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E - Everyone

Christmas, 2019

by tgham99

In a quietly charming coffeehouse on Main Street, I’m left to wonder about whether or not you’re thinking about me as much as I’m thinking about you.

It’s always around the holidays that my most stubborn memories of you come back to haunt me; they fool me into believing time together was happier and more enjoyable than it truly was.

Maybe it’s the idea of spending another Christmas alone, or the lack of a warm body to curl up next to on Christmas Eve that makes me wish you were still a part of my life, but the only thing more dangerous than thinking about you is fooling myself into thinking that you still miss me the way that I miss you.

A couple walks by, sharing a laugh between them, and I’m instantly struck by the familiar pangs of jealousy that threaten to reel me back into my nostalgic stupor. I wonder if they’re sharing an inside joke, or if they’re simply in the phase of their relationship when you’re so content with your partner that being together is enough to evoke a smile.

It’s there, by the frigid, snow-dusted window of the coffeehouse that I’m forced to confront the idea that maybe, it’s my own loneliness that has tricked me into missing you. This, though, is an even harder notion to stomach than the bitter words you chose to use when you told me I was no longer welcome in your life.

When it snowed for the first time in over five years this morning, I was jealous of everyone who took to the streets in a frenzy of laughs and snowball fights amidst the blanket of white. I wanted so badly to enjoy the cheer and merriment that the very idea of snow used to bring me, but the only thing I could think about was how fervently you’d wished for us to have a white Christmas.

I sometimes catch myself in the awkward silence that follows my order at the register, because I had grown so used to hearing you order your own drink right after me. The phrase, “old habits die hard” has become so painfully accurate that it is more of a fact for me than a cliché.

I can’t tell you exactly when I started to feel so lost without you. I’d like to think that I’ve been making progress, but my hopes of living a life as fulfilling as the one I shared with you are always dashed when I come across something of yours in my apartment, or when I allow nostalgia to wrestle itself into my headspace.

On a day as cold as this, we would be sharing a cup of tea at my apartment, perhaps engaged in a heated debate over whether or not it was acceptable to wear mismatched socks in public. Or maybe we’d be exchanging stories from work and laughing about the frivolous aspects of our lives that were somehow made far more meaningful by the ways in which we indulged in each other so openly.

The idea of going home alone today makes my throat swell and the uncomfortable sensation of sadness begins to wash over me once again. What is it about the winter weather that makes me crave you so desperately? Is it the fact that I no longer have your chest to lay my head on when we go to sleep, or is it the you-shaped hole that exists in the deepest parts of my memories? Could it be that I miss you all the more when the temperature drops because I know that you won’t be waiting for me at home with open arms and a goofy smile to warm me up?

Do I miss you, or do I miss the idea of you?

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107 Reviews

Points: 13042
Reviews: 107

Tue Dec 31, 2019 12:39 pm
Asith wrote a review...

Hello, and welcome to the site! You've prompted my first review in about two months haha

I've been reading your stuff recently, and I wanted to review this one since I'm very much more of a short story person than a poetry person. You said it's your first short story and I'm very thrilled to review a poet trying out prose! That brings me neatly onto my first point, however:
(Don't worry, I tend to start out with harsh negatives :p)

1) Your story -- especially the beginning -- reads like a poem. I think this may very well be your habits as a poet coming through in your story writing. Looking closer, I think the main problem is with your phrase lengths, which lend themselves to sentence length, which lend themselves to paragraph length. Look at your first few paragraphs again -- do you see how your phrases are all virtually the same length? This makes them be read "chunk-by-chunk". It's just like each phrase was a line in a poem, and each paragraph a stanza. While that line-by-line feel works for poetry, it causes prose to feel very tedious and clunky to read. A very good technique for any story writer is to use varying sentence structures, and focus on your phrase lengths too. What you want to do, ideally, is use a variety of short sentences and long sentences. This keeps the flow of words exciting and smooth in a reader's head. A flow of a story is definitely different to a flow of a traditional(?) poem, so it's a fun thing to explore! I will say that this becomes less of an issue as the story goes on, so you seem to be more than capable of writing a story with a good flow! Try rewriting the opening paragraphs, try to experiment :)

