Author Topic: "A Complicated Life"--part one of a three part story, about 800 words  (Read 1636 times)

Offline Susan Leitz

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A Complicated Life
By
Susan Leitz

   Flowers, blood red, with thorny stems, scattered themselves amongst the neatly trimmed green and purple shrubs and seemed out of place in the otherwise symmetrical border. Guardians against clandestine enemies? Protective barrier against......who knows? Not knowing what kind of flowers they were, she wondered at it, but only thought of them fleetingly in that way. The blood red petals reminded her of something in the past, yet she could not name it.

   The pretty little white house with sea green shutters sat on the large, grass covered lot. The flowers, the shrubs, the shutters; all should have combined to give it a feeling of warmth and welcome. None of which she felt as she sat in her car in the parking lot of the school across the street from that pretty little house, waiting, and gathering her thoughts. This was a house that was not perfect, yet seemed to speak of love and security and thoughtfulness. The exact opposite of what she was thinking. So deceiving was this house.

   She looked at it with sadness, fear, anger, jealousy, and a hatred that seemed to be beyond her control. She despised those feelings under normal circumstances but this time she embraced them with a strength only desperation can give. She was not entirely sure why she needed strength, but she felt that need to her very soul. So, while she sat in her car, she drummed the steering wheel with a steady tempo and drew strength from the memories of the past thirty-four years. She beat out a strange tune with those fingers, though she did not know the song. A sad melancholy melody that came to her mind along with the memories.

   Tonight was infinitely different from those other nights. Although there had been many nights over those long years that she knew of his deception, she never believed, never realized that things would have come to this. She had allowed him to become distant and she berated herself for that allowance in the past. She was grateful now for the chasm that he had created in their relationship. She had felt sullied by his touch for far too long, but the aloofness made her feel cleansed, even if it was only imaginary, a pretense that saved her sanity. On occasion, though, she needed to feel his touch even knowing she would come to regret it. She always regretted it in the end. Doesn’t everyone need to feel the embrace of someone they love every now and again, even if that touch is tainted?
 
   Yes, she would regret the intimacy that thirty years of marriage to a man with an unbridled sexual hunger provided. But, there were moments in her life when she craved that touch, that intimacy which he offered. No, not offered, demanded. They had been married for many years and during the early years their relationship was born of love. But, she knew very well, that many things change over the course of so many years. She knew that loving someone and being in love with someone were not quite the same. She had fallen in love with him when they were in junior high school, although they did not date until their freshman year. They married on his eighteenth birthday, only two months after their high school graduation. They had been in love for nearly four years by then.

   What a different time that was. She wondered if he was the same person. She wondered if she were the same person, too. Perhaps someone had stolen them both. Had someone taken them to a distant place or time and replaced them with other people, other souls? She wished that she knew. As she looked back to their wedding day, she did not feel like the young girl that she saw in her mind, yet she could not come to feel like the woman that she was at present, either. She glanced in the rear-view mirror of the car looking for that young girl or the woman that she had grown to be, but they were not there. That innocent girl was gone in the blink of an eye and she did not recognize the woman that she saw reflected back to her.

   While love grows for a long while, it also begins to wane over time. That ‘in-love’ feeling dissipates to the point of simply loving one another. That was enough for her. She believed that was what should happen in mature relationships. Maturity eventually settled a person and allowed them to ease into a comfortable and uncomplicated life together. Unfortunately, he did not want a comfortable and uncomplicated life. She knew this. She had known it for many years. She was going to show him just how uncomfortable and complicated she could make his life now.

hillwalker3000

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Re: "A Complicated Life"--part one of a three part story, about 800 words
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2013, 11:25:28 AM »
It's difficult to take this seriously because you hype up the entire scene with so much deep, internalised thought that it's overwhelming. Your MC is sitting in her car and all this obsessing happens.

Yet, nothing actually happens. After reading it through I thought 'So what?'

There's too much airy-fairy symbolism. It sucks all the air out of the piece. I think you're aiming for poetical, lyrical maybe. But on such a scale it comes across as Yoda-speak for much of the time.

This was a house that was not perfect, yet seemed to speak of love and security and thoughtfulness. The house said all this? Really? The exact opposite of what she was thinking. So deceiving was this house. In what way?

   She looked at it with sadness, fear, anger, jealousy, and a hatred that seemed to be beyond her control. 5 emotions in 1 look. Wow.


I'm guessing the gist of this piece is that 'she' is sitting outside 'his' house, planning to make 'him' suffer somehow for his betrayal. But all we have so far is hysterical, over-wrought reflection that could be summarised up in a couple of sentences. I felt no empathy for your MC - just the desire to give her a good kick up the derriere.

You suggest there's more to follow. Might I suggest you bring the action forward a step because Part One is a huge turn-off. Just my opinion, of course. Feel free to ignore.

