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Merry-Go-Round of Life

by humblebard1

From across the hall, a familiar song met his ears. A melodic, beautiful piece indeed, though he hadn’t heard it in many, many years; it sounded so... different now. Warmth bloomed inside his chest for a blissful moment, like an embrace from his joyful past. But without the heat of the fire, without their hands intertwined as they waltzed to its beat, the piece became distorted, a mockery of his past memories. The piano’s notes were slower, played weaker than he remembered. It was torturous to sit through, and he felt his stomach churn at every new chord; his eyes threatened to cry, stinging at the edges not just from the stuffy heat of the tall, wide room. Couples walked hand in hand towards the centre of the ballroom, and began their march of light footing. They weaved in and out through each other like squirming bugs going about desperate business, a sea of bodies. A sudden urge ticked at his senses, feeling a compassion to do the same, but as his hand fumbled for the form beside him, he was met with only the cold, wooden chair against his open palm. 

He's not there. 

It was foolish, really, and he knew it himself; but part of his heart ached to lose himself in the mindless dance once again, with him. He had been gone for two years, but not a night had passed since when he didn't remember what he'd failed to stop, the man he couldn't save. The ring on his finger was a burden he did not have to carry, for death had already parted them, but he did not have the strength to put their oath, to put him in the past. He couldn't help but believe that every moment they had shared was nothing but a memory that would be lost in time, for without him by his side, he meant nothing. His parents, his daughter, his own family forgot about him soon. The young girl moved on and grew up, became a struggling teenager who refused her father's help in any circumstances, and tried her very hardest to forget about what had come between their family. Her eyes betrayed her, every time. 

His mind flicked back to the harsh reality, and the song around him became nothing more but noise. The delighted sighs and whispers between young lovers became harsh screams in his ears, stabbing pains to his head, and their footsteps were as loud as the world that came crashing down around him. The screeching of his mind almost knocked him down from where he sat, making him forcefully jolt, for the piece was no longer a reminiscence of kind memories, but yet again a death knell. 

He clutched his temples, stumbling from the seat and shooing off a concerned woman on his way to the door, which he weakly pushed open without casting a gaze towards it. The fresh air filled his gasping lungs in an instant, a desperate sigh accompanied with a choking sob. 

Must I always falter? I never used to. Not until... not until the merry-go-round of life threw me off from my wooden horse and to the harsh ground. I felt the cold embrace of stone on my grazed skin, the colder body within my arms, my protection, and I knew nothing would be the same.

The man pulled the dark cloak of his hood over his glistening face, and turned his back on the hall, on each tortured thought bubbling in his chest. He went back into the village, towards the empty cottage where only he and his thoughts could reside in the lonely night, once again.

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23 Reviews

Points: 42
Reviews: 23

Mon Feb 12, 2024 3:29 pm
farq4d wrote a review...

hey there, i thought i'd drop by for a quick review.

i really enjoyed reading this story. it seems to be about a man who is sitting in the outskirts of a ball, tortured by the memories of his past that are brought back to him through the music.

your use of similes and metaphors is really effective in this piece. i think my favorite one is "They weaved in and out through each other like squirming bugs going about desperate business, a sea of bodies." not only does this simile paint a picture of what the ballroom looks like, but it also adds to the unsettling vibe that the man is feeling. the song he is listening to used to be a comfort for him, but now it's not. in fact, the song now sounds entirely different now that the circumstances for him have changed.

one thing i would say is the use of pronouns gets a little confusing in the second paragraph. i like what you were trying to do, keeping the names vague and mysterious. i think that can be super effective because sometimes the names aren't important and might distract from the point of the story. that being said, because both of the unnamed characters have the same prounouns, it was difficult, for me at least, to differentiate which character did what. i think that one solution that might work for this while still preserving the pronouns would be to italicise the other character, to give the reader a cue that this is a different person. For example, in the first sentence of the second paragraph, if you were to italicize the last word, 'him,' to differentiate the two characters. You did do this in one of your sentences: "...but he did not have the strength to put their oath, to put *him* in the past."

but overall, i think this story was really well written. the reader gets a sense of the loss the main character feels as he listens to a familiar song that is now out of tune without the company of his lover.

humblebard1 says...

Hey, thanks so much for the review! I%u2019ll try and go back over on the pronouns- I%u2019ve always wondered how to differentiate because it confuses me too, so I%u2019ll give your suggestion a try :D

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904 Reviews

Points: 98
Reviews: 904

Mon Feb 12, 2024 1:13 pm
vampricone6783 wrote a review...

Hello there, human! I'm reviewing using the YWS S'more Method today!

Let us commence with the spooky S’more!

Top Graham Cracker - The main character lost his husband long ago, but the loss still hangs greatly and overwhelmingly in the air. Just one quick thing: Is this story connected to the others or is it a standalone?

Slightly Burnt Marshmallow -Maybe “Merry-Go-Round” could be capitalized? You don’t have to do that, though. It’s just a suggestion. This story is fine as is.

Chocolate Bar - I love how the main character seems to be drowning in sadness. It shows how much he misses his husband and how it left a gaping black hole in his heart and in the hearts of his family. Whatever happened must have been terrible, for he while never forget.

Closing Graham Cracker - A more depressing story, but it’s beautifully written. Feelings of woe and anguish are present, for not everything can be sugary forever. I enjoyed reading this.

I wish you an amazing day/night!

humblebard1 says...

Hi, Vampricone! Thanks so much for the review- yes, it is connected to others, and you can take from that what you will :D

vampricone6783 says...

Thank you for the input.

We are discreet sheep; we wait to see how the drove is going, and then go with the drove.
— Mark Twain