Weekly Short Stories Contest and Company! discussion

Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 180 (September 1st - Sept 8th). Stories: Topic: Paper Cut

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message 1: by Guy (new)

Guy (egajd) | 11107 comments You have until end of day Sept 8th to post a story, and from Sept 9th to end of day 14th we’ll vote for the story we thought was best.

Please post directly into the topic and not a link. Please don’t use a story previously used in this group.

Keep your story between 300 and 3,500 words long if possible. You may post longer stories, but they may not get read.

REMEMBER! A short story is NOT a scene. Please give it a BEGINNING, MIDDLE, and END of some kind.

This week’s topic is: Paper Cut. (My thanks to Kat for providing the suggestion.)

The rules are pretty loose. You may write a story about anything that has to do with the topic. We do not care how, but the story you post is to relate to the topic somehow, even if very loosely or metaphorically.

Above all, have fun!

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Nice topic, Guy and Kat! :)

message 3: by Guy (new)

Guy (egajd) | 11107 comments Thank you. After modern warfare, I felt something less austere, but still cutting edge, was warranted. (Sorry - such a bad pun!)

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)


message 5: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 5330 comments Terrible, Guy ;)

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi, Ryan! :)

message 7: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 5330 comments Hi, Leslie! How are you?

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm good, thank you for asking :)How about you?

message 9: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 5330 comments Great to hear! I'm excellent, thank you. I see you and M have been busy in the haiku thread...looking forward to reading :)

message 10: by inactive account (new)

inactive account (inactiveaccoun) | 48 comments The story of the bad flash
Barry Allen was born and his mom died shortly after he was born and his crime boss father took him In and he was actually a good dad letting him have alot of stuff but when he was 10 his dad brought him to a drug lab and his dad made him walk out with some rare chemicals and lighting struck and it hurt very bad but he got the power of superspeed using the speed force he ran and grab the notes and ran and ran till he got to a police station 1000 miles away in 5 minutes . He was Suprised at how fast he got there but he told the cops and kept the notes and they arrested his father and he used his powers at first to steal when he was 19 he joined the army and used his powers to help and when he was 24 he retired the army and became a cop and was recruited to the justice league . His thoughts started to go evil and he kept living normally till batman showed him the batcave and Bruce even said" he didn't know if he should show him this "then Barry moved at the speed of light taking out his guns and shooing batman in the head over and over toll he was for certain he was dead . He gathered kryptonite and put them in his guns and went to the watch tower and shot superman he didnt die but he fell to the ground blood flowing out . cyborg ran at him and attacked and they went into a battle and then cyborg used a boom tube by accident and Barry moved faster than the speed of light and that transported them to another world making them both 17 again.

message 11: by Guy (new)

Guy (egajd) | 11107 comments Ryan wrote: "Terrible, Guy ;)"

LOL! Yes, the pained verbosity of a madman, hence the epithet. :-)

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Ryan wrote: "Great to hear! I'm excellent, thank you. I see you and M have been busy in the haiku thread...looking forward to reading :)"

Yay, mine are mostly silly, trying to follow M's haiku is a brain workout lol

message 13: by M (new)

M | 11350 comments Thank you, Leslie (I think).

message 14: by Daniel (last edited Sep 03, 2013 09:30AM) (new)

Daniel Rosler (ronnydazzler) | 92 comments "Paper Cuts/Empty Bottles"

Daniel Rosler

The morning was still asleep. Drops of water were falling from the kitchen faucet onto stacks of unwashed dishes. The leaking lullaby acted as an ambient soundtrack. Mitchell was just waking. He kept his eyes shut, but his mind had risen from the ashes of REM sleep. He was trying to remember what it was he was just dreaming about, but his grasp on his subconscious was slipping from his fingers like roses into a stream.

He awoke before his alarm clock had told him to. He expected it would be any minute now that the radio would start hollering at him to wake him. To rip him from his sheets. His eyes were still shut. He pulled a blanket over his face, and tried to forget how bad he had to piss. After a few seconds of struggling to find peace, his phone began going off.

“God dammit.”

He kicked the sheets off, jumped out of bed, and ran to his phone.


“Where the hell are you?”

