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View Full Version : Short Story: Lisa & Herself (FINISHED) LANGUAGE



Val Yazon
December 4th, 2010, 05:05 AM
Hello! First time posting here. Inspired by Janet Fitch @ janetfitchwrites.wordpress.com.

Word: Nose

She needed some clarity in her life. She needed some fucking clarity.

Lisa opened up her pantry door and gazed at the empty contents that were spread out in front of her. She pushed back several empty containers of cereal, a box of half-stale Oreos and expired ramen noodles. She sighed. She rummaged more through the emptiness of her cupboard. Cheerios. But what good were Cheerios without milk? Her food stamps hadn't come in yet and wouldn't till the first, a week away, and she was left with a fridge full of her ex-boyfriend's booze and some Cheerios.

She took the box out of the cupboard and set it on the round glass dining table she and Herb had picked up at the thrift store down the block. It had cracks on the glass and the metal that held it was starting to rust but they didn't care, it would do for their little abode. She brought out a Kelly green plastic bowl and a baby sized spoon and poured out the cereal. The sound of the little O's hitting the bottom of the bowl filled the studio with an unaccustomed noise. A mini rumble. A mini earthquake from what she salvaged from the rubble.

She walked back to the fridge and took out her own drink of choice. A cheap, white bubbly champagne, five or six bucks at the liquor store. But Lisa liked to pretend it was vintage 1950's from Italy or France, imported, not from some vineyard over in Napa. She searched the metal dish rack for a bottle opener and with grateful pop poured herself a full glass. It didn't matter to her that the glass was just a regular water tumbler, or even the memories of Herb and her sharing frosted wine glasses full of the stuff, or even the little jolts of God knows what emotion when she recalled Herb coming home drunk and smashing their little frosted set to pieces. No, her imagination was enough and she was determined to have a nice damn meal. A nice damn meal.

She looked at herself in the mirror that hung on the dining room while while she sat at the table with her dry cereal and dry champagne. Her cropped brown hair was disheveled and zits were popping out of her normally pristine complexion. Bags were under her eyes and the bruise was still there from the night Herb left.

She shuddered.

"Get over it Lisa, get over it Lisa." She said to her reflection. Trying to deflect, trying to run away from what happened to her. She tried to imagine her meal being more substantial than what it was, that it wasn't just cheap alchy and Cheerios, that it was much more. So much more. But her mind couldn't take the reality of it and she sipped and sipped, hoping to get a happy bubbly drunk, the kind of drunk that lures guys in from bars, the kind of drunk that she was when she met him.

"No. Not him. Not ever." She said again as she grimaced looking into the mirror. She cupped her head in her hands feeling a little tipsy and walked back to the fridge where she pulled out some tequila, mescal, almost empty, with the worm waiting to be poured out. She emptied the bottle into her champagne and chugged it. Some of the liquor got on her white tank top but she didn't care, she hadn't changed or showered in days. She felt just as slimy as the worm she downed.

She was a wreck and she knew it.

She sniffled a little and wiped her runny nose with the back of her hand. She was a slob and she knew it and she didn't care. All she'd wanted was a good day, not even a perfect day but a good day, one single good day. Fuck. She had to stop thinking. She went into the fridge and brought out another bottle of tequila and chugged it straight out of the bottle. The hot burning drunk filled her body and replaced any sign of the giggles she had before. She stumbled wasted onto the red velvet couch in the living room and laid down. Her head was spinning but at least she didn't have to think about Herb, about her bruises, about how scared she was and about how much she still fucking missed him.

Lisa turned on the TV to a bunch of static. The cable hadn't been paid this month either. But static was more than emptiness, no matter how grey or meaningless, and she lay there, one leg over the other, arms sprawled, just staring staring at the patterns that emerged in her mind. She closed her eyes and felt the alcohol penetrate her, getting her more wasted, more out of tune with reality, more into the fantasy land she wanted to be in.

She heaved. Good thing there was the trashcan there last night for the same purpose. She knew how things went. She knew how to react when her body reminded her that she was alive, not in Plato's ideal world. But she didn't care. She was 5'1 and drank enough for her not to feel any less free. It was heaven right then, right there, with the static of the TV to lull her to sleep, where she didn't have to face her memories, face the pain, face herself.

Draxia
December 4th, 2010, 05:15 AM
Your character is too enamored with herself. No one wants to hear an arm chair confesson.

We all have our own demons. No one wants to hear your own. Give us more. Give us the ACTIONS of your character.

