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  • Yeah, i think you’re right. i should really play up the color red… yes, I’m continuing next year, I hope you are too! 🙂

  • Hi there, thanks for reading my piece. Glad you got some of the emotions there. I don’t think I made it clear enough, though, that she feeding him blood instead of milk. 😀

  • Hi Melissa, thanks for your feedback as always. 🙂 But based your notes, I don’t think I made the horror bit clear though, what exactly was happening here 😀 I think I have to revise it a lot

  • His cries sound like a mooing calf, she thinks.

    A studio apartment, where the waves of cold light press against the windowpanes. It’s so bright she can see every fold of fat on her newborn’s arms, all the wri […]

    • Hi Wailana, this story really takes you there, to the point of the characters desperation for her son to be fed. The extreme measures one will go through for one’s child make this very believable and goes straight to the heart at her suffering and her son’s suffering too. You delve deep into something most women would consider, to save one’s child over pain. Well done. Thank you for your story.

      • Hi there, thanks for reading my piece. Glad you got some of the emotions there. I don’t think I made it clear enough, though, that she feeding him blood instead of milk. 😀

    • You really captured a sense of loneliness, compounded by being a new mother and in lockdown. I can only imagine how difficult that might be. As always your style and tone carry the story, this time the tone felt wistful to me and carried the desperation too. Strangely, there was one bit that jarred for me, at one point there is a numeral for the time, but else where its spelled out. I know that’s such a tiny thing, but I stopped and back tracked when I read it. It’s ‘the 3 AM’ vs ‘three forty PM’ bit, I think I only noticed because they’re close together! Also, while I like the inclusion of the line: ‘hat could you expect when you were expecting?’ I felt it was a little light in tone compared to rest, it seemed like a moment of levity in an otherwise quite serious and sombre piece. But, that’s just an observation, it doesn’t detract at all. As always, a very detailed and emotive story.

      • Hi Melissa, thanks for your feedback as always. 🙂 But based your notes, I don’t think I made the horror bit clear though, what exactly was happening here 😀 I think I have to revise it a lot

        • Ah, I see, I did wonder… I think something really simple, like an allusion to the colour would give it a really sinister twist without losing the excellent writing and subtlety you already have… Hope you’re continuing next year?

          • Yeah, i think you’re right. i should really play up the color red… yes, I’m continuing next year, I hope you are too! 🙂

  • Thanks for the read Seyi 🙂 appreciate your thoughts

  • Wailana and Profile picture of AnnalieAnnalie are now friends 2 months, 1 week ago

  • Hi Melissa, thanks for reading. You’re spot on with that line, it strikes me as clunky also, so I’ll edit it. Thanks!

  • Thanks Adam, this is a great note. It’s tricky with short pieces to know how much is too much, or how little is too little, isn’t it? I appreciate the feedback and glad you liked it

  • Glad you liked it James! Thanks for the notes, I’ll see what I can do.

  • Hi Wendy, thanks for the read. There’s fantastic tension here.
    I love the details – vinegar and newspaper, breath steaming up the panes, tiny rivulets on the glass, delicate paper knife. There’s a lot of history here, and all tied up with unspoken emotions.
    Maybe it’s a personal preference but I would’ve loved that the description of the s…[Read more]

  • Hi Del, thanks for the read. There’s some great description in here, and the mystery kept me engaged. I thought it was Frank who was dead from “no sign of him”, and since she was elderly she couldn’t smell him – didn’t see that twist coming.
    A few thoughts:
    I think you can tighten up a few sentences, like: “Frank from the next door cottage” c…[Read more]

  • Oh fun! I liked this a lot. Love twists that I don’t expect. That, on second reading, seem obvious. Good stuff.
    A few thoughts: I felt like you can help ground the reader, tantalize them a bit more, with a few more physical/visceral descriptions.
    Like achy bones, dry throat. What did his body feel like? What did the meat taste like? Would love…[Read more]

  • Hi Melissa, thanks for the read. Good stuff. Lots of anticipation and narrowed in at the twist ending. I wonder if you can’t pepper a few hints of the accident at the very beginning–either Jess’ mental state (melancholy), or aversion to cars, or something to just give a hint of flavor at the beginning. I find the last line reveals that Jess knew…[Read more]

  • Nice. Sweet, punchy payback. I like how you subverted expectations and yet followed one of the basic rules of horror: that bad things get their comeuppance. I especially like how you juxtaposed beautiful things with horror. “pretty things shrouded in shadow” “menacing smile of a six year old” and the vague fairy-tale language “bag of wicked…[Read more]

  • Wow, really loved this. Very punchy.
    I liked how you formatted the dialogue, italics and no quotes so it doesn’t exactly seem like dialogue, more like internal thoughts. Thought it was mildly interesting plot-wise until the ending, the last 6 lines were great. Loved how ambiguous they were. Was something dangerous in her luggage? Drugs, bomb? Did…[Read more]

  • Hi Steve, thanks for the read. I feel in places that it’s a bit rushed, and you can slow down. Difficult to do within the 500 word count, I know.
    But what if you extended the scene a bit, so we have space for all their emotions?
    – “He’s your child too!” Her shout deflated into sobs, and she slumped back to the sink, shoulders shaking.
    I was…[Read more]

  • Relax. It’s not a big deal.

    Living life day to day.

    And all these tiny problems that come with that.

    You think, mostly you’re normal, you’re doing okay. 

    Only–

    There are little things, things you’re d […]

    • I love it. The layout is perfect for what you’re doing. Fast-paced. Moving from musings to madness. I’m sure we all have moments like this, and the words take us through the thoughts… so many escalating thoughts. And the final words are spot on.

