Weekly Short Stories Contest and Company! discussion

Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 170 (June 10-17). Stories. Topic: Florescence

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message 1: by Walter (new)

Walter Nicholl | 12 comments Hi, Do we cut and paste the story to this box.



message 2: by Edward (new)

Edward (edwardtheresejr) | 2434 comments Yes, but remember that the indentations don't usually show up so you might want to seperate paragraphs with an empty line to make them easier to read.

message 3: by Saira (new)

Saira (herumouni) | 667 comments Yay, someone else is finally trying. I hope to have one, but this is a difficult topic.

message 4: by Walter (new)

Walter Nicholl | 12 comments Ah. Thank you, Edward.


message 5: by Walter (new)

Walter Nicholl | 12 comments I think my book is too long, it won't fit in here. haha.


message 6: by Paula Tohline (last edited Jun 16, 2013 09:14PM) (new)

Paula Tohline Calhoun (paulatohlinecalhoun) | 493 comments Should I glow long enough
to, let's say, off the cuff,
burn bright enough
to exorcise the stuff of demons?

I can tell by the fading
glow in your eyes,
That shading my eyes with my hand
would still not make you understand
that anything that glows is not glittering
but burning from the outside in. Some sort
of volunteer sparkler's parade, perhaps
to formalize the questions of a harlequin's child.
Poor thing - must she wear half-diamonds
Until she grows enough for the stuff
that comes off the cuff?

Of course whole diamond patterns are no prize
either but to a child with fluorescent and effervescent, quintessent eyes, they
have no need to shade their eyes, not
until they grow too old.
Too old to value youth and good eyes,
Never young enough to shed my own or their ashes.

message 7: by Ariel (new)

Ariel Hudnall (arielhud) Paula, beautiful poem, but did you mean to post it in Poetry? This is the story thread. :)

message 8: by Melanie (new)

Melanie (melanienmo) | 34 comments Success
By Melanie (3493 words - open to criticism)

There was a rap on the door. I begrudgingly tore myself away from the reality show that I was watching and peered through the peephole into the hallway. A solemn man in a black suits waited there with a manilla folder in his hands. I smooth my blonde hair down and open the door.

“Hello,” I said politely.

“Are you Michelle Roth?” he responded seriously.

“Yes, I am. You are?” I was nervous. I clasped my hands in front of me to keep them from shaking,

“My name isn’t important to you. I’m one of the few men who are funding the Scintillant Project.” As if I didn’t already know. Even though I hadn’t never seen this man before, he looked the same as the others who were present at my interview. Same pale skin, same serious eyes, same aura that sent shivers down my spine. “Pay attention carefully. Enclosed in this envelope is one plane ticket and a packet of information that you should have memorized by tomorrow morning. We’ll have a car pick you up at this location at eight o’clock in the morning. If you have any questions, Dr. Lambent’s phone number in written on the inside flap of the envelope.” He placed the envelope in my hands and looked up at me expectantly. It took me a moment to realize that he was waiting for my acknowledgement that I understood him.

“Oh. Yes, I understand. Thank you,” I said, trying to keep my voice from revealing my excitement. He nodded and turned to walk away. Just before I shut the door all the way, he stopped.

“Miss Roth?”

“Yes, sir?”

“You realize that the information you hold in your hands is extremely confidential?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good.” He left. I shut my apartment door. After waiting a moment to make sure that the official had made his way to the elevator, I pressed the manilla folder to my chest and squealed as loud and high pitched as I did on the day that Thomas proposed. I ran to the kitchen table and carefully opened the folder. I slid the papers out and read through them, my eyes feasting on this great opportunity. I picked up the plane ticket. I hoped that this job would take me far away from Jersey. I looked for the destination information on the ticket, but there wasn’t any. I blinked in confusion. But then I realized, that this was a part of the confidentiality agreement.

Confidentiality was key with the Scintillant Project. When I interviewed for this job, a car picked me up and drove me to the location. My phone was confiscated and I had to sign a contract afterwards stating that I would keep my mouth shut.

I’d spent the past month trying figure out why they would be so secretive. I wasn’t applying for a government occupation, just a lab job. As far as I knew, I would just be using my talents to create a new medicine for cancer patients. Why that had to be a secret, I couldn’t explain.

I walked to my bedroom and opened the top drawer of nightstand, where two beautiful people, beautiful and and in love, smiled back at me from a picture frame. Thomas and I, at our wedding. We had both just graduated from MIT. We were ready to leap into our careers; him as a microbiologist, and me as a marine biologist. He wanted to have children right away, but I was a little wary. Our future was bright. That was, at least, until he was diagnosed with cancer. The tumor in his brain took him away in eight months. He tried to fight it, but it was strong. The cancer won.

I was ruined. Normally, I was a logical person, but I couldn’t pull myself out of my grief for a long time. I became too far behind in work, I didn’t go out with friends, I stopped talking to my family. All I could think about was that beautiful sense of humor and those beautiful blue eyes. I only wished that I could spend one more night with him, go for one more walk in the park with him. I hated how cruelly my husband was taken from me. I loved him more than I believed a scientific woman like me could love anything.

This job was the first opportunity I had to start being normal again. This is where I can start my life over. I can immerse myself in work that can prevent others from feeling what I felt. I’m working toward using my talents to eliminate cancer forever.

I didn’t sleep. I spent all night reading and rereading the sixty-page overview of the expectations set of me by the Scintillant Project founders. The message was clear: I had to be successful in my attempts to use bioluminescence to help cure cancer, and I had to remain silent.

They send a car to pick me up the next morning as the representative told me. The ride on the airplane was an uneventful nine-hour trip. I was alone on the jet, except for the crew. I spent nearly the whole flight reviewing the pages. I was escorted to my new home after we landed, a cramped apartment space that I didn’t even have to pay rent for. I was given a black two-door vehicle with windows tinted so dark that I nearly believed someone had painted the windows the same color as the body.

I was expected to come into work at two-thirty in the afternoon. I pulled up in my new car at the security checkpoint. I rolled down my window, stated my name, and was permitted through.

From what I could deduce, the lab was a large wheel shape. The main hub was in the center of it all, with about twenty hallways branching out in all directions to separate areas. I approached the front desk, which was in the middle of the circular room. The secretary paused to look up at me.

“Hello, I’m-” I began.

“Michelle Roth. Welcome to the Scintillant Project. I hope your flight was uneventful?” a voice from behind me interrupted. I turned around.

It was her. Doctor Lambent herself. My eyes went wide and my mouth went immediately dry. I didn’t think that she would be here. I thought that she would be away at headquarters, not at the experimenting location. I gripped my manual harder and tried to look confident. She looked down at me from her six foot stature and her grey eyes looked intelligent and excited.

