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#1 of 19 Old 02-01-2006, 01:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Post away, I can't wait to read your works in progress

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#2 of 19 Old 02-01-2006, 02:56 PM
 
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i tried to post a new thread, i'm guessing that's not allowed over in this area? being new i'm pretty clueless


just found out my daughter's teacher is retiring at the end of the year so i whipped up a little something to go into a memory book. it needs something but i don't know what. i think the emotions in it ok, but somethings still rough -- maybe the cadence? i dont know, i'm a quilter not a writer damnit! : )





We started here when we were kind of small and a bit unsure of it all

A smiling face helped to ease our hearts and everyday you told us how we’re very smart!

reading math computers too… desks books and even some rules

through it all you persevered and together we’ve shared adventures all this year

the time it flew, it went so fast
you started us on our journeys and quickly first grade passed

but then as life unfolds
we find out it’s also our job to send YOU on your way for adventures untold!

into our lives many teachers will come and go
but for us, you were the first and we hope you know
how very special a place that is to be

it was such a honor for us to be your last class
we sincerely hope that as your days go by, the happy memories will last and last

(c)terri berson
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#3 of 19 Old 02-01-2006, 05:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Terri, That literally brought tears to my eyes, it's hard to watch your children grow up (i know you understand) Your piece reminded me of my DSs first kindergarden teacher.

I hope more people give specific feedback. I don't have time right now to pick it apart and give suggestions...it was heartfelt and that's all that matters for something like this.

Usually when i look at a piece for feedback, i advise cutting alot out, the overused words, too many 'and's and 'the's, etc.


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#4 of 19 Old 02-01-2006, 09:46 PM
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I agree that sentiment is the most important thing for something like this!

The cadence (is that meter in poetry?) does seem to be off by a bit. Some lines are longer than others. I'd go with adding or subtracting words and trying to get it more even.

I'm NO poet! keep that foremost in mind when reading my advice!


We started here when we were kind of small and a bit unsure of it all

A smiling face helped to ease our hearts. You told us we were very smart!

reading, math, computers, too… desks, books and even some rules

through it all you persevered and together we’ve shared adventures this year

I read it out loud and these were the things I'd do to the first few lines to make them more even. The punctuation makes it easier for me to read.

I like the feeling you've put in, the way you mention them sending the teacher out into the world. If you do nothinng else but print it up and give it to her as is, she'll cherish it! How sweet!
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#5 of 19 Old 02-02-2006, 01:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red
I agree that sentiment is the most important thing for something like this!

she'll cherish it! How sweet!

ITA, no matter how you give it to her, it will probably bring a warm feeling to her heart. Punctuation *does* make a huge difference in understanding and flow. ITA...keep up the good work and if you edit it please post it

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#6 of 19 Old 02-02-2006, 04:31 AM
 
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The sentiment is beautiful and comes across pure.

I am no poet either, but the lines that struck me were,
" The time it flew, it went so fast..."
perhaps changing 'went' for ' flew' again would emphasise the flight idea
and then in the next line you wouldn't need 'quickly'.

It might work like this,

"The time it flew, it flew so fast
you started us on our journeys, first grade passed...."

I had to write something for my son last year and seeing yours I really wish I had put more effort into it.
However you present it to her, I think you'll see some tears.

Thanks.
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#7 of 19 Old 02-02-2006, 10:31 AM
 
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on my document i've done some breaks by how its layed out but i lost those when i copied into here

thanks so much for the feedback!!! i really like the someone else's views : ) if the event were tomorrow then yeah its "good enough" : )
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#8 of 19 Old 02-02-2006, 10:22 PM
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LdyBluNH@aol, it way better than "good enough"!

I think the point we're trying to make is that its heartfelt and that might be exactly wht's right, under the circumstances.

