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LMS VI: Let Me Live Tonight 1.4

by winterwolf0100


Warning: This work has been rated 16+.

“Let’s play house!” When we were six, it’s what she always wanted to do. She’d knocked on the door, asked my parents if I could play, and then stood and waited for me, rocking back and forth on the heels of her feet. Her hair was up in a ponytail, but pieces were pulled out and hanging around her face, messy and wild. She wore a navy blue skirt with a button up shirt and a jacket, the school uniform, with a big pink bow in her hair.

“I don’t wanna,” I complained loudly as I walked out the door and shut it behind me. She stomped her foot.

“Well too bad, ‘cause we’re gonna.” She said it so firmly that there was no doubt about it in my mind— and clearly no doubt in hers either.

“House is so boring,” I muttered, kicking at a pile of leaves on the ground absentmindedly. “Can’t we play something else?”

“No!” She said cheerfully, turning and skipping down the path. She knew I would follow regardless. The air that day was crisp, yellow sun and yellow leaves on the ground, summer just far enough in the rear-view mirror that you couldn’t see the blood-red heat. The tree between our houses was shorter then, but with our small size, it felt just as tall.

“Is anyone else gonna play?” I asked as I hurried to catch up with her. At the time, my hair was in desperate need of a cut, and it curled at the base of my neck and kept falling into my eyes. The faint chilly breeze didn’t help, consistently sticking the hair to my face. I watched the stray hairs around her face float upwards and fall down again as the wind died out.

“Nah,” she said breezily, “nobody else wanted to.” She jumped in a large puddle and dirty water splashed up and sprayed across both of us.

I groaned. “Dessie!”

She turned back and looked at me. “What?”

I jumped into the puddle, splashing even more water over both of us while she was off-guard and she shrieked, “Clay!” She wiped mud off her face onto her jacket sleeve, trying to remain serious. It wasn’t long before she was giggling with me though.

I held out my arms, showing off my newly soaked clothes. “If nobody else wants to do it, then why do I have to?”

She giggled a little more, smiling brightly, before she turned back to look at the path as we walked up her driveway towards the gate to her backyard. “‘Cause you love me,” she chimed in a sing-song voice. I gave a loud protest that my heart wasn’t really in and followed her, eyes glued to her feet to watch for stray puddles. Her tall white socks were splattered with mud, and the bottom parts looked completely drenched, but she didn’t seem to mind. I knew her mom would, but she didn’t seem to mind that either.

“So!” She announced as we walked through the gate and she shut it behind us. I followed her to the swingset and sat on one, kicking my feet back and forth through the dirt and watching dust explode off the ground as I listened to her. “I’m the mom,” she said, as if it were the most obvious conclusion in the world. “And you’re my son.”

I slumped down, my head falling into my hands and my elbows resting on my knees. “Why do I have to be the son? Why can’t I be the dad?”

“Now now, son!” She said seriously, though it was hard to take anything she said seriously when our voices were so high-pitched and she strained to fight a smile. “Don’t be silly! You are not your father!” She said everything in a frivolous voice, like she was vaguely imitating someone British. I smirked a little bit in spite of myself.

She marched in front of the swingset with her hands on her hips, head held high and a dignified expression on her face. I didn’t know how she could see where she was going— she was practically staring straight up at the sky for her impression. “Did you get mud all over your new clothes?” She gasped dramatically, picking up my sleeve— and along with it, my arm inside it.

“Good-ness gra-cious!” She overannunciated each syllable, pushing as much drama into her voice as possible. She took a step backwards and put her hands back on her hips. “What do you have to say for yourself, son?”

I shrugged a little, and said, “I dunno.” My cheeks felt heated as I watched her throw her arms in the air, exasperated.

“How did your sleeves get dirty like that? Were you playing in the mud like I told you not to?” She accused, nearly falling over as she leaned forward and squinted her eyes at me.

I giggled a little and said bashfully, “Stop! I don’t wanna play this.”

She sighed dramatically and practically flung herself to the ground, laying on her back and staring up at the sky. She flailed her arms out beside her and groaned, “Fine! What do you wanna do?”

I climbed off the swing and shrugged. “I dunno.” I sat down on the grass beside her, then laid down. We stayed there for a few moments in silence, before she sat up.