“I’ve been waiting a long time to meet you in person, Miss Roth. Ever since I received the report of your interview, I’ve been nearly giddy. You may be the key to this project’s success,” she gushed.

“That’s very nice of you, Doctor, but I really don’t think-”

“Nonsense. There will be no self-deprecation here. Darling, I’ve been told that you are one of the cleverest biologists of your generation. It’s lucky for us that you chose such a unique field of study,” she continued. I smiled a bit. The science of bioluminescence was vastly unexplored, and that’s why I chose this path. I wanted my name on some of the greatest discoveries of the century. The doctor continued, this time walking and talking. I nearly forgot to follow her.

“What we’re doing here, using bioluminescence to detect cancer cells, is rather groundbreaking. However, we’ve run into several bumps along the way. Other biologists who had worked on this couldn’t figure out it the cameras were detecting the bioluminescence of the tumors or simply the infrared radiation of them. Both types of light look similar to our monitors. Your job will be to conceptualize a new device so that we can see exactly where the heart of the tumor is, do you understand?” I nod. This was all in the manual.

“Then I will personally escort you to your wing.”


“We’re dedicating a whole wing of the hospital to your research. Is that enough space? I’m sure that we can find more if you’ll need it.”

“No, no, that’s plenty.” I

She brought me to a corridor. “Here’s your pass key. Owill let you open all the doors in this wing. It can also lock all the doors for you, if that’s what you desire. Try it out.” I took the card from her and swiped it into a scanner near the door frame. The doors whooshed open, and I stepped inside my wonderland.

I was at the mouth of a long straight hallway, with perhaps fifteen doors on each side. I looked to the door that was closest to me. There was a window looking into the room, which was filled with tech equipment that was humming with life. There were analyzers and x-ray machines and DNA vaporizers and some things that I had read about before only in college textbooks. My brown eyes widened with wonder. This one room had everything that I could dream about having for my task at hand.

Dr. Lambent grabbed me gently by the hand. “Let’s look into some other rooms.” She guided me down the hallway. There were two more tech rooms with the same machines, two supply rooms, a small sitting room, five labs. The rest of the rooms were spacious areas set up like a normal doctor’s examination room. I assumed that I would see the cancer patients in here. The last door on the right was my office, a large room with a large desk and a large stack of paperwork waiting for me. Dr. Lambent bid me farewell and I began to start my work. It would be a long process, but I was excited.

A few hours later, I had read through and completed a third of the paperwork when there was a quick knock on the door. “Come in,” I called. A man in a lab coat opened the door.

“Who are you?”

“I’m one of your,” he grimaced, “assistants.” The man, older than fifty, seemed impatient and talked slowly, like talking to a kid. I brushed it off, knowing that he was probably jealous that a young person like me had more responsibility than him. “Anyway, your first patient is in Exam Room Four. Don’t keep him waiting; he doesn’t have much time left to be sitting around waiting for you.” I wondered briefly if I had the authority to fire this man. After that thought, I felt a sinking feeling in my gut. I didn’t want to let all this power to go to my head, but I was doing exactly that. I promised myself that I wouldn’t do that. Thomas wouldn’t want me to be a mean person.

I walked down the hall to Exam Room Four. I grabbed the patient’s chart from the tray on the door and swiped the card. I read the chart out loud as I walked in the door.

“Jake Kelly, age fifteen.” I left out the part about stage four cancer.

“That’s my name, don’t wear it out,” he responded. I looked up from the chart at him and my heart stopped in my chest.

It was him. The dark hair, the calm set of his jaw, the brilliant blue eyes. Sitting in a chair before me was my dead husband, or at least the spitting image of him. Thomas, he looked exactly like my Thomas! Tears nearly sprung to my eyes.

“Um, are you okay?” Jake asked. Apparently I was staring for too long.

“Oh, um, yes. I’m fine. You just... remind me of someone.” I cleared my throat awkwardly.

“You’re a new one,” he said simply.

“Excuse me?”

“Thought I’d seen all the scientists here before. You’re a new one.”

“Oh, yes. This is my first day.”

“Well then welcome to The Scintillant Project, Michelle Roth,” he said, reading my name tag. “I hope you have just as much fun giving me hell as all the others do.” He spat the words, glaring at me.

“No matter what you believe, we’re trying to help you here, not make you miserable.”

He laughed right in my face. “Oh yeah, then why’d they kill all my friends? Why are they killing me?”

“Jake. The cancer is killing you. Not the scientists.”

“Whatever, Dr. Roth.” I shook his rudeness off. If I was dying, I would be moody too. Anyway, it was hard to get mad at those eyes.

“Alright, I’m going to need you to follow me down to the lab so that I can administer some different medications and see how you react to them.” I began to leave, then realize that he wasn’t following me. “Jake, follow.”

“Are you stupid?” he asked. “I can’t get up. I’m sort of tied to this chair.”

(continued in next post)

message 9: by Melanie (new)

Melanie (melanienmo) | 34 comments I lost my calm. I whirled around and got in his face. “Listen kid, do you want me to help you or not? Cut the little kid games and grow up for a minute so that I can fix you!” He seemed frozen in fear. I know that I lost my top, but was I really that scary to him? I glanced down at his arms. What I originally dismissed as bracelets were actually heavy straps that held his hands to the arm of the chair. I paused in confusion. My eyes slowly looked up to meet his.

“Why are you tied up?” I asked carefully. Was he dangerous?

“You really don’t know what’s going on here, do you?” I waited for him to continue.

“The scientists here. abducted us. Dr. Lambent herself grabbed a couple runaways. We always tried to stay together, but they tricked us. And they brought us here. They separated us into groups. I was with my best friend Riley. They hooked us up to machines and pumped some chemicals into us. One of the girls in my group died right away. We watched her die. I’m not sure what they used on us, but after a couple days of being sick from the chemicals, they started the tests on the rest of us.

“They would see how long we could hold our breath underwater until we passed out. Riley lasted six minutes. He admitted to me a long time ago that he didn’t know how to swim, but he held his breath underwater for six minutes. How could he do that?” I shook my head, unable to explain.

“Then they made us run an obstacle course as fast as we could. We had to climb a massive rock wall, push giant boulders out of our way, swing from the ceiling rafters, all while running as fast as we could between the obstacles. It was a thirty minute course. I completed it in eight minutes and twenty-two seconds.”

“Clearly the chemicals were doing something to alter your... humanness,” I said.

“Yeah. Other kids developed special abilities as well. One boy took a bullet through the shoulder and didn’t feel any pain at all. As for the rest of us...” he trailed off. I shuddered. They must have all gone through the same tests.

“After that, all the scientists got really excited. They said that they were creating a superior race. So, they pumped us with more chemicals. And that’s when we started to get cancer. Riley died three weeks ago.” Jake said, his voice strained. He coughed. “I don’t really want to go they way he did.”