Sometimes getting it all in is more important than meter. You're touching someone's heart, here!
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#9 of 19 Old 02-10-2006, 07:16 PM
 
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Again, just looking for any kind of feedback

Almira hummed tunelessly as she crossed the complex. She read the scant information on her hard copy several times and ran her hand through her short, auburn hair, causing it to stand on end.
"Now, why don't they tell us anything?" she muttered aloud. A young, green-clad student stopped to stare at her. He was obviously a first-year who had never seen a real “red-suit,” as she had heard Crafters called by some students. She glared at him, knowing the effect of her oddly colored eyes, and he scurried away. She sighed; he would learn better and his fear would turn into hate or, worse, a patronizing respect.
As she strolled along indoor walks lined with potted flora and decorated benches in tiny gardens, she glanced at the display glasses of the stores and businesses she passed. She paused in front of a Travel Firm. The window display was for Turkey, a neighborhood in the Eastern Alliance capitol. Of course, since the EA was the greatest and only adversary of the Association of Americas, the only safe places for AA residents to visit within the borders of the EA were the holy sites. The Holy Temples of Jerusalem and Mecca were very popular, of course.
The Tibetan monastery buildings were most commonly visited by to those of eco-religions. It was said that, with enough credits, you could sometimes visit the touching balconies where the sides of the mountains brushed the sides of the buildings and you could touch the very planet itself. With the vast majority of the earth’s non-water surface covered with buildings, sidewalks and dead earth, such an event was a treat indeed. The uncontained, unhampered dirt, the raw surface of the planet, was called wild earth.
A group of students walked past, laughing loudly. Almira blinked as she returned from her thoughts. She looked away from the three-dimensional pictures. It was useless for her to daydream in such a way. She sighed and moved on down the sidewalk. She was a Crafter. She did not go anywhere unless she was ordered to. There was virtually no chance of her ever touching wild earth.
She passed a sidewalk café with several students snatching a bite or two. Most of the people lounging at the tables were MCs, Military-Colonists, in their sharp black jumpsuits. Many had the green band on their upper right arms, which indicated their status of Instructor. Some of the MCs glanced up at Almira, but no one except a blue-suited Trainer would tell her what to do.
As she continued along the sidewalk, she glimpsed a rich purple jumpsuit moving through the crowd and strained to see who the clergyman was. The stranger did not notice her and she dismissed him from her mind. The only clergy she dared to speak to anyways were Druids and Earth-monks of Tibet.
Almira walked along the busy indoor street until she had made her way to the designated conference hall and entered the room indicated on her hard copy. A nervous-looking young woman sitting alone at the table glanced up at her.
"Hi," the young woman said hesitantly.
Almira studied the young woman intently. The woman's round face was framed with a curly, strawberry-blonde bob cut. Her moss-green eyes were wide and uncertain, but she had a pretty, honest face. A quick surface-scan confirmed that assessment.
Almira gave the woman her best smile. "Hi. I am Crafter Almira."
The woman relaxed visibly. "I am Seren Conner, Biology and Chemistry." She indicated the chair next to her. Almira hesitated a moment, then took it.
"Did you just get out of the greens?" Almira asked, feeling presumptuous. Apparently, Seren didn’t noticed.
"Yes, I graduated two months ago. Top of my class. But I hear that each of us is fairly young on this mission, especially you."
Almira nodded solemnly. "I have to be, since it's a Sleeper mission."
Seren laughed. "You use MC-jargon so casually, you must be very experienced."
Almira grinned hugely. "This will be my fourth mission."
"Only four?" Seren's smile faltered, her eyebrows drawing together. She seemed suddenly very worried.
"Only four what?" a smooth voice interjected. Seren and Almira turned to see who had spoken. Almira jumped up from her chair.
A handsome man in his mid-twenties stood just inside the door. His olive skin, black hair and dark eyes under thick brows gave him a distinctly rakish look. His teeth flashed as he smiled in a friendly manner. "I am Lieutenant Commander Aquilino Aznar, the pilot." He moved into the seat next to Seren, and gestured for Almira to take her seat again.
Seren giggled and introduced herself. Almira silently vowed she would not giggle, introduced herself and promptly giggled. She was still mentally chastising herself for it when two very large men entered. She jumped up again.
They saluted Lt. Aznar and introduced themselves. Sergeant Maverick “Mav” Telekski was a blond, tan, blue-eyed giant. Almira could scarcely believe he was a man and not carved from stone or molded from liquid steel as he appeared. He declared himself to be the Brawn for the mission, the raw muscle and fighting expert.
Sergeant Angor St. James, "Boomer", was their Munitions and Demolition specialist. He seemed to be a twin to Mav, though a slightly more compact black man. He removed his streamlined sunglasses and the two took a pair of chairs across the table from the pilot. Mav explained that he and Boomer had worked together on dozens of operations over the course of ten years. They were career military and had volunteered for their positions on the Gaia Mission. They both were eager to get “off-planet” for a while.
The explanation was barely complete when another pair of men walked in. One was a balding little man in his mid-thirties who looked like he would break if he moved too quickly. His Arabic coloring was unusual in the AA, and, though he spoke with no accent, his wording was too precise to be native. He smiled easily and made a tiny, elegant bow. "I am Qadir ibn'Zaki. You may call me Crawler, for that is how I do my job most of the time. I am the wonderful mechanical engineer who will keep the flying junk-heap we will travel on running despite ineptitude on all sides..."
"...and his perpetual speech-making." The other man finished for him. He was slightly taller then his companion, lighter in complexion, and less formal of speech. "I am Jarvis Hirsch, Electronics. Call me Jack. I recommend you ignore Crawler most of the time; I do.”
Everyone laughed and began another round of introductions. They were interrupted when three more people showed up. Almira began to feel uncomfortable in the close quarters with so many new faces. She struggled to focus on trying to remember the slew of names and identities.
