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Magical Instead Of Artificial (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
A little extract from my futuristic romance :)

That evening, there’s a quiz on at the holiday village pub, and maybe we go because we want to and maybe we go to put off sharing a bed. But either way, we go.
The pub’s one of those places that puts the ‘ye olde’ before pretty much anything, but apart from that, it seems like a pretty good place. There’s a nice atmosphere – it’s warm, there’s good music, and we find a nice little table near the back. Tally looks at me through her glass of wine. “I’m so glad you came, Harris.”
“Me too,” I agree, and raise my pint, “To the old times.”
Tally clinks her glass against mine. “The old times.”
“So this article you’re doing for work…” I start, but Tally shakes her head.
“Let’s not talk about work.”
“We’re on holiday, Harris!” Tally says, and laughs, “Calm down.”
“Okay, okay. We haven’t seen this other journalist yet, have we? That Wendy woman?”
“So far, so good,” Tally agrees, “But I’m keeping a firm eye out; that woman is gifted at turning up out of nowhere.”
And then a man starts to hand out sheets of paper and the quiz begins.
It is ferocious. I don’t know what we thought it would be like, but everyone takes it way too seriously, with false accusations of cheating flying around between tables. Tally and I keep to ourselves, working methodically through the question, occasionally ducking to avoid flying missiles.
“Latest single by Daddy Is A Diplomat?” Tally reads aloud in disgust, “Who are they?”
“It’s called Come Back,” I answer, grabbing the pen and scribbling furiously, and she looks at me in disbelief, “It’s a good song. God, who starred in Life of Pi? That was donkey’s years ago.”
“It’s coming to me,” Tally muses, and then exclaims, “Got it! Suraj Sharma!”
“Phew, thought we were lost then. Look at this – what is the world’s smallest fish?”
And so it goes on. Eventually, after an hour, we hand in our papers and the results are counted. We’re Table Number 12.
“And in third place… Table Number 4!” A team of rugby-player men roar loudly in happiness, and down a beer between them.
“In second… Table Number 15!” A group of middle-aged ladies, who look like they all go to the same book club, pat each other affectionately. It’s very sweet.
And then quite suddenly I look down and Tally is holding my hand, her fingers tight with tension. There is no romance there, only hope, but the strange thing is that I remember so well what it felt like to hold that same hand in an entirely different way. And I remember it felt good.
“And in first place…” an expectant drumroll rises from the audience, “Is Table Number 6!”
Tally sighs, and releases my hand. “Never mind.”
I smile at her. “It could’ve been worse.”
The corners of her mouth start to turn upwards. “You always were good at making the best of a bad situation, Harris.”
“Mm,” I say, thinking of her and Luke and me and Melanie and how despite all of that, I’m sat here right now with Tally, “Yes, I suppose I am.”
We leave the pub when it shuts, which is at one o’clock in the morning. Neither of us are drunk – we made that one of our rules – but we’ve just been talking for so long we lost track of time. Perhaps, though, drunk or not, one o'clock in the morning is never a good time for making decisions.
“Want to go to the pool?” Tally suggests, yawning.
“It won’t be open, will it?” I match, “And we’re going to go tomorrow anyway.”
“We could break in.” Tally says breathlessly, and for some reason that sounds like the best thing either of us has said all evening.
The pool is at the other end of the camp, and it takes us an age to walk up the hill, the dark only punctured by lights from inside other lodges. I can see my breath in front of me. “I love doing things like this.”
“Me too. You see, with Luke…” Tally stops, probably because she’d been about to say something she shouldn’t. But I still wish she’d said it anyway, because I think I know exactly what she means. Luke is, perhaps, one of the good guys – he would never, ever even dream of breaking into a swimming pool in the early hours of the morning. But here we are.
Eventually we turn off, and take the woodland track that leads us to the pool. It’s totally dark now we’ve left the cabins behind, and we have to feel our way forward.
And then we clear the trees, and the pool is ahead of us. It’s a huge dome structure, and it’s lit from inside, though it’s definitely closed. We can see the tendrils of outdoor water slides snaking around the complex. The lights from inside make it appear some kind of gigantic hub, and it makes everything around it glow.
“Wow.” Tally breathes, and somehow, she’s right. Without the commotion of families and little children and cars coming and going, the place seems magical instead of artificial.
“How are we going to get in?” I whisper – we’re the only ones here, but you’re never too old for a bit of excitement, are you?
“The slides. We’ll have to.” Tally says, and gestures towards the slides, which look like pipes with the top cut off. I can hear the gush of running water – they must leave the power on overnight, to help keep the water moving constantly.
“But how are we going to get up there?” The slides cling to the structure at least halfway up.
But Tally’s eyes gleam with determination. “Easy, we’ll climb.”
“Tally, it’s really high up. And how are we going to climb in the slides?”
“Wait and see,” she says, and starts running across the glass towards the building. I don’t follow her for a moment or two. I just watch.
In so many ways, she is exactly the same as she was years ago. In the semi-dark, I can easily kid myself her red hair is blue. The thing is, I was wrong before when I said there was no attraction between us now. Well, perhaps she feels nothing for me but in the time we’ve known each other again I’ve realised how much I missed her. I always was in love with Tally, and I worry the longer I spend with her, the more I always will be.
“Harris! Come on!” she yells, and in that instant I forget about everything between us, and run after her.
“Got you!” I pant a few moments later as I catch her up. I don’t feel like I’m twenty-six at all. I feel like I’m seventeen again.
She laughs, the sound carried across by the wind. “I think you were right. God knows how we’re going to get up here.”
And then, I’m not quite sure what comes over me, but I’m certain it has something to do with it being two o’clock in the morning and the fact I can pretend I’m a teenager and the truth that I’m with the girl I always wanted. All I know is that suddenly I’m grabbing Tally’s hand and we’re climbing up the side of the dome, gripping onto supports and helping each other. And then we are level with the slide, just a few metres to the right of the opening. We sit together, side by side, on the support, our legs dangling. We’re high up. Very high up.
I stare up at the sky. “Don’t look down.” I say to Tally.
“Never,” she says, and I get the sense that this is forbidden, not only because we’re halfway up a building but because my hand is still warm from hers.
“Are you ready?” I look at the slide. We have to speak loudly now, as the water’s noise is so tremendous.
“We’re going to get soaking. I should’ve brought my swimming stuff.”
“Mm, me too,” I say, and before she can argue I stand up on the support feeling more brave than ever in my life, “Well, it’s too late now.”
Then I do the most stupid and the most wonderful thing I have ever done in my entire life.
I run along the edge of the support and throw myself into the water slide.


