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egpenny
April 23rd, 2014, 09:54 PM
This is a bit of flash fiction written from a prompt of; flat tire, picture frame, crepe paper flowers. I'm fighting comma faults and run-on sentences. Please, any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

The Storm


“It’s raining, It’s pouring, da-de-da, bumped his head, da-de-dum, something, something, in the morning.” That nursery rhyme was driving me crazy.

The windshield wipers were working hard to clear the water from the glass. The storm was torrential, and the rain easily overpowered the wipers feeble efforts. The road was empty, in front and behind the car. I was alone in my small, wet universe. Only the glow of the centerline in the headlights kept me on the road. Now, this silly rhyme was on my mind, taking my concentration away from driving.

I don’t know what possessed me to drive up here in the middle of the night. I could have stayed in my cozy, dry home until morning. I remembered then, the pushy offer of unwanted company from a cousin. This trip was personal; I needed to do this alone.

A quick glance showed me the box was still on the passenger seat. I’d thought it had slid off when I’d driven around that last sharp curve. I saw the picture frame and the faded, dusty-pink, crepe paper flower roses were still there, convicting me with their presence. That old familiar twinge of guilt settled heavily on my shoulders.

The flowers brought back the memory of good times when my sister and I had spent a week making garlands of the roses when we were teenagers. I couldn’t remember what we made them for, some event lost in history.

I wasn’t aware any of the flowers had survived from so long ago. Not until I’d found my sister’s trunk last week, hidden, shoved under the attic eaves. The flowers were in it, along with the faded picture in its tarnished frame, and the note, yellowed with age. The note said that if she was dead, I was to take the picture and the roses and lay them at her grave. I wished I’d never found that thing, never let my careless fingers lift that latch, never lifted that lid. Sister, sister, what were you thinking? What did you know when you wrote that note?

“The old man is snoring. Hah, raining, pouring, snoring, that’s another line,” I muttered as the verse came to me.

Everyone said to ignore the note, it couldn’t mean anything, as old as it was.

My sister died over twenty years ago. All that time the trunk had been in the attic, like an evil landmine, waiting to explode and push me back into the pit of guilt.

Thump-thump, the wipers kept time to some unknown music while my mind wandered. My sister, there’d been just the two of us, no other siblings. Vicky was the lively one, the lovely one, outgoing, and everyone’s friend. I was the quiet brother, bookish and introspective. I’m sure my parents thought it should have been me; I should have been driving that night. I should have endured the flat tire, I should have run off the road into that tree. And, yes, it should have been me. Pretty Vicky agreed to run an errand for me; one I thought couldn’t possibly wait for the next day. My heart hurt at the memory.

“He went to bed and bumped his head.” Yes, that was it, but there was something about the morning. “Bumped his head,” I repeated. My breath caught in a sob as my mind replayed the scenes for me. Vicky, her skull cracked, the month long coma, and me, pulling the plug to let her die.

The sign for the cemetery was just ahead. I slowed to a crawl, turning onto the gravel road and began the approach to my sister’s final resting place. The cemetery was dismal on a bright day. In the dark of the storm, it was spooky. I parked as close to her grave a possible and turned off the engine. It would be daylight soon, and then I’d see this thing through, even if the storm still raged. I needed this to be over. I needed to sink back into my life of guilt and apathy.

I dozed and woke with a start. It was dawn and the last line of the nursery rhyme came fresh to my mind.

It’s raining, it’s pouring.
The old man is snoring.
He went to bed and bumped his head,
And wouldn’t get up in the morning.

Tears streaked down my cheeks, as I pulled the picture out of the frame and picked up the small bundle of crepe paper roses. The storm had passed and all that was left was wet grass and patches of muddy dirt. The picture was of Vicky and her boyfriend. He was tall and handsome. He had died before Vickie, in an Arab land, far from home.

I leaned the picture against the headstone and wound the roses around both. The picture seemed to glow in the morning light. It was surrounded by the diamond-like glitter of rain drops that clung to the grass.

