Last Memory by dannie butler

    A woman’s purse is full of mysteries. I know what is in there. We all do. Sometimes we have basics like keys, wallets, nail clippers, chapstick, female hygiene products, gum, writing utensils. Some of us even have emergency items such as a swiss army knife, tissues, sewing kit, or hand sanitizer. Then we...

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4 months ago

I enjoyed reading your story. It flowed smoothly from beginning to end. The last bit of the cigarette at the bottom of her purse worked well as a symbol of a good time in her life. Very good use of it as a symbol evoking memories. I like how you keep referring to the cigarette and use the senses to evoke emotion in the reader. I also really like the ending of how she has no regrets and how she “lived”.

4 months ago

It is a nice idea to bring to Stale, tying it to the senses and how that can bring back a memory. Just a few suggestions. You have a lot of long sentences and filter words that you don’t need. Fewer words strengthen a piece. As an example, I’ve shortened one of your paragraphs by taking out filter words and shortening sentences. Often longer sentences mean you are repeating things and doing too much for the reader. Readers are pretty smart and can fill in a lot. It helps strengthen the experience of reading. See what you think about the revised paragraph. This is offered as a help, not as a criticism.

The thought of your neck and I close my eyes to see you more clearly. I sigh. Your eyes peering over your black-rimmed glasses. Your lazy eye intrigues me. You aren’t perfect, so forgetting you will be easier. You whispered words that night I yearned to hear. I enjoyed every sense, but the best was the taste (of you?)

Elizabeth Strehl
4 months ago

Like the reviewers above, I appreciate how you used an object to symbolize a past relationship. It’s especially powerful that it’s an object that is designed to be burned or destroyed, just like the speaker needs her yearning for the past to be destroyed. Also, like many of our memories of the past, the object is stale. What we remember is better than what we actually had. Good job with that.

The story does flow well despite some awkward syntax. Two potential glitches stood out to me. At one point she states she never touched his lips, but the two clearly slept together. Perhaps she was referring to earlier in their relationship, but I found that part unclear. Also, as a reader I had doubts as to whether a cigarette outside a package could survive a year on the bottom of a purse full of objects. It seems it would have gotten smashed and fallen apart well before then.

Thank you for sharing!

4 months ago

Its been a long time since I’ve had a cigarette, but from your description I could taste that nasty taste again. Sure does evoke memories, and for your character its easy to tell they are complicated emotions. Those make the best short stories. Good read, thank you for submitting.

4 months ago

your piece starts out strong and pulled me in
I wasn’t expecting a cigarette to be the thing but thinking about it – isn’t smoking and sex inextricably linked? so it makes perfect sense really.
great use of the senses and the almost sensual feel – personally I think you could’ve gone there more fully, you seemed to pull back a tad.
agree here and there ,syntax and some overlong sentences impeded the narration. (as someone told me in my piece, allow the breathing room , and white space. )

towards the end, it got a little muddled for me – was she really over him , or only pretending to be ? I wasn’t convinced she was – perhaps by showing her putting out the cigarette it could’ve symbolised the closing of that chapter, dunno?

still, thoroughly enjoyed this . very evocative.

Riham Gharib
4 months ago

I like the basic idea … The ‘two ships that pass each other in the darkness’ theme is always full of potential. Incomplete love affairs are about all the words that were never uttered, all the days that were never lived, and all the memories that were never shared. The fantasies are always better than any reality.

I was a bit turned off by the smoking though. This is a personal thing; the smell of smoke chokes me and irritates me beyond belief! That’s why it was a bit difficult for me to bond with the MC, and instead I found myself looking at sentence structure and paragraph length.

So, about that, I feel that simple sentences and shorter paragraphs work best. They read well, enhance the dynamics, and a detailed description will stand out as it should. I also prefer discussing one idea/thought/emotion/incident per paragraph. This helps with the development of both the character and the plot.

The finale is very interesting. But I have mixed feelings there. it’s amazing to live life fully. It’s perfect to be in total control and say goodbye to old flames at will. Then again, having a fling with a married man should warrant at least a little bit of guilt, not complete pride. And an affair that was nipped in the bud, is extremely hard to let go of. The mind has an infinite supply of tricks to make sure it never fades. Not that easily at least …

All in all, I find the story very interesting!

4 months ago

I felt your character’s struggle between past and present. Her determination to let go of something she’d held onto; the last wisps of memories shared and life lived. Great symbolism with the cigarette, I could smell and taste it while I read. I thought it was a poignant, complex story that could even be beautifully expanded into a longer piece if you felt the inclination one day.

3 months ago

Thank you Linda for sharing your story. This was a beautiful internal dialogue that developed so nicely over the whole story. You added more and more to the thought process to slowly reveal what the main character was actually giving up. I’m not sure if it was just to meet the word count but I did find some places to be a bit repetitive; but it could also be the tone that you were aiming for. If that’s the case then disregard that. I see the woman as a strong woman who’s made up her mind. It seems like a difficult thing to do, and using the prompt “stale” only lead her to the decision completely in the end. I thought it was interesting that you did go Into the memories she was trying to forget, but at the beginning it seems like she’s just going to pull out an object and throw it in the trash. Nicely done overall. Keep writing, Karisa

Renee Shurilla
3 months ago

This story was great! I loved the imagery you brought here. As others stated, I can really taste that cigarette and feel what the character is feeling.
I also love the idea of carrying around memories in your purse. I agree that some of the sentences could be a little more concise, but in general, I saw the piece as very well written.