“This is boring!” She exclaimed, before looking pointedly at me.

“What?” I said. “I don’t wanna play house, it’s even more boring!”

She huffed and crossed her arms. I reached a hand up and moved hair out of my eyes. “What?”

“I’m not boring,” she stated, and narrowed her eyes at me for several seconds.

“I didn’t say you were boring,” I said, sitting up.

“You did too!” She said, frowning in anger. She turned away and wiped her face on her sleeve.

“I did not,” I argued. “I just said house was boring.” I hesitated, then added softly, “I like playing with you.”

She sniffled angrily and I watched her. “Why do you like playing house?” I asked.

“Hmm?” She said, wiping her face on her sleeve again.

“Why do you always like to play house? Isn’t there anything else you wanna be when you grow up?”

She shrugged, not looking at me. “I wanna play tag,” she said suddenly, standing up and brushing grass off her knees and skirt. “Let’s go see if anyone wants to play.”

“But you didn’t answer my question,” I protested, then sighed as she started walking away determinedly without answering. I stood and followed after her, out the gate and back to the sidewalk by the road to walk to people’s houses. I never got an answer to that question. We never talked about it again. And the next time we played house, I didn’t complain.

Yellow sun and yellow leaves and yellowed, tarnished paper, the type dreams are written on. We jump in a puddle, we splash them with mud, and watch the golden ink bleed away.

~~~

1173 words

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Tue Jan 03, 2023 12:16 am
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Plume wrote a review...



Hey there! Plume here, with a review!

It's been a while, hasn't it? But I am back! It was such a pleasure to dive back into this story and return to Clay's story—I'm definitely excited to get all caught up!

This was a very sweet yet heartbreaking chapter— if I had read this without the context of the others, I'd have considered it a lovely moment between two childhood friends, but knowing what happens to Dessie, it's made even more sadder by all the fun times she and Clay had before her accident. Again, you mastered the isolated-yet-connected feel—it's one specific instance but connected by the characters featured, and that kind of storytelling works super nicely here.

One thing that stood out to me here was how naturalistic the dialogue between Clay and Dessie was. You nailed the back-and-forth between two six-year-olds so well. As someone who's worked with kids that age, that pompous voice Dessie puts on is sooo accurate and made me smile.

I'm curious whether this "playing house" will be significant, given the fact that you've decided to introduce it fairly early on in the story. So far, Dessie seems to be all about games— the first time she's introduced, she's paired with the verb "played" and the whole chapter is focused on that. She's shown playing very different games, though—tag is a whole lot more physical and rigorous than playing house, which is more relaxing and relies more on the imagination than physical skills. She's also at different ages, too—it's a bit odd to read about her first at eight, then at six. I'm curious what other games she'll be shown playing, and I'm curious if they'll get more and more serious as she grows up.

I also loved the yellow motifs throughout—referring back to the first chapter, yellow seems to be like innocence and memory, and this chapter certainly felt that way. It had the vibe of a yellowed photograph, which I really enjoyed, and not only conveyed a sense of age, but a sense of glorification of memories of youth. I really love what you're doing with the colors, and it's fun to pick apart what they mean in context.

Specifics

She wore a navy blue skirt with a button up shirt and a jacket, the school uniform, with a big pink bow in her hair.


Small thing: "button up" should have a hyphen.

I watched the stray hairs around her face float upwards and fall down again as the wind died out.

“Nah,” she said breezily, “nobody else wanted to.”


I loved the reference to the wind and then how immediately after, you described her tone as breezy. It felt almost like a pun, but not really—I just love it when writers have fun with language and words.

I jumped into the puddle, splashing even more water over both of us while she was off-guard and she shrieked, “Clay!”


This sentence felt clunky to me, specifically the last part connected with "and." I'm thinking that it might flow better as its own sentence, or maybe this one could be reworded in a way.

Yellow sun and yellow leaves and yellowed, tarnished paper, the type dreams are written on. We jump in a puddle, we splash them with mud, and watch the golden ink bleed away.


Gorgeous prose here— also the yellow motifs! I love how you're almost going in rainbow order; if I recall correctly, last chapter mentioned orange.

Overall: nice work! I loved the return to color and how memory-like this chapter felt, and I'm very eager to read more! Until next time!




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Fri Dec 23, 2022 5:43 am
