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Aisle of Paradise (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
Jennifer of the Glades stood at the precipice, watching the waves crash into the granite boulders below. If he did not come to meet her, Jennifer would jump.

She could see her own lithe body falling to its crushing demise, tatters of white lace and satin floating on the foamy curls of the raging waters below; her golden locks drifting sleepily above her like flames as she sank into the blue grave alone.

A light touch on the white skin of Jennifer’s bare shoulder, a hint of breath at the edge of her ear…He had come.

Turning into him, his strong hands crawled into her loose tresses, pulling her close and useless in his arms. One hand, calloused from the ride and from the hunt, found its way to the small of her back, where he pressed, bringing her into his warmth.

She sighed.

His lips discovered hers without hesitation, his kiss hard, deep and passionate. It was a kiss that needed her, ached for her, searched for her on dreamless nights when she lie awake listening to the owls, wondering if this thing called love could truly exist.

Breathless together, her bosom heaving against him, his bold, unshaven jaw caressed her as he leaned into her and whispered…

“This isn’t a library.”

Jennifer jumped. “What?”

Her gaze searched for the piercing eyes of her lover, but found instead, the tired eyes of Jeff Kemper, Assistant Manager.

“This isn’t a library,” he repeated, nodding his head toward this month’s issue of Cosmo that Jenn was slowly wrinkling in one sweaty palm.

Head down, locks of grease falling over her own tired eyes, Jenn straightened the cover and returned the magazine to its place on the shelf, jealous that even this inanimate piece of recycling had a proper place where it belonged.

She shuffled down the Aisle of Paradise with Jeff Kemper, Assistant Manager, close behind, monitoring her every step, making sure nothing went from the shelves to her pockets.

To the right, magazines full of glossy, rich women who could afford to be beautiful, who lounged on sofas and stood on balconies with perfect hair and perfect faces that were always looking away to some distant place more fantastic than the place they were standing. To the right, men dressed in fine suits, shirtless, with bare hairless chests exposed shamelessly, thoughtfully glaring at the cameras while they relaxed against bars or trees.

To the left, a plethora of colors, sweet smelling plastic that reminded her of candies and jelly shoes and hairspray. Pink blushes, brown eyeliners, silver eye-shadows, maroon lipsticks and sparkly lip gloss, lined racks up and down. To the left, compacts of powder in every shade of brown, tan, cream, and beige , perfumes with wistful names like Amazonian Breezes and Midnight Musk, brushes of every size, and enough nail polish to paint an ocean full of girls with manicures and pedicures.

Jennifer let her fingers trail across the packaging, plastic blisters and imprinted cardboard, taking in the last few breaths of the sweet smell of new. Fresh ink on paper. She lingered for only an instant, reminding herself that despite her desires, her hopes, this life – these things were unattainable. The Aisle of Paradise was just as far away as Hawaii or Siberia.

She felt Jeff Kemper, Assistant Manager, eyeing her like a physical force as he practically pushed her out of Carl’s Drug Store. She had long ago learned it wasn’t worth her energy to cop an attitude or fight about it. She remembered saying a hundred times, I’m a patron, I’m allowed to be here just like anyone else. But that didn’t necessarily apply to dirty, broke 15-year-olds whose father had a reputation for thieving from all the local businesses.

So instead of arguing, Jennifer pushed through the glass door and stepped out into reality. She performed her daily (and sometimes hourly) ritual of jabbing her finger into the change dispenser on the payphone and the newspaper boxes – nothing today. Then she pushed the sand around in the ashtray by the door, identifying the biggest butts – one Camel, two Winstons, and a Maverick – which she would take home to Skanky Frankie, the man she deplored to call her father.

She smoked both of the Winstons as she walked down the tracks to the shantytown, watching the sun set on the western horizon. Today, she passed the old railroad crossing, just before the trestle, where she would turn north and make her way to the shed she called home. Today, Jennifer did something she had never done before – she crossed the trestle over the river, and her feet found new steps out of her old life.


Senior Member
This isn't usually a genre I go for, but I think in this case it's a very engaging start. Not knowing what to expect, the sudden waking-up near the beginning made me smile, and I feel that the character, the pacing and attention to detail were all well judged. As an opener, very effective.

Blissful Lissy

Senior Member
I enjoyed this snippet very much. Your imagery is lovely, and since I have a thing for descriptions, I was very pleased. I especially liked how you substituted "locks of grease" for her hair - it's simple, yet effective in telling me something about the character. Good job!


Senior Member
I enjoyed this was well. The transition worked quite nicely "This isn't a library..." that almost made me laugh when I realized where she was, and then of course it made me a little sad when I realized how she lived. I think you captured the desires of a fifteen year-old well. I do have one problem, though. While I like the way the ending was phrased, "she crossed the trestle over the river, and her feet found new steps out of her old life," (beautiful) I'm not sure if it quite fits. It seems a bit ambiguous to me. Did she run away? Did she discover something new? Or did she simply walk along the river and return home? There isn't an indicator prior to this phrase to suggest any of those options or what might have turned her down a new path. But aside from that, this was very fun to read.


Senior Member
Very nice, great imagery and description, and nice use of emotion to elaborate the main character. The latter is especially nice, how the characters story and personality are manifested through the snippet, and it's done very well. Also leaves the reader a bit curious as to where the story is going from here.


Senior Member
Hahaha Bloggsworth! my aisle is frozen foods!! Hahaha!

Seriously, thank you all for the comments - I love that it's leaving people wondering because I would like to continue this story and fill in the details about Jennifer's life, before and after her walk across the trestle. Does she find a better life? What does she have to do to get by? And I think it would be a fun experiment to move ahead with the story but still inform the reader about her past through flashbacks and memories... Any opinions on flashbacks and what they add to a story?


