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MJ Preston
December 23rd, 2010, 05:02 AM
Approx Word count 1050

This fiction piece is based on actual events.I have placed it in the fiction section because of the key changes I made to names and how events unfolded.


Halloween 1970

My brother Jimmy was a ghost, a bed sheet with two holes cut out for eyes. I was wearing a plastic Batman costume, the mask was attached to my head by an elastic band that dug into the back of my head. In my right hand I held my pillowcase which contained the treasures of our hard work going house to house crying: "Trick or treat." My left hand was curled up inside my older brother’s who tugged me along as we fought against the current of children coming down the stairs. “Hurry up Marky,” he groaned and tugged harder.

One of the bigger kids passed me on the way down and tapped my pillowcase. “Got lots of candy in there,” he tittered and whispered something to the two other boys with him.

“We gotta steal some kid’s bag of candy,” I heard one of them say and then my brother tugged harder and I went up the stairs ready to do the ritual. Those boys were my brother’s age, 10 or 11, they were smiling at me as they went by, and I didn’t think they meant any harm.

As we descended down the stairs back onto the sidewalk I felt something bump against me and then the pillowcase was ripped from my hand. I pin wheeled off the curb and thumped off the road skinning my hand. Under the milky glow of the street light I looked at my skinned hand and realized they had stolen my pillow case. That’s when I began to wail.

I felt a hand upon me, lifting up my mask, checking my hand and there was my brother a look of concern crossing his face. He was checking to see if I was okay, he looked frightened and then the look of concern melted away and became something else. “Take this,” he said shoving his pillowcase into my hand. “Don’t go anywhere!” Then he bolted down the street and into the field after the boys who rolled me.

Winter 1968 – Montreal

My two brothers, Jimmy and Benny walked beside the river. Benny bounced a small ball off the barren spots in the concrete catching it and trotting along as Jimmy laughed and snickered. They were just two boys with nothing much to do, bumbling along being kids. That was when fate took a twist.

On the final bounce the little ball went wild, down the embankment and onto the thin river ice. For a moment they stood there side by side looking down at the ball that probably cost no more than a dime. “Let’s go,” Jimmy said. Benny had other plans and descended slowly down the embankment. “What are you doing?”

“I’m going to get my ball,” he called back.
“Benny, come on, the ice is getting thin.” Jimmy was scrambling down the embankment his voice wavering.

“It’s not that far,” Benny stepped out onto the river ice gingerly. The ball was about 15 feet out, but for Jimmy it might as well have been 150. Benny took another two steps, stopped and waited. He was decked out in a parka, mittens and woollen red toque, his scarf hung loosely about his neck.

“Benny come back!” Jimmy was at the edge of the river now.

He took three more steps. The ball was within reach now, a small dot standing alone on the river ice. Benny leaned down and snatched up, then turned to look back at my brother smiling victoriously. He was just about to say something when the ice cracked beneath him and he crashed through it into the black murky river water.

“Benny,” Jimmy screamed.

There was a gasp, cries of panic. He tried to climb back onto the ice as the cold dark current pulled at his winter clothing making him heavy and restricted. The edge of the ice broke away widening the hole as he struggled, and then only seconds after it happened he was gone.

Jimmy waited there frozen at the edge of the river. Our brother was gone forever, taken by the icy cold hand of death dragged into the undercurrents of the St Lawrence River. He did not cry out, he was in shock, unable to process what had actually happened. How long he stood there I do not know, I don’t think he did either, but at some point the paralysis broke. As he ran for home he was now tasked with delivering the news to my Mother than Benny would never be coming home again.

Halloween 1970


I clutched Jimmy’s Halloween pillowcase sobbing uncontrollably as he set out after the boys who took mine. The expression of concern he had on his face before bolting was replaced by a look I had never seen before. It was a look I was to young to understand. It was rage.

I cried as the other kids walked by gaping at me. Finally, a girl who knew Jimmy came over and hugged me as I continued to wail. All I could think was that Jimmy wouldn’t be coming back, that I didn’t know the way home. Those boys might beat him up. It was hopeless. Through bleary eyes I stared at that field trying to see something in the blackness.