Dunstan Pearce immediately caught Almira’s attention. With dark blond hair and a tanned complexion, the geologist appeared bronzed. His overall physique reminded her of a Roman statue, and his cautious demeanor gave her a distinct impression of fierce independence.
On his right hand side stood the MedTech, Dr. Yosu Toussaint. Her slightly yellowish coloring and almond eyes betrayed her Asian roots. She was very lithe and Almira noticed she moved with a subtle grace. Though she was somewhat hesitant in front of everyone, she appeared to be quick with a smile. She had a habit of tossing her long black hair over her shoulder when her attention was drawn to a different point of focus.
On Dunstan’s left, Dr. Liluye Uzumati was the doctor of Psychology and specialist in communications. She was tall and had the high cheekbones and sharp nose of the Native American tribes. Her scornful black-eyed gaze covered everyone in the room before settling on Almira. She shrunk from Liluye’s hateful look, feeling waves of animosity as names were offered around once more.
Conversations started amongst the various parties as each person within the group began to feel the others out. Almira kept to herself at the side of the room, still mentally reviewing the many introductions. She realized that the mass of information was going to take some time to get used to and decided to focus on Seren, the most friendly of the group.
Seren, however, had begun a casual conversation with the pilot, though Seren did most of the talking. The pilot seemed intent on flirting with the pretty young woman in return.
“So why don’t you have a nickname, Lt. Aznar?” Seren leaned in towards the dark man. He appeared to enjoy the attention and turned his bright smile on her.
“What? Do I need one?”
“Well, all the men seem to have one, except for you.”
The pilot glanced at Seren and nodded. “True. But I’ve never had a nickname, so why don’t you pick one for me, Seren.” He grinned. “Just not ‘Ace’.”
Seren appeared to take her mission seriously, thinking for a long moment. “Well, what about ‘Lino’? I know it’s just your name, shortened, but it’s simple and… strong.” She blushed suddenly.
“Strong? I don’t know about that.”
Seren put her hand on his arm. Almira mentally edged away from the strength of the emotions that the touch had created. Seren smiled at the young pilot and nodded firmly. “Strong.”
At that point, Boomer broached the subject of the absent major to the room. "So where is our fearless leader?"
Jack shrugged and came back with "Who is our fearless leader?"
"I heard it's Kurtis," Lino offered.
Mav laughed. "Kristopher Kurtis? No way it is! He's been reprimanded twice in as many years!"
"That would be three times, thank you, Maverick." Mav jumped at the sudden, strong voice and everyone quickly stood and saluted the Major as he approached the table.
Almira shifted nervously at the sudden tension in the air earning a quick glance from Kurtis’ sharp blue eyes. She sensed a momentary confusion from him before he turned back to address the entire group.
"We are now in isolation. We do not speak to anyone except each other." He paused, meeting each person's eye. "That is how important this mission is."
The lights went down suddenly and a video screen lit up, showing a planet.
"Is it Earth?" Boomer asked, squinting at the screen.
"Too blue," said Dunstan.
"Too clean," echoed Seren.
"Close," said Major Kurtis. "It's Gaia, an Earth-twin, of a sort.”
“What a creative name. What government peon came up with that one?” Dunstan leaned back in his chair, sarcasm dripping from his body language as well as his voice.
Kurtis ignored him, continuing the lecture. “It has a similar atmospheric composition to Earth and about 90% of the surface is underwater. The rest of the area is forests, swamps, and some temperate areas. Lots of mountains and islands. Double the atmospheric humidity, but only five-sixths the gravity.”
“Just enough to make it interesting,” Mav said, grinning hugely.
“Exactly. It has similar rainfall, significant cloud-, fog- and mist-cover at all times. No discernable sentient habitation.” The picture on the screen changed. "This is the star-cluster Beta-5-6 in the constellation Pisces. That is the location of Gaia, where we are going."
The lights came on again. "The trip will take about 10 years; actually, nine years, 11 months and 3 days, by our calculations. Each year all but one of us will Sleep, excepting our Crafter." He nodded at Almira, who straightened up at the brief attention. "She will not, of course, go into stasis. After each year, the next person will be wakened along with me. I will oversee every changeover.
"All of you were chosen because, first of all, you are fairly young and physically fit and, second, you are all very highly recommended in each of your fields as highly intelligent and mentally flexible, able to deal with unusual circumstances. These traits will serve both you and the AA very well."
A door opened in the far wall. "Each of you has a room with all of your equipment. Most of you have specially modified tools-of-trade; you will be able to take them with you. We want you to be as well-equipped as possible. The computers are not networked and have only information about this mission. You will have minimal communication ability with anyone outside this group after this point. Few people outside this room even know that this mission exists. Sharing details or information in general about this is strictly forbidden. This operation will be kept secret."
"Who would even care about all of this?" Almira muttered. She blinked, startled to realize she had spoken aloud.
Major Kurtis rounded on her. "If the Eastern Alliance beats us to Gaia, the Association of Americas will lose the Dominion War. It’s as simple as that. The resources on Gaia are of the utmost importance. Period. Now, I suggest you catch up on your modern political history, since I am assuming you must be out of Seclusion-training, if not out of basic greens!"
Almira tried not to shrink back from the Major's livid face and bared teeth, but failed. His swift anger startled her; she hadn’t sensed it coming. She swallowed audibly and nodded. Her face was flushed from the insults, making it nearly as red as the Major’s was from anger.
"We leave tomorrow afternoon. You are dismissed." He strode from the room without a backwards glance.
"What a jerk!" Seren said when he was out of earshot. She reached up to pat Almira’s arm reassuringly.
Mav nodded in agreement, then grinned. "But if what he says is true, this is a very important mission. We are gonna make history."
Almira cheered up a little, caught up in the excitement that suddenly filled the room. Her recent humiliation was quickly forgotten. As conversations resumed among the crew, a stray thought brought the Crafter up short. A quick glance at each uniform in the room gave her no answer. No one was wearing the red armband of a mission Link. She excused herself to her quarters and brought up a detailed mission statement on her computer. She looked up the name of the crewmember who was to be her Link.
"Oh. The Major."