Senior Member
I like the descriptions, but was a little disconcerted to find she was only fourteen - I was seeing her a minimum of seventeen. The immature drama in the beginning would be appropriate to the teenage imaginings of love, but at the same time, it is almost contradictory to the jaded outlook on life which she would have acquired in being her father's daughter. nevertheless, lovely description and thought provoking expose.


Senior Member
Hey Fossil,

Great tale! When I started reading I was like "Oh man, here we go" and the twist totally got me good. It completely caught me off guard and had me laughing out loud. Nothing was predictable, and that's what I love most in a story. I also really liked the pacing of the revelations about Jennifer. The details emerge gradually, one after another, to reveal a three dimensional, interesting, and believable character, who is above all unusual. I think that's the key, especially when beginning a story. It's so critical to hook a reader early and this works really well. It seems like the start of an interesting story and I hope to see more.

Take 'er easy


Senior Member
I agree with Mary Q. Contrary. It was written very well and as many said already, the imagery is great and it flows very well. But I'm confused with what's happening.


Senior Member

This one really caught me. I expected some real drab horse-lover nonsense that teenage girls fantasise about when I started reading it - AND I GOT IT! In the form of the fantasy of a teenage girl! Fantastic! You got that straight down. The goddamn horses, man. You have an absolute eye for characterisation. She didn't even speak, the girl didn't even speak, hell, she didn't even think - you narrated thoughts she had in the past. And I loved her! Gold. Absolute gold. And I love the smarminess of Jeff Kemper, Assistant Manager. He sounds like that sod that really grinds it in, that he's assistant manager. A Randal-type character, I've known plenty of them. And I love love love the consistent use of assistant manager that follows his name. It's like... Perfect.

The only criticisms I have are the transition from the dream-like fantasy to reality - the descriptions of the real world remain dream like. I didn't know what was going on for a few paragraphs. I know this is one of those things where you're really proud of the transition, and I wouldn't want you to change it or dilute it with things like 'and she was back in...', that'd ruin it, but a dramatic shift in mood would be great. But it had me cracking up when I realised, honestly, I laughed. And then, people said this before, it's funny, but then it's all, aauuhh... That's good, but I'd try and sharpen up the transition.

And then, also, the description drones on a little. But then, that's a personal thing, I hate description. Your approach to description is great, the juxtaposition between the magazines, and the almost satirical, sighing narration of the types of makeup, that's great, and your voice is your strong point, your narrative voice is superb, you really caught me. But I think you drift a little with the description. But someone else loved it, so hey.

I don't know if you really want criticism, though? But - praise, infinite praise. I love it. Reminds me a little of Roddy Doyle's A Star Named Henry, especially her father. The roguishness of the poor and shanty towns and all that. It really pulls me to Ireland - being Northern Irish myself - but the fact that it says 'Shanty' suggests it's somewhere further south. Where is it based, by the way? I dig it though. It's real nice.


Senior Member
“This isn’t a library.”

Jennifer jumped. “What?”

Her gaze searched for the piercing eyes of her lover, but found instead, the tired eyes of Jeff Kemper, Assistant Manager.
OMG, I loved that part! I actually laughed out loud! Brilliant!

I have no idea how anyone reading this could have possibly been confused by this piece. She was a daydreaming fifteen-year-old in a drug store, where she's not wanted because her dad is a two-bit thief, and she's dreaming about the life she'll never have, the things she'll never be able to buy and the women she'll never be like. The harsh contrast of the women in the magazines to her greasy hair and picking out cigarette butts that she'll take home to Skanky Frankie (Love that by the way...) it was perfect and I wouldn't change a thing! I would love to see you expand this. I loved the voice of the piece and the pace. More please!! And, thank you.

Kat Molina

Senior Member
this was great...i love the - uh what - moment when a stranger walks up to here. it's relatable and different. a hard combination to come by but u pulle dit off.


Senior Member
The beginning lines did make me feel like it was an overdone romance cliche', but loved that it was all intentional and that Jennifer was caught so off guard. I also pictured a lonely woman in her twenties at the time too, but it was refreshing to see it was a dirty teen. :) For some reason, I like Jennifer. Even with such a brief meeting, she seems like she's got a lot of hope and wants good things out of life. (Yeah, I got all that from being escorted away from the magazines... :p) Great start. Oh! And I loved the snap back to reality moment.


Senior Member
I loved this piece! It was so refreshing to read since I am an avid romance reader, mainly historical and paranormal, but I would've bought this at a grocery store if I had read this as an excerpt on the back of the book. I want to read more! Does she find someone? Does she not? Will Skanky Frankie clean up for his daughter or no? You did a very good job at trying to make a reader relate to your character. I can also read the hope the young girl has at a better life and the yearning she feels. I myself would walk down aisles and run my fingers over things I had always wanted. I did find smoking cigarettes out of an ashtray disconcerting as I had never done that, but I do know you were using that as background. I found the peace brilliant.


Senior Member
I must admit, I nearly hit the back button after the girly beginning! But i'm glad I didn't!

I really enjoyed it. Its different to most of the romance about today!


Senior Member
I really enjoyed this. The transition from her fantasy to where she actually was is very vell done. The description was vivid and engaging. One thing you may want to add to the description would be sounds. Is there old, cheesy love songs playing in the background in the store? Are there cars passing by outside? Otherwise, great piece. I really get a feel for the character, and there are so many places the story could go. Very curious about her new life.