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La Emme Nikita's picture

Crystal

By La Emme Nikita in Scare Us

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Description

It's hard being sixteen, even worse when your only friend's been buried in the ground for three years. But if you hang out in the cemetery enough you just might see something. Maybe even the end of the world, you know?

 

Comments

Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from Danville Virginia is reading Wide Sargasso Sea July 19, 2012 - 11:39am

This is just great! Maybe the Coens will option it for a movie. (I just finished watching "A Serious Man" and got kinda homesick, even though I'm not actually from there.) I lived just south of the Cities for 10 years, so I could see all of this in my mind's eye, but I think I would have been able to even if i had lived on Mars. It has a wonderful sense of place. Most of all, I love the narrator's voice. She sounds completely authentic and is so wry and deadpan-funny. This has got to be one of my favorite stories in the contest. Yay!

La Emme Nikita's picture
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La Emme Nikita from Los Angeles is reading Ishmael July 19, 2012 - 2:06pm

Wow, thanks for the kind words, Jane! I usually write fantasy so horror's a stretch for me- glad you enjoyed it! I see you're reading Lovecraft, which is really the only horror I've ever been interested in, and I tried to channel him here. 

 
Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from Danville Virginia is reading Wide Sargasso Sea July 19, 2012 - 5:30pm

Haha, I'm only reading Lovecraft because I know nothing whatsoever about horror and it seems this is the place to start.

sean of the dead's picture
sean of the dead from Madisonville, KY is reading Peckerwood, by Jed Ayres July 19, 2012 - 8:11pm

***contains spoilers, read the story before reading this review***

I like this story quite a bit.  I really like the girl telling the story, she is painted perfectly (I think I remember her from high-school, I always respected her quite a bit).  I like the fact that the mystery remains throughout the story, all the way through the end.  Sometimes that's the best way to do it, don't explain what it is, because then it's even creepier.

I'm not qualified enough as a reviewer to try my hand at the LBL (yet), but I did notice some minor things here and there, an extra/missing word, but certainly nothing the reader couldn't fill in.

Here's my only concern, but at the same time a possible solution: the first person narrator (presumably) dies at the end.  I have gone back and forth on how I feel about this.  I'm leaning toward the notion that it might be a bad idea.  But, and I'm just asking here, have you thought about writing this in the form of the girl's journal?  It read close enough to what I'd imagine her journal might look like, only a couple little changes really necessary to switch it over.  She does mention that the details of the "cloud" are written in her journal.  And, most importantly, then she is telling the story from the journal, as if maybe someone stumbled upon it after her demise, thus taking away the issue of a 1st-person narrator who is telling their story from the dead.

Up to you, but either way, I like this!  Thumbs up from me!

La Emme Nikita's picture
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La Emme Nikita from Los Angeles is reading Ishmael July 19, 2012 - 9:59pm

Thanks Sean! 

She dies...or does she? She escaped the other two times. Maybe she's weird enough it doesn't want her? 

I do like the journal idea, though, and may work on a version using that type of narration just for the practice. 

 
Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep July 21, 2012 - 11:58am

Short and sweet: Your prose makes me want to be a better writer. Completely engaging. You made me feel like *I* was her best friend.

You have a beginning and middle, but I'm not so sure you have an ending. It's so open-ended, at the very least it *feels* like there's no ending. Either she dies (she doesn't, in the ending my mind decided on), or she continues to live, fight, run. Either way, she--and the reader--are left in limbo. Go ahead and kill her off, or don't (because killing off the "I" in your first-person story is usually awkward to explain unless the story is being told by a ghost). You hooked us with this wonderful character, and it may be a little unfair to the reader to just stop there. I think they'll walk away unsatisfied.

I think an ambiguous ending would work better in this particular story if we had more details about 1) what the creature/phenomena was and what was causing it and 2) how our protagonist had survived two attacks already. Since we don't have this info, we gots nothing to go on. (Unless there were clues in there I missed, which is always possible.) Give us hope or despair in the end, but let us know which way to lean.