“Home. Obviously. Considering I don’t have a cell, and you called me here--”

“You’re late. Do you have any idea what time it is?”

Mitchell looked over at his clock, and read the time.

“No," he lied with sarcastic intent.

“It’s ten o’clock. You were scheduled for nine.”

“I’m sorry, I guess my alarm didn’t---”

“Get your ass here in five minutes, or you’re fired. No excuses.”

Mitchell hung up the phone, and sat down on the edge of his bed. He lit a smoke, and stared at his reflection in the mirror opposite of him. His hair was a mess, he needed a good shave, and he was still in his underwear. Taped to the mirror was a photo of he and Lucy. He stared at it. It had been a week since she had packed most of her things, and left. He hadn’t spoken to her since.

“Son of a bitch.”

He cursed aloud after realizing he’d accidentally been ashing on the bedroom carpet. He stomped some of the ashes into the floor, jumped up quickly, and walked out of the room. The bathroom door was propped open from a dirty towel laying like a corpse on the floor. Mitchell pushed the door open the rest of the way, and took a moment to acknowledge the rest of the bathroom was in similar, dirty condition. He smiled, taking selfish pride in the mess that would drive Lucy crazy. He opened the toilet cover, and let his cigarette fall from his lips into the bowl. After a few moments of arm wrestling the remaining amount of toothpaste out, he began brushing his teeth. He took a piss at the same time, making sure to aim at the cigarette butt floating around in the toilet water. He smirked like a boy peeing his name in the snow.
Most of his work clothes were scattered on the bedroom floor. He pulled his pants on quickly, and threw on an undershirt. He lit another cigarette, sat back down on the bed, and pulled on a damp pair of socks. His boots were still a mystery. He stood up, and began walking around the bedroom. One boot was in the corner of the room next to the closet. He grabbed it quickly, hunched over, and tied it while he tried to remember the location of the other. He limped around with unbalanced grace, knelt down like God’s Sunday sheep, and checked under the bed. His matching boot was there along with an empty bottle of Merlot. He reached, and pulled both out from underneath the bed.
The Merlot was from his past anniversary with Lucy. He remembered the “cheers”, the laughs, the hands held, and his mood swing that brought the evening to an abrupt end. He had finished the bottle, and slept alone on the couch that night. He remembered the way the moon swung like a guillotine outside the window. And how the stars looked like lost souls, and how he took comfort in that.

He tossed the bottle on the bed. He was always trying to find new ways to justify his behavior, but his rationale was fickle, and untrue. He walked out of the bedroom, down a small hallway, and out the front door. The sunlight forced his eyes closed. His face contorted, reacting as though he had just eaten something very sour. He lazily let his loosely lipped cigarette drop from his mouth, and used his hands as a visor to block the sun. Across the street, he saw his car with a flat tire.

“You have to be kidding me.”

Without hesitation, he began walking. He decided it would be quicker than changing the flat. His job wasn’t far, and he was already late. He lit another cigarette, and walked down his pothole decorated street. At the end of his block, he took a right and walked into a scene. An ambulance was parked outside of an old fashioned white house. Two middle aged women were standing outside on the sidewalk. One woman stood silent, shaking her head. The other had her hand over her mouth. Her eyes were glossy. Two EMT’s appeared, rolling a stretcher out of the front door. A body laid on the stretcher covered by a white sheet. The two men rolled the stretcher to the ambulance, and lifted it into the back. Mitchell stood in reflection as he overheard the two women speaking.

“Poor, poor, Ms. Richards. 'Jane, just call me Jane,' she would say.".

“No family? No friends? Poor thing.”

“None that I know of."

“Are you okay? You must be shaken up. You know, after finding her?”

“I’m alright. I just feel so bad. I tried to call her as often as I could to check in on her.”

“You’re a good neighbor, don’t fret.”

“But maybe there’s more I could have done? I don’t know.”

“You did all that you could. Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine. It’s just that she always seemed so lonely.”

Mitchell felt a swelling in his chest. He saw his future spread out in front of him like a hand of ill fated cards from a fortune teller. He changed the direction of his path, and ran as swiftly as he could back up the road to his apartment. He ripped open the front door, and ran into the bedroom. He picked up his phone, and immediately dialed Lucy’s phone. He wasn’t even sure what he was going to say, but it didn’t matter. He needed to fix things. He needed to tell her how he felt.


