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Tanuki Racoon

Days of Silence

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First, I wish to report that this story had no feedback form at the bottom so I am forced to post it here.

I've read this before, but don't remember where. I liked it before and I still like it now. It certainly has some uncomfortable moments for me on a personal level, but that's probably why I like it.

It's got some its' in it which isn't a word or contraction at all and it's missing some commas, but all-in-all it's quite a good read.

It just leaves you feeling good at the end.

All over.

(I also wish to report my distress at the number of stories which have no posted comments at all.)

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I think the story has some good moments, and there's some good writing in it.

I have a problem with the concept: that two 12-year-old kids could have a situation where one could completely refuse to speak to or acknowledge the other for four years, yet live next door to each other. At some point, the other kid would have to confront him and they'd have to have a fight or a yelling match or something. Granted, some friendships kind of fade out, some end over a massive dispute, but this isn't realistic for me -- not for kids of this age.

I also think there are elements of the story that are a little wordy for me, particularly the ending. But the sentiment expressed is good, and I think it at least kept me reading.

I thought of an interesting twist, though: what if the friend actually wasn't gay? What if the narrator only believed he was gay? If the betrayed friend turned the tables on the lead character, and said, "look, I was initially angry that you refused to speak to me for four years after kissing me, but I've realized that I'm not gay. But I'd still like to be your best friend again, if you want." There might be a way to make that work.

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I have a problem with the concept: that two 12-year-old kids could have a situation where one could completely refuse to speak to or acknowledge the other for four years, yet live next door to each other. At some point, the other kid would have to confront him and they'd have to have a fight or a yelling match or something. Granted, some friendships kind of fade out, some end over a massive dispute, but this isn't realistic for me -- not for kids of this age.

I don't know what 12 year olds you know, but the ones I know/knew are stubborn cusses. This was entirely believable as far as I can tell you. At least from my POV.

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It seems more likely to me that Lucas would have been angry enough at Justin that, when asked as school why they werern't together any longer, Lucas would have outed him. Kids that age are usely vengeful when they're angry, and he certainly would have been angry.

But it's a very interesting and thought-provoking story. Ones like this make you think. Ones like this make you come up with alternatives you like better. Well done. Well written.

C

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I liked this story. The "silence" theme with its different variations running through the story was unusual. I think the concept of two kids, starting at 12 years old, who won't talk to each other for 4 years is plausible, and I'm with WBMS's reason this can happen -- it's one of many possible reasons. Neither boy was outed by the other because they'd be outing themselves as well.

I think The Pecman's idea for a different ending would make a great ending for another story, one that hasn't been written yet. Right, Pecman? Wink-wink, nudge-nudge!

Colin :sick:

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I thought of an interesting twist, though: what if the friend actually <i>wasn't</i> gay? What if the narrator only believed he was gay? If the betrayed friend turned the tables on the lead character, and said, "look, I was initially angry that you refused to speak to me for four years after kissing me, but I've realized that I'm not gay. But I'd still like to be your best friend again, if you want." There might be a way to make that work.

I had thought of this too, near the end, when Justin was waiting for Lucas. I knew Lucas would come, but that thought hit me. What if he wasn't gay? Justin never gave him a chance.

But he's gay, after all. So I won't think of that anymore.

It was wordy in some parts that it sometimes lost me, but that could be because I don't speak the language. But I like it.

Rad

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I don't know what 12 year olds you know, but the ones I know/knew are stubborn cusses. This was entirely believable as far as I can tell you. At least from my POV.

No, not for four years, not when they see each other day, and live 100 feet away from each other. That's my beef. I was 12 years old myself once -- my partner insists I'm still 12 years old in too many ways -- so those memories are still vivid for me, decades later. And I'm of solid Scotch/Irish stock, born and bred with a stubborness gene the size of the Mattorhorn. I've mellowed somewhat today, but at 12, I was really wacky.

If the story had shown one yelling match, one tearful argument afterwards... then I might buy it. But total silence for four years, for next-door neighbors? It's too extreme and contrived for me to buy, despite having moments of good writing.