Val Yazon
December 4th, 2010, 05:21 AM
Thank you for the reply! I never thought of it that way. I'll look at it more and put in more actions and develop it.

Draxia
December 4th, 2010, 05:24 AM
Your character is more confused than you are. What are you trying to say? There is no secret. The secret is to just say what you mean. There is no need to hide it behide a sloppy narrative.

valo123
December 4th, 2010, 08:27 PM
Hello! First time posting here. Inspired by Janet Fitch @ janetfitchwrites.wordpress.com.

Word: Nose

She needed some clarity in her life. She needed some fucking clarity.

Lisa opened up her pantry door and gazed at the empty contents that were spread out in front of her. She pushed back several empty containers of cereal, a box of half-stale Oreos and expired ramen noodles. She sighed. She rummaged more through the emptiness of her cupboard. Cheerios. But what good were Cheerios without milk? Her food stamps hadn't come in yet and wouldn't till the first, a week away, and she was left with a fridge full of her ex-boyfriend's booze and some Cheerios.

She took the box out of the cupboard and set it on the round glass dining table she and Herb had picked up at the thrift store down the block. It had cracks on the glass, and the metal holding it was starting to rust, but they never cared, it served its purpose. She brought out a Kelly green plastic bowl and a baby sized spoon and poured out the cereal Why a baby sized spoon? I'm not trying to be nitpicky, but if a baby's going to be brought up later, this minor detail will likely have been long forgotten. The sound of the little O's hitting the bottom of the bowl filled the studio with an unaccustomed noise. A mini rumble. A mini earthquake from what she salvaged from the rubble.Starting with "A mini rumble" I'd take the last of the paragraph out. The unaccustomed noise says it all, the rest is a little confusing and doesn't at all make an accurate comparison.

She walked back to the fridge and took out her own drink of choice. A cheap, white bubbly champagne, five or six bucks at the liquor store. But Lisa liked to pretend it was vintage 1950's from Italy or France, imported, not from some vineyard over in Napa. She searched the metal (no need to describe this) dish rack for a bottle opener and with grateful pop poured herself a full glass. It didn't matter to her that the glass was just a regular water tumbler, or even the memories of Herb and her sharing frosted wine glasses full of the stuff, or even the little jolts of God knows what emotion when she recalled Herb coming home drunk and smashing their little frosted set to pieces.This in denial stuff doesn't work. She either misses him or she doesn't, and I'm gathering that she does. Also, if kept, this sentence is quite jumbled as is. No, her imagination was enough and she was determined to have a nice damn meal. A nice damn meal.I doubt if cheerios and cheap wine could be considered a nice meal to anyone other than a homeless guy or someone from Zambia. This makes your character sound almost unstable.

She looked at herself in the mirror that hung on the dining room while while she sat at the table with her dry cereal and dry champagne. looked in the mirror hanging in the dining room while she sat . . .Her cropped brown hair was disheveled and zits were popping out of her normally pristine complexion. Bags were under her eyes and the bruise was still there from the night Herb left.

She shuddered.

"Get over it Lisa, get over it Lisa." She said to her reflection. Trying to deflect, trying to run away from what happened to her. She tried to imagine her meal being more substantial than what it was, that it wasn't just cheap alchy and Cheerios, that it was much more. So much more. But her mind couldn't take the reality of it and she sipped and sipped, hoping to get a happy bubbly drunk, the kind of drunk that lures guys in from bars, the kind of drunk that she was when she met him.

"No. Not him. Not ever." She said again as she grimaced looking into the mirror She said, looking at her grimaced self in the mirror.. She cupped her head in her hands feeling a little tipsy and walked back to the fridge where she pulled out some tequila, mescal, almost empty, with the worm waiting to be poured out. She emptied the bottle into her champagne and chugged it. Some of the liquor got on her white tank top but she didn't care, she hadn't changed or showered in days. She felt just as slimy as the worm she downed.

She was a wreck and she knew it.

She sniffled a little and wiped her runny nose with the back of her hand. She was a slob and she knew it and she didn't care. All she'd wanted was a good day, not even a perfect day but a good day, one single good day. Fuck. She had to stop thinking. She went into the fridge and brought out another bottle of tequila and chugged it straight out of the bottle. The hot burning drunk filled her body and replaced any sign of the giggles she had before. She stumbled wasted onto the red velvet couch in the living room and laid down. Her head was spinning but at least she didn't have to think about Herb, about her bruises, about how scared she was and about how much she still fucking missed him.

