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by sheysse

The dinner table was abnormally silent as Josh and his father sat eating their meal. Neither of them said a word, both finding it easier to just keep eating. Progressively, the silence grew more and more awkward, until finally Josh's father decided to speak. He opened his mouth, but seemed not to know what to say, and eventually pulled it shut. Again he decided to speak, but found no words, and let his mouth close.

He continued opening and closing his mouth--like a fish, Josh noted-- for a few minutes before finally choosing what to say. "How was your first day of school?"

"Fine," Josh said, not planning to elaborate further.

"Did everything go well, considering-?"

"It was fine, Dad," Josh interrupted. "Mom said she'll grab me that pencil case I needed on her way home from work."

Josh's father hesitated. "We need to talk about-"

"May I please be excused?" He hadn't finished his meal, but his father nodded anyway, deciding not to persist the matter. Carefully he slid his chair back and went upstairs.

Josh was up in his room for an hour or so, organizing his stuff and finishing his homework. His mother had come in for a short time and dropped off the pencil case, but she left quickly, not saying much to Josh. Ignoring it, he continued to work on his school work.

And then he heard his father crying in the next room over. His father hadn't cried in years, not since he had lost his job, so hearing him sob was strange. It wasn't loud sobbing, and Josh got the impression he was not meant to have heard it. But heard it he did, so he got up from his desk chair and creeped out onto the landing, crossing it and stopping by the door to his mother and father's room. Slowly, he pushed it open a crack and peered inside.

On their bed, his father sat, crying into his arm. Josh's mother sat next to him, a sympathetic arm wrapped over his shoulder. Josh hesitated before closing the door again and returning to his room, remaining unnoticed.

He returned to his task busily, ignoring the sobbing of his father. Eventually, they grew silent, and Josh looked up. His father knocked at the door and waited for a response. None was given, so he walked in anyway. Josh pretended to look busy, but his red-eyed father approached him and sat down anyway. "Josh, we need to talk."

"About?" Josh responded, mocking uninterest.

His father hesitated, and Josh didn't think he could look more unhappy about having to say whatever he was about to say. "About your mother." More hesitation. "She's… she's…" He stopped, seeing the pencil case lying on Josh's desk. His mouth immediately stopped moving, and he stared at the basic school accessory. Wordlessly, his eyes teared up, and he began to cry again. This wasn't truly even a cry, but rather a wail. He no longer cared about Josh hearing him.

Josh looked past him, into the doorway. His mother stood there, smiling. But in a blink, she was gone.

Is this a review?



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616 Reviews

Points: 122417
Reviews: 616

Thu Sep 12, 2019 12:48 pm
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FlamingPhoenix wrote a review...

Hello! FlamingPhoenix here to drop off a review for you on this lovely day, now ahead of time if I say anything that's is rude just no it is not in any of my intentions.

Okay so out of this whole chapter I only saw one thing that really needed to be fixed, it's very small and it didn't affect your work to much, so let's jump right into it.

He opened his mouth, but seemed not to know what to say, and eventually pulled it shut. Again he decided to speak, but found no words, and let his mouth close.

He continued opening and closing his mouth--like a fish, Josh noted-- for a few minutes before finally choosing what to say. "How was your first day of school?"

Now the sentence in bold is were I would like to put most of our attention on. Now don't worry it isn't bad at all but If you keep reading you will no why it is in bold.
So as I was reading these lines one thing struck me the most, it is the repetitiveness. Now you say he opens and closes his mouth three times here, and it gets a little irritating for the reader, so to make that better I would take out the sentence in bold. Why you ask is because in that sentence you say he opens and closes his mouth, and then the same thing again the next sentence. So it would be better to take out the one in bold, that would make more sense.

But other than that this was a really great story, it was full of deep emotion that I normally don't get in short stories. I really like the way you go in and out of Josh's thoughts, it smooth and doesn't make this peace feel all out. And I really like that feeling of dread and need when you start to bring across Josh's fathers feelings through his actions.
Josh doesn't seem to get unhappy or feel very happy about anything in this chapter, he seems to be a bit of a emo, I don't no that's just the feeling I got form this, like when his dad came into his room and sat down beginning to cry he didn't get up and ask what was wrong, or hug him, he kind of just sat there.
I wonder what could have happens to him mom? There are so many things that could happen, like she could be sick, but the big thing I'm leaning to is she wants a divorce. Don't no, maybe or maybe not, I have a feeling you kind of told us what was going on, but still left the end for us to come up with what happened.