Hearing her voice had startled him. He was frozen.

“Hello? Is anyone there?” she asked.

Just as Mitchell was about to speak, he heard a male voice in the background that he didn’t recognize.

“Who is it, Lucy?” the man asked.


“Nobody.” Mitchell said into the phone, and hung up.

He stood for a few moments with his hand on the receiver. He felt cold like a ghost trapped in repetitious behavior. Suddenly, the phone rang and startled him. He took a deep breath. He needed to be mature about the situation. He answered the phone.

“Look, I’m sorry.” He said.

“I don’t give a shit, you’re fired.”

Mitchell slammed the receiver back down several times before leaving the phone off the hook. He grabbed his alarm clock, ripped it out of the wall, and walked into the kitchen. He lifted the overflowing garbage can, and threw the clock in with the trash. He walked back to the bedroom, shed his clothes, and climbed back into bed. He tried falling back to sleep, but the sound of the leaky faucet in the other room was suddenly louder than he ever noticed before.

“Have you tried calling back?”

“Yes, I’m just getting a busy signal. God dammit. I don’t know what to do,” Lucy responded.

Lucy’s cousin Ron was in from out of town to visit. He sat down next to her as she buried her face into her hands. He rubbed her back, and tried to console her.

“You guys need this space. Lucy, you’re doing the right thing. ”

“How do you know that? Christ, what’s right, and what’s wrong anymore?”

Ron sat in silence for a moment as Lucy wept into her soft palms. Unable to give an answer, he sat up, walked to the kitchen, and put some coffee on.

Outside, the sun was soaking the earth. Cars drove past houses, trees swayed gently waltzing to the beat of a morning breeze. Birds sang, and sang, and sang. For in a world where broken hearts are mere paper cuts; we are our only bandages.

message 15: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Rosler (ronnydazzler) | 92 comments Oh, shoot. Pasting my story into here ruined my formatting. I'm not sure how to delete, or edit a comment from my phone.

message 16: by Guy (new)

Guy (egajd) | 11107 comments NP Al. My pleasure.

Daniel, you are stuck with the format until you have access to a pc.

message 17: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Rosler (ronnydazzler) | 92 comments Damn. Alright. Thanks, Guy. That won't be for awhile unfortunately.

message 18: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 5330 comments You can edit it from your phone, Daniel. You have to go to the actual GR website via your browser rather than just using the GR app. You can insert any HTML commands you need to. It is fiddly on a phone but it can be done. Good luck :)

message 19: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Rosler (ronnydazzler) | 92 comments Ryan, you're the man. Thanks for the help. I edited my post, and formatted it a bit better. Should be easier to read now. Good to know this for the future as well.

message 20: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 5330 comments No worries, Daniel. Great story, mate. I've just finished reading it on my phone, which is about as easy as editing on a phone! I love the style of your writing and the way you pay attention and give meaning to the little things. Your idea is excellent and I think the way you developed it was fantastic. You had me wondering right til the end how you would link it to the theme - very strong finish. It worked perfectly for me. Great job, I really enjoyed the read thank you.

message 21: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Rosler (ronnydazzler) | 92 comments Ryan, you far too kind, man. Thank you so much for taking the time to read, and offer feedback. I'm sincerely grateful.

message 22: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4263 comments I hope I get one out on here at the earliest the 7th!

message 23: by Daniel J. (last edited Sep 05, 2013 04:03PM) (new)

Daniel J. Nickolas (danieljnickolas) | 139 comments To Daniel

This is undoubtedly a well crafted story. Poor Jane acts as a very real image as to where Mitchell’s path in life may end up. When confronted with this image he changes “the direction of his path” with the intention of reconciling his relationship with Lucy; an act that stands in contrast to the Mitchell we first meet who finds a bit of a joy in a mess that would have angered Lucy (an honest coping method). Mitchell is, however, unable to follow through with his true desires (a very real human experience) and ends up back in bed, the same place he started. The repetitious faucet, forever dripping in the background, leaves the reader believing that Mitchell’s tomorrow will be, sadly, not much different.