“I’ll try to make sure that you don’t,” I promised. For some reason, he must have trusted me a lot to tell me this.


“Yes. Well, actually, now that you’ve disclosed this information to me, I think that it might be a bad idea to inject more chemicals into your system. I’m going to put you on detox for the next few days. You’ll be safe,” I said, scribbling my orders on his chart. He nodded with gratitude.

I turned to leave. When I opened the door, I noticed that the old scientist was walking in the opposite direction. I ignored him and walked back to my office.

I sat in my office all night, thinking about Dr. Lambent. She wanted to create superhumans, war machines. She was using children. And I was helping her get those children good and healthy so that she could send them off to fight. Those were the last things I remember thinking that night. I must have fallen asleep at my computer. I was awoken by three strict knocks on the door. Dr Lambent opened it. She glared at me. Her once-friendly-seeming eyes were now cold.

“Follow me,” was all she said. I obeyed.

“Your patient, Jake Kelly, was scheduled for a treatment today, but you put him on detox. Why would you do that?”

“I wanted to take him off of his medications to see the extent of his sickness,” I lied smoothly.

“Well, he’s still going to get his treatment. And you’re going to watch.” I was silent.

She led me to the north wing, into a room the size of a gymnasium. The walls were lined with equipment. A large chair was in the center of it all. Jake sat in it, hooked up to hundreds of IV drips. He struggled against his restraints. His eyebrows were drawn together in pain. I tried to keep my face emotionless.

“Administer the drug,” the doctor said to the lab assistants. They obliged.

There were large monitors that displayed Jake’s internal body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and brain activity. One screen had a ultrasound image of his vital organs. Another had an x-ray display of his skeleton. Once the drug was administered, Jake let out a scream that gave me goosebumps. The ultrasound image shoved his organs morphing, growing larger and nearly growing into each other. His internal body temperature and heart rate spiked dangerously. He looked across the room and saw me standing there.

“You promised, Doctor Roth! You promised!” he screamed with hatred. His eyes had gone from that beautiful blue to a glowing, fluorescent orange color. In fact, his whole body was giving off a bright light. It burned my eyes. It burned my soul.

When his organs exploded and he finally died, the light went out.

I looked to the Doctor. There was no sympathy on her face.

“He was one of the more promising ones, too,” she sighed. “I think it was because his will was strong. But in all fairness, none of the other subjects live through this treatment either. Oh well. Get him out out of here!” I looked away as the assistants moved to clear his body.

“He failed us,” Dr. Lambent said. “Just as you did.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You know that confidentiality is very important to us. And you know too much.” Dr. Lambent turned away from me in disgust. I tried to think of how she could have found out about our conversation. I blinked. The old scientist must have told her.

“Does that mean that I can never leave this place?”

“In a way. Assistants, now it’s her turn!”

They came up from behind me. I screamed and tried to fight them, but there were so many of them.

“Don’t rough her up too badly, please. I want her to be fully conscious for this.”

They bound me to the same chair and hooked up the wires. Five to my head, four to each of my arms, three to the bottom of each foot, two to my stomach. Nine to the area surrounding my heart. I wept as they did this to me. I remembered what she said: None of the other test subjects had lived through this treatment. I was going to die here.

“Administer the drug!” she cawed evilly over the whir of machinery. She watched the ultrasound image anxiously.

The IV drips did their job. The glowing orange fluid made its way to my bloodstream . The pain seemed to sear my skin from the inside out. It felt like I was burning alive. My muscles tensed and I was sweating. I squeezed my eyes shut and tried not to scream. The white hot pain was everywhere. It was everything. It was taking so long to die. It felt like an eternity before it finally stopped.

I opened my eyes. Thomas was nowhere to be found. I wasn’t in Heaven.

I heard voices around me, nervous voices. Dr. Lambent appeared next to me.

“It turned out that you were successful in this project, just not in the way that I expected. Michelle Roth, I always knew that you were a special one. You tolerated every last drop.” She held a small hand mirror up to my face. My eyes glowed a bright fluorescent orange.The doctor had to look away because the light was so blinding.

I definitely was not in Heaven. I was in Hell.

message 10: by Madeline (last edited Jun 17, 2013 04:52PM) (new)

Madeline Lund (madelinelily) | 37 comments Note: this story is a continuation of my story, "Cigarettes and Wine."
Tentative title: Christmas with May
Author: Madeline Lund
Word Count: 3,355
Feedback: appreciated

I jerk awake. I am curled into a ball and wrapped tightly in the blanket my sister gave me for my birthday last month. It is scarlet with white lettering, the school colors, and the softer, fuzzy side is against my cheek. I must have remembered to keep the other side, the smooth side, facing the external elements last night.

My mouth is very dry, and I don’t want to move, but I don’t want to stay still either. I peek out of my cocoon and the sun’s light hurts my eyes. I blink and realize that I am huddled at the base of my rock. My head has been using it has a pillow, and the combination of the hard surface and last night’s red wine has given me a splitting headache. Now I really want that joint of Edie’s. I wonder if I remembered to pack my stash.

My current necessities are now arranged neatly on the blanket: my small glass bowl, a bag of weed, a small bottle of orange juice, a liter of rum, and a bag of trail mix. Not bad. I reach for the bowl and the bag. I painstakingly break the weed into tiny uniform sized pieces, which I pack tightly in the bowl. After taking a few hits, I feel my tensions and paranoia slipping away. I can breathe a little easier. No one can see you, I think. No one knows you are here.

No one knows I am here. I begin to wonder what would happen if I simply were to disappear. Would anyone really care? I know they say they would, but would they really? And for how long would they care? How big of an impact have I really had on anyone? Sooner or later we all die anyway, and then, soon after that, no one remembers who we were, and then it is almost as if we never even existed at all.

I take another hit and an inkling of one of last night’s dreams creeps into my mind. I reach into my black bag for my notebook and a pen. Then I settle down on my rock and begin to write what I remember.

