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GostPhareal
November 30th, 2011, 09:25 AM
I posted this short story yesterday on my blog, I hope you enjoy.

The last day of our honeymoon had been planned to be the best. The day was warm and sunny, and the small propeller airplane was now high in the sky. She was next to me, scared but excited. Her eyes were shining the same way they had on the day I proposed her. They signalled to us that the jump was close. I looked outside the windows and I saw the blue sea shining in the bay of Plenty. She kissed me one last time, and in that kiss I could feel her energy and eagerness. When she let go of my lips, I felt like nothing could stop me; I felt almighty.

They opened the door. The plane was still climbing, and it seems as if it would never stop. The sound came gushing into the small cabin where we were all cramped. I could now see the propeller rotating at incredible speeds in the opening of the door. I could see the bright blue sky, streaked with birds flying around what could have been a shoal. The sun was setting on the horizon, the timing was perfect. The red light was making this jump one of the most romantic experience I had had with her.

I looked in her eyes one last time before we both jumped above Mount Maunganui. The rush of air through my body was intense, I felt as my clothes had been torn apart. I could not feel the protective glasses that I once had on my eyes. She was right behind me; she had jumped a little later. Her hairs were going wild, changing direction with every gust of wind. She could have been screaming, but I could not hear. I could only see that she was smiling.

As we approached the surface of the sea, I could see cargo ships on the horizon, waiting to deliver their payload. Under me, dolphins were following the boat that was to fish us out of the sea. We drifted in the air, eastwards above the sea. I was wondering if landing in the sea, would not be too cold for my sensitive body, but at that very moment, all I did was enjoy. She was not far from me, although I could not reach for her. The jump was breath taking; the view amazing. It seemed as if the sun was setting at the same speed of our descent.

My vision was shortening; I could not tell whether it was due to the speed or the setting sun. My sight was blurred, my eyes were closing. I tried to open my parachute before it was too late. But the problem arose and my eyes opened wide. My parachute would not deploy. I tried, kept trying but nothing happened. I just seemed to fall faster. In a last attempt, I tried the emergency parachute. The reassuring view of the red smaller parachute did not appear over me.

She was there. She had caught up on me and she was now next to me. I looked at her desperately, and I could see her smile. She was not smiling, she was laughing. The sun was disappearing behind her. She opened her parachute and then she was gone. The sun had set, and the obscurity was enshrouding me. For a second, I hoped it was a dream. I hoped I would wake up. The surface of the sea was now approaching fast.

It did not hurt. I did not hear, I did not feel anything.

And then I remembered: I was dead.

Mistique
November 30th, 2011, 11:08 AM
I liked reading it. I would have to read it again to give more detailed comments, but I don't think you need to add the last line (and then I remembered: I was dead) as thie previous bit is clear enough in suggesting this.

Rob
November 30th, 2011, 02:10 PM
Minor points to note, easily fixed:

Her eyes were shining the same way they had on the day I proposed her. They signalled to us that the jump was close.
This reads as though her eyes (they) signalled to them that the jump was close.


I could now see the propeller rotating at incredible speeds in the opening of the door.
Propellers actually become less visible as they reach high speed, to the point of practically being able to see right through them as they rotate.


Her hairs were going wild, changing direction with every gust of wind.
Not sure about the gusts. I would have though that downward speed in freefall is usually such that unrestrained hair is pulled straight upwards.

Sorry to appear picky.

123man
November 30th, 2011, 08:54 PM
I liked reading it. I would have to read it again to give more detailed comments, but I don't think you need to add the last line (and then I remembered: I was dead) as thie previous bit is clear enough in suggesting this.

Mistique, while it is clear that the fall killed him, I interpreted the story differently than you. The last line coupled with the title led me to believe that this man was dreaming about how he had died, after he died. Like his spirit was alive and had memories. Our different take on this could be a failure of the author's to adequately portray what he meant - or it could be looked at as the beauty that is the ambiguity of art.

GostPhareal,
I think "she" should be named. It's in first person, so we wouldn't get his name unless some dialog addressed him, but I would think he would think of his love by her beautiful first name.

Overall, I liked it. As the end approached and I assumed his chute wasn't going to open, I found myself getting a little nervous anyway.

GostPhareal
November 30th, 2011, 09:03 PM
First of all, thank you for the comments.

To Rob, I noted your pickyness (if I may) and I thank you for it. You do need to be picky in this business. I changed it in my original version of the story.