H3K

Offline 510bhan

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Re: "A Complicated Life"--part one of a three part story, about 800 words
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2013, 12:42:45 PM »
Patrician Scanlan gets away with this type of writing and I thoroughly enjoy reading her work. Maybe it has more appeal for women than men. ::) I can identify with all the ruminating and I'm looking forward to how she's going to scale up on this. ;)

Max_with_word_processor

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Re: "A Complicated Life"--part one of a three part story, about 800 words
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2013, 02:47:08 PM »
I think this has some very powerful and emotive lines and metaphors, such as the way the house speaks to her. But I think there are too many of them all at once. To me it feels like it is verging on preaching. I would rather see these emotions dispersed through more active scenes. And it's not that sitting in a car can't be active, it probably can be, but it feels like you are trying too hard to give me the rationale for what she is about to do all at once.

Like 510bahn said, some may like this style, but I am a bit more impatient and want to start seeing some gunfire (metaphorically speaking, or perhaps literally).


hillwalker3000

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Re: "A Complicated Life"--part one of a three part story, about 800 words
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2013, 03:15:43 PM »
Patrician Scanlan gets away with this type of writing and I thoroughly enjoy reading her work. Maybe it has more appeal for women than men. ::) I can identify with all the ruminating and I'm looking forward to how she's going to scale up on this. ;)

You hit the nail on the head there, 510. An entire novel filled with this kind of "material" is the stuff of nightmares.

 ;D

H3K

Offline Susan Leitz

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Re: "A Complicated Life"--part one of a three part story, about 800 words
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2013, 03:18:30 PM »
Thanks everyone, for the constructive comments! This is my first EVER posting to any forum, and well, I'm happy to get any help that I can, honestly.  Now, I'm so anxious to post the rest of the story!!! Darn, I don't want to wait a week! 

Offline 510bhan

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Re: "A Complicated Life"--part one of a three part story, about 800 words
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2013, 03:23:55 PM »
Little bit of fiddling to tighten this as you often show or say things twice [not always stylistically effective] and to add variety to sentence openings --  losing She did etc.

   Flowers, blood red, with Thorny stemmed, blood-red flowers scattered themselves amongst inveigled the neatly trimmed green and purple shrubs and seemed out of place in the otherwise symmetrical border. Guardians against clandestine enemies? Protective barrier against......who knows? Not knowing What kind of flowers are they? were, she wondered at it, but only As quick as it flitted in, the thought flew away. of them fleetingly in that way. The Blood red petals reminded her of something in the past, yet she could not name it.

   The pretty little white house with sea green shutters sat on the large, grass covered lot. The flowers, the shrubs, the shutters; all should have combined to The chocolate box prettiness of the house should have given it a feeling of warmth and welcome. None of which However, she felt none of this as she sat waited in her car in the school parking lot of the school across the street from that pretty quaint/cosy little house, waiting, and gathering her thoughts. This was a house that was not perfect, yet it seemed to speak of love and security and thoughtfulness. The exact opposite of what she was thinking. So deceiving was this house.

   She looked at it with Sadness, fear, anger, jealousy, and a hatred that seemed to be beyond her control, roiled within her.  She despised those feelings Under normal circumstances she despised those feelings but this time she embraced them with a soul-felt strength only desperation can give. She was not entirely sure why she needed strength, but she felt that need to her very soul. Thirty-four years' worth of memories appeared as So, while she sat in her car, she drummed the steering wheel. with A steady tempo beat time to a tune she didn't know. against the wheel It could have been a death march, elegant and melancholy. Each contact against the wheel drew strength from the memories of the past thirty-four years. She beat out a strange tune with those fingers, though she did not know the song. A sad melancholy melody that came to her mind along with the memories.

   Tonight was infinitely different from those other nights. Although there had been many nights over those long years that she knew of his deception, she never believed, never realized that things would have come to this. She had allowed him to become distant and she berated herself for that allowance in the past. Tonight she was grateful now for the chasm that he had created in their relationship. She had felt She sniffed in disgust and continued drumming her fingers. Deception? Ha! Distance. Sullied by his touch for far too long, but the her present aloofness made her feel cleansed. She smirked. Even if it was only imaginary, the pretense that saved her sanity. On occasion, though, she needed to feel his touch even knowing she would come to regret it. She always regretted it in the end. Doesn’t everyone need to feel the embrace of someone they love every now and again, even if that touch is tainted?
 
   Yes, she would regret the intimacy that thirty years of marriage to a man with an unbridled sexual hunger provided. But, there were moments in her life when she craved that touch, that intimacy which he offered. No, not offered, demanded. They had been married for many years and during the early years their relationship was born of love. But, She knew very well, that how many things change over the course of so many years. She knew that Loving someone and being in love with someone were not quite the same. She had fallen in love with him when they were in junior high school, although they did not date until their freshman year. They Married on his eighteenth birthday, only two months after their high school graduation, they had been in love for nearly four years by then.