WF Veterans
the spacing between sentences was a bit to compact for me but the story was so quintessentially English with the pub quiz and later on in the holiday camp..i enjoyed the dialogue and you just added enough detail for me to get a feel for the places they both visited..from the line..your never to old I assume it's an older couple and I liked that angle..really enjoyed it...


WF Veterans
This flows well. No specific criticisms. It's an interesting point about their ages and I wonder how much readers would relate to that. At age twenty-six I probably had a wilder attitude to life than I had at seventeen. As a teenager I had all the issues of exams and a future to consider but at twenty-six I had a sound career and a far better idea of what I could do with my life. Within days of my twenty-sixth birthday I proposed marriage to my still teenaged angel shortly before she entered her twenties. Maybe that had something to do with it. No, I'd never use my teenage years as a yardstick for how happy I have been since. Do others?


Staff member
Media Manager
It's really nice and you capture the sparks of attraction very well. I particularly enjoyed this:

“Don’t look down.”

because it somehow captured the free and positive nature of their friendship - don't look down; don't ever be sad. Might foreshadow something, some sadness, we shall see...

I liked this whole ambiguousness in this sentence:
"maybe we go because we want to and maybe we go to put off sharing a bed."
sets us up nicely for a good, easy situation.

With this:
“Me too,” I agree, and raise my pint, “To the old times.”

"I agree" is a bit redundant, being that it's implicit in "Me too". why not just:

“Me too.” I raise my pint. “To the old times.”

Makes it more close and less "talky", more "it really happened". Note there should be a full stop after pint, if the next spoken bit is a new sentence rather than a carry-on of the previous one. That is repeated a few times elsewhere.

Repetition of "nice" in the first couple of paragraphs. Instead of describing the pub as nice, why not describe it exactly, even in the context of T and H's actions. "We scrape a couple of non-matching chairs to a round table near a casement window filled with cushions and embroidered cats, and set our glasses on the wobbly surface" or something.

With this:
"down a beer between them."
Do you mean a beer each? I'm sure rugby players are not unadjacent to sharing glasses but they might get put out if that was all the beer they had ;)


Senior Member
Your writing flows very well and I like your style, it makes me want to keep reading. It's not easy to find anything too specific to criticize because it's a very realized story that handles the character development and situations well, and you've got at least two really great lines in there that make it stand out.

Some points:

There’s a nice atmosphere – it’s warm, there’s good music, and we find a nice little table near the back.
+ That's a bit of a show, don't tell situation.

As bdcharles said, "down a beer between them" that makes them seem somewhat less macho. :/ Maybe they order a fresh pitcher and toast to their success? Play up the chav factor?

There is no romance there, only hope, but the strange thing is that I remember so well what it felt like to hold that same hand in an entirely different way. And I remember it felt good.
+That's a really, really great sentence. You capture the emotion perfectly.

“We could break in.” Tally says breathlessly,
+Maybe skip "breathlessly"? (People can't really talk well if they can't breathe...)

I agree with bdcharles about the "Don't look down" line. It captures a lot with just three words.

I don't agree that (at least these days) it's simpler to be 26 than a teenager, like one of the t0p songs says "Out of student loans and treehouse homes we all would choose the latter."

Once again very nice work!

Shirl the Whirl

Senior Member
I just loved this. My only teeny weeny criticism is that I wouldn't specify that Harris is 26; let us imagine him to be what we want him to be.

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