Just my thoughts. I hope they are useful. I would love to read more of your stuff.

La Emme Nikita's picture
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La Emme Nikita from Los Angeles is reading Ishmael July 22, 2012 - 4:45pm

Thanks! I'm so glad you were able to connect with the character. I'm just starting to share my writing with others after keeping it under wraps, so it's always nice to hear compliments.

I see how the ending is a bit weak. I'm going to go back through and see what I can do to strengthen it. I've never been keen on definite endings so I like to leave a little room for reader interpretation.   

 
Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep August 2, 2012 - 2:03am

Well, I finally had time to read your revised ending. Still ambiguous to a degree (as intended), but this one feels more like an ending. I'm not 100% sure exactly why I feel it's more satisfying, but I think it has something to do with this:

She's in a place of comfort in the end.

For this reader, that's enough.

...

...

...

Okay, now go write the rest of the novel. ;)

La Emme Nikita's picture
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La Emme Nikita from Los Angeles is reading Ishmael August 2, 2012 - 12:24pm

Thanks for the re-read! Glad you approve. 

Novel is done! Well, first draft. Now to revisions X(

 
Brad's picture
Brad from Australia is reading Speculative Fiction Quarterlies July 24, 2012 - 8:25am

Hi Emma,

 

The things I like about this story are: the character is painted superbly and the mystery is intriguing.

The MC has a good blend of attitude without you pushing it in the reader's face. We learn a lot about her through her thoughts/speech rather than you telling us how she looks/how she acts etc. Nice job.

 

Your style is what I call "Dear Diary" style, in that it's very informal, conversational and directs question at the reader. I think that works okay for this story. It also allows you to keep the reader as uniformed about the mysterious killing cloud as the MC is, and that helps the tension.

 

I think a lot of your sentences are very long and you do what I call "hedging" a lot in your writing. That is, adding extra words and phrases to the sentence that don't need to be there to make the  point/advance the story. Similarly, you maybe tell a little too much about the unimportant in your piece. The opening in particular would be a lot more grabbing/intriguing if there was less introduction and you moved straight into the action.

I would challenge you to see if you can cut this story down to an even 3k words. Just for funsies, see what you can lose and then re-read and work out if you've lost any impact/characterisation/story.

 

I like the plot itself. I think giving the reader no conclusion is overrated though. It's ok to leave it ambigous, but give us more clues to let us draw our own conclusion. If she's going to die in the park in the sand, foreshadow it. If she's going to survive three deadly cloud attacks, give us a clue as to why she's so special.

 

I have done a LBL for you, because I do that out of habit when I read short stories. It's all my opinion but take a look at the changes/comments I've made and take what you like from them.

Lawrence's picture
Lawrence from Dallas, Texas is reading Mr. Mercedes - Stephen King July 24, 2012 - 1:46pm

I really enjoyed the way you handled the conversation and subtle details in dealing with the parents. From the extra Oreo line to the “parents have a harder time dealing with letting go of their kids relationships.” It’s always good when you can include extra thing to keep the story flowing and they are actually interesting and fun to read.The description of her new friend being taken down at the video store was very strong as well. Overall the story really kept me reading and wanting to find out what the cause of everything was.

The only thing I could think of was the first couple pages. Nothing grammatical or structural I would just try to tighten it up. The story really sucked me in when it got going but those first two pages seem to be meandering until we get there. Other than that I really enjoyed the story a lot, one of the stronger submissions I have read.

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Burnt Tongues July 25, 2012 - 2:59pm

You did a really good job of capturing that time of youth (maybe because it reminds me of mine) in terms of the activities and music around you. That went a long way towards setting up a tone where such "disaster" could ring true. I do feel at times that it took its time to unwind, but I don't see that as a real negative here; it reflects the life lived there, thus when the "cloud" appears, it seems to jolt the people as well as the reader. The whole thing has a very Stephen King feel to it (the very best of his stuff), down to the ending. It's risky being ambiguous that way, but then again, unresolved endings and paradoxes are classic tropes in horror writing, so it fits wonderfully here. One of the more effective pieces I've read because of the intimacy of the people. Great job!