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I'm a witchy mama to DS ('06) and DD ('10) with DH, Stormie, a heathen homemaker daddy.

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#10 of 19 Old 02-11-2006, 10:10 PM
 
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I'm working on something for a parenting magazine. Any kind of feedback is appriciated. TIA. (BTW, I'm obviously new here, so if I've messed up the protocol, let me know)

Besides perfect strangers wanting to touch your belly, perhaps the most irritating thing about being an obviously expectant mother is the advice. When a woman at the supermarket tells you not to lift your arms over your head because that’s sure to get the cord around your baby’s neck, it’s easy enough to shrug her off but when the warnings come from sources of higher authority they’re harder to ignore. As they should be. The trouble is that so much of even what doctors and experts say is conflicting. Once your baby is born, things only gets more confusing. Should you listen to your pediatrician when he tells you to give your baby a pacifier at bedtime to reduce SIDS risk, or your mother who insists that it’s an unnecessary, unsightly sleep crutch that will only cause heartache later on when you take it away? Should you take your grandmother’s warnings to heart about spoiling your baby by holding her too much, or listen to your best friend who says she’s read that such concerns are nonsense? Nowadays, as a new mother or mother to be, you may doubt that her maternal instincts are even intact, let alone applicable to raising a child in the modern world. It would be nice to have a mothering mentor to bolster your confidence and clue you in to the secret art of successful childrearing. A teacher you trust would help you learn to trust your instincts, once you’ve learned to hear them again, while giving each bit of advice exactly as much credence as it derserves. If your mentor has a solid background in infant development, experience raising and working with children, and all the latest research to back her up, you can feel secure using her wisdom to defend your choices. When another mother at the playground criticizes your parenting, you’re going to want to have somebody to back you up. Since hardly anyone has such a teacher in their lives, most turn to books. There are hundreds of books about parenting, and no two are exactly alike, so how do you decide which is going to give you the kind of support you need?