2) This is a story rooted entirely in the emotions of a single character, so this point may not be so important. I'll say it anyway, just in case this wasn't so much of an intentional effect: there's not much of a narrative. This is because of two reasons: one being that the plot doesn't really go anywhere outside of what the reader thinks (but this is clearly the point of the story, so we can leave it be); and two being that there's not enough of a bubble for the story to be drawn in. It's a strange issue actually, not one that I find myself talking about often -- it probably has something to do with your poetic tendencies. While you have lovely imagery, and a clear attention to wanting to develop a setting, that setting isn't drawn in my head as a reader in the right way. Where you do describe, you tend to tell, and not show. This is a common problem, and something that comes with practice. Use the main character's senses to show us what happens rather than just tell us -- some bright colours on the clothing of the couple that walks by could catch the main character's eye and cause him to look at them, rather than them just appearing in the story. Little things like this help a long way! Sometimes, you forget to describe entirely, and while this helps the reader focus on the character's emotions, it makes it difficult to picture the story in our heads. Again, if you really just want this to be an emotional narrative, then that's okay! As a reader, I do enjoy my vivid settings though :p

Those are my main two criticisms, and I apologise if they were too harsh (It's been a while since I reviewed :p). This may sound cliche, but for a first completed short story, this is exceptionally good! Your mastery of emotion is very well developed -- I felt more empathy reading this than I have in a long time :p. Your grammar and punctuation have no issues that I can see, and that really makes a reader's life easier. I also like the intentional vagueness you've utilised with tour lack of names and other identifiers. "You" in the story being left entirely blank was a wonderful choice; it lets the reader fill in that character with whatever their mind leads to.

All in all, I definitely enjoyed the piece, and I wouldn't mind reading it again, so you've done the job of a story writer well! I hope to read more stories from you in future (especially if they're emotional, because god you're good at that :p)

tgham99 says...

Thank you so much for such an honest and helpful review! I struggled a lot with simply starting out the story to begin with, and it's no surprise to me that my poetic tendencies jumped out significantly.. that's something I'll be working on as I experiment more with short stories and branch out from my trend of only writing poetry.

That being said, I truly appreciate the feedback you gave me in regards to moving away from poetry and more towards the typical storytelling format; in terms of sentence structure, I'll be working on that as I continue to develop my storytelling abilities. I'm glad that I was able to convey emotionality well -- that was most definitely my main goal here, and to receive reassurance that it worked goes a long way for me!

Thank you again and I hope you have a wonderful New Year <3

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25 Reviews

Points: 2050
Reviews: 25

Mon Dec 30, 2019 2:47 am
RanaNoodles wrote a review...

This was a really great story! It starts with the narrator (he or she?) so convinced that it’s them (whoever they are) that they’re missing, and it ends with them realized it might just be the idea of somebody being there for them that they’re longing for. It changes so abruptly, too, like they’re saying how much they miss them and then the last line is suddenly doubting that. I don’t know, I thought that was cool.
I also like how you keep both characters anonymous, but you give some of their personalities, like when you say they might be arguing about socks or something like that. But you don’t give them a name, or a gender, or anything like that, and that made it easier to focus on the story.
I would only change a few punctuation things. When you say ‘the phrase, “old habits die hard”’, I might change the quotations to only one of those quote things (I don’t know what they’re called but I probably should). That might be me, though.
Keep on doing what you’re doing!
-Rana Noodles

tgham99 says...

Thanks so much for your review! I was nervous about posting my first short story (my first *completed* one, at least..) so I love receiving feedback.

I appreciate the punctuation tip -- I think I know exactly what you're referencing in terms of restructuring that particular quote, so thank you for pointing it out. I'll double check that and make sure to implement quotes correctly in the future.

Thank you again and Happy New Years Eve Eve!

RanaNoodles says...

I%u2019m happy it helped! Happy New Years Eve to you too!

I say Wolf, for all wolves are not of the same sort; there is one kind with an amenable disposition – neither noisy, nor hateful, nor angry, but tame, obliging and gentle, following the young maids in the streets, even into their homes. Alas! Who does not know that these gentle wolves are of all such creatures the most dangerous!
— Charles Perrault