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Offline Joeyshortdude

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« on: July 22, 2006, 10:34:32 PM »
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« Last Edit: October 13, 2008, 12:39:34 AM by Joeyshortdude »

Offline Matthew

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Re: Benny Blue
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2006, 12:00:04 AM »
Simply lovely.

I do have a hard time believing that she is so willing to accept a new Mommy and Daddy after what happened. But I love the narrator and how the story ends up.

Offline Tyger

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Re: Benny Blue
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2006, 04:30:32 PM »
I like the angle of the story, the point of view. But, the all-seeing Benny Blue rabbit has access to so many nuances and emotions, you could give us much more.
I can't find the feeling in the story. You tell us what happens, but you don't show us how it feels.
The patchwork bunny may not have any feelings, but she could mirror the anguish of the little girl.

The ending is too short and doesn't really work with the story. It's almost as if you were trying to get a plug in. You could draw that ending out a bit and show how the girl relates to the man she saw in her room, who protected her from her father.

It's not a bad story, really, just a bit dry. You must try to make us feel sad when we read it.

Tyger

Offline Jillanne Nehls

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Re: Benny Blue
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2006, 05:12:37 PM »
Hi Joey,

Your story is truly full of potential. I would like to see, as an editor, more substance, more character development, more interaction between the parents so that I can know more about them; why they fight, what motivates them to be such sad people. When a dad shoots himself in front of his child, it's the most tragic incident that could happen. We need to know what makes this dad tick to do such a horrible thing.

Delve deeper into your characters as well as the setting. Where are they? What does the house look and smell like? Where does this story take place?  What is Cassandra all about? What does she look like?

I hope you will keep working on this story. Use all of your senses as you write so that it doesn't sound so narrative. Readers need emotion in order to keep reading.

Good luck!

Jillanne - Moderator

I hope you will
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Offline Pepe

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Re: Benny Blue
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2006, 05:54:20 PM »
Joey, I agree this story has much potential, but you really do need to kick up the emotions for your readers. Benny Blue can still tell us what Cassandra says to him, but if it's playing such an integral part in the child's life, perhaps its observations can be recorded as well. If you feel uncomfortable going that route, then the child needs to tell Benny Blue more. Can you use dialogue? You know, have Cassandra actually showing Benny Blue through her words what is going on in her hellish world?

I, too, am disturbed by the brevity of the end. After all she's been through, I suspect this child would need a bit more time to accept such a strange new life (well, strange to her, anyway).

This can turn into a truly fine piece of writing - and you can do it!

Offline University Girl

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Re: Benny Blue
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2006, 04:12:57 PM »
Hi Joey

I also thought this was lovely and made me feel for poor cassandra.  I also question whether she would come to terms with losing her own family quite so quickly irregardless of the amount of abuse she was subjected to.  I like that she finds a new family but it's possible she would have problems becoming comfortable with her new world.  Build the characters and especially Benny Blue and you will have a beautiful story. ;D

UG

Offline Amie

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Re: Benny Blue
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2006, 12:17:06 PM »
Hi Joeyshortdude -- I really like your writing style, it's very clean and fluid.

The actual story for me was too sentimental.  It's not even the religion, it's more -- How old is Cassandra?  Why is her doll talking for her?  I think if you grow up in an abusive environment, you grow up pretty fast.  She'd know that the "smelly juice" was booze -- I think she'd have a lot more appreciation for her circumstances than you've given her credit for (unless she's like three or something).  Where's her internal conflict?  You watch your father kill himself after you yourself have been subjected to years of abuse and neglect, it's going to leave some scars.  I mean, I gather that the point is that Jesus makes everything all right, but why has he worked his magic so well just for that one little girl?  Couldn't Jesus have helped her in some more subtle way?  Or, going to the other extreme, couldn't he have prevented her from being born into an abusive environment in the first place?

Beautifully written, but for me not very believable.
"You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet." - Kafka

Offline Joeyshortdude

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Re: Benny Blue
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2006, 12:56:58 PM »
I had put Cassandra at about four or five years old, just at the age where she'd understand what was happening was wrong and that she'd know what to do, but she still retained a feeling of innocence and unworldliness.