Lisa turned on the TV to a bunch of static. The cable hadn't been paid this month either. But static was more than emptiness, no matter how grey or meaningless, and she lay there, one leg over the other, arms sprawled, just staring staring at the patterns that emerged in her mind. She closed her eyes and felt the alcohol penetrate her, getting her more wasted, more out of tune with reality, more into the fantasy land she wanted to be in.

She heaved. Good thing there was the trashcan there last night for the same purpose. She knew how things went. She knew how to react when her body reminded her that she was alive, not in Plato's ideal world. But she didn't care. She was 5'1 and drank enough for her not to feel any less free. It was heaven right then, right there, with the static of the TV to lull her to sleep, where she didn't have to face her memories, face the pain, face herself. These last three paragraphs, starting with "She was a wreck" are redundant, the first portion (hopefully shortened) achieves the same thing.

If this is the beginning to something, then maybe you could include this depression in back story to avoid having the reader become apathetic to the main character (I know I was). Maybe have her see a bottle in the grocery store and have it jar some unpleasant memories. Start with something a little more exciting if possible. If you need to include this in the present, you can condense this section into a single small paragraph or two and accomplish the same thing.

stonefly
December 5th, 2010, 02:46 AM
I think this is good. There are some sentences that could be structured better without losing any of the flow of the piece.

Circumstance. I can see and feel everything she experiencing. She's fallen to a low level in her life. She's telling it just like it is.

I could go on, but the story tells it better than I could. It does need a cleaning up. If it were cleaned up it would read better.

The story gets off to a bad start for me. Here, "Lisa opened up her pantry door and gazed at the empty contents that were spread out in front of her."

Either you're a genius and way above my level, or you didn't really mean that. I can almost grasp it, but not quite. After reading your piece, I'm sure not gonna say you can't write. You can. Are you a genius or are you careless? I ain't smart enough to answer that and I'll admit it.

I have to say again that I think this is good and that it needs more attention to grammar, sentence structure, and a little more care on the choice of words here and there. I've said this on other crits and I'll say it here. Before you go rewriting things, clean up what you've already written. Make it clear and free of silly mistakes and weak sentence structure. Only then will you know if it will fly or not. Sometimes real good stuff doesn't make it because of little details. The devil is in the details.

I'd put this story in the category of: Hey!! Writer!! Don't fix what ain't broke. Clean and polish? ...usually a darn good idea. Rewrite? ...be careful. Remember spontaneity.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

Val Yazon
December 5th, 2010, 05:00 AM
Thank you guys for the critiques! I will try to expand this into something more. I do have to LOL at stonefly's comment, "Lisa opened up her pantry door and gazed at the empty contents that were spread out in front of her." That being a funny oxymoron.

stonefly- Thanks! I will admit that I'm a bit more scatterbrained nowadays than usual, lol! I'm quite happy that you like the spontaneity and nowness that the character is experiencing. I'll have to admit i usually write things and stick to how they are as soon as typed, but with the edits above I see how I could clean and polish it to be more finished.

valo123- I was thinking of expanding it more (wasn't sure if char/story would stick) but I'm liking it : ) Thanks for fixing up my sentences. The character is a bit unstable and I wanted to play with emotions a bit in this. I realize however that maybe letting the reader see into her other moods would better the story in terms of likability.

gerdun
April 22nd, 2017, 03:30 PM
hello Val,
I am reaching out to find a member with Zambia connection. I noticed you compared hardship to Zambia? Any connection or just random.
Gerald

Penless
May 26th, 2017, 07:32 AM
It started well.

I was even excited at the start, wondering at what she'd do to solve her food crisis.

Then it got a bit too reflective, and a bit melodramatic. I get that you wanted to show that she had fallen to a real low in her life, but I think it could have been done in far fewer words with greater effect.

I think it's a common mistake among new writers to over-write dramatic scenes, thinking to make them more emotional, but actually just confusing and boring the reader.
I think we need to understand the character's normal mode of thought before we can be properly shocked by the kind of mental instability you're trying to portray.

Be more succinct. Use less useless repetition.

I think you could improve your opening sentence too. It is effective in giving the reader a quick insight into the character's confused, frustrated state of mind, and hooks us with the question 'what does she need clarity about?'. but I believe it could be done in a more elegantly.

Also, I dislike profanity unless it has a fucking good reason for being there. And I loathe repetition, I LOATHE it... unless it has a fucking good reason for being there.