Start the process with a list. Write down your goals as a parent. You may find that there are parenting books that focus on results that are not on your list. These are not the books for you. Also, write down what you want your book to contain. For example, most parents find it helpful to have an easy reference of symptoms and treatments for common ailments so they don’t have to call the doctor or run to the ER for every rash and fever. Perhaps you’re also interested in gauging your child’s physical and mental development. Add anything else you want to be able to read about your baby before or after she arrives.

Once you have your own idea what you are looking for in a book, start asking around of people who’ve had babies recently. First ask people who really know you well, and then move on to groups of people you have something in common with. The internet is full of groups and forums for parents of all types. If you’re not already familiar with a few of these, try finding one for your special interest or need or by clicking around on the bigger general interest forums, like [[omitting url]], and looking for topics that you can relate to. The more experienced parents on these bulletin boards should be able to help you narrow your book search considerably.

Having collected a few recommendations you’re in a good position to start shopping at one of the big online bookstores. Find each of the books on your list and look at the reader reviews. Not only will you get an idea of how useful must readers found each guide, but also what kind of reader loved it and what kind hated it. You’ll find that there are reviewers who sound like people you have something in common with. Other reviewers will have you rolling your eyes. Read both the positive and negative reviews carefully, they contain a wealth of information and perspective.

By this point you’ll have narrowed the field from hundreds of volumes to just a few. Maybe there’s one you have a particular interest in. It’s time to make sure that this is the guide to give you the confidence and support you need. Dig around about the author. Look up her educational background, any research she’s conducted or been involved in, and whether she has kids of her own. You may even be able to find what her peers have to say about her work. Also, if you can find a bibliography for the book you’re interested in, try looking up some of the works sited to get an idea what kind of evidence the author is basing her advice on. If there is no bibliography, you might think twice about investing in that particular book.

Now that you have one manual in your hand or your shopping cart, and you’re ready to start devouring it, check your lists. Make sure that it contains each element you started out looking for, and that it’s going to help you toward your goals as a parent. If it checks out, check out! The next time someone offers you questionable advice, you can have the confidence to tell them, “Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind,” and continue to trust your instincts and your well chosen parenting mentor.

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#11 of 19 Old 02-12-2006, 11:16 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfcat

Almira hummed tunelessly as she crossed the complex. She read the scant information on her hard copy several times and ran her hand through her short, auburn hair, causing it to stand on end.
When I read a lot of modifiers in an opening paragraph it sets me up for a badly written story. Your story turned out to read really well for me, without the excess verbiage that these couple of sentences had me fearing. Still, though, my preference is for a "clean" intro.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfcat
There was virtually no chance of her ever touching wild earth.
I think your description of "wild earth" and Almira's desire to touch it is great. Quite believable, tells us something about this future and your heroine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfcat
Almira nodded solemnly. "I have to be, since it's a Sleeper mission."
Seren laughed. "You use MC-jargon so casually, you must be very experienced."
Almira grinned hugely. "This will be my fourth mission."
"Only four?" Seren's smile faltered, her eyebrows drawing together. She seemed suddenly very worried.
I'm having some trouble with your dialog. Have you tried reading it out loud?
Also, she nods solemnly? Why solemn? Why does Seren laugh? It seems a bit much here.
One more thing, and I'm done nitpicking this little exchange: a faltering smile and bunched eyebrows are enough to tell me that she seems worried. You don't need to spell it out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfcat
Seren giggled and introduced herself. Almira silently vowed she would not giggle, introduced herself and promptly giggled. She was still mentally chastising herself for it when two very large men entered.
I giggled when I read that. So real!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfcat
On his right hand side stood the MedTech, Dr. Yosu Toussaint. Her slightly yellowish coloring and almond eyes betrayed her Asian roots. She was very lithe and Almira noticed she moved with a subtle grace. Though she was somewhat hesitant in front of everyone, she appeared to be quick with a smile. She had a habit of tossing her long black hair over her shoulder when her attention was drawn to a different point of focus.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfcat
"Who would even care about all of this?" Almira muttered.
Why would she say that? I understand you're trying to set up a little skirmish between Almira and the Major. This seems a little forced.