The bottle of Merlot with an unfortunate history and a home (life) in disarray add to this story. However, it is this successful construction of the story that causes the ending to fall a little flat for me. The way you’ve connected this story to the theme of the week is artistic, but that connection seems to be making light of a serious situation, in its current form. I agree with Ryan in that I find the ending a strong idea.

Also, I think your first paragraph is a perfect introduction to this story, well done.

message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Yay, I'll try to post my story later...

message 25: by Madeline (last edited Sep 09, 2013 09:52AM) (new)

Madeline Lund (madelinelily) | 37 comments This is a rough draft that I wrote mostly today. I appreciate and welcome any feedback. I have written about some of the characters before (Lily and Rose primarily). I do not want to say too much before you have the chance to read my story, but I will be happy to answer any questions after you do so. I will say that Rose is younger (sophomore in high school) in this story than in the other stories I have written.

Title: Bear the Cat
Author: Madeline Lund
Word Count: 2,619

Bear the Cat

Rose looks up at the little jar sitting on the white mantle of the fireplace in the living room, and her hands squeeze their opposite shoulders as the muscles in her chest tighten. She knows that if she breathes, she will cry. The jar is shimmery black in color, and there are tiny tan triangles forming a spiral pattern on its surface. The room feels different with the addition of this jar, she thinks. She doesn't like it, this feeling she is feeling. Her hands release her shoulders and find the Oriental rug by her knees. Her shoulders and head slouch over as her fingers press against the soft carpeting. She attempts to take a breath.

She tries to think of the last time she saw him. She can't remember, and tears fill her eyes. How long since the incident involving Lily's crate and one of his cans of Fancy Feast has it been? Was the last time she saw him when she and her sister were reading I Spy books to him on their parent's bed? Was it when she was curled with him and Lily on Lily's pillow reading the latest Redwall book for the sixth time?

She can't remember, so she watches her tears fall between her knees and disappear in the soft carpeting. She watches as the tears form a small damp spot. She watches as the spot begins to grow.

How difficult is it to remember the last time you saw your cat when you knew he was going to die? she wonders.

She remembers hearing her parents discussing it—putting him to sleep—as they put dishes in the dishwasher one evening. She had been reading with Lily on her pillow in the kitchen's adjoining sun room. She was in the world that Brian Jacques had created and the one that she never wanted to leave, but no one can live in a book forever. Lily's nose twitched in the direction of their voices, and Rose set down her book to listen.

Her mom was telling her dad that it had to be done. It was Bear's time. Rose's dad understood. He said, "I'll go with you to the vet on—"

And then Rose was screaming. She didn't want her cat to die.

Rose yelled at her parents for discussing something that had to be done. Rose yelled because she was sad and she didn't know what else to do.

Lily padded softly over to the back door and poked at the bell hanging on the handle with her nose. It clanged loudly, and Rose froze. She wiped her nose with the back of her right hand and sniffled. Her parents had nothing to say. Rose turned towards her dog, who looked up at her with soft eyes. Lily jerked her head ever so slightly towards the door, and Rose shuffled shakily to her dog's side. She opened the door, and Lily stepped outside. Rose followed quickly and closed the door behind her.

She breathed in the fresh outside air and said, "I'm sorry," to the night.

Rose followed Lily to the old oak tree protecting a corner of the backyard. She lay flat on her back in the grass beside her chocolate Labrador and stared at the branches above her. The dog rested her head on the girl's stomach.

Rose doesn't remember saying goodbye to Bear, but she does remember coming home after Field Hockey practice with her sister to a family that no longer had a cat.

Instead, on the clean, white mantle of the fireplace in the living room stood a little black jar decorated with tiny tan triangles.

At this jar Rose looks now. This jar is essentially my cat, she thinks. This jar is Bear.