Ian's picture
Ian from Texas is reading Low Down Death Right Easy by J. David Osborne July 27, 2012 - 2:03pm

This is fantastic. The specifc references you use throughout are excellent. They provide a very real and very vibrant sense of the character and the setting. Also, you managed to work in your hometown(s) in an artful way that's better than any of the other submissions I've read thus far. Certainly better than mine. 

I did find myself wanting more clairty with the ending. As others have already pointed out, I just want a tiny bit more to build my own interpretation. Without that sense of motivation, causation, etc. for the cloud, I'm a little stuck. I'm not so concerned about why she survives these attacks. I think she got a little lucky each time and each time she learned from her previous experiences (smells like lichen). All of that, I think, is a testament to the tremendous job you did developing your main character. I genuinely wanted some inkling of a resolution.

Also, there are some great lines here. The "Neither of us listens to to the other..." line, the "It's funny how parents have a harder time letting go..." line, the "Cemeteries in the suburbs lack the punch..." line... I could go on. A lot of great writing that really rings true.

Really great story.

Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from Danville Virginia is reading Wide Sargasso Sea July 30, 2012 - 10:26am

And speaking of the Coen Bros.: the ending of "A Serious Man."

La Emme Nikita's picture
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La Emme Nikita from Los Angeles is reading Ishmael July 28, 2012 - 9:04pm

Thanks for all your feedback, everyone! And Brad- I appreciate your taking the time to do the LBL.

I know the narrative style is a bit loose and some of the sentences are longer but it's all intentional as part of the character. She literally doesn't speak to other people and instead has these rambling inner monologues. I did tighten up the first couple of pages just a bit to move the action along, and I reworded the ending a bit. I wanted to stay away from saying anything outright that would dispel the mystery here, because the story is about the mystery and the uncertainty. 

The positive feedback on the narrator has been great. I'm so glad you all like her so much! She'd be happy to hear it. 

 
Caleb Aaron Dobbs's picture
Caleb Aaron Dobbs from Sallisaw, Oklahoma is reading A Game of Thrones July 29, 2012 - 12:55am

I like that the ending is not set in stone...that was probably my favorite part about Crystal. Don't mean to confuse you, as many people seem to think it was a cop-out, but I don't want to know! ;) The loose narrator matched the ending...wrapping it up like a present would disappoint me and would seem out of place.

 

I wasn't sure at first, but once it caught (on page 3 for me), it just worked. Thanks again for your critique on mine, you got my vote!

Chris Johnson's picture
Chris Johnson from Burlington NC is reading The Proud Highway July 29, 2012 - 10:07pm

I dunno how to do an LDL, so I'll give you a rewrite. I'm hesitant to do this because of the diary-nature of the story. I like that some of the grammar is off yet she's using words like taciturn. Reminds me of my younger halfway smart self, all my vocabulary coming from what I read, so much so that I'd mispronounce seven out of every ten high-dollar words I knew. Propinquity's a mahfucka, yo.

She's halfway smart and it comes across in the story, but is this a dialogue? Inner monologue? A diary entry? If so, what about the ending? She's not writing in her diary as she holds her dying dog. So I can go for inner voice, all that, and you need to consider that if you write this straight you lose a lot of the flavor you need to keep in a 16 year old smart ass narrator. I'll tell you what, I'll skip the rewrite until you know how you want to frame your story better. It's all there, well-developed character, great concept, you have it. I'm just complaining about the adverbs (trying valiantly to appear to be trying valiantly to et cetera), and the super long compound-complex sentences, and use of the passive voice. Stylistic concerns, but ones that can be resolved by changing the framework of the story. We're in her head and you talk to yourself the same way you speak aloud usually. That's all.

Keep the ambiguity. PLEASE. Open endings lean toward the glass half empty/half full question of the reader's mentality. Does she die? Does she live? Does Maya answer the door for Miles at the end of Sideways? Keep it. It's a great thing, the open ending. It pisses people off because it's not spoonfeeding them, it's making them think. It makes people put themselves in there. Optimists think she lives, pessimists think she dies. This is another area where being okay with not knowing applies.