I appreciate the feedback everyone, but I was given a 2,000 word limit (which royally ticks me off) and I only have about two hundred words to spare so any of your suggestions I try to put into play end up being too much and won't fit into the only two hundred word limit I have left.

I will work on that out of personal interest though, to see how it works, I'll re-post it here when its edited?

Offline Amie

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Re: Benny Blue
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2006, 03:20:23 AM »
I thought I'd heard this somewhere before!  Was this song the inspiration for your story?:  http://www.snopes.com/glurge/girl.htm
"You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet." - Kafka

Offline Tyger

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Re: Benny Blue
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2006, 09:38:20 AM »
You can wirte this in 2000 words, if you cut out the unnecessary. Just concentrate on the heart of the story and bring out the emotion.

« Last Edit: July 26, 2006, 02:02:26 PM by Tyger »

Offline Joeyshortdude

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Re: Benny Blue
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2006, 02:52:17 PM »
Oh! I remember that song!

It may have been inadvertently because a few years ago I loved it but during writing the song never once popped into my head. It might have been one of thoe sub-conscious 2+2=4 instead of the conscious 1+1+1+1=4

But no, I did not purposely model this story after the song.

Offline Joeyshortdude

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Re: Benny Blue
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2006, 05:48:08 PM »
Double-post for me *slaps*

Okay, so I edited the story a bit, I appreciate all the feedback, but I have personally valid arguments for all of them, but overall, I just wanted to keep the story as unbiased as possible and let the reader draw their own conclusions based on their experiences and opinions.

Also, I want this to sound narrative since Benny Blue does not have senses in the full meaning of the word. He's like an omniscient narrator crammed into patchwork and he has the handicaps that go with being in that state. I really wanted to keep it simple because the bunny itself is a simpleton. Her physical description (second paragraph) still sticks out to me like a sore thumb, and I don't really like that idea of describing her at all.

I think in this story you should be able to create some of it. I don't like short stories that hand me everything on a silver platter. Yes, I admire and respect the ability to describe something, say a mayonnaise jar, in over a thousand words but I'm trying for the exact opposite. Short stories (novels are different) should only meet you halfway and make you think, to make up for the lack of volume found in novels. Its like a fill-in-the-blanks game. Sorry if I frustrate people but that's what I wanted for this story.