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KateHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm here to leave a quick review!! Ahh I've made it to a fourth part. I honestly don't even know how I got this far, its been a while since a book has compelled be to binge review it with me hardly noticing the time passing (And this is the very first time something this tragic has managed to do that). Well the tissues are staying away still...and the day is still young, so onward we march.

First Impression: This is a lovely little scene here. We're seeing more and more little shreds of evidence of Clay and what made Clay the person he is today while also getting a healthy does of bittersweet memories. I am also just way too excited about trying to keep track of these colors and what they mean.

Anyway let's get right to it,

“Let’s play house!” When we were six, it’s what she always wanted to do. She’d knocked on the door, asked my parents if I could play, and then stood and waited for me, rocking back and forth on the heels of her feet. Her hair was up in a ponytail, but pieces were pulled out and hanging around her face, messy and wild. She wore a navy blue skirt with a button up shirt and a jacket, the school uniform, with a big pink bow in her hair.

“I don’t wanna,” I complained loudly as I walked out the door and shut it behind me. She stomped her foot.

“Well too bad, ‘cause we’re gonna.” She said it so firmly that there was no doubt about it in my mind— and clearly no doubt in hers either.

“House is so boring,” I muttered, kicking at a pile of leaves on the ground absentmindedly. “Can’t we play something else?”


Oooh well this is quite a start. I don't know if this still connected to Dessie and this is meant to try an drag out the pain from that a bit more or if this is headed down yet another dangerous path, but I am already having all the paranoia acting going in. Let's see where this story is trying to take us, shall we?

“No!” She said cheerfully, turning and skipping down the path. She knew I would follow regardless. The air that day was crisp, yellow sun and yellow leaves on the ground, summer just far enough in the rear-view mirror that you couldn’t see the blood-red heat. The tree between our houses was shorter then, but with our small size, it felt just as tall.

“Is anyone else gonna play?” I asked as I hurried to catch up with her. At the time, my hair was in desperate need of a cut, and it curled at the base of my neck and kept falling into my eyes. The faint chilly breeze didn’t help, consistently sticking the hair to my face. I watched the stray hairs around her face float upwards and fall down again as the wind died out.

“Nah,” she said breezily, “nobody else wanted to.” She jumped in a large puddle and dirty water splashed up and sprayed across both of us.

I groaned. “Dessie!”


Oooooh well yeah that confirms that. Love that. Love that. I think this is an excellent choice here to follow up that opening. It maps beautifully to us knowing the tragic fate to come and the way it all made Clay feel before we get to what seems so far like an innocent moment here. I think now knowing this is probably not going to be another horrifying we also get a bit more mystery and more tension that we've ever had before because suddenly we don't know quite what to expect besides of course this whole thing feeling so bittersweet because we know what awaits at the end of this whole thing.

She turned back and looked at me. “What?”

I jumped into the puddle, splashing even more water over both of us while she was off-guard and she shrieked, “Clay!” She wiped mud off her face onto her jacket sleeve, trying to remain serious. It wasn’t long before she was giggling with me though.

I held out my arms, showing off my newly soaked clothes. “If nobody else wants to do it, then why do I have to?”

She giggled a little more, smiling brightly, before she turned back to look at the path as we walked up her driveway towards the gate to her backyard. “‘Cause you love me,” she chimed in a sing-song voice. I gave a loud protest that my heart wasn’t really in and followed her, eyes glued to her feet to watch for stray puddles. Her tall white socks were splattered with mud, and the bottom parts looked completely drenched, but she didn’t seem to mind. I knew her mom would, but she didn’t seem to mind that either.


Well this is a lovely little way to slowly push little needles of pan into the reader's hearts here cause its ever so powerful in how powerfully real it feels in terms of how as readers we interact with our own childhood best friends and knowing the fate that lies in store. This is also perhaps the point where I can guess where this might be going especially if Clay's trend of remembering only bad thought persists.

“So!” She announced as we walked through the gate and she shut it behind us. I followed her to the swingset and sat on one, kicking my feet back and forth through the dirt and watching dust explode off the ground as I listened to her. “I’m the mom,” she said, as if it were the most obvious conclusion in the world. “And you’re my son.”