Also, could it be that she's the source of the cloud? Her interior poison spilling out onto her town? Could it be coming from her? Ask yourself this. Could she be summoning the cloud in some way? I mean, it can't just be luck that she's in the center of the hurricane three times. One time, sure, coincidence. Second time, meh. Three times? I don't see it. She has something to do with it. Let it roll. Great story!

Ian's picture
Ian from Texas is reading Low Down Death Right Easy by J. David Osborne July 30, 2012 - 2:08am

I'll preface this by saying I'm new to the site and I like it. And if I'm going to be spending more time here, I feel compelled to make sure I don't develop a reputation as the guy who needs a bow put on his endings. Stated another way... I need to clear up the amibguity surrounding my position on ambiguity.

You used Sideways as an example of an ambiguous ending. The problem is that the ending of Sideways isn't ambiguous at all. Miles shows up at the door and knocks. That is the complete and wholly satisfying ending. Miles arriving at the place in his life where he would do such a thing is precisely the point of the whole film. Whether Maya answers the door or not is irrelevant. That's not a good example of the point I was making. Further examples of movies that I think do have very real endings that others might find frustrating are Martha Marcy May Marlene and Dogtooth off the top of my head. 

The only issue I had with this story, and I do mean the only issue with this otherwise wonderfully written story, is that I didn't see that event or detail or character trait or series of any of the above that would lead a reader to an interpretation actually grounded in the story. Real ambiguity... Truly beautiful ambiguity comes from showing two people the same thing and having them arrive at diametrically opposed conclusions or interpretations based on that same thing. But you have to have that thing. Film examples of this would be Usual Suspects or Take Shelter.

So our disagreement is really about whether that thing is there or not. I hope that makes the distinction I'm making more clear.

To sum up, I'm not pissed, I don't need to be spoonfed, and Crystal is one of my favorite stories in this competition. 

Sorry, Emma. I didn't mean to hijack the comment thread to your truly incredible story.

Chris Johnson's picture
Chris Johnson from Burlington NC is reading The Proud Highway July 30, 2012 - 4:11am

And my apologies. I didn't read your post before I put mine up, I just scanned some of the other reviews on my way down the the reply section. No toes needed to be pulled out of the way, and I apologize. My sense of ambiguity isn't the blind men and the elephant per se, but more so the concept of the open ending. I heard or read somebody referring to such endings as Hitchcock Endings. That's all. Keep your thumb on it. And thanks for reading and reviewing my story, Ian. Welcome to the site.

La Emme Nikita's picture
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La Emme Nikita from Los Angeles is reading Ishmael July 30, 2012 - 9:38pm

I'm new here, too, Ian. *fist bump* Hopefully I won't develop a reputation as the girl who's afraid to give her stories an ending. Yikes!

Thanks so much for your kind words. And I think it's great that my thread got hijacked; it's been interesting to see the strong reactions to it. My real-world readers are also divided on this between "But what happened?" and "I love the ending, I think __ happened.".

Now I want to write a story with an open ending that you'll be happy with!

(Coincidentally, your own story is one of my favorites, and I have my own idea how it ended.)

 
Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland July 30, 2012 - 1:34am

"Rest in peace my ass."  This has got to be my favorite line in any of my stories. I absolutely love it. Most of what i could tell you has already been said. I love the conversational style you use. I like to write charachters who tell stories in that fashion but rarely do because it usually bothers people and it's extrememly hard to do efectively. But you did. So great Job.

I would love to read more of your work. Thank you for sharing this story.

 

--Jonathan--

La Emme Nikita's picture
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La Emme Nikita from Los Angeles is reading Ishmael July 30, 2012 - 9:16pm

Thanks for the feedback! I'm glad you liked the style, and got what I was going for here. I've wanted to do something in this style ever since reading Neil Gaiman's short story "The Thing About Cassandra" and this was my first chance because it really seemed to fit with the character. 