I awaken on the island of red dirt
where the purple roses live

their stems
towering around me

their fire

their purple faces

their poison daggers
safely sheathed

a bridge
dark marble
arching away
over black water
into darkness

the bridge

the roses
straining away

the roses
daggers out
hard stone
slippery surface

wet air
with tiny tears


a leaf
a dark brown leaf
gliding closer
closer to my toes

the leaf a boat
clamoring at my feet
floating lightly on the surface

the current

the current
stealing away
stealing the leaf boat away
swiping it into darkness

the roses
burning quietly
crouching lower

the current
calming quickly
diving below
into the depths

falling through the darkness
shimmering weakly
dying in the black water

wet darkness
the roses’ fire


bright lilypads
suddenly swirling
gliding through the night
dancing towards me

bright lilypads
glowing blue
forming a line
leading into the dark

bright lily flowers
winking a greeting
coloring the way pink

lilies dancing
dispersing droplets of uncertainty
waving fear away

pretty roses
smiling bright

encircling me
sweeping my jeweled tears away

sweet roses
softly sweeping me
to the lilies

lily pad
at my toes
glowing blue
glowing green

lily pad
lily pad
holding strong

angry current
ripping tearing
dragging biting
destroying lily’s stem

lily’s flower

lily’s pink

dragging me
into the dark

tiny tears
tiny jewels

the air begins to cry

I reach for the bottle of rum. I open it and take a quick swig before opening the orange juice. I don’t really feel like orange juice very much. I wish I’d bought cranberry juice, but orange juice goes better with rum, and I’d really only felt like rum at the time. I don’t really feel like it now, but…

I hear a rustling, a crackling. What? What do I hear? I heard a sound just a moment ago but now I have no idea what it is. I know that it is something – it must be something. I know that I need to get out of here.

Maybe you’re just paranoid, I think, as I step quietly between the trees. My black bag is slung over my right shoulder and I don’t even notice it, but in my arms my red suitcase feels heavy.

I am walking back to the bus stop, back to reality, back to time constraints and questions and responsibilities. I wonder if the bus driver will accept my ticket from yesterday. He might ask me why I got off the bus one stop early and then waited a day to finish my journey, but he will probably accept it. He has to accept it. I can’t really waste money on a new ticket.

In the bathroom in the convenient store at the bus stop, I take out my toiletry kit. I wash my face, brush my teeth, and reapply mascara and eyeliner. I change out of the black dress and pink tights from yesterday into a velvet green dress and red tights, but I put my black boots back on.

I buy a large iced coffee. I pour in skim milk until the liquid fills to the very top. I drink approximately 1/6 of it. Then I add milk until the color is just right.

The cold air feels nice against my face as I step outside, and the cool liquid soothes my throat.

The bus driver agrees to let me use yesterday’s ticket. The bus leaves in twenty minutes. I have time for another iced coffee.

I fall asleep on the bus anyway.

My aunt May picks me up at the station in Bangor, Maine. She cries, “Rosalie! I’ve missed you so much!”

“I’ve missed you too…” I mumble, as she embraces me in a tight hug.

I have never been to my aunt’s home for Christmas. I have actually only visited her once, when my sister and I went skiing with her three years ago. Now that I think about it that was the last time I saw her.

Her mansion is just as I remembered it, pristine and beautiful. As we pull into the drive, the wrought iron gates close slowly behind us. Her doorman opens the car doors, takes my red suitcase, and escorts me up the stairs to the double doors. The main hall has been professionally decorated for the holidays, and it shines in silver and white and green and red. The Christmas tree reaches to the ceiling; countless ornaments dangle from its boughs and countless packages rest below. I wonder if there are real presents within. I wonder why my aunt would go to so much trouble for one guest.

The kitchen, main dining hall, and private dining hall are to the left, and the rose garden, aptly named Rosalie’s Garden, is just beyond them. The study, the cinema, and the pool are to the right. My aunt has long ago made the pool house into servant quarters.

The room she has reserved for me looks exactly the same. The queen-sized bed still has the midnight blue and soft pink pillows and blankets, and the large walk in closet is still full of unworn designer clothes. Soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and lotions line the marble rim of the Jacuzzi in the bathroom. My aunt has given me options of all my favorite scents: coconut, vanilla, almond, rose, and lily.

The room is one of three identical guest bedrooms on the third floor. I haven’t been to the second floor; that is where May resides. I have also never been to the fourth floor, the attic, or the basement. I don’t think anything is off limits, but I get the sense I would be paying a certain amount of disrespect if I were to explore. I am okay with simply barricading myself in my room with my weed and my rum and reading and writing and watching scary movies on the high def flat screen television.

The library faces the front drive and makes up more than half of the third floor. When I am not hiding in my room I spend my time exploring the library, which also houses a substantial movie collection in addition to innumerable novels. In the corner of the library I discover a small bar, which houses a large selection of fine wines and liquor.

May understands. May just wants me to feel better. That is why she stole me away for the holidays. It is better that I don’t see anyone important right now. May lets me be. She wants me to be better, but she won’t pressure me. She knows that I need to realize it on my own. And I do. I do. I just don’t want to right now. Sometimes it is easier to try to forget.

On Christmas Eve, I spend some time with my aunt. We spend the afternoon in the main hall opening boxes upon boxes of clothes. We listen to Christmas music and try on pretty dresses, skirts, and tops. We take pictures. We drink eggnog and eat Mint Milanos. I dip mine into the eggnog until the cookie can melt in my mouth.

Towards evening we slip into matching purple satin nightgowns and snuggle into comfy armchairs in the cinema to watch Disney’s A Christmas Carol. On the table between us is a lovely array of cheeses, fruits, and wines. May opens the red wine, a Latour, first. Later, with a box of chocolates from Belgium, we drink the Dom.

The next day I wake up at 1:00 PM. I brush my teeth and then shower quickly so I can relax in the Jaccuzi with my bowl and a bottle of sparkling wine from the library bar. At about half past three, I rinse in the shower. I brush my hair and let it air dry as I experiment with the makeup in the sink cabinets. Once I am satisfied with my eye makeup, I let the fluffy white towel around my frame drop to my toes. I inspect my naked body in the bathroom mirror for a few moments. Then I wander into the closet to choose an outfit. My hands fondle the deep purple fabric of a Christian Dior frock. Lily’s collar is the same color. It is currently under the passenger seat in my dad’s black Xterra with her favorite squeaky ball. I let go of the frock and it slips back among the rest. I choose a shocking pink Elsa Schiaparelli gown. I slide my feet into matching heels and gaze at my reflection in the full length mirror. I frown slightly and shake my head. I exit the closet and gaze about my room. The time on the TV says 4:17 PM. Almost 4:20, I think. I picture my little glass bowl resting on the marble countertop in the bathroom, and then I sigh. I tiptoe down the back staircase, which goes directly to the private dining room, where my aunt is waiting. The first course of the five course meal is served promptly at 4:30 PM. I retire to my room shortly after the final course, which consists of tea and coffee served with chocolates and macaroons imported from Paris.

I spend most of the next week either in bed or in the Jacuzzi reading or watching TV.

“Rosalie! Rosalie!”

I hear my Aunt’s voice calling my name from the little intercom by my bedroom door. I set my bowl on the desk near the open window and walk over to the box. I press a button. “Yes, May?” I say quietly.

“Rose, darling, there’s a letter here for you, forwarded from your parent’s house. I think it’s about the trial.”

“Can I look at it later?”