Overall, I really liked this. I can't wait to read the rest. You set up your main character well and I thought you hit a good balance of description of scene and action. Not a lot happens in this section, but I'm assuming from the title that this is part of a novel, so that's understandable.
I hope I've said something usefull to you.

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#12 of 19 Old 02-21-2006, 06:03 PM
 
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When Sami smiles
There is an alchemical reaction--
I turn from solid to liquid to air,
All that is leaden becomes golden.
A smile dances between us, so sweetly.
For precious evaporating moments,
I am happily lost in the curve of that wide-open mouth.
I see myself there, shining in the lights in his eyes.
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#13 of 19 Old 02-21-2006, 06:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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When Sami smiles
There is an alchemical reaction--
I turn from solid to liquid to air,
All that is leaden becomes golden.
A smile dances between us, so sweetly.
For precious evaporating moments,
I am happily lost in the curve of that wide-open mouth.
I see myself there, shining in the lights in his eyes.

AWWW, You're making me have baby fever...that's sweet, I wouldn't change a thing. (except maybe changing the last line so that 'in' wasn't used twice)

I know you didn't ask for feedback so I hope you don't mind

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#14 of 19 Old 02-21-2006, 08:22 PM
 
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Any feedback you have is appriciated

It was no choice that a sister should ever have to make. For that matter no one should have to make it. Almost one year ago to the day our father died. One of the hardest and most memorable things that I ever did was stand there holding his hand as he took his last breath. At the end they had became labored with deep pauses in between so that it took me a moment to realize that they just stopped. The sun streamed in a beautiful afternoon, bathing his grey pallor in light. I wonder if he saw the light.

That left us two alone. Mother had passed on several years ago after an interminable fight with cancer. It was almost a blessing to see her go because she was in so much pain. I still have nightmares about her cries, begging please. Just please, she could no more articulate her needs because the pain was so intense. Drugs did little to help her suffering. I would have helped her along if I had the chance.

Dad didn't seem in pain, just tired. Like a wind up car, he just started getting slower and slower until he stopped. A young lady would come in and clean house for him and fix him meals. She eventually just stayed all day, helping with the more embarrassing tasks of aging. I would stay with him at nights, as anxious as when my first child was born. Waking up constantly to check on his breathing. And when he passed it just left us, my sister and I. There were distant cousins but no one that we were really close too.

Taking care of my sister is a task that I was never really prepared for. I suppose that I never thought about my parents dying. One never does until you are presented with the fact. She lived in a home so I never saw her much since I've been grown. She would spend the night at our parent's house at least twice a month. I would occasionally talk to her on the phone. It's not that I was embarrassed or ashamed, I just had my own life to live. I didn't even see our parent's that much. At least that's what I told myself back then.

I was probably in second or third grade when I realized that Angie was special. She was almost seven years older than me but she was never to old to play with me. At an age where most girls were worrying about makeup and boys she was still playing with dolls. So there came an age where I outgrew her. I realized that I was getting older and more mature and while she was taller she didn't seem any older. I remember asking Mom what was wrong with Angie, she just told me that she was special. As a result of spinal meningitis when I was just a baby she would ever be about a third grader. My sister was my best friend until I got to the age where I started thinking about boys and makeup. Then she just started to become an annoyance. As any teenager I was so self absorbed and cruel. She couldn't understand why I no longer wanted to play dolls, or watch silly cartoons with her. She cried harder than anyone in the family the day I left for college. Then life took over. I got married and kids of my own. We talked and I saw her on holidays but we weren't close. We never got back those days of my childhood.

Then Dad died and she's my responsibility. I didn't know where to start. How do you tell someone who is a full grown adult but with the mind of a child that her parents are dead? Was she mentally able to grasp the concept of death even? I explained things just like I did to my own daughter. And for the first time in years we embraced. She wrapped her arms around me so tight that my ribs hurt but I held on to her just as tightly. We drowned each other in our tears.

She'd call me on the phone and we talk for hours. We talked like little girls, laughing over knock knock jokes and silly hair do's. She came over to my house to spend the night with my family. My girls loved her. She was their best friend. We would have slumber parties on the living room floor watching teenybopper movies and having popcorn fights. We'd paint each other's toenails and apply makeup that would do bozo proud. Every night before we went to sleep I would braid her hair, so long and thick, almost to her butt. Then we would all snuggle down into our sleeping bags and I would listen for their snores. The soft snuffling ones from my daughters and the deep resonant ones from my sister. Only then would I fall asleep to their off-key lullaby.

