Author Topic: Review my short story "John's Angel"  (Read 107 times)

Offline Jan The Man

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Review my short story "John's Angel"
« on: June 19, 2018, 02:35:53 PM »
This is a portion of my short story John's Angel. Any form of criticism is welcomed.


Having tightened the final screw on the new patio chair John took a step back to admire his handy work. He took a deep breath feeling glad that the entire set had now been completed. All that was needed was to apply the final touches. The sound of a car horn diverted his attention. “Finally.” he said. The package he was waiting so long for was here at last. He dusted himself off heading out to the gate. Sure enough there stood the courier’s truck on the other side of the gate.
Running up John went outside closing the gate behind him. He noticed the driver side door was open and the young woman wearing sunglasses going through her papers. She finally got out with a box in her hands. “I have a package for-” she said looking closer at the invoice. “John Stanton.” She turned her attention to John and stared with a blank expression. “That’s me.” he said. John noticed the woman stared at him consistently but at the same time she seemed familiar to him. “Do you still remember me?” she asked. John smiled realizing that he did indeed. “I thought you looked familiar.” She stepped forward and put her arms around him giving him a very tight hug. “It’s Christelle from school.”
“Yeah I know, how have you been?”
“Great, I have two kids and I’m now married to Devon Andrews.
“What happened to Gerry?”
“He cheated on me again, the bastard.”
“Again?”
“Yip, we got married again, had another baby and then he cheated again.”
With all the catching up Christelle suddenly remembered why she was there. “Here’s your package.” she said while also handing him a form and a pen. “Just sign this for me.” John took the pen and paper and as he was about to sign the form his hand shook so much he could barely move it. That was something that hasn’t happened in long time. When it did he was usually very nervous. Finally he managed to sign his signature. Afterwards Christelle instructed John to turn over to the next page that also required his signature. “So,” Christelle said, “What do you do for a living now? Do you have any kids?”
“I don’t have kids but I was involved with someone, it didn’t work out. I’m a carpenter now, I design anything from patio sets, bedroom closets to office furniture and bar counters.”
“That’s great, do you have workshop or factory?”
“I had a workshop but the rent started becoming too expensive so I set up shop right behind the garage.”
“So you’re working from your house.”
“Exactly.”
John folded up the forms and handed them back. Christelle nodded, exchanged the package for the forms and moved back to the truck. “Okay,” she said, “good luck with building all that furniture.” She returned to give John one last hug which lasted a bit longer than the first. The second she let go John wanted stop her and ask if she could stay just a little bit longer. Although he knew she still had a job to do. John watched her get in and start the engine. As she reversed John quickly stepped forward with package in hand. “Goodbye and drive safe.” Before driving off she looked at him with that familiar bright smile. “Thanks and again good luck.”
Finally off she went and he could barely keep his eyes from filling with tears. How he longed to tell her for so long. If only he had a moment to tell her the truth behind why he never called her back when they were kids. It was a time long before Facebook or social media in general was even an afterthought. A time when kids still played card games or the type of games they played outdoors like hide and seek. When people had conversations with each other face to face and not via text messages on cell phones. Where the only way to keep in touch was to write letters that weren’t sent via E-mail but by post office or to call each other on the landlines.
He remembers that very day she walked into that classroom. It was the very first time a girl ever drew his eye. She was so beautiful and as he would later find out, so angry. The boys in their class teased her so much that she was so worked up. When John only wanted to do something as harmless as say hello she demonstrated her well learned self-defence moves on him. After that he wouldn’t bother with her up until each student in the class was instructed to sit with a friend. Apparently no one wanted to sit with John so he thought he’d be by himself. Until he heard the voice of Mrs Manson “John, go and sit with Christelle.” John was completely surprised to hear those words. He never would’ve thought she’d be alone too.
At first he wanted to ask if Mrs Manson was serious. Did she really think it would be a good idea for him to sit with her? When Mrs Manson noticed John hadn’t moved from his table she told him more insistently. With the chair in hand he moved slowly like he snuck up on the table where Christelle was sitting. Thinking that if he didn’t make any sudden moves he’d be okay. He sat down in silence looking directly at her. She was the prettiest little psycho he had ever seen at that stage. Although John had made peace with the fact that she probably didn’t like him because of the other boys always teasing her. From then on every time they sat together Christelle would just ignore him. Although John often tried to be polite and would kindly ask her if they could just have a conversation because the silence was driving him a tad crazy. She would only continue to occupy herself with something she was busy with on her lap and not even give him a glance.
John even tried telling some jokes. “I got one,” he said. “Two zeros walk down the road and spot an eight walking right past them. The zero tells his buddy ‘look how tight that guy’s belt is.’ He practically pulled out his greatest hits compilation yet Christelle still ignored him. Eventually John topped off his attempts at humour with a joke which emphasized his disappointment. “Guess who looks like an idiot for telling a bunch of dumb jokes?” After a brief pause He finally added. “Me!” Still she never even looked up. John then pressed his fist on his cheeks and just watched the stubborn little angel fool around with whatever she was busy with.
It would go on like that for a week and it didn’t matter if John told more jokes or started having conversations with the chair he was sitting on or if he told a story about Cinderella being abducted by the wolf and her father the king called on the seven dwarfs to go rescue her. She just wouldn’t allow him the time of day. John even decided to give up getting her attention. He didn’t know what to do anymore now that nothing he tried worked. Until one Friday when he sat staring at her in silence and a boy in their class, Brian Deacon started teasing her again. “Hey Christelle,” he said. “What are you and I doing this weekend?” She probably gave Brian a look of discuss that would make any boy beg for forgiveness on the spot. “We won’t be doing anything. I’d be too sick at the thought of even hearing your voice.”
“Oh come on, Christelle. You know you want me you’re just too shy to admit it.”
“Not shy enough to tell you to keep dreaming.”
“I plan to, I’ve been dreaming about you since you came to class.”
Instead of replying Christelle simply rolled her eyes then turned her attention to whatever she did on her lap. John examined this whole thing with her and Brian. As odd as it was he found it quite amusing and developed a mild grin. “Are you and Deacon over here really an item?” Christelle looked at him with an even more disapproving look than the one she gave Brian. “What?”
“Are you and Brian really an item?”
“No we’re not an item, I can’t stand him.”
“If you were I’d probably feel sorry for one of you.”
“We’re not.
“It’s okay really but if you’re going to ignore a guy because you’re trying to be loyal the least you can do is date someone better to show you have some taste.”
“Look, we’re not dating so quit it.”
She gave John that fierce expression and all John did was hold up his hands in surrender. While Christelle again turned her attention away John thought to himself oh little miss sensitive. Then it struck him like a sudden bolt of lightning, she’s sensitive. Christelle didn’t like it when John implied that she and Brian were dating. Finally John found out how to lure a reaction out of her. Unfortunately the school bell rang before John could put his new discovery to the test so it would’ve had to wait until next time. He was very pleased with himself having realised that he found something that pinched a nerve. Filled with confidence John left the class thinking You’ve had your fun up to this point little princess, next time it’s my turn.