      I like to offer some areas to consider looking at, even if small (which these are). Nothing wrong here, but a few things to take another look at.

      A couple of sentences might benefit from breaking into two sentences (on the same line). Such as…

      There are little things, things you’re doing, things that are wrong, that you don’t even realize. There are little things. Things you’re doing, things that are wrong, that you don’t even realize.
      Would it be a sudden, crazy whirlwind, a storm to change your life forever, split your reality in two? Would it be a sudden, crazy whirlwind? A storm to change your life forever, split your reality in two?

      This sentence has mixed present/past tense (I think)… Because it’s just a tiny piece. A little bit couldn’t hurt. ‘Can’t’ might fit better than ‘couldn’t’.

      That’s it. A great 500 words. Well worth entering into a competition or two. Excellent.

    • Ooo, nice! I like how this builds from innocuous in the beginning to deadly (potentially) towards the end. I think it’s a good flow of consciousness style with a building urgency throughout, and the use of line spacing slows it down just when it needs it. I think my only comment would be that the line: “If all of this bothers you, don’t worry too much about it.” made me feel like it switched from someone’s thoughts to themselves, to an instructive lesson, like I was being told something which for me didn’t fit with the rest. But, that’s just how I took it… Personally, I like the long sentences (to offer another perspective) as they increased the urgency/ edge of panic for me. I love this though, really gripping!

      • Hi Melissa, thanks for reading. You’re spot on with that line, it strikes me as clunky also, so I’ll edit it. Thanks!

    • Hey Wailana. I think this is a really strong piece and it really demanded I read it more than once. I’m really curious about the pov – it feels like part voice-in-my-head, part omnipotent narrator. I think that I can’t quite put my finger on it is great, and part of its unsettling core. I think the writing is at its strongest when it contains the vivid, if highly clipped images. Food in your teeth, torn pants, smears on the bottom of the toilet bowl, five minutes of a child sitting in a locked car, rolling your eyes. I’m a big one for visuals so if anything I’d like to see more moments of anguish or even resolution and have a fraction less overbearing direction from whoever that narrator might be (not that you can lose that because its a key part of the power of the piece) But hey, that’s just my thoughts. Well done and thanks for a really great read.

      • Thanks Adam, this is a great note. It’s tricky with short pieces to know how much is too much, or how little is too little, isn’t it? I appreciate the feedback and glad you liked it

    • Hey Wailana and howzit? I read this piece yesterday and I had to go away, think on it, then read it again before attempting to comment. Some of the musings are shocking but it’s troublingly easy to follow the train of thought, and almost-but-not-quite make sense of it all. I remain impressed by the rhythm you establish so early. It feels to me like the musings of someone unraveling and that progression of acceptable ills (from not watering the plants to leaving a baby in the car) made me freeze. Tension is duly relieved in waves till the end of the piece and I’m still shaking my head wondering what the monologue meant. Well written and plenty to think about. Well done, as always. Regards Seyi

  • Thanks for your review, Melissa. I was intending the narrator to be obsessed to the point of endangering two young girls in her care at the end… I think I made this too subtle though, if you think she wasn’t jealous. Well, maybe closer to envious and obsessive

  • Good things come in threes. Wishes, waves as they crash onto the shore, and lessons worth remembering. Kumu barked out this lesson over our dance troupe as we struggled to keep our arms level to our shoulders, […]

    • Loved this. Some really lovely lines and description, my favourite line was: “So one by one like little, hungry sardines…” in fact that whole paragraph was great. For me, ‘feetwork’ sounded a little odd, I’m more used to ‘footwork’ but it worked in the context. I had no idea where this one would go, and I really liked that the character, who was only 15, had such a mature understanding of her own talent and perhaps her own place? The fact she identified the next generation and nurtured them as well without jealousy. I think that’s what I liked most, it was from her point of view and she was all admiration and desire to try to be as good as the others without giving into jealousy or pettiness. Made me want to go to the beach too!

      • Thanks for your review, Melissa. I was intending the narrator to be obsessed to the point of endangering two young girls in her care at the end… I think I made this too subtle though, if you think she wasn’t jealous. Well, maybe closer to envious and obsessive

    • Lovely description and a great read. The narrator has such a strong and powerful voice. Really enjoyed it.

  • You wouldn’t think a parked car could be a creepy thing, until it’s the only thing for miles in the middle of a prairie. The nearest highway clocked a whopping ten miles east.I was out on my daily run, trying not […]

    • Wow, your writing in this was perfect. Loved the style and the flow. I felt like I knew her right away, her voice was so consistent I could almost predict what she would do. I also liked your use of 60% more when you repeated it. It worked so well!

      For me, the ending was a little confusing. I was totally engrossed right up until the last paragraph, the edge of creepiness that started to come into it worked really well until, for me, the very last bit, which left me with so many more questions, are they changing into some kind of creature, is it magic, will they die… I also think if it carried on I’d quickly get engrossed again.

      Overall your writing was just great, a pleasure to read and so descriptive and vivid. I saw it all play out in my head and I loved the zombie App!!

    • I agree.

      My interpretation is that it was always her in the ditch and it was just her mind catching up with reality after some traumatic incident which we never saw. The rest of it is engaging and moves the story on at a great pace.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Wailana..
      I disagree with your assessment that this isn’t very good! Great writing. I have to wonder if it’s part of something longer though…if you mean it to stand alone and mean for the woman in the ditch to be the narrator, as someone suggested, I’d need a few more clues…right now, the puppy backing away seems to be all that indicates this, and I took it to be more of that dog sense of bad things.

      but it was great to read…full of suspense and bits of humor. Well done.
      G

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Wailana

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@waikalama

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