View Full Version : short story, around 900 words - Warning: Language

December 27th, 2010, 08:11 AM
so i've never posted any of my work online before.
be BRUTALLY honest. i really want to get better. thank you! (:

There once lived a young woman by the sea.
All her life shed lived alone, in her little cottage, on a small, remote island in the Red Sea. And she was happy. She had the entire island to herself.
On some days, shed walk along the shores, collecting sea shells, some to take back home, some to toss out into the sea again. Other days shed lie out on her rooftop, listening to Frank Sinatra, singing along at the top of her lungs, glowing. And sometimes shes just stay at home in bed, reading The Catcher in the Rye, patiently waiting for the rain to go away, not really caring, content either way.
Although she was alone, shed developed a tremendous relationship with animals. Whenever she took a dip in the sparkling, salty water, she would swim with the sea creatures, all of them, dolphins, sea horses, clown fish, even the whales, beautifully, synchronized, for hours on end.
She could practically converse with her pet kitten.
She was unsure about her past, and all that she remembers, all that she has ever known is being alone. Not a sad kind of alone, either, just a Im going to do whatever the fuck I want, kind of alone. Almost a prosperous, powerful feeling.
So imagine how she felt when a young man, Bernard, showed up at her doorstep one evening. Shed just gotten into bed, decided to call it a night after collecting dried up sea stars on the sandy beaches to decorate her mantle, trying to fall asleep, as the door bell rang. She waited a while, thinking maybe it was just her sleeping, dazed imagination getting the best of her. But it rang again, and this time she jumped out of the bed and swung the door open.
And there stood Bernard, somewhere around 7 feet tall. The young woman nearly fainted at the sight of this great, large, somewhat attractive male standing before her.
They hit it off right away.
He spoke of a family back home, a wife, his two children. He explained that he needed to get away from them for a while, And what better way to get away, he asks, than visit an abandoned island in the middle of the Red Sea?
She could only pretend to understand.
Their conversations started out short and chatty, consisting of How do you do? and Its nice out today. Then, day by day, they progressed, and this young woman who has no name, yet, and this young man, Bernard, grew closer.
Their conversations soon grew to become something of meaning, discussing the purpose of life and the universes most mystical mysteries, debating whether there is or is not a god.
Then love.
Only, Bernard shuddered at the word love, always reminding this young woman that he has a family, that he must leave soon, go home.
She doesnt believe him.
He seems too happy.
He doesnt believe himself either.
He is too happy.

One year later, he was still happy, five years, ten, twenty, it didnt matter, oh, it didnt matter at all, as long as he was with this woman hed learned to love, this pure, infinite woman with so much happiness, this flaw less woman, this beautiful woman, this adored woman.
He couldnt do the right thing, nor did he want to, how could he, how could going home be the right thing to do if he was so happy here?
But then, one night, after theyd gone fishing in a small row boat on a warm summer day (or, at least, he suspected it was summer, theyd lost track of the days many, many years ago), something snapped, and he left. It broke his heart, but he knew he couldnt stay forever. Hed been putting it off for fifty years, and now, he felt it was time.
So he left when she was asleep, without saying goodbye, without any sign or indication, without a word. Without a very special woman that had made a large dent in his swollen, ever growing heart.
When she woke up the next morning, she knew right away something was wrong. Bernard.
Something very amazing happened in her mind that day. First, she was torn. Then, she was alright, also knowing, all along knowing that he would leave eventually.
Then, her mind wiped itself clean. It seems her brain simply erased, deleted, if you will, every memory she ever had with Bernard, every feeling she ever felt towards him, all of it. If you would have asked her about him, she would have responded with something like, Whats a Bernard?
There was something special about this womans brain, something miraculous, something almost beautiful in a blurry, frosted way, something that made it okay, unintentionally self medicating the wounds of loneliness she was forming.
Her mind simply did it.
Every thought of Bernard.
Every memory.
Every touch, every word, every idea.
All gone.