Rose stands. She approaches the mantle slowly. Her eyes remain on the lid of the jar. Her hands reach out. They are shaking. She sets them down on the mantle on either side of her cat. She thinks about the incident regarding Lily's crate and the can of Fancy Feast. "I'm sorry," she tells the jar. "Our plan never included trapping you in the crate. We just wanted to see what it would be like for you in there. Maybe Amber would have taken your picture. You know. Like when she takes pictures of Lily and me. No. I don't know. I don't really know what our plan was... It wasn't really my idea, but once we had decided to do it, I wanted to do it, you know? I wanted to lure you into Lily's crate with your favorite meal just to see what it would be like. Just to see if we could do it. If you would let us. I'm sorry."

Rose's weight is suddenly too heavy for her legs. Her hands grasp the edge of the mantle as her knees buckle and her head sags. She is having trouble breathing again. The muscles in her chest won't let her.

"I'm sorry," she repeats. "I'm sorry, Bear."

Rose's hands cover her eyes as she drops to the floor. The brick tiling of the fireplace makes a solid connection with her knees, but she doesn't notice. Her hands clutch her thighs as she tries to breathe.

In. Out. In. Out, she thinks. Her breathing is becoming more regular. In. Out, she thinks. In. Out.

Rose stands. With both hands, she picks up the little black jar. She strides to the center of the Oriental rug and turns to face the fireplace. She sits cross-legged and sets the jar in front of her.

Rose takes a deep breath. "Okay, Bear," she says. "I am going to tell you what happened. I am going to tell you what I did." She pauses for a moment, as if waiting for the jar to reply. The pipes in the basement grumble quietly. A car's engine gurgles for life in a neighbor's driveway. Rose takes a slow, shaky breath.

"Okay. So we were going to put you in Lily's crate. I don't know why. We just were. But then Amber changed her mind. She changed her mind last minute, Bear. I didn't understand. We weren't going to trap you in the crate. I think we just wanted to see if you would actually go into it, you know? We just wanted to see what you would do. But she changed her mind. And I didn't mean to, but I was just so frustrated, because we always do what Amber wants to do, so I was upset and I threw the can of cat food. I threw your can of food, Bear. I didn't mean to hit her. I was just throwing it away, because I was so fed up with the situation. But it hit her, Bear. It hit her in the face. The can of cat food slammed into her ear, and she started bleeding. Bear, she was bleeding so much, and—"

Rose chokes on her words as she once again loses the ability to breathe. Tears are streaming down her cheeks.

Amber didn't cry when it happened, even though her ear was red and swollen. She didn't cry even when blood streamed down her cheek from the sizable gash just in front of her left ear.

Rose cried. She cried because she hurt her big sister. She cried because she knew she had done something wrong and she didn't want to get in trouble. She cried because things hadn't gone her way.

She is crying now because she feels bad. She is crying because she knows she shouldn't have done that. She is crying because she wishes she hadn't done that. She is crying because she wishes she had had more time with her cat. She is crying because he is gone, and things haven't been going her way.

I am not a bad person, Rose thinks, now cradling the little black jar in her lap.

"Am I a bad person, Bear?" Rose asks the jar. "I don't want to be a bad person."

No, she thinks. I can't be a bad person. I won't be a bad person.

message 26: by Madeline (last edited Sep 09, 2013 09:51AM) (new)

Madeline Lund (madelinelily) | 37 comments Bear the Cat (Continued)

Rose looks at the little black jar. She tries to remember the last time her cat was actually with her, but she is having trouble thinking clearly. Her eyes close as she rocks the little jar back and forth.

She sees her sleeping Persian cat curled at the foot of her parent's bed, on her mother's side. She sees her sister and she sees herself. Amber and Rose are leaning against a pile of feather pillows at the head of the bed.

Amber is inspecting a page in an I Spy book. She leans over so her head is less than an inch away from the images as her eyes scrutinize every detail. "Where is it?" she asks the question slowly, not expecting a response.

Rose clutches her sister's arm and peers over her shoulder. "I wanna see! I wanna see!" she chimes.

Amber elbows Rose away. "Give me a minute," she snaps. She rustles the pages before clasping them tighter with both hands and hunching her shoulders to shield the book.

"No! It's not fair!" Rose shrieks. "You always get to look first!"

Rose grabs at the book and Amber jerks away.

"Aha! Got it!" Rose cries in triumph.

Simultaneously, Amber cries in pain.