“I’ll send it up now. Dinner will be ready in an hour.”


“Take a look at it, okay, honey? I don’t see why the outcome would possibly be–”

“Thanks, I will.”

I exit my room and walk down the hall to the dumb waiter. Once it reaches my floor, I open the slot and see the envelope I had been both dreading and desperately waiting for. The envelope is small and thin. I pick it up and run back into my room, where I immediately reach for my bowl and sit by the window.

message 11: by Madeline (last edited Jun 17, 2013 05:00PM) (new)

Madeline Lund (madelinelily) | 37 comments The bowl only has one or two hits left, so I decide that I might as well finish it and then pack another. Dinner is an hour away, so I certainly have time.

I reach for the bottle of Dom chilling on the sill and settle down with my freshly packed bowl. I look at the envelope on my desk.

It has been opened and then resealed. My parents know the outcome. I sigh. I don’t really want to know. I don’t want to have to fight again. I want it to just go away.

Maybe it has. Maybe it is over. My hand is shaking as I reach over to grasp the letter. I easily reopen it to find one single sheet of paper. I begin to read:

December 27, 2011
Rosalie XXXX
XX Birchall Drive
Scarsdale, NY 10583

Dear Rosalie:

As the complainant in a conduct case that involves physical assault, you are entitled to be informed of the outcome. The charged student, Patrik Slispoososa, was found Responsible for violating the Endangering Behavior to Persons or Property, physical Assault, Theft/Unauth. Use/Damage to Property, Unauthorized Presence in or Use of Univ. Property and Community Living Standards policies and not responsible for Failure to Comply w/ Direction of Univ. Officials policy. As a result the following sanctions have been imposed:

Deferred Suspension – effective immediately through May 31, 2013

Permanent Housing Removal and Restriction

Documentation of Treatment – Mr. Slispoososa is required to submit documentation from a licensed treatment provider confirming significant and consistent counseling designed to address aggression.

No Contact Order – Mr. Slispoososa is not to have contact with you.

As outlined in the Code of Student Conduct Section IV.D, as the complainant in this case, you have the right to appeal the imposed sanctions on the ground that the sanctions are unsupported by the charges by delivering a letter of appeal to the University Appeals Board (UAB) by 5:00 PM on January 4, 2012. You should address your letter of appeal to…

I stop reading. I place the paper on my desk. I take a big sip of wine. I take another hit and look out of the window. I watch the sun bleeding into the sky. I am waiting for something. I know I am waiting, but what am I waiting for? Is this not the result I want? Why do I still feel nothing?

During dinner, my aunt discusses the results. She is pleased. She tells me this is good news. This is what we wanted to hear. My aunt thinks I can start fresh spring semester. My aunt thinks this is an experience that I can learn and grow from. My aunt thinks that I have blossomed into a beautiful young woman and everything will be fine.

She doesn’t know the details, so I tell her that she is right and say goodnight.

The truth is I don’t want to go back to school. I want to finish my degree online. But I don’t want to be a coward. I can handle seeing his friends. I can be brave.

The thing is you can’t change the past. I wish I could go back, but I understand that I can’t. I can’t change what happened, and I can’t ever see Lily again. I have to look forward. I have to realize that when bad things happen or when loved ones die, people deal with it and then move on. That is what I have to do. I have to move on from bad and sad things. I can’t let them take over my life. That is what he wants. He wants me to fail. He wants me to destroy what he left of me. And I will not. I will do better. I will try hard. I will find myself again. I will not let him beat me.

I want to do good things, and I believe that I can. I believe that I can be somebody. I believe that I can help people. I want to help people. I don’t want the world to be a scary place. No one should have to go through what I went through, but I went through it anyway, and I came out okay. Didn’t I? No, I guess I didn’t, but I can. I can be okay. I will be okay. No one can stop me from doing what I want to do. I want to help people. I want to help myself. I want to make the world a beautiful place. I don’t want anyone to be afraid. I am afraid, and I don’t want to be afraid. I don’t know when I won’t be afraid, but if you want something hard enough it must happen, right? I want so badly to be okay. I want so badly to feel normal. I am trying to remember what normal feels like, and I can’t, and I don’t know how to ask anyone to describe it to me. I don’t know if they could.

I wish I were my sister. She is so happy. She seems so happy, but it is easy to seem happy. Is anyone really happy? I feel so alone, and yet I wonder if everyone feels this way. Slightly lost. I am wandering through life simply trying to be okay.

I want to help people do better. I want to help people be happy. If I cannot be happy myself then I might as well put all my effort into making others happy, into showing others that life can be beautiful. Maybe someday life can be beautiful for me too. I really hope it can. I really hope I never see him again.

I look outside my open window at the trees lining my aunt’s expansive backyard, and I think about the destruction of our planet. I think about how we have abused nature and I think about what happened to me. “You should not damage mother earth and you should not damage me,” I whisper into the night. I think that both mother earth and I only want to help people. Yes, I think. We both have our destructive qualities, but our main goals are to help.

I jerk my thumb and the lighter in my hand blazes into life. I think about my lungs. I wonder if I should start consuming weed only in food products.

I don’t want to be sad anymore. I don’t want to feel weak. I don’t know why I feel this way. I went through something terrible and came out on top. Didn’t I? Didn’t I get the results I wanted? Well, no obviously I didn’t. If I had, he would be gone forever. But didn’t I at least get justice? And isn’t that all we can really ask for?

Life isn’t fair. Life will never be fair. We have to make peace with what we are given. Is that true though? I don’t know. I don’t think I agree with that. I think that if I really want something then I should be able to get it. Because I try. I feel as though I deserve it. I am not a bad person. I am not unintelligent.

My head feels so heavy. I want to save the world. The world is dying. I see it dying and no one cares.

message 12: by M (last edited Jun 19, 2013 12:11PM) (new)

M | 10970 comments This is a rough draft I started for the “Incubus” topic. I’ve thrown in a blooming gardenia bush to make it suitable for this week. Though I’ve tried not to be overly explicit, it may not be suitable for younger readers.

“A Woman in Red Satin”
by M (About 2,600 words.)

I looked at Eudora over the platen of my Underwood typewriter. In the nearest thing I could do a Robert Stack imitation, I narrated, “Where towering cliffs jut out into a stormy sea that isn’t on any map, there are the caves in which we dwell.”

Her cold gaze didn’t waver. “That sounds very romantic.” The sarcasm in her her tone made the report I was typing wilt. “I’d better not find that soap-opera language in one of your reports.” She dropped a work order on my desk.

I looked at her wearily. “I haven’t had a decent vacation since the California gold rush.”

She smirked. “Is Little Johnny down there getting tired?”