And Bernard, on his dreaded trip home, decided to plunge into the icy waters that same day, fully aware that he didnt know how to swim, fully aware, yet apathetic, thinking about something his lover had once said about taking risks, although he wasnt risking much considering his life was no longer worth living. No longer able to live with the guilt of staying away from his family, no longer able to live without his love.
Needless to say, he didnt make it home.

And the nameless woman continues to live on the island, alone, absent, happy, all knowing yet knowing nothing at all.
Is fifty years of bliss a waste if there is no one there to remember it?
Is life?

Bilston Blue
December 27th, 2010, 01:20 PM
Hi there. I like the concept of the story, and the question it poses at the end, though I feel the length of the story does it no favours. By lengthening it I feel it could deliver its message with more impact, and leave the reader thinking about the question being posed for longer. Maybe you could develop Bernard's background; the reader is aware he has a family, though little else. Tell more about his family; is his marriage sound? His relationship with his children? Parents? Work? His childhood? Anything which may be relevant to his need for escape. With this done it may become possible to put his relationship with the unnamed lady into context. What is the driving force behind his reason for staying so long? Is it what he is running from, or what he has found?

Though I have never tried it I imagine it would take a great deal of skill to write a story spanning fifty years in nine hundred words, and I admire you for trying it.

On a technical note there are some issues with commas, especially in your use of them when they aren't necessary, and this interrupts the flow of some sentences.

Finally, a point about the arrival of Bernard. The writer's job is to suspend disbelief, and your story falls down in this aspect in one place. As Bernard rings the doorbell the lady is unsure whether she has heard it, or it is her sleepy imagination. She has lived alone on this island all her life, and would therefore be accustomed to all of the noises surrounding her, especially at night time when she is silent; the animals, birds, sea, movement of timber in the house etc. The sound of a doorbell might have her frightened, or have her sitting up in a state of alarm, though I wouldn't have thought she'd have been uncertain about whether she'd heard it or not. On a similar theme, if you lived alone on an otherwise uninhabited island, would you have a doorbell?

These observations are from the reader in me, as opposed to the writer. I hope some of them help you.


December 27th, 2010, 02:16 PM
Hi Stonedpigeon

It is never easy to post your first work on the internet so well done. I will be honest but hopefully not brutal as the purpose is to help with a view to improvement not discourage.

I like the character of the woman, though I would have liked to have known her name. A loner but not lonely, living in harmony with nature.

I would chose a different sea to the Red Sea as it is a small inland sea that wouldn't have dolphins and whales.

Like Bilston I think you need to develop the story more. A lot of years pass in a short number of words. Maybe add some dialogue to show as there is a lot of telling, almost summarising. Also don't make Bernard quite so tall. 7ft would make him on the extreme of tallness.

I would also question Bernard's reasons for going. After fifty years, surely there would be nothing for him to go back to or for. You need to show what pushes him to go. There has to be some sort of catalyst to break the non-motivation to go. Why does he stay and keep reminding her he has a wife etc? It feels hurtful.

You need to make her ability to wipe her memory clean more believable. At the moment I don't buy it. It seems too convenient a way to avoid grieving.

One other thing you need to watch are your tenses. You wander from past to present and back.

I think you have a nice idea for a story. It just needs a little work.

December 28th, 2010, 04:19 AM
Thank you for the input, it's much appreciated (:
The story was meant to be somewhat abstract, which is why there are a lot of unexplained things in it (Bernard randomly leaving, her memory being wiped clean, etc.) I kind of wanted to make the reader think, but I guess that didn't work so well.
And I don't see why I shouldn't make him 7 feet tall..like is there some kind of rule that characters in stories need to be under 7 feet tall? If so, I was not aware of this.

I just like originality in my writing style is all. There has to be something to distinguish me from all of the other amazing writers out there. But, again, I guess it isn't working for me.
Thanks again and any further critique would be nice.