A shaft of sunshine hit my face and I turned my head to avoid its brightness. I stared, blinked my eyes, and stared again. A short distance from me my sister and her young man were dancing together. Vibrant pink roses twined around them and Vicky looked at me, laughing with joy.

The vision faded and a cold wetness seeped through my clothes. I didn’t remember sitting down on the rain-soaked ground, but there I was. There I stayed, staring at the spot where I’d witnessed—whatever it was. As the sun rose, a warm feeling of peace came over me. The guilt I’d carried for so long lifted off my shoulders; and I took in a deep breath, letting it out in a slow sigh.

This old man would get up in the morning, I thought, as I rose to my feet. Maybe I’d get up to a happier life, too.

“Good-bye Vicky. Love you, sis,” I said and turned to leave.

Plasticweld
April 23rd, 2014, 10:40 PM
I wish I could tell you I spotted something that would help you with the grammar or punctuation, that you mentioned in your intro. The honest answer is that this is a good story written well in my opinion, it flowed well and at no time did I get lost and have to re-read or stumble in the middle of a sentence for a lack of a coma. I am not the guy to ask for this kind of help but I can tell you as an expert, story teller, Great Story!

Trygve
April 23rd, 2014, 11:31 PM
Nicely done, really. I saw no run-on sentences.

in the second line, I think it should be in front of and behind the car. If you take out the "and behind" part, it makes the need for "of" more obvious.

I suppose you could argue that this sentence could use a semicolon or be written as two separate sentences : I should have endured the flat tire, I should have run off the road into that tree. The "I" to begin each clause was absolutely necessary in the context, and it's sort of list-y, so I think it's a fine place to break a minor rule when the two are more closely related than a semicolon might suggest.

I think it would be better to omit the comma here: Tears streaked down my cheeks, as I pulled the picture out of the frame and picked up the small bundle of crepe paper roses.
The "as" makes the second clause dependent on the first and takes away the need for a comma.

Your sentences varied nicely, and I loved the way you wove the rhyme through the story. Also, the setting and weather really augmented the tone. Well done, in my humble opinion.

egpenny
April 25th, 2014, 02:30 AM
Plasticweld - Thanks for the kind words. That must mean I'm getting better at spotting things.

Trygve - Thank you for the comments. I'll do some editing on the original.

I appreciate both of you!

Mice of Men
April 27th, 2014, 11:10 PM
Nicely done! Really generic story, well done.

dvspec
May 7th, 2014, 09:36 PM
I really enjoyed the story, it is well done and since you posted it for help, I thought I would throw in my two cents. The prompts sounds familiar, where did it come from?

I have done a line edit, but it is really well written and I didn't find much to point out.

On my first read rain paragraph bothered me a little.

The windshield wipers were working hard to clear the water from the glass. The storm was torrential, and the rain easily overpowered the wipers feeble efforts. I would cut from the glass and rework the sentences to read "The windshield wipers were working hard to clear the water from the torrential storm. The rain easily over. . . "

The road was empty, in front <Agree with whoever said it needs an "of" and behind the car <consider changing this to 'me'. I was alone in my small, wet universe. <Like that line. Only the glow of the centerline <one word or two? in the headlights kept me on the road. Now, this silly rhyme was on my mind, taking my concentration away from driving.

This trip was personal; I needed to do this alone. <first use of a ; that I have seen and approved of on this site.

Pretty Vicky <I like that> agreed to run an errand for me; one I thought couldn’t possibly wait for the next day. <There is the second.

I’m sure my parents thought it should have been me; <Don't approve of that one. Needs to be a . so that the next sentence matches with the next two. I should have been driving that night. I should have endured the flat tire, <.> I should have run off the road into that tree. <Sounds like a mantra.

like an evil landmine, waiting to explode and push me back into the pit of guilt. <you don't need an evil landmine, just a landmine.

I’m sure my parents thought it should have been me; I should have been driving that night. <and that is three. I may have to change my view of these.


I wished I’d never found that thing, never let my careless fingers lift that latch <didn't like the use of careless.