To 123man, I named 'she' on my first draft, but I then decided that her name would not have changed anything. And about the fact that you interpreted it different ways, well I like to live in some mystery, and you appear to have left out another point that is blurred on purpose. And to be true, it is a dead man dreaming of his death, I thought that the title would give a big enough hint on that, but that could be a failure of my part.

jplayne
December 2nd, 2011, 04:38 AM
Great descriptions. I felt like I could see the everything that the character is seeing as he is falling. I also like the sense of tragedy knowing that this is occurring on his honeymoon. The ending caught me off guard a bit. You state that the character is dead, is he already dead and reliving this moment or is the character some sort of zombie or vampire (I am doubting the latter). I also wonder why the character is reliving is this moment. Is there more to the story?

GostPhareal
December 2nd, 2011, 06:25 AM
I also wonder why the character is reliving is this moment. Is there more to the story?

It is simply a dead dreaming of his death. And, I absolutely did not think about zombies or vampires.

Nolan
December 2nd, 2011, 07:23 AM
This is my first time giving any feedback, so take it for what it's worth (something along the lines of a grain of salt). With that in mind, I think the power in the piece lies in the fifth paragraph. It's the crucial moment, and I really enjoy the contrast between it and the other paragraphs, with the writing going from very descriptive to almost staccato. It captures the feeling of panic wonderfully. My critique would really just be the play upon this even more. For instance, I think the last sentence in paragraph 5 (The reassuring view of the red smaller parachute did not appear over me) would be more powerful if it read in a shorter, almost breathless fashion (maybe "Its reassuring presence did not appear over me).

Hopefully my comment isn't out of line, as it is my first one I'm still getting used to the do's and don'ts. Regardless, I enjoyed the story quite a bit.

Kevin
December 4th, 2011, 10:50 PM
I like it !

little things:

P1: proposed to, "almighty" is a strong religious reference which is very narrowly used- sure you want to use this? simply a "small plane" would already denote a prop driven craft

P2: experiences , "had had" yes, but reads awkward. Perhaps "ever"?

P3: around my body, as if my clothes..., (goggles? blown off?)

okay, enough.

MFAer
December 5th, 2011, 05:45 PM
I like the tense elements in this: the encroaching sea, the scathing wind, but ultimately I think the problem with this piece lies in its not offering anything new to an old story; the reflection after death, reminiscent of Spoon River and other such stories dealing with the same thing. I saw the ending coming from the first paragraph and title alone, so all I really needed to do was skip to the end to confirm the punchline. The story itself then is merely filler that just happens to change between storyteller to storyteller, like that famous joke "Rectum? Damn near killed em;" no one is ever sure of the original set-up and no one cares. It's all in the punchline. Unfortunately, I don't think that works quite as well for storytelling.

The ambiguity here may also be a problem. Why was the wife laughing when his chute failed to open? Did she sabatoge it herself? If so, that might be interesting enough to take this story in a new direction.

As for something more technical, watch the passive voice in the first sentence. You may want to establish distance with your narrator, but ensure that you've executed that distance with a polish.

I hope this helps.

River Girl
December 6th, 2011, 04:13 AM
GostPhareal,

I agree with Ink Blot on two elements. First, I also felt that the last lines of the made it clear that story was being as a recollection from a dead man about his death. Second, I think the reader would have a deeper emotional connection to the story if the wife were given a name.

I especially liked this passage:

“She was there. She had caught up on me and she was now next to me. I looked at her desperately, and I could see her smile. She was not smiling, she was laughing. The sun was disappearing behind her. She opened her parachute and then she was gone.”

I may be reading too much into it, but it seemed to convey both his literal recollection of this moment and a symbolic reference to his dying—“the sun was disappearing behind her . . . . and then she was gone.”

I thought you captured perfectly the confusion and terror that one might associate with such an ordeal, which I thought added to the sadness of the scene. He’s terrified, knowing that his chute is not opening, while she’s enjoying the experience, unaware of his impending doom. One could assume that this exchange took place in a matter of seconds, giving the wife no time to interpret the desperate look on her husband’s face. I could feel the horror of it all.

I also took symbolic meaning from your passage “the sun was setting at the same speed [as] our descent.” Since the man is already dead and dreaming of his death, was this an accurate recollection of his feelings/perception at this moment of the jump when he was alive or is the sun seemingly setting at the same pace as their descent as a symbol of his falling to his death, or both? Just curious.

Other than some grammatical issues and some need for clarity here and there, I really enjoyed your poem. I got a little more from it each time I read it. Thanks for sharing.

Cuppy
December 6th, 2011, 07:47 PM
I liked it. It really seemed like a surreal, dream-like type of thing.

Admittedly, the propeller thing bothered me too.