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Part 4: Water Plus Laptop

by omer

I go out to the bench again and lie on it with my right hand holding the plate with my snack. Then I sit down because I realize I want to eat it and eat lying down can make you choke, which is really unpleasant. I once choked at a dinner I had with Yaron, when Avi and Yair were elsewhere in the house. I ate bread with tahini and then I couldn't breathe and didn't understand why. Turns out I got a piece of it stuck in my throat because I didn't chew it enough.

Yaron looked at me but he didn't say anything, and he was also younger so he probably didn't understand what was happening. I looked ahead and tried to cough but I couldn't. My eyes really stoodout with tears from not getting any air into my body. I squirmed in my seat and patted Yaron on the shoulder and back so he'd help me or call someone to help me. I felt like I was going to the hospital in a moment.

After a few seconds he started crying and pointed at me.

I heard Yair saying "What happened?" without concentrating. "Did you get hit, sweetie?"

I kept trying to cough and weird wheezing and noises started coming out of me. I heard footsteps and then I saw Avi and when he saw Yaron pointing at me, screaming, he also asked "What happened?" Then he saw me and panicked. He was very startled and ran and patted really hard my back and shouted "Yair! Come here quickly! He's choking!" And then I realized I was chocking.

Yair ran to the kitchen and picked me up from the chair even though I knew how to stand and I started to get really dizzy. I saw Yaron screaming and Avi holding him and stroking his hair while covering his eyes and telling him that everything was fine. I felt like everything was not-fine. Yair said nothing and just pressed my stomach really hard with his hands while he held me in the air so I was with my back on his stomach. He did it again and again, I thought I was dead like mom was.

Then suddenly I felt something moving in my throat, and I managed to cough a bit. Avi shouted at me to keep coughing as much as I could so that it would come out and I really tried to. Yair held me in front of the sink and then suddenly a nasty lump of bread came out of my mouth like a missile was fired from there.

Yair put me back on the floor and I fell and continued to cough and I shed a few tears from not breathing for a long time. Avi patted on my back a little more.

I coughed so many times and felt like I was vomiting my insides out. Yair brought me a glass of water. Yaron started to cry less and Avi wiped his tears every few seconds.

"I'm fine," I whispered to Yaron in a hoarse voice and then I coughed over and over again so I took another sip of the water. "Don't worry."

Yair didn't say a word to me after that that moment for the rest of the day, except "if you'd chew properly, instead of day-dreaming all day, you won't choke." But I manage to do both.

After the sunrise I went back inside and washed my plate. I had a bit of a hard time concentrating on Miss Sun today. I was thinking mostly of Mom. Sometimes it happens to me. I call it Momornings.

I thought about how I was told she was dead. I thought about how we played basketball once, and we both couldn't score a basket at all. I thought about how she doesn't know Avi and Yaron.

Keren the teacher once told me I could cry if I wanted to, when I said something about Mom, but I didn't. I never cried over that. In general, I never cry. It's not because I'm trying to look mature and strong, it's because nothing makes me cry. When Mom died, I didn't talk about it either. No one talked to me about it. It was as if there were Mom, and then suddenly she is not only disappeared, but also never really existed. I can't even know if she really was here, because I don't have pictures of her. Maybe I was just imagining her? Maybe I was always with Yair and I had a made-up mother? No. probably not. Actually, I'm sure not. Otherwise no one would be the one who gave me my name, Forest.

Now no one is home anymore except me. Keren should arrive in one more minute. I sit in our study area which is between the living-room and the kitchen. It is a round wooden table with an adjustable lamp on it and two cream-colored chairs facing each other.

A knock on the door, it's Keren. I open it for her. She has the bag and the shoes and the glasses she always has.

"Good morning, Forest!" She shouts, but not angrily. As she enters I think of something.

"Can you say good morning even if it was a bad morning?" I ask.

"Did you have a crooked morning?" She asks without answering me.

"No, but you had."


"Your nose is all red and looks like you cried, and it looks like you couldn't straighten your hair today, and you have a coffee stain on your shirt. And you also shouted 'good morning' like you were trying to convince yourself it was good."

"Oh, Forest," she sits down in the study area. "My nose is red because I have a little cold and I blow my nose a lot, that's all," she shows me a crumpled tissue she has in her hand. "I didn't have time to straighten my hair because David made me the most amazing and sumptuous breakfast, and I got carried away until I noticed the time!" David is her husband. "What else did you say? Oh, it's not a coffee stain on my shirt, it's part of the pattern. You see? There's another one like that here, and here, too," she stretches her shirt and turned around herself to show me the stains. "And I didn't know that it is no longer allowed to say 'good morning' in rejoicing!"

She said it all quickly and with a smile.

It kind of made me a bit grumpy because I like to imagine I'm Sherlock Holmes and that I can know everything about people just watching them for a few seconds, and I did not succeed with Keren. I sit down in front of her.

"And was your morning good?" She asks as she pulls out her book and binder from her bag.