I saw the picture frame and the faded, dusty-pink, crepe paper flower roses were still there, convicting me with their presence. <Loose the "I saw" you don't need it. I picked up on this because I do it a lot myself

Tears streaked down my cheeks, as I pulled the picture out of the frame and picked up the small bundle of crepe paper roses. <Why is he removing the picture from the frame? I would have left it in there and it will blow away when he places it.

The picture was of Vicky and her boyfriend. He was tall and handsome. He had died before Vickie, in an Arab land, far from home. <I'd make this one sentence. It's choppy this way.

diamond-like glitter of rain drops that clung to the grass. <lose that and make it clinging.

I stared, blinked my eyes, <don't think you need that , .> and stared again. A short distance from me <,> my sister and her young man were dancing together.

As the sun rose, a warm feeling of peace came over me. <lose warm, I attributed it to the sunrise. >

The guilt I’d carried for so long lifted off <I would use 'from'> my shoulders; <Don't approve of that ; > and I took in a deep breath, letting it out in a slow sigh.

“Good-bye Vicky. Love you, sis,” I said and turned to leave. <I prefer the story without this line. I think the good bye has already been said. >

I hope that helps. Good luck.

egpenny
May 9th, 2014, 04:17 AM
dvspec - That's what I was looking for...Thanks

dvspec
May 9th, 2014, 05:27 AM
Glad to help.

garza
May 11th, 2014, 10:01 PM
egpenny - It's rare I enjoy something so lacking in dialogue, but this piece carried me along on tension's edge then set me gently down in calm relief. Good job.

dvspec - Your critique provides a nice polish to an already delightful bit of writing. this is how a witing forum is supposed to work.

W M Gardner
June 3rd, 2014, 05:57 AM
Like the repetition of the nursery rhyme. Good job.

HumanYoYo
July 30th, 2014, 05:34 AM
dvspec pretty much covered the sentence structure and grammar. Other than those critiques, I thought it was well done. You set up the environment and setting nicely. The nursery rhyme fits well with the character and tone.

Apex
August 6th, 2014, 06:39 PM
egpenny,

There used to be a song, "Comma,comma,comma, come come come," or something like that. Like you I was known as the comma king. If there were two words, I would put a comma between them. I always had a full box of commas near by. I was the joke of any forum I was a member of. My bad comma usage made others feel better than they were. I didn't have the slightest idea where the dame things should be...so I went out and got a book..."Nitty-Gritty Grammar.( ISBN 0-439-69211-3 )

I loved this little easy to read, and understand book. I loved it so much, I glued it to my forehead. Parts of it are still there. This little book will give you everything you will ever need on, grammar, and Punctuation.
Don't tell anybody I still have this book...I want them to think I'm smart. It's a secret...shhhhh.

Dr. Garp
August 8th, 2014, 12:50 AM
I could do without the nursery rhyme. Your character is taking care of a serious matter in his life, I just think his mind would be more somber and quiet.. Or reflective and serious... Which is the tone throughout the rest of the story.. so I don't think taking out the nursery rhyme would bother the flow or structure of it at all if you chose to do so. Other than that, I liked it. Good story.

MHarding53
March 6th, 2015, 04:18 AM
I am going to start my comment here with this observation. Great opening sentence! I have not even read the story yet, and that sentence has me hooked. As writers we are always searching for that one unbroken string of words that will have a profound effect on a reader. You nailed it for me. Now I plan to read the rest.

Do not change a single word. My own tears speak to your ability as a writer.

I wonder if I might have your permission to share this with one other person - full credit given to you of course.

I have read the edits by dvspec and agree with all but one.
"The windshield wipers were working hard to clear the water from the torrential storm. The rain easily over. . . "
Windshield wipers were never designed to clear the water from a torrential storm. They are only created to clear water from windshields. I do see what he is talking about though.

Perhaps:

It was a torrential storm. The windshield wipers were working hard to clear the water. They were failing. The road was empty.

cdr112
March 14th, 2015, 08:42 PM
Great writing. It had me glued to my monitor. Thanks for sharing.

curtis
July 24th, 2015, 10:35 PM
I like the characterization. The character seems believable:
“The old man is snoring. Hah, raining, pouring, snoring, that’s another line,” I muttered as the verse came to me."