"Rose!" she yells. "Look at what you did." Amber brandishes her right thumb in front of her little sister's eyes. Dark red blood is spurting from a sizable cut running from the inner base of the thumb to its tip.

Rose falters. She blinks several times, and her wide eyes become wet pools. Her lips begin to tremble.

Amber quickly retracts her thumb and shoves Rose into the pile of pillows behind them.

"Oh, come on. Don't be a baby." Amber laughs and throws one of their mother's feather pillows into Rose's face.

"It is only a paper cut." She sucks on her thumb for a moment and then pulls it out to show her sister. "See? No big deal."

Blood is still trickling out of the cut and collecting in Amber's palm, but Rose can see that it is slowing.

"I'm sorry," she says. "I just wanted a turn."

"I know, I know." Amber bounces on the bed and wakes the Persian cat curled at the foot of the mattress. The old cat rises slowly, surveys the girls with disdain, and leaps lightly onto the floor. He sways slightly, and his tail twitches once. Then the cat moves slowly and regally out of the room.

The girls look at each other for a moment. Then they bound off the bed and scamper after their cat.

"Bear!" Rose calls. "Bear!"

"Shh," Amber cautions. "You know that only makes him disappear."

The girls tiptoe down the hall.

Rose opens her eyes. In her arms is the cold, smooth jar containing the spirit of her cat. She carefully removes the lid and sets it beside her. She looks into the jar, and then she looks at the old pile of ash huddled below the fireplace grate. She thinks it looks just like the contents of the jar. Rose's left hand clutches Bear's jar to her chest as she shuffles towards the fireplace. She kneels before it, and her right hand reaches through the grate. As her fingers sink into the gray ash, her torso shivers a little. Her fingers scoop a little of the dirty gray into her palm. She turns away from the fireplace and sets Bear's jar on the Oriental rug. She stares into the opening at the gray within. Her left hand hovers over it for a moment, and then she turns her attention back to the substance in her right palm. It is all just gray to her.

Her left index finger pokes into the jar but freezes just above her cat's remains. Something is holding her back, telling her not to touch. This ash is not the remains of last winter's last log. This ash is the remains of her cat.

Rose holds her right hand as far away as she can from both herself and her cat as she rests her left palm on the carpet for support. She peers into the jar.

"Bear?" she whispers. "Bear, are you there?"

She cradles the jar in the crook of her left arm as she lies on the carpet. Her face remains near the opening, and her eyes remain on the gray. "Where are you, Bear?" Rose whimpers. "Where do you go when you...?"

The fingers of Rose's left hand are crawling over the jar's rim. They are inching closer to the gray.

"No!" she cries.

Rose hastily but carefully places the jar's lid in its rightful place. "No," she repeats firmly. She solemnly rests the little black jar on the mantel. She gazes at it in silence. Then she blinks, turns away, and runs out of the room and down the hall to the kitchen sink. She turns the handle so the faucet causes the cold water to stream at its highest volume and pressure. She sticks her right hand under the cold waterfall. Her left hand grasps the dish soap. She flips the soap so the nozzle is directed at her right hand. She squeezes until her hand is covered with the gooey clear liquid. She clasps her hands together and closes her eyes. As her hands rub together and the lather begins to form, a clear salty liquid begins to creep out from under her eyelids. Drops begin to fall. She opens her eyes and watches the waterfall wash away the soap and the gray.

Rose uses too many paper towels to dry her hands. She leans against the kitchen counter and closes her eyes. The fingers of her left hand brush the wetness away from her cheeks. Then she looks at her left wrist. Her right hand automatically holds it as her right thumb traces the scars slashing across. The thumb hesitates on the deeper of the two fresh ones.

The paper from that I Spy book did almost as much damage to my sister's thumb as my razor does to me, Rose thinks. It all depends on the angle...

"No," she says aloud. "I shouldn't think that."

Rose takes a deep breath and watches droplets of water desperately trying to cling to the faucet. "I have to be positive," she says. She observes the droplets failing and falling into to basin. "Positive," she whispers.