Revised Version:
Quote
For the past five years I have been comforting Cassandra. When she lays down sobbing in to bed I’m there. After a pathetic and unhealthy supper I lay in her arms. While she sleeps I sit under her arm and keep watch. It’s sad to say that I, only a puppet, have been there for her more than anyone else. That is the story of Cassandra’s life.
   You’d never guess she was five years old. She looks more like three since her growth is stunted due to mal-nutrition and lack of hygiene. She has greasy, straight brown hair framing a dirty face, pale from lack of sunlight. She has cracked, parched lips hiding teeth showing the consequences of not brushing. Her hands are crusty and ‘soap’ was not a word in her vocabulary.
   Cassandra likes to tell me stories. They always start with, “Benny Blue, have I ever told you the story about…” I have heard every single one of her stories: the one about the princess who escaped from the evil king, the one about the brave mother rabbit who saved her baby from drowning and many others. However, there is one story that I’ve heard more than all others. It is clearly Cassandra’s favourite. It’s about a loving mother who sits toiling with a needle in hand all day. She poured all her love for her newborn baby girl into a lifeless blue patchwork rabbit, which she then gave to the baby as a surprise. Little did she know that the rabbit would soon become her daughter’s dearest companion. Little did that mother know that this rabbit would be the only one her daughter thought cared about her.
   But it’s true. Every night before Cassandra goes to sleep, she tells me about her day. She tells me about how she can feel her teeth rotting; how she watches the other five-year old girls living next door go to school every day. She asked her Daddy to go to school, just for one day. He hit her. He hit her and told her no one who goes to school ever becomes someone important. She tells me how she watches the Mommy and Daddy next-door play with their kids. They don’t take the pills or drink the smelly juice that her Mommy and Daddy do.
   Every night she tells me about how her parents argue and fight. She describes how their arguments become more and more vicious; how Daddy hits Mommy so hard he makes her cry. How mommy empties his bottles of smelly juice in the sink so he gets mad and has to go buy more. She expresses her want to taste vegetables, and that she’s tired of eating chips, and fries. After supper her parents send her to bed at six ‘o clock. They pile the dishes on the counter and leave them there. Cassandra can’t go to sleep though. She holds me and listens to them fight some more. Through the crack under her door she watches them drink the smelly juice and eat the pills. Some nights when she’s lucky her Daddy leaves with his scary friends and many pretty women. He leaves her Mommy to fall asleep and Cassandra can go to sleep hearing only the sounds of the TV.
   On nights like these, Cassandra opens her window. She puts me on the ledge of her bed and we both look up at the sky. These are the times when Cassandra prays the only way she knows how.
   “Star light, star bright,” she says, “Please let Mommy and Daddy stop fighting. First star I see tonight. Why can’t I have a Mommy and Daddy like the two girls next door? I wish I may, I wish I might. Will you take away their smelly juice and pills? Have the wish I wish tonight.” Sometimes she tells me stories after her wish, and sometimes she just huddles under her thin blanket on the only spot of her ancient mattress where springs don’t poke through and hurt her.
   The next morning she wakes up and leaves her room. Her Mommy is usually still passed out on the couch. Her Daddy may or may have not gotten back in the middle of the night. If he did he’s usually found in his recliner. If he didn’t he usually comes home at lunchtime in a bad mood. Either way, she starts to clean up. Cassandra doesn’t like bugs. She tells me how she washes the dishes first, and dries them with a filthy dishcloth before putting them away orderly in the cupboard. She picks up her few little possessions, and cleans up the stinky juice and pills her parents left out. She asked me why they liked those little capsules and the juice so much. I couldn’t answer her. She told me she might drink some of the juice no matter how revolting, or eat one of the capsules, just to see why her parents liked them so much.
   Once a week after lunch some scary people come over and give her parents little bags full of the capsules. Her parents give them money in return. Cassandra describes them to me and tells me how scared she is when they come over. She says they might be making Mommy and Daddy take the capsules. She says they carry guns. She tells me her Daddy has a gun.
   One night, Cassandra came running into her room she took me from the bed and she hid in her empty closet. She had no pretty clothing like the girls next door, just two pairs of pants and one shirt that had been worn so often it had turned into a rag. She hid in one of the empty boxes that came holding many bottles of the stinky juice, and put another box on top. She whispered quietly to me through her tears,
   “Benny, I was looking under the crack in my door as my parents fought and I watched Daddy pull out a gun and he shot Mommy. He’s coming to find me now.”
   The door burst open and Daddy walked into the room,
   “Cassandra?” was audibly called in a singsong voice. He opened the closet door and, hearing Cassandra’s sniffles, knocked the box off of the one containing Cassandra and threw the second one against the wall, making Cassandra fall out. He pointed the gun at her and she held me in front of her like a shield. He ripped me out of her hands and threw me against the wall; my ear and leg fell off.
   Seeing the object containing the only love she had ever received in her young life treated so wretchedly Cassandra broke out into fresh bawls while her father pointed a revolver in her face. Cassandra hid her eyes shielding herself as much as possible from the barrel in front of her face.