 
AssholeAmerican's picture
AssholeAmerican from America (CO, NE, NC, AK, NY, WA) is reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, Portable Atheist by Hitchens, 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill July 30, 2012 - 5:45am

Emma,

You've gotten plenty of great feedback and I'm not sure there's much I could add to what's already been said.

The ending seems to be what most people are focusing on and for me I felt that she survived and was left alone in the world with a dog and The Stand as her only companions. Even more alone at the end than she was at the beginning of the story.

I'm not too keen on the suggestion of the story coming from her diary, but that's purely a personal thing. I think that could work, but the trouble that you run into by doing that is that your ending will never occur, the diary will just end at some point because your character is dead or she ends up running away with her journal instead of The Stand to keep writing. Otherwise your character has to be writing in her journal at the exact moment the sirens sound and she smells lichen which will make your ending less ambiguous but it's also kind of hacky. Although, in this instance since she's basically under house arrest and has nothing else to do it would make sense that she's writing in her journal. You know the character and her world better than any of us do, so you'd know how events would occur better than any of us.

As has been mentioned there is a lot of great writing here, my favorite phrase was "after some mental origami". Loved that line.

I fully support your ambiguous ending, I love ambiguous endings. They never seem to go over well on the site though. ;) A lot of feedback will be personal taste (as has mine been) and, ultimately, writing is selfish. You write to tell the story you want to tell, how you want to tell it. Hopefully our suggestions will get your brain snapping and popping in new ways that will help you think of your story in a way that you'll love even more.

Very enjoyable story and I loved how vague it was. There was so much about the character and so little about the "creature" and the ending and other people that, as a reader, I get to fill those things in. I love that.

Wes

La Emme Nikita's picture
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La Emme Nikita from Los Angeles is reading Ishmael July 30, 2012 - 9:23pm

Thanks so much for reading, and for your feedback. The ending really has been contentious, hasn't it? It all comes down to opinion, as you say, and I really did want it to be mysterious because I love to be able to fill in my own details as a reader. 

It wasn't my intention to write in the style of a journal entry, but to provide the teenage character's inner monologue. It's meant to be conversational and sometimes rambling and snarky, as this is a character who rarely speaks aloud to anyone. Instead she has this elaborate ongoing inner monologue, saying the things she'd say to friends if she had them.

 
Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from Danville Virginia is reading Wide Sargasso Sea July 30, 2012 - 10:33am

I too think the diary device is usually a clunker. Samuel Richardson, 18 th century, "Pamela" (well, these are letters, not diary entries, but the same narrative pitfalls): "oh, no, mother! Here comes Mister B to rape me! Oh, help!" You'd think she'd be hustling to hide under the bed at that point. I've seen it done really well, though: "The Handmaid's Tale."

La Emme Nikita's picture
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La Emme Nikita from Los Angeles is reading Ishmael July 30, 2012 - 9:30pm

Wow, rumble! I kind of love that I have a controversial ending here. Thanks to everyone for the feedback, and for taking the time to read both the story and the comments. 

I don't know what happens to her, and I'm cool with saying that because she doesn't know what's going to happen, either, and it's her story. Some people have shared their thoughts on both the ending and the nature of the cloud with me, which I love because everyone's idea is a bit different.

I did experiment with the character speculating on why she got away at one point but it sounded artificial and skewed the ending too far in one direction so in the end it didn't make the cut. 

 
Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from Danville Virginia is reading Wide Sargasso Sea July 31, 2012 - 10:55am

I really, really like it left ambiguous. And you're absolutely right. If she doesn't know what's about to happen to her, why would we? And how should she know what's in the cloud? If she doesn't know, why would we?

Sancho LeStache's picture
Sancho LeStache from El Paso is reading Hunger July 31, 2012 - 6:25pm

Pretty cool!

It kind of reminded me of an apocalyptic Heathers with all the angsty stuff in there.