I like the comparison. The metaphor is very good:
"My sister died over twenty years ago. All that time the trunk had been in the attic, like an evil landmine, waiting to explode and push me back into the pit of guilt."


I like the way that the plot unfolds. Nice pacing:
"I’m sure my parents thought it should have been me; I should have been driving that night. I should have endured the flat tire, I should have run off the road into that tree."

bdcharles
July 24th, 2015, 10:43 PM
Hi,

First thoughts:

The sentences are quite short and there's not a huge amount of variation in their structure. Maybe change (for example):

The windshield wipers were working hard to clear the water from the glass. The storm was torrential, and the rain easily overpowered the wipers feeble efforts. The road was empty, in front and behind the car. I was alone in my small, wet universe. Only the glow of the centerline in the headlights kept me on the road. Now, this silly rhyme was on my mind, taking my concentration away from driving.

to something like:

The windshield wipers were working hard to clear the torrential water from the windscreen, but the storm easily overpowered their feeble efforts. The road was empty both in front and behind the car, and I was alone in my small, wet universe, with only the glow of the centerline in the headlights to keep me on the road; and now, this silly rhyme was on my mind, taking my concentration away from driving.


Didn't see too many comma run ons though, no more than the voice would warrant at any rate.

Hope this helps :)

zgbgwfs
July 28th, 2015, 02:00 AM
nice read

DATo
August 2nd, 2015, 09:53 PM
A very beautiful, and exquisitely delivered short story! The song served as a nice catalyst to tie the story together - I found that to be a particularly creative and effective device.

No criticisms ... nicely done ... and thank you for sharing!

chrismackey
August 22nd, 2015, 09:49 PM
Well written. Post more :)

Amnesiac
October 13th, 2015, 10:10 PM
A very beautiful, and exquisitely delivered short story! The song served as a nice catalyst to tie the story together - I found that to be a particularly creative and effective device.

No criticisms ... nicely done ... and thank you for sharing!

+1. Wonderful! Well written, well told. :)

chrisatola
October 28th, 2015, 03:20 AM
I enjoyed the story. I didn't notice any overt grammar issues. My one critical comment is that I don't like that last 2 lines. The story gave me a "feeling" and the last two lines kind of undercut that feeling.

Abishai100
October 28th, 2015, 05:30 PM
I liked your imagery approach but would have been also interested to see more allusions to wind rather than rain. Your style of writing seems more conducive to wind as a weather feature; at the same time, your use of rain highlights your apparent interest in sensory memories.

Josh Colon
November 4th, 2015, 01:26 AM
>>>
My sister died over twenty years ago. All that time the trunk had been in the attic, like an evil landmine, waiting to explode and push me back into the pit of guilt.
>>>

Personally,
I liked the 'evil landmine'. Sure, one could say all landmines are evil . . and it might not have been necessary.
But, in trying to convey the characters feelings I think adding the evil works well.

I found it worth reading.
Josh.

Minu
November 8th, 2015, 09:22 PM
This is a bit of flash fiction written from a prompt of; flat tire, picture frame, crepe paper flowers. I'm fighting comma faults and run-on sentences. Please, any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

The Storm


“It’s raining, It’s pouring, da-de-da, bumped his head, da-de-dum, something, something, in the morning.” That nursery rhyme was driving me crazy. Maybe instead of disjointed put in two lines of the verse. "It's raining, it's pouring... the old man is snoring." Grimacing I shook my head, but the old rhyme was like a burr. Since this morning, it had been driving me crazy. It always did this time of year.

The windshield wipers were working hard to clear the water from the glass. The storm was torrential, and the rain easily overpowered the wipers feeble efforts. The road was empty, in front and behind the car. I was alone in my small, wet universe. Only the glow of the centerline in the headlights kept me on the road. Now, this silly rhyme was on my mind, taking my concentration away from driving. This is nice but it sort of repeats itself. This time of year was, after all, hurricane season. With no love of the sea, I still lived close enough to get battered with the dregs. Cool summer rain pounded against the roof. The wipers were nearly a blur as they struggled against the downpour. Painted black the roadway was almost invisible in the growing shadows. More than once the thought to pull over crossed my mind but still I kept going. It was better to get this done now, no point in waiting.