   What a different time that was. She wondered if he was the same person. She wondered if she were the same person, too. Perhaps someone had stolen them both. Had someone taken them to a distant place or time and replaced them with other people, other souls? She wished that she knew. As she looked back to their wedding day, she did not feel like the young girl that she saw in her mind, yet she could not come to feel like the woman that she was at present, either. She glanced in the rear-view mirror of the car looking for that young girl or the woman that she had grown to be, but they were not there. That innocent girl was gone in the blink of an eye and she did not recognize the woman that she saw reflected back to her.

   While love grows for a long while, it also begins to wane over time. That ‘in-love’ feeling dissipates to the point of simply loving one another. That was enough for her. She believed that was what should happen in mature relationships. Maturity eventually settled a person and allowed them to ease into a comfortable and uncomplicated life together. Unfortunately, he did not want a comfortable and uncomplicated life. She knew this. She had known it for many years. She was going to show him just how uncomfortable and complicated she could make his life now.



 :) :) :) Clean version below 576 words:





   Thorny stemmed, blood-red flowers inveigled the neatly trimmed shrubs and seemed out of place in the otherwise symmetrical border. Guardians against clandestine enemies? Protective barrier against......who knows? What kind of flowers are they? As quick as it flitted in, the thought flew away. Blood red petals reminded her of something in the past, yet she could not name it.

   The chocolate box prettiness of the house should have given it a feeling of warmth and welcome. However, she felt none of this as she waited in her car in the school parking lot across the street from that quaint/cosy little house, gathering her thoughts. This house was not perfect, yet it seemed to speak of love and security and thoughtfulness. The exact opposite of what she was thinking. So deceiving was this house.

   Sadness, fear, anger, jealousy, and hatred roiled within her.   Under normal circumstances she despised those feelings but this time she embraced them with a soul-felt strength only desperation can give. Thirty-four years' worth of memories appeared as she drummed the steering wheel. A steady tempo beat time to a tune she didn't know. It could have been a death march, elegant and melancholy. Each contact against the wheel drew strength from memories past.

   Tonight she was grateful now for the chasm that he had created in their relationship. She sniffed in disgust and continued drumming her fingers. Deception? Ha! Distance. Sullied by his touch for far too long, her present aloofness made her feel cleansed. She smirked. Even if it was only imaginary, the pretense that saved her sanity. On occasion, though, she needed to feel his touch even knowing she would come to regret it. She always regretted it. Doesn’t everyone need to feel the embrace of someone they love every now and again, even if that touch is tainted?
 
   Yes, she would regret the intimacy that thirty years of marriage to a man with an unbridled sexual hunger provided. But, there were moments in her life when she craved that touch, that intimacy which he offered. No, not offered, demanded. She knew very well how many things change over the course of so many years. Loving someone and being in love with someone were not quite the same. She had fallen in love with him in junior high school, although they did not date until their freshman year. Married on his eighteenth birthday, only two months after their high school graduation, they had been in love for nearly four years by then.

   What a different time that was. Had someone taken them to a distant place or time and replaced them with other people, other souls? She wished that she knew. As she looked back to their wedding day, she did not feel like the young girl she saw in her mind, yet she could not come to feel like the woman she was at present, either. She glanced in the rear-view mirror looking for that young girl or the woman she had grown to be, but they were not there. That innocent girl was gone and she did not recognize the woman reflected back to her.

Maturity eventually settled a person and allowed them to ease into a comfortable and uncomplicated life together. Unfortunately, he did not want a comfortable and uncomplicated life. She knew this. She had known it for many years. She was going to show him just how uncomfortable and complicated she could make his life now.

« Last Edit: December 17, 2013, 03:55:23 PM by 510bhan »

Offline bobby801

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Re: "A Complicated Life"--part one of a three part story, about 800 words
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2013, 03:48:03 PM »
Hi there,
First of all, i have to say that you can write, and write well. All the basics are there. so that's a good start. However, you need to drilll down on those basics and get to realise what the reader wants. Cut out the 'telling ' crap, and get down to what you you really want to say. forget the flowery descriptive stuff and hammer down into the detail. Cut out the adjectives ... 'she looked at it with fear, anger, jealously etc ..., and don't repeat  the same thing. trust the reader to get the point.

INMHO there's a lot of potential in this piece, as example of your writing. Keep at it and tighten up.

Good luck,

Bobby





Offline 2par

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Re: "A Complicated Life"--part one of a three part story, about 800 words
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2013, 12:08:39 PM »
Um, I hate to say this but, I'm having a case of deja vu.

Offline Susan Leitz

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Re: "A Complicated Life"--part one of a three part story, about 800 words
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2013, 12:30:07 PM »
Not sure what that means, 2par, but I must say that I'm curious.  Care to elaborate?

Offline Susan Leitz

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Re: "A Complicated Life"--part one of a three part story, about 800 words
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2013, 04:21:31 PM »
Thank you everyone.  I am amazed at the thoughtful criticism and helpful suggestions for my story. Though I can say that I have been an avid reader for  some time, I am just a beginning writer...Or, should I say--my goal is to some day have the knowledge and fortitude to write a well-written story. These are all good examples for me to follow as I look at my work and make improvements to the draft. Thanks for helping me work this out.