The call came as I was sitting in my car outside the school. It was Friday and after I picked the kids up we were going to pick up Angie to sleep over. I thought she was just calling to remind me not to forget her. She was very needy at times, I was all she had left. It was her though. It was one of the counselors from her home telling me that she'd had a seizure and been rushed to the hospital. She'd had seizures before so I wasn't incredibly worried. I told her that I was just picking the kids up and that I would drop them off and head over to the hospital.

When my girls came rushing out that door to my car they were all bubbling smiles. Carrie's pig tails bounced along her shoulders as she skipped, her new trick. Jess walked more stately beside her, ever present of her big sister status. After every one was settled in their seats I explained to them that Aunty was sick and that their other aunt, my sister in law, would watch them while I went to check on her. Carrie, the little sweetheart, offered up her “Boggy” because he made her feel better when she was sick. That ragged little dog was missing one ear and half it's tail; it was her most valued possession. I gently declined.

When I arrived at the hospital things were so much worse than I expected. She'd stopped breathing during her seizure and had been like that for several minutes before anyone realized something was wrong. She liked to watch cartoons in her room so it wasn't until the movie was over and started making that noise that anyone checked on her. The doctors estimated that she went about five to seven minutes without oxygen. CPR was started as soon as she was discovered but it was too late.

She was hooked up to all these machines, the artificial lung wooshing loudly over the rest of the beeps and squeaks. She looked so small and innocent, like an angel. Her house counselors were gathered around her bed, their faces pale and tear streaked. I barely got a glimpse before the brain doctor, whatever they are called arrived. Her brain had been irreparably damaged and she would no longer be able to breath for herself. I know that he continued talking but it was mumbled as if through a cloud as I stared over his shoulder at Angie. She was so sweet, with a huge sense of hilarious, always laughing and moving. To see her so quiet and still, I couldn't stop the tears. I realized that he had stopped talking. He said that he would give me time to figure out what I wanted to do and patted my shoulder in a supposed to be consoling manner.

I pulled a chair up alongside her bed and held her hand. One by one all of her friends came and hugged me and silently left. I could feel their grief, smothering me in this small space. Her fingers were long and narrow, with fine lines and small freckles dancing across the back of her hand. They were the hands of a middle aged woman, on my eternally youthfull sister. I knew what Mom and Dad would want, I can still hear her please. It's so hard though. I'm her little sister, I shouldn't have to do this. What do I know, some doctor should decide. All I know is that I love her. I lover her so much in the short time that we have gotten closer. I swear that I can her whisper turkey, our little private joke. She needs more time, I need more time. I don't want to do this.

My husband James shows up and gently lays his arm across my shoulder. I can feel his breath in my hair as he kisses the top of my head. He is so strong and vibrant kneeling there beside me. I lean into him, hoping to find answers in his scent.

“What do I do?” I ask, hoping to pass the task on to him. He is smart and good and so much stronger than me. He just give me a little squeeze.
“You do what feels right.” He lays his hand against my heart and I hold on. Tears drip from my nose puddling on our joined fingers. I know what needs to be done. I ask him to go get the doctor. I need sometime alone with Angie.

I brush back her hair and kiss her forehead. I pray that she understands, that what I am doing is right. I pray that she'll join our parents in whatever comes afterward and that she'll be happy there. I pray for forgiveness for it was my choice to take her life.

They come and drag me out, to fill out paperwork, her life reduced to a few sqiggles of ink. James goes to get her friends and we all stand silently, hands locked as the unhook the machines. Her skin starts to turn blue. The beeping slows down and rest on an empty hum. I turn into my husband embrace, heart so void that all my tears could never fill it.
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#15 of 19 Old 02-21-2006, 08:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kokonutmama
When a woman at the supermarket tells you not to lift your arms over your head because that’s sure to get the cord around your baby’s neck, it’s easy enough to shrug her off but when the warnings come from sources of higher authority they’re harder to ignore. As they should be.
Run on stentance and then As they should be is not a full sentance. I would period after shrug her off, drop the but then a comma before as they should be;
When a woman at the supermarket tells you not to lift your arms over your head because that’s sure to get the cord around your baby’s neck, it’s easy enough to shrug her off. When the warnings come from sources of higher authority they’re harder to ignore, as they should be.

Quote:
Once your baby is born, things only gets more confusing.
You don't need a comma.