I don't know. I hardly think about it. I try to start an answer but fail.

"What's considered good?" I ask.

"Well, the meaning of 'good' is different for each person. I guess that if you enjoyed the morning or even just had a nice time, then you had a good morning."

I am silent for a moment and think of all the things that happened to me this morning. That my butt itched at sunrise, and that I fell in the bathroom, and that the sandwich Avi made for me was not tasty, and that Yair wanted me to get a haircut. There were also things of pleasure like I ate the crackers. If I was thinking about Mom, is it good or bad? It was pleasant, but also made me sad.

I shrug. But why did Yair want me to get a haircut?

"Sometimes there are mornings like that too," she says as if I had explicitly told her I had a bad morning. "Let's do something and make the day better."

She opens ou-her laptop - which is a computer that is hers but also a bit mine because I use it almost every day. It's ou-hers. My brain stings. I try to understand why Yair wanted me to get a haircut.

We study literature, and I nod to Keren from time to time and say "yes" when she asks things, but my mind is barely in our lesson. It's like he went for a walk to Dafna's house and forgot his body at home. But the body can't run after him on the way to Dafna's house, because he is studying literature now. So he stays home and gets mad at the brain. Instead of words on the computer screen and on the pages of the book, I see 'Why did Yair want me to get a haircut?' a hundred times.

Dafna has black hair, like me, but not curly. Her hair is straight. And she has bangs, which is both on the sides of the forehead and a little in the middle of it. She has very dark brown eyes, and I always like her earrings. She's as tall as I am, so it's not like looking at Yair who is twenty centimetres taller than me, or like looking at Yaron who is twenty centimetres shorter than me; This is exactly the right height.

We hardly talk, Dafna and me. Rarely, she'd says things, and I'd answer.

I met her for the first time a year after I moved here and took a walk near the house. I think her name is Dafna because I followed her to her house that day, and saw that it was written on the mailbox: "Here we live in peace: Naama, Amir, Dafna and Tom" and I liked the name 'Dafna' the most so I chose it. I wonder if her name is actually Naama. Or Tom. Or Amir? Well, I don't wonder about it anymore.

Sometimes I see her just like that in the street and she looks at me and pulls her ear, I never know why she does that, and sometimes I intentionally go to her house and look around. I'm not waiting for her, but if she sees me from the window she pulls at her ear, and I make a face. Each time I make a different face.

"Right?" I hear Keren say.

"Yes," I freeze. She gives me a blaming look.

"I said giraffes live underwater. I checked to see if you were listening."

"No, they don't live underwater, they are listening. I mean-- I am listening," I straighten up in my chair. Why did Yair want me to get a haircut?

"You look tired. Drunk some water, it will wake you up," she says with impatience that she is trying to hide. I get up and go to the kitchen to fill a glass with water while moving the hair from my face and thinking about Yair wanting me to get a haircut.

I bring my glass to the table, take a sip and place it. On the way there I look at the clock and see that an hour has passed since Keren came. What have I been doing all this time?

I sit down and use the table to get closer with the chair and then suddenly I also move the table by mistake and the glass falls to the side and all the water is spilled and I hear Keren gasp. All the water is on the computer now and the glass rolls and almost falls off the table but Keren grabs it while I am frozen in my seat. She shouts at me to bring a towel and I run to get a towel and look in the kitchen and after eternity I find and bring one. She put it on the laptop she had picked up from the table and placed it on the rug so it would soak up some of the water as well.She presses the power button and waits a few seconds. Nothing happens. She now repeatedly and obsessively presses the button. Click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click--

"enough!!!" I shout. She stops pressing without looking at me. We are both quiet. The computer no longer works. "I'm sorry," I whisper. I destroyed ou-her computer.

She gets up from the carpet and picks up the computer. I cover it with a towel like covering a dead person.

"We'll have to learn from the books today," she says with a blank stare. I know she's mad at me.

The whole day was boring. And also terribly annoying. Keren was nervous and didn't laugh at all. We didn't do any funny-nonsense-mess-arounds, and only learned not so interesting things. If she wasn't nervous they would be interesting, I think. Even though I was nervous too. When she left I stayed in the study area until the evening. I sat there in my spot, put my feet on my chair and hugged my knees. My head feels like a pool with sinking words. I feel like I'm falling asleep now, still there in the study area. Then Yair comes into the house. He sweats with an orange dri-fit shirt, black sports shorts and a pink sweatband on his forehead.

"Can't I trust you?" He asks. how would I know?

"Eh? You keep doing nonsense, no matter how much we talk about it!" He shouts to the air. But he is wrong. We don't talk about it. He talks about it.

"We don't--"

"what were you thinking about?" He interrupts me. I don't answer at first because I'm not sure what he means.

"Eh? When you spilled the water on Keren's computer, what were you thinking of--"

"It's ou-her computer, not--"

"Oh, God, enough with that, Forest!" He breathes heavily. "You are constantly daydreaming! You must understand that you are not living in a world of your own. Get out of this bubble, that's all I'm asking for! It will benefit everyone, including you," he says in succession and then pauses. "This computer costed money."