She looks at the fresh scars on her left wrist and wonders if they will ever disappear. Her sister's papercut has long been forgotten, as has the incident with the can of Fancy Feast. Rose's cuts were not formed by paper in an accident caused by impatience. They were not formed by a can of cat food in a rash mistake motivated by confusion and frustration. These cuts were formed by a razor blade. These cuts had been planned.

Rose is angry at herself for being so stupid and sad. She is angry at her sister for being so smart and unaffected. She is angry at her parents for being too consumed in their own hushed arguments and poorly concealed lies to notice her pain. She is angry at the world for taking her cat away.

Then Rose hears the click of claws on hardwood floor. She turns towards the sound and sees her dog padding towards her. Rose sinks to her knees and holds out her arms. Lily places her right paw on Rose's left knee and her left paw on her right knee. The dog then rests her head on the girl's right shoulder. Her tail wags gently several times.

message 27: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 09, 2013 07:04AM) (new)

The roughest draft ever, terribly written :) sorry for posting late.

Note: This is the first time that I wrote in a third-person POV and I must admit I found it difficult. The tenses are mixed up, I think. Anyway, Open to critique.

Title: Job Description
Words: 1,240

After a defective alarm clock, a flat tire, a walk under the pouring rain, an hour late for work and a cup of hot coffee off her table, Alice realizes that it’s not worth celebrating her twenty-fifth birthday today.

She hopes to spend it in a ‘normal’ way, at the least, but after a series of unfortunate incidents, that hope is spiraling down the drain and all she can do is watch, helplessly. The cloud of annoyance has been looming over her head the moment she woke up and her wanting to quit her job as a social worker in-charge of the center’s child abuse cases has something to do with it.

Attempting to write a case study report, she has spent thirty minutes already staring at the blinking cursor on a white screen. She can’t help but feel like being taunted as her logic seems to abandon her.
Trying to brush the frustration aside, she contemplates whether to get another cup of coffee or not.

The strong aroma of spilled coffee on the floor overpowers the apple-scented potpourri on her table. The shards of the ceramic cup she knocked off earlier are now being removed by a cleaning lady. Heaving a sigh, she moves her eyes off the mess to the scattered paper clips and staple wires in the midst of papers, consisting of birth certificates, photos of beaten faces and police reports. Before the urge to shred the papers becomes too strong, she stands up for a fresh brew.

She trudges towards the pantry with a temper steaming like the dark liquid in the pot. Her job has taken most of her life, one case after the other, and it’s getting difficult for her to recover from the image of a child’s battered and tear-stricken face. Now, a week after being tasked to handle a sensational case of child abuse, she seems to have forgotten her purpose. She hates to admit to herself that the job she used to love is exhausting her, both physically and emotionally.

After emptying her cup, she walks back to her office with a wandering mind and a heavy heart.

She glances at the desk calendar to check her schedule for the day and sees that Ashley Stewart is on her next-to-do list. She recalls when the child was brought to the Center after her confinement at the hospital. The twelve-year old daughter of the famous rock star Dwayne Stewart was a wreck with swollen right eye, split lips and a sprained ankle but underneath her clothing, more cuts and bruises marred her fragile body. She talked to her for an hour and expected a lot of crying but much to her surprise, not a single tear fell from the child’s eyes. Ashley answered her questions in a calm way though her eyes were downcast. That was the first and only time she heard the child speak and Alice finds it disturbing.

Like her job is not disturbing enough.

She shakes her head to banish the image, as if it will help. She heads to the row of steel drawers to retrieve Ashley’s file before heading to the counseling room.

“Hi, Doc,” Alice says to the child psychologist she meets in the wide hallway of the Center. “May I see her for a while?”

Doctor Pearce, without smiling, nods before walking back to her office. Alice has been used to her stern demeanor that she has learned to ignore it most of the time, except for today. It’s her birthday. She waits for the doctor to enter her office before she turns to the direction of the counseling room. As she pushes the door left slightly ajar, the sight of Ashley with her head low, a few inches away from the paper, stops her from her tracks. For a brief moment, she feels like she’s an intruder.

When Ashley hears the sound of the door, she refrains from turning her head to its direction. She knows that Alice will talk to her, which is an every day occurrence but still, she doesn’t look up. She finds no compelling reason to see her face. She continues to draw their Tudor-style house sprawled on top of the hill but when she is reminded of what happened three weeks ago, she takes another sheet from the stack of paper on the table to draw a new image.

