. ……………. …………….

Two days later they confirmed to me what I had already suspected. This time they called instead of coming over. The officer that I spoke to was polite enough. Even though I had seen it coming, it still caught me off guard hearing it spoken out loud.

I tried keeping my life as normal as I could during this time, but it was hard. I phoned my manager at work to ask for an extra two weeks off, explaining my situation.

Over the course of that week I was first told that they had found my father’s name, then where he was living. So he was alive, after all. A terrible part of me had almost wished he wasn’t. It would explain why he never made contact with me and he couldn’t have murdered my mother. Then I heard they had brought him here to be questioned.

It all felt surreal. My life had been so normal before this, nothing spectacular. Then all of a sudden it turned into some terrible murder mystery.

…………………… …………………….

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but we have exhausted all possibilities. There seems to be absolutely no one that we could track down that would have done this. There are just so few clues to go by. Whoever did it was exceedingly good. We cannot find any fingerprints or any other traces left behind. I’m sure you have been informed that we believe it was a poisoning. The only conclusion we can draw is that nobody came into the house in the first place. Either someone somehow managed to put it in her groceries while she wasn’t looking or she bought something that accidentally contained the poison, in which case, there is no other person involved. We will try and look into it a bit more, but I’m afraid you might have to prepare for an inconclusive end.”

This was the call I got late one Friday night, two weeks after the incident. It kept me up for most of the night. The very next morning, I was woken up by the sound of a loud persistent knock on the front door. It was about six in the morning. I had gotten about four hours of sleep the night before, so my brain was slow to wake up. For a few petrifying minutes I thought, what if it was my mother’s assassin coming for me. I pulled my thoughts together and glanced out of the window to see the now-familiar police colors. I rushed over, not taking any time to see if I was presentable.

“Hi, I’m sorry for waking you up this early, but I thought you might want to hear the news as soon as possible. We just found out that your mother wasn’t murdered. She must have mistaken the bottle of window cleaner that we found stored in an orange juice bottle of the real product right next to it in her fridge. Why she had it in her fridge like that, and in that bottle, we might never know.”

“So nobody tried to kill her?”


As soon as he left, I grabbed my mother's shawl that was hanging from a peg near the door. Putting on some shoes, I headed outside into the fresh, slightly chilly early morning air.

I was going to the ocean to watch the sun come up.

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619 Reviews

Points: 70639
Reviews: 619

Sat Aug 07, 2021 4:41 pm
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RandomTalks wrote a review...

Hey bnnina!

I read your story a while ago, and I cannot believe that I forgot to leave a review.

Well, here I am now!

This was a really great story and I enjoyed reading it. Your introduction was great and engaging. You introduce us to the sea before you introduce us to character, and I think that was a great move, given the big role the ocean plays in her life. Your descriptions are very vivid and you make it very easy for us to imagine and connect to the scenery and the characters. The connection the character shares with the ocean is evident in the fond way she recalls her childhood that was entirely based around it. I especially liked the lines:

Everyone needs someone to talk to, to tell their thoughts and feelings to. Some people write in diaries; others talk to their friends or parents; I talk to the ocean.

She holds the ocean closer to her heart than her friends or family and it is the one place where she can honestly confide and truly be herself. I think that reveals a lot about her character.

With how the story was going, to be honest, I hadn't really expected the murder. So you surprised me there. However, I do think that if the mother was going to be such a central point to the story, you could have included a bit more of her relationship with the daughter. Instead of just sympathizing with her mother for the childhood she had provided her in spite the circumstances, maybe if she had also recalled some fond memory or other, it would have made an even more impact. Because when her mother died, her life changed completely and it would have been even more significant and emotional if we had witnessed at least one interaction between them. Her mother died and we hardly know anything about the woman, except that she worked hard to make ends meet.

I liked the part where she eventually goes back to the ocean to gain some sense of calm so that she can deal with life once again. It was characteristic of her to go there and the small break from her grief was even refreshing for us to read.

I also liked the fact that you didn't make it a murder. I had initially thought it was strange that someone would murder a small town woman who had neither riches nor any other reason that would warrant her as a target. I also had an inkling that it wasn't the father. So the ending you created was much more simple and satisfying to read. It shows how thin the line between life and death is. The slightest carelessness on our part can upset the balance and take ones life away.