Now there is silence.

"Where is Yaron?" I ask. He usually returns from kindergarten at three in the afternoon. Yair doesn't answer. Instead he looks at his cell phone and after a few seconds starts walking to the bedroom. "Where is Yaron," I say again. But this time in a whisper.

I spill from the chair to the floor and lie on my back. I move my arms and legs like angels do in the snow. Then I decide to go to Dafna's house. I get up, put on my shoes and open the door. Avi and Yaron are there.

"Where to?" Avi asks. I see Yaron playing with green plastic dinosaurs in the air.

"To Dafna's house."

"Who is she, that Dafna girl?" He asks as he enters with Yaron, through me.

"I don't know," I answer honestly. He grins.

"Did you told Yair you were going?"

"Yes," I reply without thinking. My heart is pounding, my head is getting heavy, my legs are starting to shake, the room is unstable. I try not to move.

"Okay. Hey, what happened to the laptop today?" He's stopping me from running away. I'm trying to put out words.

"I des... I destroyed it with," I swallow, "with water."

"On purpose?" He asks in surprise as he takes Yaron's hoodie off. I shake my head. Saving words. And then I do an awful mistake.

"Where was Yaron?" I ask instead of running away, and it makes my heart beat terribly hard. Why did I continue the conversation?

"In the playground, and I even got two dinosaurs," Yaron replies. I can barely listen.

"Okay, I'm going," I say quickly before I make another such stupid mistake. Before Avi can finish his 'bye' I'm already out the door. I walk fast and it becomes a run. I don't think I really run that fast but inside my body it feels like I am an athlete. At the exit of the path I take the small bicycle that Yair bought me a little after mom died and get on it and pedal intensively. I imagine that Avi and Yaron and especially Yair are in this world as I go through the speed of light and enter a separate world where no one can find me.

I'm riding to Dafna's house. One moment after I decide I'm actually not riding to Dafna's house. I'm going to Mom's previous house.

My heart and head are still beating and my brain plays 'Did you told Yair?' "Yes," "Did you told Yair?" "Yes," "Did you told Yair?" 'Yes,' over and over again. This was the first time I've lied in my life.

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395 Reviews

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Reviews: 395

Mon Oct 26, 2020 2:42 am
EditorAndPerks wrote a review...

Hello there! Thank you for the request in my review thread.

I think this is a really interesting setup. I’ve looked through previous chapters a little, but I do find a few aspects of this story a little confusing. Namely, about the main character. Since this uses the present tense, there’s a bit of a disconnect in some parts of this as jumping back and forth between flashbacks/current time and it gets a bit muddied in the narrative.

Honestly, I would recommend adding some kind of formatting here — use italics for flashbacks/thoughts/some-kind-of in between the regular narration. There needs to be some kind of distinction otherwise I feel like I’m getting lost from knowing what is happening now and what had been happening in the past.

I’m also just curious about Forest — his age, his ethnicity/nationality, as his name definitely stands out when compared to Yaron, Avi, or Yair. He definitely reads as being a young person, maybe 10? 9? I’m usually bad with estimating ages, but the amount of long sentences, long thinking moments, makes me think he’s in the 3rd-5th grade-ish.

However, I think the story here is pretty interesting. The choking was read much like how I imagine a kid would describe it, being rather vivid in his mind, and the references to his mom really show his quickly his thoughts can flicker back and forth.

I would recommend to add in formatting, and to add some kind of direct point to how old Forest is and how he appears/a bit of physical description, much like how Forest compared himself to Dafna. I actually didn’t know his gender until the end of the choking scene. I hope this helped!

omer says...

All of this really helped, thank you!

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176 Reviews

Points: 230
Reviews: 176

Sun Oct 25, 2020 9:22 pm
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Vil wrote a review...

Okay... First and foremost, this was long. So long, in fact, that I think that you should have posted it in two parts minimum. It took me quite a while to concentrate and get through all of this. I've corrected the grammar mistakes (with help from @Stringbean) and those can be found here. (At the time of writing, we're still revising it.)

I feel as though many of these paragraphs are extremely wordy and could be broken up/shortened to enhance the reader's ability to understand what exactly is going on here.

Immediately, I've noticed that you're writing in present tense-- I'm assuming that's a personal preference? Barring monologues, I find it too be rather difficult, as writing in the present tense increases the chances that one errs and starts using past tense. We've included those corrections as well.

Much of your work is awkwardly worded, redundant, or really doesn't add anything to the story. If you want to, you can use the pad I linked to look over it and revise your work.

At the start, having once choked on bread, I feel like this is an over-dramatic version of a common event in the world.

Have a nice [*insert time of day here*]!!!

omer says...

Thanks, Vil. This was helpful. :)

A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.
— Markus Zusak, The Book Thief