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. August 2, 2012 - 12:46am

--- SPOILERS ---

Very Nice!  Since this was written in a diary like form, would it make sense to put dates or some other division between the entries?  Your creature reminds me alot of the kinds of alien monsters that showed up throughout the early Star Trek series.  The malevolent cloud which unleashes death is a classic style of Sci-Fi creature that works quite well ;)  You also did a good job of bringing out the narrator's character.

The biggest thing I ran into was that a chunk of the opening felt like a series of run-on sentences.  Otherwise, the flow of the story went very well.  I didn't run across anything word choice type issues (Or at least didn't notice any) or other things that tripped me up.  Very well done!

La Emme Nikita's picture
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La Emme Nikita from Los Angeles is reading Ishmael August 3, 2012 - 7:49pm

Thanks for reading and commenting! It's not actually a diary entry, but the character's stream of consciousness narration. The run-on nature of the sentences is intentional to mirror the kind of speech I pictured her having (rambling, a little self-conscious, wry), when in fact she doesn't really speak to anyone besides her dead friend.

 
sean of the dead's picture
sean of the dead from Madisonville, KY is reading Peckerwood, by Jed Ayres August 3, 2012 - 11:46pm

I like the fact that this story now how 30 comments (31 now!), because it's really good and deserves to be read.  Congrats again Emma!

Scott MacDonald's picture
Scott MacDonald from UK is reading House of Leaves August 5, 2012 - 2:03pm

******SOME SPOILERS*******

End of the world stuff always tends to float my boat, and this is no exception.  I loved the protagonist - I have an absolutely clear picture of her in my mind and you never physically described her once, which is impressive.

And I have no problem with your ending.  I realise it's ambiguous, but there's only two possible interpretations; one interpretation (ie. that she dies) is an absolute ending and there is enough description of her thinking that she's falling asleep to not need another word, and the other interpretation (ie. she survives) leaves us with a sixteen year old goth girl and her dog trying to escape a decimated town - and that's a cool image to leave the audience with.

I very much enjoyed how there was no pinpointed cause of the terror - could be terrorism, but the smell of the grave and lack of chemicals in the bodies, point to something more supernatural.  The description of the town and originating point being the grave yard even conjures speculation that this was beyond-the-grave revenge for some atrocity committed by the town and witnessed by someone too young to know the secret legacy.  The unanswered questions all added to my enjoyment.

Only had one tiny point - there's a line early on "My classmates and teachers, roughly sixty percent of the school population, had simply died, instantly and without a trace; their bodies left scattered throughout the school" and I wasn't sure how somebody could die without a trace and still leave their body behind.  Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but I had to read it twice and then I just left it alone.

But that is a tiny, tiny issue, and overall I thought this was excellent.

La Emme Nikita's picture
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La Emme Nikita from Los Angeles is reading Ishmael August 6, 2012 - 12:28pm

Thank you for catching that! It does sound odd, even though I knew what I meant to say there. I've changed it to "without obvious cause" and hope it reads better.

I'm glad you enjoyed the story. Thanks for reading, and for your kind words.

 
Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce August 6, 2012 - 3:38pm

Hi Emma,


Wonderful story! Your first line 'I like to hang out in the cemetery' was a great hook. I used to live next to the cemetery on the beach in Australia, so I was drawn in immediately. It was my quiet place I'd go to when I needed a break from my alcoholic flatmate, so I felt a definite connection with your character. 

I loved the voice of your girl, and I found the imagery, whether of something mundane or catastrophic, to be incredibly vivid. My only quibble with it is that I wish there was more bang  and certainty to the ending. This is just personal choice though - I like stories full of violence and gore and sex, but other readers enjoy a good cliffhanger where they can imagine the fate of the protagonist and it's less bloodthirsty. 

So overall, great story, beautiful style and I’d happily pay money to buy this short story.

Thanks for the read.

Jess

 

 

OtisTheBulldog's picture
OtisTheBulldog from Somerville, MA is reading your mother's diary. Your sister's too. August 14, 2012 - 10:42pm

Hi Emma,

You've gotten a lot of feed back so I'll just address a few points. First and foremost, I liked the cloud lichen monster. I liked the unpredictable attacks. Good stuff.