I took my hands off the keys and picked up the work order. “He’s got more miles on him----”

“I know,” she interrupted, with bored annoyance, “more than all the Ford Tauruses ever built. You should make a tape recording of that and set it to play back automatically.”

Adjusting my tie, I cleared my throat. “And I like to think of him as Big John.”

She snorted and walked off, her heels echoing on the scarred terrazzo. My eyes followed her long-waist as she threaded her away among the desks, most of which, the day before Midsummer Eve, were empty. Damned succubi. Wait till you have one of them for a boss.

Everybody thinks it would be a great afterlife to be an incubus. I’ve been sick of it for more centuries than I care to name. Some would say I deserved it for having been born with the looks and temperament (if, regrettably, not the talent) of George Byron. Some would say I should never have let myself be seduced by a woman who might have become a nun instead of a madame, as though the talents that suited her to one didn’t suit her just as well to the other. Many people don’t realize that the job can be hazardous.

I picked up my mug and took a sip of stale coffee. I finished typing up a summary of the previous night’s assignment, which had been an easy one. I had played the role of a high-school football hero whose only desire was to give his homely, overweight bookkeeping teacher children who looked like Robert Redford.

As I rolled the page out of the typewriter, a pretty girl with ash-blonde hair came by to pick up my report. The way she smiled, it was clear she knew how much I liked the sensation of her eyes on me.

She had an engaging personality, but among the staff of our office caverns, whose enterprise was the corruption of mankind, she seemed incongruously guileless. She had been thrown from a horse in nineteenth-century Dorset when she was fourteen. Now Celia would be fourteen forever. When she finished her apprenticeship as a clerk, she’d lead a lot of outwardly respectable men down the road to perdition. I smiled back at her, paperclipped the sheets of paper together, and handed them to her.

Her eyes traveled to the work order. “What’s on the menu for tonight?”

I picked it up. “Miriam Dyer. Topeka, Kansas. Age: 31. Housewife. Head of her church’s altar guild. President of the PTA. Chairman of a society for the suppression of rude behavior. Unexciting marriage. Two kids that are spending the week with grandparents. Husband, an attorney away on a business trip.”

Her expression darkened. “I don’t like the sound of that.”

I shrugged. “Don’t worry. I know how to take care of myself.”

She looked me in the eyes. “I’m free tomorrow night.”

I returned her gaze with a reproving one that was honestly regretful. “We’re going to get caught at this.” She knew as well as I did that the staff were prohibited from fraternizing.

She sighed. “I don’t care about that. You know how I feel about you.”

It was impossible to look into those eyes and not be gripped by the kind of yearning I had left behind with the soul I had lost. I hesitated. “Fish and chips at our favorite café?”

By that, she meant The Aeolus, a little restaurant in a quaint, windswept fishing village in England. For several months, on the occasional nights when both of us were free, Celia and I had been meeting there.

She nodded slowly. I watched her lissome form follow the route Eudora had taken among the desks. She stopped, turned, and gave me a blue-eyed smile that almost made me feel human and alive again. Then she was gone.

I worked on other reports until late. As usual, a telepathic sense alerted me it was getting to be about that time. I paperclipped the report I’d just completed. The view changed. Where rows of desks had been, a winding suburban boulevard slumbered in the halogen glow of pseudo-Victorian streetlamps.

I gazed with misgivings at the yawning portal of Miriam’s house, a McMansion stylistically indistinguishable from its neighbors, on a nondescript golf course. A dewy smell of gardenia bushes in bloom took me back to the night air and courtyards of another century, a thrill that lasted but an instant and then was gone.

By impulse of thought, I followed the brick walkway. The shadowy steps to the entry went by beneath me, then I passed through the front door as though it were mist. Inside, I traversed an alcoved foyer. In the midst of the woman’s living room, I stopped and let the feel of the place sink in.

I would be remiss not to mention the creeping dread that pervaded me. Nothing appeared to be out of place. The bookcases were filled with sets of matching volumes. The pictures were unimaginatively hung in symmetrical groupings, or centered on the walls, or hung directly over pieces of furniture.

I no longer found myself wondering, as I had when I was new at the job, why the most insipidly conventional women were inwardly the most tempestuous. Rather, I surmised at once from the clues that I had rough night ahead.

I sailed like a ghost through an arched doorway and down a hall. To the right was a man’s study, expensively paneled, dimly lit by an art nouveau lamp among manly bric-a-brac on a rolltop desk. An enormous moose head gloomily commanded a wall. The look in its eyes seemed to say, “I should have smelled the cigar smoke.”

I smiled a wordless inquiry. “Down near the creek, eh?”

The moose considered me with glazed eyes. “I had just dropped a smoking pile, when a bush rustled. That four-eyed lout let me have it between the ribs.”

I nodded my consolations.

Farther down the hall, in a cavernous bedroom, a full-figured woman was tossing and turning, in turbulent dreams, on a carved bed that was a trip down memory lane to the long-forgotten bordellos of New Orleans. Beside a stack of romance paperbacks on a Second Empire bedside table lay a Bible and a concordance.

On the wall, near the bed, hung an ornate cross, and near that a framed, calligraphic “Thou shalt not sin.” I remembered the information on the work order. Repression has the sulfuric smell of explosives, and I could smell it a lot better than the moose had smelled cigar smoke.

In my mind, I could hear an echo of high heels down some upper hall. A door clicked open. The woman’s voice, tingling with nervous anticipation, spoke quietly. “Thank you for agreeing to see me in your chambers so late.” For a moment only I saw the red satin nightgown contoured by her ample chest and hips. Then I found myself in the shadowy world of her dream, my work at hand.

(Continued in the next post.)

message 13: by M (last edited Jun 19, 2013 06:29AM) (new)

M | 10970 comments (“A Woman in Red Satin,” continued.)

As the setting materialized around me, it occurred to me that hardly anything seems to attract a woman as much as a man of the word--a preacher, a teacher, a judge. I was dressed in a three-piece suit, wore glasses, and looked something like Gregory Peck in early middle age, tall, slender, graying at the temples. I have to admit, I don’t look like that very often nowadays. Contemporary women want something unshaven and muscular.

The high, arching window of the office was dark. Closing the door, the woman removed her long, wool coat and hung it and her purse on the rack. Then she walked to the window and closed the drapes. The wall opposite the desk was lined with pedimented bookcases loaded with books of statutes. To the right, under the window, on a credenza, a Tiffany lamp that cast kaleidoscopic, amber light. Near the lamp reposed an old casting of a Rodin sculpture. I stood behind the massive desk, watching as her curvaceous body animated her sleeveless dress in a way that isn’t easy to describe.

My mind wandered to The Aeolus, its old windows, its hurricane lamps on checkered tablecloths. For a moment I was lonesome for Celia and the tang of the harbor’s air. The thought of a seafood platter and chips made my mouth water.

