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Time Crossing (1 Viewer)

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Robert

Senior Member
(original text written 09/15/92)

She walked into the ice cream parlor with a couple of friends and sat down in a booth next to his, where he was eating ice cream sundaes with his wife and two children. Looking up, he noticed her pretty face, with the European high cheek bones and clear skin, reflected in the mirrored wall tiles. A tingling sensation traversed his spine as he continued his conversation with his wife.

“She looks so familiar”, he thought as he lifted another spoonful of dessert to his lips, “But where would I have possibly seen her before?”

Just at that moment, she glanced his way through the mirrored tiles and their eyes met. A flash of vague recognition filtered across her face as her mind set into motion the threads of recognition, and her gaze quickly turned away. She leaned into the conversation that her other friends were engaged in.

He found himself listening closely to these young women as they conversed about the seemingly trivial events of their work day. As they ordered their desserts, he realized that they spoke English with a European accent, possibly Spanish or Italian.

He was becoming somewhat mesmerized with her presence as he searched his memory. “Where could I have met her?” he wondered. She was too familiar to simply pass off. She seemed intimately familiar.

She stole a casual glance in the mirrored tiles, wanting to see if he was still watching her. He was. “I just know I have seen his face before”, she thought, “but where?”

She focused her attention on his image in the glass and saw the majestic strength of his innocent face. The sights, sounds and smells of the little New York ice cream parlor melted slowly away, replaced by the image and smells of a soft breeze blowing across the Aegean Sea. As if suddenly rising from the depths of a long-past memory, she saw him dressed in Spartan battle armor. It virtually took her breath away as she whispered softly a name that had been centuries long dead, “Demetrius!”

Though soft and low, her voice carried the name gently to his listening ears. The name rang true a memory centuries past and his eyes met hers in the reflection of the glass once again. He mentally searched through the reaches of his mind’s archived treasures and suddenly began to smell the same sweet fragrances of the Aegean. She was dressed in a shear white satin toga, flowing delicately from one shoulder, draping intimately over her definitively feminine features.

“Helen!” he whispered softly, catching his breath suddenly.
“What did you say, Honey?” his wife asked, breaking the concentration of the moment and causing him some embarrassment. He looked at his wife quickly, “Oh, nothing. I just thought I….recognized….someone.”
“Who was that?” she asked, turning away from the children for a moment.
“No one….I guess I was wrong”, he replied with a smile.
His wife looked deeply into his face. “Are you sure? For a moment there you looked like you were a million miles away”
He quickly refocused his attention. “I’m sorry sweetie. I guess it’s just been a long day.”

He stole a glance at the woman in the glass and saw her talking with her friends, again. She stole another glance in his direction.
“Demetrius”, she mouthed, her face pale and solemn.
“Helen”, he returned, sadly.

Then his mind burst open into a vision of their past. He remembered the open-air markets, the villa by the sea and the moonlit nights. Ah, yes! The moonlit nights that were filled with the absolute joy and tenderness of their vulnerable love.

She stood up suddenly, shaking his concentration once again. He saw tears streaming freely down her cheeks and his heart ached for her. She looked directly at him, as if searching his soul. Their eyes were locked in a sorrowful embrace. She didn’t seem angry, only deeply hurt. She excused herself from her friends and disappeared into the restroom corridor.

“I wonder what’s wrong?” his wife offered, aware of the sudden departure of this woman with a sincere note of concern in her voice.
“I wonder”, he replied, feeling a billowing surge in his heart to leap out of his seat and follow after her.

His heart was racing, his mind reeling with the sudden revelation in his life. He looked down, anxiously grasping at something to do. Then he noticed his chocolate ice cream, the spoon in his hand and his neatly pressed white shirt. He slowly lifted his spoon, unnoticed, and poured a scoopful of oozing ice cream and caramel topping down the front of his shirt.
“Darn it!” he said, suddenly standing and feigning disgust with himself. “I’d better go and clean this off before it stains!”

He carefully approached the door to the woman’s rest room and heard the sobbing of the woman inside. He quickly rushed into the men’s room and washed off the ice cream and goop and rushed back out into the corridor, right into Helen’s arms!

At first, they were both surprised, but then tightly embraced each other as if they were long-lost lovers finally finding each other.

They separated slightly, and she stroked his cheek gently, tenderly, longingly. “What happened to you?” she finally asked, “I waited for you for so long.”

It all began to return to him like a terrifying nightmare! The soft nights with her were soon turned into months of agonizing torture of endless marches, gnawing hunger and death all around him. Then he remembered….he remembered that last desperate stand!
“Spartacus”, he whispered.
“Yes”, she replied, “he promised to give you back to me.”

The memory of the agonizing pain of the three arrows that struck him in the chest and the side returned to him like a flame of scorching heat! He recalled his friends and comrades falling to the earth under the hail of arrows. Then there was the sword, the sword that slashed its way through to his vital organs and beyond into the blood-soaked earth. He could feel his will to live seeping from his soul as his blood poured from his body.
“I’m sorry”, he cried, taking her again into his arms, “I’m sorry I didn’t come back to you.”
Looking over his shoulder, she knew he had a new life out there, beyond the corridor. “I had you once”, she whispered, gathering her composure, “and I will wait. I will wait until another life, another time, another day. I will always wait for you.”

She looked into his tearful eyes and kissed his cheek tenderly, “I will wait forever for you.”
She let him go and quickly walked past him into the ice cream parlor. He just stood there for awhile, shaking with emotion and overwhelmed with the experience.