I don’t know what possessed me to drive up here in the middle of the night. I could have stayed in my cozy, dry home until morning. I remembered then, the pushy offer of unwanted company from a cousin. This trip was personal; I needed to do this alone. Sort of works with the aspect of what I wrote in red better. However, is the presence of the cousin really necessary? It gives the sense that had the cousin not being present he wouldn't have come now -- maybe putting the trip off for a day or two. And he knows what "possessed him" - the noisy cousin. Oh I could have been at home. Warm, tucked up in front of the fire and maybe a glass of wine. A good book. I was halfway through Joe John's book Chaingang; whoever would have thought an ex-con could turn into such a good author. Must be his personal experiences; I'd found some of the best crime books were written by lawyers after all. But Chaingang was going to have to wait. Putting this off was out of the question. I owed her that much at least.

A quick glance showed me the box was still on the passenger seat. I’d thought it had slid off when I’d driven around that last sharp curve. I saw the picture frame and the faded, dusty-pink, crepe paper flower roses were still there, convicting me with their presence. That old familiar twinge of guilt settled heavily on my shoulders. The weather's bad and yet he's glancing about and driving crazy around sharp turns. Nada. A flash of lightning in the distance lit up the car interior. On the passenger seat the box. Some part of me had hoped it had tumbled to the ground when I'd hit that pothole. Dang thing had come out of nowhere. But no it sat nestled between faded dusty pink crepe flowers [paper really isn't necessary, most should know what crepe paper is], mocking me. The edge of the picture frame was just visible in the mess. I swallowed. Whoever had said things got easier with time was an idiot.


I may continue a bit later, I meant to continue but I'm starving right about now and lunch is being served.

Aquarius
November 9th, 2015, 02:33 PM
A good story, well told - I would not change anything. It is so well related that I feel the events happened in real life. And the vision you saw at the end was a glimpse into our other world, the world of light, our true home, where Vicky and her boyfriend are happily united and dancing - to music of the spheres maybe. It was given to you as a reward for all the trouble you had taken to fulfil Vicky's last wish.

With love - Aquarius

crimewriter95
November 16th, 2015, 08:29 PM
Very great story. I'm very fascinated by the lack of character interaction through dialogue, yet still being able to tell a very visual and atmospheric story.

Marcus Diaz
November 29th, 2015, 04:09 AM
Very well done, i like your writing style.

Courtjester
May 11th, 2016, 01:56 PM
I enjoyed reading this piece. Very well written and presented. A fine effort in my view. Hope you don't mind my pointing out a missing apostrophe at the end of the word 'wipers' in the second paragraph. I look forward to seeing more of your work.

wainscottbl
February 14th, 2017, 09:51 AM
My sister, there’d been just the two of us, no other siblings



My sister, there’d been just the two of us, no other siblings

This is a side remark, so it requires the old ---sidemark here-- or (sidemark here). Your choice of the line or partenthes


My heart hurt at the memory

typo alert: hurts


He had died before Vickie, in an Arab land, far from home.

Please use that in a poem. Not sure if this is based on reality, but use that in a poem. It's a very good line. Except is doesn't work here. The Gulf War or some war in the Middle East? He was a soldier? Tell us.

Finally, the verdict: very moving, well written piece. Touched me at the end. It didnt make me cry, but it could have if I was disposed that way. I could really picture this and feel the emotion of the character. You painted a beautiful, melancholy picture. Good job!

plawrence
April 4th, 2017, 08:29 PM
I have a couple of thoughts.


“It’s raining, It’s pouring, da-de-da, bumped his head, da-de-dum, something, something, in the morning.” That nursery rhyme was driving me crazy.