As though having mustered her courage, the woman approached. As on all these assignments, I found myself acting automatically in accordance with the dictates of her desires.

“I want to divorce my husband,” she stated. When I didn’t reply immediately, she gave me a smoldering glance. “Does that shock you?”

I was at a loss for words. I touched the slender, gold pen of the desk set. “Anthony is a respected member of the legal profession.”

Holding her chin up bravely, she considered her words. “We have a marriage of appearances. Sometimes,” she confided, “I feel as though I can’t breathe.”

I came around the desk. In a voice wonderfully deep and charged with calm self-assurance, I found myself saying, “You’re too desirable a woman to remain in a suffocating marriage.” It was the kind of thing that, in real life, I would never have said, except perhaps as an attempt at humor.

She looked away, as if what she had to say were painful. At last, she revealed, “My husband hardly ever touches me anymore.”

Gently, I took her hand, which was hanging at her side. “I can’t imagine,” I said soothingly.

The utterly predictable had happened, and I was anything but surprised when she turned, was suddenly in my arms, and I found myself locked in a long, passionate kiss with her. As she pressed herself against me, my hand slid the zipper from her neckline down her back.

Abruptly, she pulled herself away, fury in her eyes. “Judge Seagrave!”

Disconcerted, I stood there, unable to think of anything to do but straighten my jacket and vest. “Mrs. Dyer, I’m very sorry,” I began, uncertainty in my voice. I didn’t want her to see through the veneer of calm I had perfected over many years’ on the bench, but I could tell that she had. It was too late. Helplessly, my eyes followed her waist, the curves of her legs. “I don’t know what came over me.”

She made an attempt to straighten her tawny hair. Her voice quavered with emotion. “You must be a very lonely man, Judge Seagrave.” Then she turned a gaze on me that might have ignited a rain-sodden haystack. “And I’m a lonely woman.”

She slipped off her pumps, then launched herself at me. I felt myself pushed against the desk, her fingers at work on the clasp of my trousers, which seemed to fall to the floor of their own accord. Obediently, I bent to remove my shoes. I saw her arms raised above her head. As her dress slid upward past her thigh-highs, I noticed a small, lateral scar just below what would have been the bikini line. It appeared that, prepared for exigencies, she had left her panties in the lingerie chest. My spellbound gaze followed the ascending hem. Her breasts looked as though they would burst their straining confines. The dress flew through the air.

Then her hands were on me, and an instant later I was flat on my back on the desk. The leatherette desk set with its gold-filled Cross pen clattered to the floor. Climbing on top of me, she flung off a bra that might have had a career holding up the Golden Gate Bridge.

Her hair, with its Pantene smell, was in my face. Her mouth found mine with an almost frightening ravenousness, and soon we were engaged in an act most people are familiar with. Throwing her head back, her long-lashed eyes closed, she sighed and moaned and emitted vocalizations of ecstasy, some of which I don’t usually associate with people who are well-adjusted. Flushed, she fell forward on me in exhaustion, my head between her pendulous orbs. I would have needed a snorkel to breathe.

At length, she climbed down. Rather than turning and picking up her garments, however, she began backing away, her eyes fixed on me, confusion clouding her expression. With as much dignity as I could summon under the circumstances, I stood on tiptoe and plucked my briefs from the chandelier. Then I got down from the desk.

She stood as though frozen, her hair tangled, her confusion turning to rage. Her voice was icy and measured. “I come here seeking your counsel, and you force yourself on me.”

I’d have known my next line even if the script weren’t being fed to me by her subconscious. I glanced at her condescendingly and sneered, “Well, we men are all alike.”

It seemed a cue she had been waiting for. Briskly, she stepped forward. Her eyes flashing with righteous indignation, she slapped me so hard that it spun me around. Thrown off balance, I grabbed the molded edge of the desk.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her move quickly to the credenza. A sudden apprehension told me what was coming. Half-kneeling, I turned. She was holding Rodin’s The Thinker with both hands. What happened in an instant seemed to take place in slow motion. She raised the sculpture, her expression pitiless, her eyes as devoid of conscience as a reptile’s. Instinctively, I put up my hand to protect myself, but a blunt object struck my head.

The next afternoon, I sat at my desk, holding an ice bag to a big lump over my left temple. Pain crawled through my brain like little ribbons of lightning. Eudora brought me a mug of very black coffee. She set it down beside an old hors d’oeuvres tray that now holds paperclips, binder clips, staples.

Almost sympathetically, she arched an eyebrow. “You look like one of those dogs that has a dark circle around one eye. Rough assignment?”

I merely squinted at her, then reached for the coffee. “Thanks.”

“Well,” she added drily, aware that no demon wants to spend Midsummer Night recovering from a blow to the head, “you’ll have the holiday to get over it.” Then she pointed, in the businesslike manner that let her subordinates know who was boss. “After you’ve finished the report.”

I didn’t watch her navigate the sea of desks. Setting the mug down, holding the ice bag to my head, I went back to work on the report, typing with one hand. The face of an ingénue swam into my mind, a sunset rimlighting the long strands of her hair. A black eye wasn’t going to keep me from a plate of fish and chips on the Sussex coast, or from the lips of a blue-eyed girl my heart was lonesome for.

message 14: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 18, 2013 04:52AM) (new)

Success (by Melanie)

An interesting and fast-paced story, Michelle’s eagerness to start a new life after the death of her husband became a tragedy in the end. I didn’t expect that she’ll be successful in the project being the subject, which had me wondering if there’s something about her genes, making her receptive of the substance administered to her.

Christmas with May (by Madeline)

This is a great continuation of Cigarettes and Wine. Though Rose continues to struggle moving on from her traumatic past, I like how she remained strong and optimistic despite of the realization how unfair life is. It seems to me that she’s also struggling to use her pain into doing something good (like saving the world). I also like the poem you included :) I look forward to the next installment of her story.

A Woman In Red Satin Nightgown (by M)

Well-written and entertaining, I enjoyed reading the story ‘til the end. A vivid picture of the ‘surroundings’ without laboring on details and a subtle twist, the incubus had my sympathy lol. Always M, you never disappoint.

Note: This feedback is open for feedback :D

message 15: by M (new)

M | 10970 comments Thank you, Leslie! It was a lot of fun to write. I’m thrilled you enjoyed it.

message 16: by Madeline (new)

Madeline Lund (madelinelily) | 37 comments Leslie Anne wrote: "Success (by Melanie)

An interesting and fast-paced story, Michelle’s eagerness to start a new life after the death of her husband became a tragedy in the end. I didn’t expect that she’ll be succes..."

Leslie! Thank you :)

I appreciate your weekly feedback.

message 17: by Melanie (new)

Melanie (melanienmo) | 34 comments Thanks Leslie.