   A shot rang out.
   A body slumped to the floor and Cassandra looked up.
   Her Daddy had shot himself, and he lay on the floor. Cassandra stood on shaky legs and picked me up. She ran outside the door screaming and stood outside the neighbour’s door still screaming and now knocking, despite the late hour, until the people inside woke up. She showed them her house, she showed them her parents and she showed me to them.
   They pressed some numbers on the telephone and waited until someone picked up. Soon there were flashing cars there and scary men with big badges and guns that made her cringe. The Mommy and Daddy said they were policemen, and that they would help her. They asked Cassandra questions and told her everything would be all right. At the end the policeman said they would take her away but the Mommy and Daddy asked if they could take care of her for now. The policemen said yes.
   The Mommy and Daddy comforted her and picked me up while the two other girls watched wide-eyed. The Mommy picked me up and got a needle and thread. The Daddy was going to get Cassandra some clothes but she refused to leave me alone. When I was fixed, with a few new patches where I had broken and my stuffing had started to fall out, Cassandra agreed to go brush her teeth, and go have a shower. Both for the first time in her life.
   Cassandra wanted to crawl into her makeshift bed that night, clean for the first time and with decent food in her stomach. She had looked on in marvel at all the different types of food they had, and looked confused at the sad looks on the Mommy and Daddy’s faces when she asked for a long orange thing she didn’t know the name of.
   She was very eager to go to sleep when the Mommy and Daddy looked at her very seriously and told her that she had to stay up a little longer because they had a very important question to ask her. With me on her lap, the Mommy and Daddy asked her,
   “We already have two daughters, but we were wondering if you would like to be the third. Would you like to live here Cassandra? We’ve seen you the last few years and wanted you to come over, but your parents were not very nice to us. They wouldn’t let you come out and play; they wouldn’t let you see our girls. We’d like you to stay with us and we’ll let you do those things, we’ll let you go to school, and eat new foods, and watch things on the TV. Would you like that?” Cassandra looked doubtful…
   Throughout the years her parents had exposed her to almost every cruel un-acceptable treatment known to man. She had been hit, and smacked, sent to her room without supper, forgotten locked in her room for a few days, and other things not even Cassandra understood the gravity of. But they were her parents… Would they want her to go with these people that weren’t her parents?
   She talked to me on her knee despite the sorrowful looks on the parent’s faces. She asked me these questions, and the parents were courteous enough not to interfere. She asked me what the alternative was to living with them. Would the police send her away to a correctional school? To an orphanage to live with other kids?
   The two other girls were sitting on the couch in the living room staring at her as if she were a bedraggled feral cat that had shown up on their doorstep and mewled pitifully, asking for help. They looked scared, excited and exhilarated at the same time, and quietly awaited Cassandra’s answer. They had such beautiful golden hair, contrasting greatly with Cassandra’s lank brown hair that hadn’t any of the shine that theirs did although it had just been washed.
   She looked at the Mommy and Daddy, at their healthy pretty children, at their cozy little house. “These are parents,” she voiced aloud to me in a sudden stroke of understanding, “Do you see Benny Blue? My Mommy and Daddy will always be my real Mommy and Daddy, but I can have another one that can give me the love they couldn’t.”
   Satisfied I had learned the lesson she looked at the parents. The horrors and wretchedness of the five years of her life reflected in dull grey eyes made her look much older than she really was. “I would like to stay,” she announced solemnly.
   That night, while she looked out the window from under three cozy blankets where I was held securely by her side, Cassandra thanked the stars, each and every one of them for giving her a new Mommy and Daddy. She thanked the moon and the sky. She turned to me and whispered a deeply sincere thank you into my ear. Cassandra fell asleep happily for the first time in her life.
   On Sunday, the new Mommy and Daddy woke her up. They took her to a place they called a ‘church’ and inside that church they had a ‘Sunday school’. She sat in a classroom not unlike her new classroom at the new school. She wore braided hair, pink cheeks and a smile as she looked around in wonder at the light and colour surrounding her. Her past still had a part of her, as a dark shape that hid behind her eyes explained so clearly. However, it was done with, as she realized. There was nothing she could do to change it and the parents, whom as of yesterday she ecstatically called Mommy and Daddy for the first time, were slowly piecing her broken heart back together.
The teacher walked in and Cassandra looked up. She was a nice lady with a big smile and colourful clothing. Behind the teacher, a picture caught her eye. She looked at the picture and stared. It was a picture of Jesus on the cross, with his hands and feet nailed. The teacher noticed how engrossed she was in that picture and asked her what that man’s name was. Cassandra looked at the teacher and said very solemnly.
   “I don’t know his name ma’am, but I do know he got off. I’ve seen him before. He was there in my old home and he held me while I hid in a box the night my parents died. He protected me while my Daddy pointed a gun at me, and he stays with me all the time. I know this will sound silly, but… but I call him Benny Blue.”