I slumped down, my head falling into my hands and my elbows resting on my knees. “Why do I have to be the son? Why can’t I be the dad?”

“Now now, son!” She said seriously, though it was hard to take anything she said seriously when our voices were so high-pitched and she strained to fight a smile. “Don’t be silly! You are not your father!” She said everything in a frivolous voice, like she was vaguely imitating someone British. I smirked a little bit in spite of myself.


Goodness me this one is hitting close to home in terms of how this is very much how this sort of things tends to go when we're all kids. You've really managed to nail the art of making these things so, so powerful by the simple fact of it being so real and so easy to imagine with us in the place of Clay.

I shrugged a little, and said, “I dunno.” My cheeks felt heated as I watched her throw her arms in the air, exasperated.

“How did your sleeves get dirty like that? Were you playing in the mud like I told you not to?” She accused, nearly falling over as she leaned forward and squinted her eyes at me.

I giggled a little and said bashfully, “Stop! I don’t wanna play this.”

She sighed dramatically and practically flung herself to the ground, laying on her back and staring up at the sky. She flailed her arms out beside her and groaned, “Fine! What do you wanna do?”


Hmm okay I might be reading far too much into things here once again but amidst this being something to potentially have us be more emotionally invested in Dessie's death, this little moment seems to hint that perhaps Clay's mother isn't the sort of person that inspires the greatest of memories in Clay even at such a young age. It builds on from the baby thing quite well I think, either that or I am grasping at straws and going into tinfoil hat mode very early.

I climbed off the swing and shrugged. “I dunno.” I sat down on the grass beside her, then laid down. We stayed there for a few moments in silence, before she sat up.

“This is boring!” She exclaimed, before looking pointedly at me.

“What?” I said. “I don’t wanna play house, it’s even more boring!”

She huffed and crossed her arms. I reached a hand up and moved hair out of my eyes. “What?”

“I’m not boring,” she stated, and narrowed her eyes at me for several seconds.

“I didn’t say you were boring,” I said, sitting up.

“You did too!” She said, frowning in anger. She turned away and wiped her face on her sleeve.


Oh yup that went exactly as I thought it would and AHHHH the one time I thought I might be wrong. Now the question is how unresolved is this little misunderstanding going to be by the time they end up in that game of chicken and how much does Clay blame himself for letting this happen and possibly drive them towards that game. I am almost certain this is a moment Clay will reflect on as his fault for driving them away from this safer more boring game.

“I did not,” I argued. “I just said house was boring.” I hesitated, then added softly, “I like playing with you.”

She sniffled angrily and I watched her. “Why do you like playing house?” I asked.

“Hmm?” She said, wiping her face on her sleeve again.

“Why do you always like to play house? Isn’t there anything else you wanna be when you grow up?”

She shrugged, not looking at me. “I wanna play tag,” she said suddenly, standing up and brushing grass off her knees and skirt. “Let’s go see if anyone wants to play.”

“But you didn’t answer my question,” I protested, then sighed as she started walking away determinedly without answering. I stood and followed after her, out the gate and back to the sidewalk by the road to walk to people’s houses. I never got an answer to that question. We never talked about it again. And the next time we played house, I didn’t complain.

Yellow sun and yellow leaves and yellowed, tarnished paper, the type dreams are written on. We jump in a puddle, we splash them with mud, and watch the golden ink bleed away.


AHHHH I SPY YELLOW WITH MY LITTLE EYE...sorry, sorry. I am getting a little too excited about this, but I love how that connects up to the feelings this creates and well that spat did end in a very pointed way there.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: I'm really enjoying the dives we're able to take into Clay's mind as we go about with a seemingly simple memory here. I honestly am just left wanting more here, so catch ya again in the next one.

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




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Sun Nov 27, 2022 3:18 am
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SilverNight wrote a review...



Heyyyyyyy winter! Back to review this again ^^

It looks like we're back to the type of story that unfolds in the moment instead of the more reflective and introspective kind like last chapter. This memory is also pretty clear, with a lot of detail in the elements and descriptions, so I kind of wonder why it stands out. It's not as tragic as the other stories we've seen so far (there's been a lot of tragedy), but my theory is that Clay's question and the lack of response to it has been haunting him for a long time. So, the question that will haunt me is, what's so important about it and how does it matter? I'm hoping for that to be revealed >:]