The windshield wipers were working hard to clear the water from the glass. The storm was torrential, and the rain easily overpowered the wipers feeble efforts. The road was empty, in front and behind the car. I was alone in my small, wet universe. Only the glow of the centerline in the headlights kept me on the road. Now, this silly rhyme was on my mind, taking my concentration away from driving.

I don’t know what possessed me to drive up here in the middle of the night. I could have stayed in my cozy, dry home until morning. I remembered then, the pushy offer of unwanted company from a cousin. This trip was personal; I needed to do this alone.

A quick glance showed me the box was still on the passenger seat. I’d thought it had slid off when I’d driven around that last sharp curve. I saw the picture frame and the faded, dusty-pink, crepe paper flower roses were still there, convicting me with their presence. That old familiar twinge of guilt settled heavily on my shoulders.

"The storm was torrential, and the rain easily overpowered the wipers feeble efforts."
I would write this "The torrential storm easily overpowered

"The road was empty."

I don't need to know if it's in front and behind. It's enough to know it's empty.

Maybe it's just me, but I like punchy, succinct prose. I don't like a lot of added detail. It tends to slow me down, bore me and make me want to stop reading.

So this is how I would rewrite the second paragraph.

The windshield wipers worked hard to clear the water from the glass, the torrential storm easily overpowering their feeble efforts. The road was empty. I was alone in my small, wet universe. Only the glow of the centerline in the headlights kept me on the road. Now, this silly rhyme was on my head, taking my concentration away from driving.

I hope this helps.

AimlessWanderer
April 10th, 2017, 08:43 AM
Nicely done! I'll not comment on the punctuation, as I'm a grammar buffoon. I liked the flow of the work, but found the last two lines superfluous and disjointed. Maybe one way to have drawn it to a close would have been with a rewritten version of the rhyme, something along the lines of:

Not raining, or pouring,
This old man stopped mourning,
He laid to bed, his sister dead,
(or kissed the head, of his sister dead)
And found peace again in the morning.

The old rhyme haunting him through the darkness, then yielding light in the dawn, might afford a better closure.

loueleven
May 7th, 2017, 02:50 AM
I enjoyed reading this. I appreciate you posting.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

polaroidcaesar
May 13th, 2017, 09:04 PM
It's quite simply written, without much artifice, but I have to admit that I enjoyed it. The story was well-structured, and the plot revealed in a way that made you want to know what was going to happen next. My principal criticism is that the ending is overly sentimental. There are some grammatical quibbles as well, but they've most likely already been addressed by other posters. Overall, good job.

w.riter
May 18th, 2017, 01:09 PM
A good piece combining the past, the present and the future. The depiction of brotherly love touched me. Especially when we consider the fact that you combined it with the memory of the rhyme that was everpresent in the character's mind. Kid stuff, you know:)

RC James
January 26th, 2018, 04:46 PM
egpenny - This a well-written piece - no real bumps in terms of grammar or run-on's. The beginning is excellent - the reader jumps right into the narrator's head along with that nursery rhyme - a nice touch - just about anyone can relate to having a song or melody stuck in their head, unceasing.

"evil landmine" - not so sure of - it gives an inanimate thing intention - maybe just strike "evil."

I think the last part of the rhyme goes - "...and (couldn't) get up in the morning - now you've got my head starting in on it.

I enjoyed this - Best - RC

Leke A
November 30th, 2018, 02:17 AM
I thought it was well written and sweet. I can't say I felt any tension but you did a good job of expressing the character's sadness at the death of his sister. I loved this part:

I’m sure my parents thought it should have been me; I should have been driving that night. I should have endured the flat tire, I should have run off the road into that tree. And, yes, it should have been me. Pretty Vicky agreed to run an errand for me; one I thought couldn’t possibly wait for the next day. My heart hurt at the memory.

I liked the rhyming and rhythm. This wasn't a terribly original piece, a little generic even, but it was a nice and short read.

hubriscomplex
February 19th, 2019, 03:18 AM
I really liked the way you incorporated the nursery rhyme into the story and not just bc I'm a fan of literary repetition lol. Nicely done!

Amnesiac
February 22nd, 2019, 08:22 PM
Fantastic piece. I really enjoyed this. Thank you!