I really believed in the narrator. Her voice is authoritative and genuine and i don't believe there was really a moment where i was reading the writer. The illusion never failed, for me at least. Very well done, as this can be tricky in first person.

I didn't think you had a lot (or really any) wasted sentences or words. I felt like everything read pretty easily and her kind of rambling conversational tone worked for me.

You did a nice job of endearing the reader to the MC. She's a lonely girl, hanging at the cemetary every day. So you begin to feel for her pretty quickly. Then you build it back up by introducing Holly, only to lose her too. 

I think the MC died, I don't see it at as open ended at all. The pooch is the main clue. Once her breathing shallowed and the MC was feeling tired, I figured she was a goner too.

Thanks for sharing and welcome to the site. I really, really enjoyed that one. One of my favorites from the handful I read.

Jason

pxxiii's picture
pxxiii September 19, 2012 - 9:20pm

Hey Emma, I enjoyed your story, thanks for posting it. Perhaps someone already mentioned this but it irked me slightly that in the first paragraph, you wrote "I told you, she was my only friend. That wasn’t an exaggeration." but then a few paragraphs later during the description of the town, she states "I actually live in the next crap suburb over, but all my friends are here, as is the video store and the McDonalds and the tobacco shop run by the Greek that’ll sell to me even though I’m only sixteen." 

It seemed strange to me that someone who makes such a point of  the fact that she has no friends, would then say that "all my friends are here" to describe her town...just a small detail but one that seemed a bit inconsistent and took me out of the narrative for a moment...

I'm a fan of the ambiguous ending...thanks again and cheers.

La Emme Nikita's picture
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La Emme Nikita from Los Angeles is reading Ishmael September 19, 2012 - 9:46pm

Hi, thanks for reading!

When she says "all my friends are here", she's being sarcastic. "All [her] friends" are one person, Penny, who's buried there.

Holiday Reinhorn's picture
Holiday Reinhorn from Portland, Oregon by way of: Japan, Guam, The Philippines, New York City and now, Los Angeles is reading Hermine by Maria Beig September 20, 2012 - 3:00pm

"Crystal" by Emma

Reviewed by Holiday Reinhorn

This voice and point of view were top notch and I laughed out loud in a bunch of places.  What I think I love most about the story is that spending time with her own family is scarier for this narrator than getting vaporized by green gas.  This was awesome and I thoroughly enjoy a story where being human is worse than any ghostly or environmental terror.  Thumbs way up! 

I also loved the protagonist being a kind of hapless, goth Typhoid Mary.  Wherever she goes, death follows.  Very funny.

I thought the pace slows down quite a bit in the middle of the story in this draft and could use a jump start as things are getting worse and worse and it seems like there are less direct consequences of a complete environmental meltdown rather than more, but I loved being with this character so much I didn't really mind.  She is a keeper and seems like she could appear in lots more great stories.    I hope so.   Rock on, Emma  xxx HR

 

La Emme Nikita's picture
Class Facilitator
La Emme Nikita from Los Angeles is reading Ishmael September 20, 2012 - 4:10pm

Holiday,

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Your input about the middle's pace is helpful, and I'll see what I can do to help that. You have certainly caught the family dynamic there (which is why I still won't show it to my parents despite their requests). I'm so happy how universally loved she turned out to be despite being the loneliest girl in the world. I hadn't thought to use her again, but since I have your blessing I just might.

Cheers!

E

guerillahost's picture
guerillahost from Vancouver is reading Leviathan Wakes October 16, 2012 - 3:15pm

Hey Emma--here are my LBL comments. Great story!

 

D.

guerillahost's picture
guerillahost from Vancouver is reading Leviathan Wakes October 16, 2012 - 3:16pm

Hey Emma--here are my LBL comments. Great story!

 

D.

guerillahost's picture
guerillahost from Vancouver is reading Leviathan Wakes October 16, 2012 - 3:16pm

Hey Emma--here are my LBL comments. Great story!

 

D.