Quote:
Nowadays, as a new mother or mother to be, you may doubt that her maternal instincts are even intact, let alone applicable to raising a child in the modern world.
Either you may doubt that your or she may doubt that her but you/yours is more rlatable because it includes the audience rather than abstract she/her.

Quote:
you can feel secure using her wisdom to defend your choices.
could or would instead of can.

Quote:
Start the process with a list. Write down your goals as a parent.
I would put a semicolon here connecting the two so that the list is about your goals as a parent.

Okay, well just some basic grammer mistakes. There are probably more but I'm sure that you will catch them with another read through. I have lots of trouble catching them when they are on the screen. I see better once printed up on paper.

It's got good meaning and is generally helpful. I would say to make it more appealling you should include anecdotes and/ or quotes. That way it's just not you telling someone what to do. KWIM.. I think it's a good start. Sent out any query letters yet or have a specific magazine in mind?
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#16 of 19 Old 02-22-2006, 11:05 AM
 
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AWWW, You're making me have baby fever...that's sweet, I wouldn't change a thing. (except maybe changing the last line so that 'in' wasn't used twice)

I know you didn't ask for feedback so I hope you don't mind
Thanks so much! I forgot to ask for feedback, but it was very welcome...and I agree about the two "ins"
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#17 of 19 Old 02-22-2006, 11:48 AM
 
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Travelinmom: This is powerful work -- very moving. I really like the vividness of the story. We really get a real sense of the sister and the author's relationship to her. There are lots of great and touching details, such as the description of the sister's hand, and the daughter's "Boggy."

I wonder if the story could be framed even more tightly around this terrible choice the author had to make. It seems to me that the central story is not the parents' deaths but the sister's, so I would try to get the reader to that story as soon as possible in the piece. We know from the first lines that there is a terrible choice, but it is not clear what it is-- as the author goes straight into the story of the father's death. Alternatively, the central through-line of the story could be the author standing by her sister's hospital bed, and the rest of the story could be told in flashback.

You might think about adding some more scenes and dialogue -- you could choose some central moments and expand them into scenes with dialogue. One such moment might be the one when the narrator asks her mother what is wrong with Angie. Another might be the moment when the narrator tells her sister that her parents are dead.

Great piece, I look forward to reading more of your work!!
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#18 of 19 Old 02-22-2006, 04:01 PM
 
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Here are some little nit-picky things I found reading through your story, travelinmom .
I'll give my opinion in each instance.
>I would have helped her along if I had the chance.

if I'd had the chance.

>That left us two alone.

the two of us

>helping with the more embarrassing tasks of aging
maybe instead of this you could say something about her helping him maintain his dignity. As is I think the allusion to "embarrassing tasks" sounds a little flippant, which I'm sure isn't your intention.

>begging please. Just please, she could no more articulate her needs

begging "Please." Just "Please." The pain was too intense for her to articulate her needs

>She lived in a home so I never saw her much since I've been grown.
so I haven't seen her much since I've been grown

>As a result of spinal meningitis when I was just a baby she would ever be about a third
>grader.
She'd had spinal...and would always be the mental age of a third grader.

>Then Dad died and she's my responsibility.
she became

>She'd call me on the phone and we talk for hours.
we'd talk

>It was her though
It wasn't her, though.

>her seizure and had been like that for
replace "like that" with "without oxygen"

>longer be able to breath for herself
breathe

>They come and drag me out, to fill out paperwork, her life reduced to a few sqiggles of
I think you can cut this. It's a powerful feeling, the juxtaposition of paperwork with the decision the narrator has just made. Maybe another work could focus on that aspect. In this story I think it interrupts the flow.

In the last couple of paragraphs you've mixed tenses a lot.

I love the details you use to play the vibrance of "Aunty's" life against the death that comes at the end and the deaths of her parents in the beginning.
I think the deaths of the sisters' parents are important to this story, but could probably be handled with fewer words. I've heard that with a short story it's best to start the story where the action starts, so in this case you might start with the phone call and refer to the parents dying in a memory while driving to the hospital or something like that.

Thanks for sharing this memorable work. Thanks for your critique of my article, too. No, I've sent no queries. I'm hoping to send the finished article since I don't have a good enough file of clips to impress any editor.

treehugger.gif
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#19 of 19 Old 02-23-2006, 03:53 PM
 
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Thank you both for your advice. I'll work on it a little more. Good luck Adrienne with getting your piece published.
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