If any of you have the time, can someone give me some tips on exposition? When I originally wrote this, the story ended up being nearly 5,000 words, all because of my winding exposition. I spent a lot of time on it and was a little sad that I had to erase so much of my work to fit the word limit (even though it did make the story better). I'd like some help cutting to the chase from the get-go so that I don't have to waste all that time erasing.

message 18: by Edward (new)

Edward (edwardtheresejr) | 2434 comments I'll be sure to go over all the stories before the polls close. Speaking of polls, I'll get to that now.

message 19: by Edward (new)

Edward (edwardtheresejr) | 2434 comments Rushing so no tags or bad joke about how bad of pirates we are:



message 20: by Walter (new)

Walter Nicholl | 12 comments Hi Guys,
I'm a really new acquaintance to the writing scene having started my first book in November 2012. I have completed seven short stories all around 6500 words each and all based around the same characters and village. I have kinda started to join all these short stories together to make one book, but is this a bad idea and should I keep them as short stories?. I would really appreciate any advice you can offer.
Thank you
(Walter Nicholl)

message 21: by Edward (new)

Edward (edwardtheresejr) | 2434 comments That's actually common enough to have a name: Patchwork story. One decision you'd have to make is to smooth out the transition to make it feel like one novel or to keep them as seperate stories, each filling a chapter, with no pretensions. Personally, I would actually enjoy the latter, but I don't know about most people.

Those are my thoughts on the subject, for whatever that's worth.

message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Melanie wrote: "Thanks Leslie.

If any of you have the time, can someone give me some tips on exposition? When I originally wrote this, the story ended up being nearly 5,000 words, all because of my winding expos..."

I'm not sure if this would help but here are my thoughts. Any exposition in your story should be relevant in the current situation of your character and it is usually as the very first part of the plot. Editing is crucial since a writer feels that everything written is an essential part of the story. Just separate the 'needs' and 'wants', what does the audience 'need' to know? Choose what is needed to move the story forward. And limit the exposition to three sentences, as much as possible, for every page that is.

message 23: by Walter (new)

Walter Nicholl | 12 comments Thank you, Edward and Belly for your honest opinions. For me, It just doesn't feel right putting them together, I don't know why. I guess I'll keep them as shorts and keep going with them.

message 24: by M (last edited Jun 18, 2013 03:47PM) (new)

M | 10970 comments I agree, Tim. To me, what defines a novel and differentiates it from a novella or a short story isn’t merely it’s length but its inclusion of several developed characters and its incorporation of subplots. As with a short story or a novella, a novel is characterized by unity.

message 25: by Walter (new)

Walter Nicholl | 12 comments Hi M,
Yes I see what you mean. The short stories put together, for me would be too obvious as they are a series of plots and not a beginning, middle and end. If that makes any sense.

message 26: by Walter (new)

Walter Nicholl | 12 comments Hi Belly,
The way you put it sounds rather interesting actually. I'm trying at the moment to kind of get them to roll into each other, but if I may ask, what would it be called if not a novel. I'm on my seventh short story all based on the same characters and surroundings which will take me well over 40,000 words.. Sorry, I don't mean to be thick. haha. I have a few other separate shorts and a part novel too, but they are completely different.
Thanks, Belly.

message 27: by Walter (new)

Walter Nicholl | 12 comments Hi Belly,
Yes I agree with you that to make it a novel would probably take a lot of juggling the stories around, adding bits and taking away.
The collection of and description sounds a far easier and more honest way to go about it, I reckon. Great suggestion.
Thanks again, Belly.

message 28: by Melanie (new)

Melanie (melanienmo) | 34 comments Leslie Anne wrote: "Melanie wrote: "Thanks Leslie.

If any of you have the time, can someone give me some tips on exposition? When I originally wrote this, the story ended up being nearly 5,000 words, all because of ..."

I really appreciate the advice. Thank you so much!

message 29: by Guy (last edited Jun 19, 2013 10:33PM) (new)

Guy (egajd) | 11082 comments Tim, I concur with Belly's, M's and Edward's descriptions, and do not have anything new to say about the subject. However, I will direct you the 'novel' Elizabeth Costello by the award winning writer J.M. Coetzee. It is presented as a 'novel', but when you read its genesis, it is a collection of stories with interwoven characters and themes that were written over the course of about 10 years. The author patched them together, and it almost works as a novel. The gap between expectation of it being a novel jarred with what it actually is, despite it being a very well written exploration of a common theme.

I suggest this as an example that just about anything goes.

message 30: by Walter (new)

Walter Nicholl | 12 comments Hi Guy,
Thank you for your advice. I think I might try putting them together (just for fun) and see how it pans out. I kinda like them as short stories though, haha.

It's interesting, Guy that you say 'it almost works'. That I guess is the worry I have that although they are of the same characters and village surroundings, maybe they'll stand out like the proverbial sore thumb.
Ah sod it, I'll give it a go, at least I'll have some fun rewriting it.
Incidentally, the first book I rewrote yesterday and it went up from 6484 words to 8476 words. haha. I'll be here till Christmas rewriting it. ha.
Thank you, Guy for your kind message.


message 31: by M (last edited Jun 20, 2013 07:12AM) (new)

M | 10970 comments This is a response to what Melanie posted in #18.

I associate exposition with essays. It’s writing that explains. When it’s used in stories, I tend to think of it as explanatory material that sets the story up, or as narration that, throughout the story, explains to the reader what’s going on. I don’t usually find it very exciting to read. I like stories in which the writer uses mood, setting, character development, dialogue, ongoing action, implication, and symbolism to do most of the explaining.

To me, the problem with “Success” (posted in #9 and #10) isn’t that it needs to be shorter, but that it needs to be much longer. There are all kinds of ways to write stories, of course, and the most I can do in the way of a critique is relate my impression. It seems to me that what this story cries out for is to have the overtly explanatory material (the death of Michelle’s husband, and her disconsolation afterward, for instance) transformed, perhaps through action and dialogue, into a doorway to those experiences, so that the reader can live them for himself rather than merely be told about them.

I think “Success” has an exciting plot and intriguing characters, and I found it interesting to read. I found myself wanting to know more about the main character, though, about the Scintillant Project, about Dr. Lambent, and about the children. It came across to me as a novel or novella that had been collapsed into a short story.

In some ways, writing a short story is like writing a college essay. The first thing (and, for me, the most difficult thing) that has to be done is to narrow the scope to something manageable in the format. In a well-written five-hundred-word process analysis essay, for example, you might have enough room to explain the steps involved in lighting a pipe. A 2,500-word story is hardly space enough to develop even a single character. The cast must be small, the plot and setting almost absurdly simple. Because of that, it’s a great exercise in writing.

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