Anyway that's all form me for now, I might be back to read and review more of your works, I really enjoyed reading and reviewing this one, so I'll most likely be back. I hope you will keep writing and post again on YWS soon. Have a great day or night.

Your friend
Reviewing with a fiery passion!


sheysse says...

Thanks for the review! It was an unexpected start to my afternoon haha.

FlamingPhoenix says...

I'm glad I could help! :D

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Points: 64
Reviews: 2

Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:17 am
fictionwriter89 wrote a review...

This was a great story! Perhaps another polish would make it really shine. As it is, this was fantastic. There was perfect balance between the mundane and the supernatural. It's as if this were a ghost story written by Raymond Carver (another short story writer I highly recommend everyone read). A perfect story for the fall.


sheysse says...

Thanks for the comment! I'll have to check out Raymond Carved some time. :)

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18 Reviews

Points: 128
Reviews: 18

Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:36 am
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Taslimalima wrote a review...

it is a review.
You know #Sheytato somehow I love science fiction, psychological and ghost story. I mean fiction.Actually all are connected somehow..you know that right? because, all happen inside our mind and head. and ghost is true..actually, when we feel to need someone deep down in our mind, and believe with our heart and soul...we do see and feel. Thats what I believe..And you tried a good shoot. I love the way you explain and the deep faith in #Josh .
plzz keep writing ;)

sheysse says...

Thanks for the review!

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5 Reviews

Points: 227
Reviews: 5

Wed Sep 20, 2017 12:29 pm
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fantasywestern wrote a review...

I'm a huge fan of supernatural stuff, and unsolved mysteries, so this really hit the spot for me. I love the concept and the execution, though the pacing is a tiny bit off. The pencil case as a MacGuffin of sorts is really interesting - how can a ghost (I assume she's a ghost) touch physical matter? Are they like ghosts in Harry Potter or in American Horror Story? Are they wisps or corporeal? It's really fascinating, how you executed the whole "maybe she's dead, maybe she was never alive, we don't know what the hell she is" thing. Kudos for such an original idea.
I think that the strongest part of this is the contained story and unique context. The weakest, to be perfectly honest, is that the point of view somewhat detracts from the true emotional experience. I have to disagree with previous reviews claiming that men almost always hide their emotions, because that really is not the case, as far as I know. Men are complex, so there is nothing to worry about, writing men as emotional, especially given the situation where he has (potentially) lost his wife.
Keep writing, you have a very strong style and clearly a good imagination.

sheysse says...

Thanks for the review!

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7 Reviews

Points: 95
Reviews: 7

Wed Sep 20, 2017 12:09 am
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IAmthePhoenix wrote a review...

Good concept, plot and pacing. I would definitely rank this as an all around good piece. But let me try to get you to that fantastical place that we call perfection.

Your point of view. That needs some work. Having a third person limited perspective detracts from the emotion of the piece. Using this perspective makes me feel less empathetic and more so uncomfortable, as if I'm an uninvited guest watching as a family goes through one of its worst moments. If you want to fix this, I would recommend focusing on Josh's inner dialogue more extensively. Tell us how he feels. Give us more hints as to what he's avoiding. Walk us through his school life. Does he have friends? What has he done recently? Josh is an average teenager; make us feel like his mother's death is an intrusion on his life, and then drop this on us. We aren't just watching Josh live his life, we are living Josh's life, and it should hit us in our heart the way it hits Josh's heart when he allows himself to feel. Otherwise, I would recommend shifting the story to a 1st person perspective and doing these same things. You'll find that it's a lot easier to get inside of Josh's head and to put the reader in that same place.

Another thing that I had a problem with (this really isn't a big deal) was the dad's reaction. Men typically compartmentalize their emotions. You'll rarely find a man sitting crying in his room because his wife died. Sure, it's 2017 and all, but it's a little hard for me to understand a character that's so foreign and unexplained. His father is just that - his father - and without the necessary context to separate his actions from that of the stereotypical dad, this reaction comes off as plain weird. To me. This is all my opinion. I would recommend looking at your own parents and taking from that instead of taking my word for it. Men are all different, but the expectation is not. Make sure that your baseline is at your presented character or develop the character enough to explain this shift. It doesn't have to be his life story, just small actions: maybe his father cooks breakfast, or calls him down for dinner, or does something of this caliber to define him as a more sensitive, caring person. Like I said though: this is just my opinion. Take it with the necessary servings of salt.

Otherwise, you have a very good idea here. The major thing that I'd have to point out is the absence of sufficient character development. More than that though, the best advice that I can give is to keep writing!

sheysse says...

Thanks for the advice!