“Hi Ashley, how are you?” Alice asks before taking a seat in front of her.

She longs to talk to her mother, if it’s only possible.

“Do you want to take a walk in the garden?”
Ashley, in her silence, starts to draw her mother’s heart-shaped face with sunken hazel eyes, thin lips, straight-edged nose and high cheekbones. She remembers her mother’s warm smile, soothing lullabies and comforting arms at night. She remembers everything about her, including the bruises and silent cries.

“Pain is only temporary. You have to be strong, baby,” her mother once told her.

She knows that she was the reason why her mother didn’t leave her drug-dependent and abusive father until her—their last breath. Till death do us part—she finds the phrase ironic.

Dwayne Stewart shot himself after killing his wife

The press is having a field day because of what her father did and the Center is doing a good job to ward them off. She needs time to mourn for her mother, who was her best friend, her rock and her refuge. Her mother, whose smile had been her light during the darkest night, taught her how to be strong and to fight for her life.

Aware that a pair of eyes is focused on her, Ashley fights the tears. She saw Alice’s hand moves towards her. Out of impulse, she withdraws her hand, sliding it along the side of the paper.

Blood drips on the paper—on her mother’s face, like the day she was shot in the head.

She can no longer hold the tears.

Alice’s heart beats frantically at the sight of the child crying. For the first time since she met her, she is surprised to elicit an emotion from Ashley and she doesn’t know if to witness it is a birthday gift or curse.

“Let me help,” she says while taking the child’s hand to apply first aid.

She feels Ashley turns still with the sudden yet gentle contact and though she wants to hug her, she stops herself for fear of aggravating the situation.

“You know, pain is temporary. It can only do so much damage if you let it…” Alice trails off while placing a bandage over the wound. She looks up and catches the child staring at her.

“I know,” Ashley whispers, “that’s what my mother used to tell me.”

Ashley is startled to hear the familiar words and it makes her miss her mother even more. Now that she’s gone, she doesn’t know who to trust. She can only draw strength from herself and one day, she will live her life again. She has to, because she promised her mother.

Tears pool in the corner of Alice’s eyes because of guilt. What the child is going through is more than just a paper cut and a bandage is not enough to provide, even a momentary relief yet despite of it all, she finds strength in the child’s voice.

Maybe, all she needs is to be reminded why she chose to be a social worker—to provide help and support—that’s what her job description states.

message 28: by M (new)

M | 11350 comments The polls for the Week 180 Short Story Contest are up! Put down your tankards and set aside your polyhedral dice, ye pirates, and vote!


message 29: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Rosler (ronnydazzler) | 92 comments Felix,

Thank you for taking the time to read my story, and write such an in depth critique. I couldn't feel happier as an author of a story to see someone else recognize the heart of the story, and appreciate it. As far as the ending goes, I knew after I wrote it that it may receive a mixed opinion. I just ended up deciding to commit to what I was working with, and hoped for the best.

message 30: by Bob (new)

Bob Miller (bobmillermagic) Madeline wrote: "Bear the Cat (Continued)

Feedback for Madeline, from an unpublished new writer. So take it for what it's worth...

I read your whole story. It was interesting.
It took me a few minutes to figure out who was the sister, and the dog, and the cat.
Some phrases or themes were repeated too much.

The idea of a cremating a cat and saving the remains was new to me.

I think that you did a great job of conveying emotion that the girl felt.
The cuts on the wrist were a shocking surprise.

Was she cutting herself because she was sad about the cat, or her homelife, or her self-esteem, or all of the above?

message 31: by Madeline (new)

Madeline Lund (madelinelily) | 37 comments Bob wrote: "Madeline wrote: "Bear the Cat (Continued)

Feedback for Madeline, from an unpublished new writer. So take it for what it's worth...

I read your whole story. It was interesting.
It took me a few m..."


Thank you for reading my story and sharing your thoughts. Rose has been cutting in response to feeling hopeless about everything that has been happening, so I would say all of the above. Thank you again for your feedback. If you have any other comments or questions, please let me know.

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