“Let’s play house!” When we were six, it’s what she always wanted to do. She’d knocked on the door, asked my parents if I could play, and then stood and waited for me, rocking back and forth on the heels of her feet. Her hair was up in a ponytail, but pieces were pulled out and hanging around her face, messy and wild. She wore a navy blue skirt with a button up shirt and a jacket, the school uniform, with a big pink bow in her hair.


Oooh I like how at this point it's perfectly clear that the "she" is Dessie. In fact, her name isn't in the chapter at all, besides once in the dialogue, so I think that's a good indicator that you've not only established how much Dessie matters to Clay that of course it's her, but also that she should matter to the readers because she's important to this overarching story-- nice work!

This is a lot of detail, and since it opens with a general description of their playtime, telling us that this is a regular occurrence, but then goes into a specific event without adding that this is one time out of many, it's not immediately obvious that something's going to be different about this time. So I have questions about how the addition of detail fits in-- is something immediately obvious to Clay as a difference, which is why he remembers the details clearly? Or this is so normal that he remembers it because a dozen other memories follow the same path at this point of their playdates? I feel like the answer might make your choices for the story a little clearer, so if you've thought about that I'd like to know which way you're leaning!

“House is so boring,” I muttered, kicking at a pile of leaves on the ground absentmindedly. “Can’t we play something else?”

“No!” She said cheerfully, turning and skipping down the path. She knew I would follow regardless. The air that day was crisp, yellow sun and yellow leaves on the ground, summer just far enough in the rear-view mirror that you couldn’t see the blood-red heat. The tree between our houses was shorter then, but with our small size, it felt just as tall.


--> tell me it's that late September-early October period without telling me it's that late September-early October period, achieved XD

Also I love how this "No!" has such "no <3" or even "no >:]" energy. I can hear it in my head very clearly, complete with the mental image of skipping.

And pfffffff the other kids don’t deserve to play with Dessie. They’re mean >:(

I jumped into the puddle, splashing even more water over both of us while she was off-guard and she shrieked, “Clay!” She wiped mud off her face onto her jacket sleeve, trying to remain serious. It wasn’t long before she was giggling with me though.


I feel like I’ve seen mentions of her giggling and shouting Clay’s name a lot, like he just has the sounds stuck in his head forever, so now when I actually see it happen in a story I have my idea of the sound in my head because it’s familiar. That’s a cool effect!

“I’m the mom,” she said, as if it were the most obvious conclusion in the world. “And you’re my son.”

I slumped down, my head falling into my hands and my elbows resting on my knees. “Why do I have to be the son? Why can’t I be the dad?”


I love that this is so clear to Dessie XD

What I can’t really tell from this is whether this assignment of roles is usually the same or not? Dessie seems like she always wants to be the mom, but I can’t tell if Clay’s protest is that he wants to be the dad like he usually is and doesn’t like this change very much, or if he’s just frustrated that he’s had to play the son for this whole time and that’s what bores him.

She said everything in a frivolous voice, like she was vaguely imitating someone British.


Oh wow another thing I can hear in my head, love it XD

And as for the argument, I think that’s a pretty good depiction of how young kids argue. There’s a lot of protesting and using the same words in responses back and forth. It feels a little dramatic but it probably also is dramatic to them.

“You did too!” She said, frowning in anger. She turned away and wiped her face on her sleeve.


Am I correct in guessing that she’s getting a little sniffly and teary here? It seems like that’s what’s happening, but Clay doesn’t seem to have jumped to that conclusion, so I’m wondering why he didn’t notice it.

Yellow sun and yellow leaves and yellowed, tarnished paper, the type dreams are written on. We jump in a puddle, we splash them with mud, and watch the golden ink bleed away.


Yessss closing this off with the poetic prose again. Love it love it.

Overall, I really liked this story! It’s neat to see the two of them around just each other as opposed to in a group, since they seem to be acting pretty differently when they’re together alone than with their not-so-friendly friends. I’m really looking forward to more stories with them!

Best of luck with LMS hehe. You‘ve got this!

-silver <3





Positive anything is better than negative nothing.
— Elbert Hubbard