Now some points where I think you could improve:

1. Punctuation. There are several problems in punctuation throughout the story. Sometimes you missed commas and sometimes you put them where you should have just ended the sentence and started anew. For example:

I didn't have any siblings, and none of my relatives were close at all, it was just me and mother and now she was gone.

You try to put too much into this sentence, so it does not end up flowing very well. You can just put a full stop after 'at all' and start a new sentence from there, so that it reads: "I didn't have any siblings, and none of my relatives were close at all. It was just me and mother and now she was gone."

In this story the punctuation and the run on sentences can be considered insignificant, but as you go on writing longer pieces, these types of mistakes will slow down the flow of your writing.

2. The second paragraph was too long. It stands like this big block of text, and I am not gonna lie to you, it was a bit daunting to read. There were so many points for you to break it up into smaller paragraphs and if you had even used one, it would have been perfectly fine. For example, the part from "Now, as an adult looking back...." would have suited much better in a new paragraph. Long paragraphs are sometimes the best trick to scare away readers and you should try avoid them as much as possible.

Overall, this was a really great story. It was easy to connect with it and your descriptions of the sceneries, of the various emotions running throughout the story made it an even more enjoyable read.

Keep writing an I hope you have a great day!

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Tue Jul 27, 2021 2:18 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...

Hi bnnina,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

You have written a wonderful introduction. It has great readability and builds on itself. The descriptions are varied and detailed and there's a certain kind of sensibility (if that's possible) about it. I liked how the narrator's voice went from the setting to himself and back to the setting, as if the narrator was just a part of the whole, as something in its own right. I also felt a sadness and loneliness in the narration.

I like how the second section deals more with the character and I also like the pace at which it is told. It feels to me like it's a whisper or a summary that the woman (I assume from the tone that it's a woman) is just telling - as described - to the sea. I just found that your sentence structure felt like waves. Sometimes short waves washed up on the beach and sometimes bigger ones. By alternating between the long and short sentences, just ones where you can connect, it makes for a bit of a bumpy read. I think if you rewrite it a bit, you can definitely create a smoother section.

Up until the section change through the strokes, I felt the story was told in a good tone. I liked how Alice, while self-reflecting, also showed gratitude and positive emotions. I really liked that line where she talked about how she never went to bed hungry but couldn't attend university. It shows that the character already had a dream as a child (I'm very interested to know what she wanted to study), and yet it's something that still takes a lot out of her. It would of course be strange to put in there what she is working at now, or if she has been educated, because she is talking to herself / the ocean, but I think it would give the reader a better overview of how she lives now. The little information that she hasn't been here for so long and that she has taken a holiday makes sense, but is still a bit too opaque in this case. Since the story focuses more on Alice's inner life, I think there would be something where you could add some more points from her life.

I like how the middle section continues to deal with Alice's inner life after receiving such a message, and I think you did a good job of portraying it except for the beginning (which seemed a bit stereotypical with her being fogged and not being able to remember). I notice that you tried to include the five stages of grief and did them well in some examples. I liked how it all developed and how Alice is so desperate and sad, trying to get help and yet not getting any and when she does get some, refusing it. It's like she's looking for someone to blame. I liked this middle section because the aspect of grief was more important here than now finding out who killed the mother. I also noticed that you disregard punctuation a bit in your dialogue. Either a comma is missing or a full stop, but that's just a small mistake. :D

I thought it was odd when the CPO came by and asked Alice about her father. I'm not familiar with what a police officer asks, of course, but since Alice is an adult, I thought it was a strange question to ask. I would have at least asked about her mother's husband than her father, but yes, that's not a criticism, just a comment. :D

I found the ending very interesting and well done. I'm glad on the one hand that the police found out it wasn't murder, but it still makes me wonder a bit how the mother could mix things up like that. Nowhere was it mentioned that she had dementia, for example, or was ill in any other way. Since I think most washing products nowadays have a bitter ingredient in them to reduce consumption by children, she must have been very thirsty to not have noticed anything even when she tasted it. I would try to put another household poison in there somehow.

In summary, I thought it was a great story. You wrote it sensitively and well and I liked how the focus of the story was basically on Alice and her inner life.

Have fun writing!


AilahEvelynMae says...

Sorry, I know this isn%u2019t even my post but I just wanted to say that your reviews are awesome and so thoughtful <3

MailicedeNamedy says...

Thank you! :D

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bnnina says...

Thank you for the review!

If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven - and very, very few persons.
— James Thurber