As he returned to his table, he noticed that Helen and her friends had left. He sat quickly, sweat pouring over his face.
“Are you alright, Honey?” his wife asked, seeing his apparent upset. “Don’t worry….it’s only a shirt.” She looked at his shirt and added, “Oh, here….there’s a spot you missed.” She wet a napkin in her glass of water and dabbed at it a bit. “There….all better!”

He sat there, still lost in the past and its happenings. Finally coming to himself, he commented, “It’s sure hot in here”, wiping his forehead with his napkin.

“Are you guys finished?” his wife asked the children.
The children squealed with delight!
“Then lets go!” she replied.

He helped his wife round up the children and set them on the path towards the exit. They began marching out in single file, mom in front and the children in between as he brought up the rear.
As he walked past Helen’s table, he noticed a napkin with a heart drawn on it. The name “Demetrius” was written next to the heart. He quietly picked it up and put it in his pocket.
 
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Mister URL

Senior Member
Big wall 0' text, hard to read. Can you put blank lines between paragraphs and dialogue speakers? Thanks.
 

Linton Robinson

Senior Member
An easy way to do that--assuming you using Word--is to search for the "paragraph mark" under the "more" and "special" menus in the replace dialog box then replace all paragraph marks with two marks. Then cut and paste.
 

Deadally

Senior Member
I did not think it was a bad story. Well-written, as far as I could tell.

I found that the premise was a little weak for me, to the point where I could not suspend my disbelief. I think that stems from my locked-in logic, that something like this doesn't happen. In addition, the resolution seemed strange to me, perhaps just too quick. It seemed like this was the most interesting part of the story, where he goes back to his wife. I mean, you have the love spanning thousands of years and this woman who has stood by him. If it were me it would cause a searing longing, but its exploration here was kind of an afterthought. That made me feel a little let down!

I think also that the introduction was too abrupt for my taste, in this case. I dunno, it was confusing to be thrust into the life of this guy I know nothing about and never do learn anything about. We only know who he was, so he's kind of a shell. Maybe that was your point, but it felt flat to me.

All in all, it had potential to really cause an effect in me! If worked just a bit, it could succeed :). It would be more profound if the man's CURRENT life was explored more.

Of course, that's just my opinion. You can take or leave what you like. Thanks for writing it!
 

Mister URL

Senior Member
Critique

I only see a few items. The story is OK, reincarnation in the same bodies they had before.

“She looks so familiar”, he thought as
"She looks so familiar," he thought ...
The terminal punctuation after speech should be inside the close quote. You do it with your exclamation points and question marks, but all the commas and periods need to be moved also.


The name rang true a memory centuries past and his eyes met hers in the reflection of the glass once again.
'The name rang true a memory ...' doesn't quite make sense. Maybe 'The name evoked ...' or "The name aroused a memory ...'

She was dressed in a shear white satin toga,
'sheer' not 'shear'

Helen!” he whispered softly, catching his breath suddenly.
(blank line)
“What did you say, Honey?” his wife asked, breaking the concentration of the moment and causing him some embarrassment.
(blank line)
He looked at his wife quickly, “Oh, nothing. I just thought I….recognized….someone.”

(blank line)
“Who was that?” she asked, turning away from the children for a moment.

(blank line)
“No one….I guess I was wrong”, he replied with a smile.

(blank line)
His wife looked deeply into his face. “Are you sure? For a moment there you looked like you were a million miles away.
(missing period)
(blank line)
He quickly refocused his attention. “I’m sorry, sweetie. I guess it’s just been a long day.”
Each speaker gets a new paragraph for their speech, like I show above.

He stole a glance at the woman in the glass and saw her talking with her friends, again. She stole another glance in his direction.
(blank line)
“Demetrius”, she mouthed, her face pale and solemn.

(blank line)
“Helen”, he returned, sadly.
More need for blank lines. Also, maybe you can think of a stronger verb to replace the 'returned, sadly' combo. Maybe 'murmured' or 'wept'

Then he remembered….he remembered that last desperate stand!
The standard ellipsis is three dots with a space fore and aft: 'he remembered ... he remembered'

“I’m sorry”, he cried, taking her again into his arms, “I’m sorry I didn’t come back to you.”
It's about all I can do to avoid adding, "but I was dead." after his speech.
 

Fantasy of You

Senior Member
Hi there, Robert. I've seen you posting elsewhere on the boards so I thought I'd pop my head in and read Time Crossing.

You'll forgive me for being brief, I'd intended to post something much more specific but my browser somehow sent me back & it didn't send!

My main points were as follows:

I enjoyed the opening & how they kept glancing at the tiles, though the mystery as to why was made obvious through the title.

My main concern was the dialogue. It seems you're in need of a brush up, like we all are at some points! I had given examples & suggestions in my previous, stillborn reply so I must apologise for this sounding so brief!

Once you've revised the rules of dialogue punctuation, consider keeping in mind: 1) Readers will often know, through context and what is actually said, who is talking which negates the use of so many dialogue tags; 2) Whilst trying to use different words to express your character's tone is good exercise, it makes for clunky speech. 3) Said is your friend, it's fine to use. 4) If uncomfortable with 'said' consider using actions to show who is talking.

I'll offer one of the examples I gave in my previous post.

“Are you alright, Honey?” his wife asked, seeing his apparent upset. “Don’t worry….it’s only a shirt.” She looked at his shirt and added, “Oh, here….there’s a spot you missed.”

"Are you all right, Honey?" She look at his shirt. " Don't worry, they're only clothes. Oh, here - there's a spot you missed."

I would have liked to see more exploration of this guy's internal conflicts as he wrestles between the feeling of each lover. Hope you keep writing, because I'll keep reading!

- Andy
 
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