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32 Reviews

Points: 153
Reviews: 32

Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:02 pm
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Zackymas wrote a review...

Eyo mate. I'm back from the dead to review thine piece~.

So as was said before me, your opening paragraph is strong. I like it introduces the characters, but at the same time, it introduces a conflict that's actually not shoved to the readers until the end of the piece.

I don't really like the connectors style of writing, though. I just made that term up so I shall explain. Basically, using connectors to keep everything going. Almost as if it was a tell. That's how I feel when presented to it, at least, as if someone is literally standing by me and telling me a story. It's a very colloquial manner, I think. Some may like it, but I personally don't.

I really liked the end. It confused me at first (which I think was your objective), but after a few seconds of thought, I was on the train. Here I go back to the opening, and how Josh talked about his mom so normally, further strengthening the ending.

Cheers, mate.

sheysse says...

Thanks for the review!

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566 Reviews

Points: 32196
Reviews: 566

Sun Sep 17, 2017 11:40 pm
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Atticus wrote a review...

Hey there Shey! MJ here for a review

"Fine," Josh said, not planning to elaborate further.
I would change this to 'hoping he wouldn't have to elaborate further', because then he's anticipating the possibility of a follow-up question.

I also think it would have been nice to see a bit more emotion from Josh when he heard his father sobbing, especially if it didn't happen that often. He doesn't have to start shredding his clothes and ripping his hair out, but if maybe he thinks something like, "He's crying because I'm such a bad son", or something like that, and subsequently becomes upset, it would make him seem more like the uninterested and disengaged teen that you were trying to get at here, because right now he seems a little flat.

I also understand the point you were trying to make about how you have to treasure time you spend with your loved ones, but it felt inconclusive. I know that's not how you intended it, and that's just how I felt. There was nothing to really wrap it up, and although it was one of those touching reminders to spend time with your family while you can, I would have preferred something as simple as a gesture to Josh's mother, who then vanished.

Overall, this was clearly a very heart-felt and sincere short story that is a powerful reminder to try and spend time with the people you care about. I know how hard it can be to keep yourself limited to only 500 words, so kudos to you for doing a pretty good job sticking within those boundaries and still telling a mostly complete story. If you have any questions, feel free to let me know and I'll do my best to help clear that up!

Best wishes and RevMo cheer,

sheysse says...

Thanks for the review!

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30 Reviews

Points: 1912
Reviews: 30

Sun Sep 17, 2017 11:36 pm
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ardentlyThieving wrote a review...

Hey hey, Ardently! here for a quick review between exams!!!

I like your first paragraph. It sets the scene well and gives us a little bit of an idea of the relationship between the characters, as you establish the silence as being abnormal. It also makes me curious as to why there's this abnormal silence and why the situation is so awkward. I kinda hate awkward bits in anything, they always make me feel awkward as well, but that's a me thing not a your story thing. So yeah, I like it.

Continuing on, your characters have distinct enough voices, which is nice as that's something I personally struggle with. You kept the suspense while making it feel natural, rather than that you were forcing it for the sake of mystery and making the reader keep reading. I like the "like a fish" it's a nice little simile in there that gives the reader a bit of a visual context of what the situation is like.

Oooh now it's getting really interesting! Is his mother dead? Is she a ghost? I'm really interested what's gonna happen. Also liking the little bits of character, like that Josh's father isn't normally a crier. Really adds in small ways to the whole idea that the situation here is really abnormal.

OH MY GOD! I WAS RIGHT! i think at least... she's a ghost? My excitement at being right aside, I really enjoyed this. Even with the word limit you managed to get some good suspense going. I liked how there were enough clues in there that I was able to guess the twist at the end, that's my favourite part when I read murder mysteries is guessing who the killer is.

Totally enjoyed this, and I'm glad I decided to read it.

~ Ardently! <3 ~

sheysse says...

Thanks for the review!

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117 Reviews

Points: 481
Reviews: 117

Sun Sep 17, 2017 11:17 pm
Featherstone wrote a review...

Hello, Fea here to review! Because you're making me

Ok, so first: awesome story! The twist at the end is great, and it is short yet well-done and quite engaging. The description is nice as well.

"The dinner table was abnormally silent as Josh and his father sat eating their meal." I feel like this needs a comma. It works without one, but it just reads a bit clunkily is all.

See you around,


This review courtesy of

sheysse says...

Thanks for the review, Fea!

Featherstone says...

Yeah np

But I hold this reviewing thing against you

It is a happiness to wonder; it is a happiness to dream.
— Edgar Allan Poe