Then I saw him walking back out of the darkness my pillowcase dangling from one hand and when his eyes connected with mine he smiled. At that moment he was my hero, my protector, my big brother and I loved him more than anything in the world.

“Here’s your candy,” he soothed and handed me the pillowcase.

“Thank you Jimmy,” I sniffled wiping my nose with my sleeve. I didn’t know that when he got into that field and caught up with those three boys that he had beaten two of them pretty bad before the third handed the pillowcase over.

“Come on Marky,” he said lifting me up. “-let’s go home.”

“Don’t call me Marky.” I whined.

“Sure thing,” Jimmy agreed and tugged me along down the road after thanking the girl for staying with me. We set off down the road ready to count up our loot when we got back to the apartment. I will never forget that Halloween or all the other times my big brother kept me close and kept me safe.

shadows
December 23rd, 2010, 07:52 AM
Hi MJ

A lovely story of the two brothers and how the older looked out for the younger. As a piece of fiction, I don't think the middle section works well. I understand why you put it there and for autobiography written in a linear way by the time the reader reached this part they would understand the MC's fears that his brother was gone forever.

However in a short fiction piece, I feel it is better to keep in the moment. The middle breaks the action and the mood. I was there with the Mark, crying over his lost pillowcase and wanted to know what happened next.

Beginnings of stories are so important and yours hooks the reader in well with the image of Jimmy as a ghost.

A few things that came to mind while reading.


Full stop after batman costume.


In my right hand I held my pillowcase which contained the treasures of our hard work going house to house crying: "Trick or treat."


This sentence is a little awkward.


As we descended down the stairs back onto the sidewalk I felt something bump against me and then the pillowcase was ripped from my hand.

descended is a downwards movement so down isn't needed.

Maybe replace - and then - with a full stop


I felt a hand upon me, lifting up my mask, checking my hand and there was my brother a look of concern crossing his face. He was checking to see if I was okay, he looked frightened and then the look of concern melted away and became something else. Take this,” he said shoving his pillowcase into my hand. “Don’t go anywhere!” Then he bolted down the street and into the field after the boys who rolled me.

I clutched Jimmy’s Halloween pillowcase sobbing uncontrollably as he set out after the boys who took mine. The expression of concern he had on his face before bolting was replaced by a look I had never seen before. It was a look I was to young to understand. It was rage.



I think you could improve this and avoid the repetition by saying something like -

I felt a hand upon me and there was my brother lifting my mask. He checked my hand to see if I was okay; a look of concern crossing his face. He looked frightened and then the concern melted and became something else; a look I had never seen before - rage.

Take this,” he said shoving his pillowcase into my hand. “Don’t go anywhere!” I clutched Jimmy’s Halloween pillowcase sobbing uncontrollably as he bolted down the street and into the field after the boys who rolled me.

I did enjoy the story, could picture the scene. Thanks for the read.

MJ Preston
December 23rd, 2010, 04:00 PM
Thank you Shadow for the critique. I am going to consider the points you made and give it a once over. The flashback to 1968 is something I think I need to work on to reinforce why Jimmy is so dedicated to his brother. I'd rather not remove it, as it is a large part of the reason he has become so protective of his little brother Mark. I suppose it just needs polishing.

shadows
December 23rd, 2010, 08:27 PM
I understood that and it is important to you because you are so close to the story and history but looking at it as a work of fiction - do the reasons need to be shown. Big brothers (or sisters) are often very protective of their younger siblings so it is accepted that he looks out for Mark. What the story shows is how but remember this is just my perspective and as a reader I don't need everything explained however others may have differing views.

MJ Preston
December 24th, 2010, 07:25 PM
I understood that and it is important to you because you are so close to the story and history but looking at it as a work of fiction - do the reasons need to be shown. Big brothers (or sisters) are often very protective of their younger siblings so it is accepted that he looks out for Mark. What the story shows is how but remember this is just my perspective and as a reader I don't need everything explained however others may have differing views.

You raise a very valid point Shadows. Thanks.