Offline heidi52

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Re: Review my short story "John's Angel"
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2018, 08:10:18 AM »
I read through to the end, so that's a good thing.  ;) However, I think you need to do several things:

PLEASE put extra carriage returns in when you post your work. I know you had space between paragraphs when you wrote this in word or whatever, but the editor here eats those for breakfast, and what the poor reader sees is a wall of text with no breaks. Very hard on the eyes.

Please use some commas where needed to break up the sentences. Commas are your friends, even though they can be a little intimidating sometimes, lol. Your dialog punctuation needs a bit of work as well.

I realize this is a rough draft, but could really benefit with some hard pruning. You are trying to set a scene, but most of this is like wallpaper, kind of fills space without having any depth.

Dialog also needs work, for example “Great, I have two kids and I’m now married to Devon Andrews." Doesn't ring true. Is that really what someone would say to someone they hadn't seen for a long time? Especially someone they may be interested in? I could give some examples, but I'm sure you can come up with better yourself.

The other thing that doesn't ring true is the fact that she didn't recognize the name on the package she was delivering.

For this reader high school days are not that interesting and I know you are trying to show rather than tell, but I think you could condense this without losing much of anything. The joke was lame, of course, but I half expected it to be brought up again, like maybe she remembered it. Then it could have been a way to show how she was actually paying attention to him back then, though he didn't realize it.

If it doesn't serve a purpose in the story, I would axe it.

This may sound nit-picky and it probably is, but I hope it helps.


Offline Jan The Man

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Re: Review my short story "John's Angel"
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2018, 05:21:39 PM »
Thanks very much.

Your reply got me thinking a lot so I'm actually going to be making some changes.

I appreciate it.