Maybe if the characters lived a block apart, and each took a deliberately different route to get home or to school every day... there's several different ways that would be more realistic to me. But not next door, and not for four years.

I tell you the other conversation I would've liked to have heard: the one after the story ended. The devil with situtations like this is in the details. But I undestand why the author chose to let it be vague.

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"Days of Silence" by Viv is at Codey's World, and you will see some, possibly not all, of her other stories at Codey's World. If we don't host one, we'll likely recommend it by link at PenguinHuggle.com. I'm still reading through them, but have read all but two short stories and the two mulit-part stories.

Viv is hosted at GayAuthors.org and at PenguinHuggle.com, so that's most likely where you've seen her work before.

Yes, I intend to let her know about the [ its' ] and correct it. If I had a nickel for everybody who missed it's/its and to/too/two....

I could easily believe two kids wouldn't talk to each other. Why didn't Lucas out Justin? Simple, guys. (1) They were best friends and it wasn't in Lucas' character to be like that, to out his former friend. He felt hurt and withdrew into himself. (2) He'd have to lie or otherwise get around his own involvement. Saying another boy tried to do something gay with you means raising the question of how that happened. -- That Lucas didn't do anything, kept the secret, but was so hurt that he withdrew and then began reinventing himself all the time... shows what kind of person Lucas is. On Justin's side, well, Justin was being a git and naive, but eh, it is believable.

-- I really recommend Viv's stories. I've read several of her other short stories now, and all are good and heartfelt.

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That Lucas didn't do anything, kept the secret, but was so hurt that he withdrew and then began reinventing himself all the time... shows what kind of person Lucas is.

Naaaa. To me, this is a contrivance around which the whole story is built. I don't buy that somebody could be that hurt (or surprised) to not confront the other person even ONCE. That's my objection. Life is not this simple and easy, especially not at 12 years old. I had plenty of fights with my friends at this age. Sometimes, we made up a few hours later; sometimes, it was more serious and took weeks to repair; and once or twice, it was an irrevocable break where we barely spoke to each other for years. But never total silence. At worst, we still had a frosty acknowledgement of each other, an occasional bare-bones conversation, but never a lunch or something like that.

I see many, many, many novels, TV shows, and films where the entire plot hinges on two or more characters who just won't communicate with each other. The story plods along until finally, one of them says, "wait a minute -- we have a problem here. Why did you do X&Y?" And then the other explains it, apologizes, or says, "I didn't realize this bothered you," and the story resolves itself.

This kind of gimmick makes me crazy. There are ways to make this work -- such as referring early on to a knock-down, drag-out fight in which both characters get so angry as to yell "get out of my life, forever!" -- but sheer and utter silence for four years is completely unrealistic to me.

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I see many, many, many novels, TV shows, and films where the entire plot hinges on two or more characters who just won't communicate with each other. The story plods along until finally, one of them says, "wait a minute -- we have a problem here. Why did you do X&Y?" And then the other explains it, apologizes, or says, "I didn't realize this bothered you," and the story resolves itself.

People don't speak for years all the time over the littlest things. Don't you ever read Dear Abby? This is a common recurring theme and a human condition. Calling it a contrivance is just incorrect. I know people like this. Hell, I *am* a person like that and haven't spoke to X for nearly 10 years over the stupidist thing. People are like that.

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Maybe it's a cultural thing. Different people and different areas will behave differently. When I was 12-16, we had a lot to do with one set of neighbours, but not another set. Just because we lived next door to one of them, that didn't mean we had anything to do with them BECAUSE we would be doing things with the other set of neighbours.

Four years is a long time, but after the first few months it becomes a habit. It also tends to be self-reinforcing: "He's not speaking to me, so I'm not speaking to him."

I think it's extreme, but believable, and it only has to be believable. Just because 95% of the time it wouldn't turn out that way is irrelevant -- the story is based on the 5% where it did.

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I agree with you Graeme.

Instances of silence between neighbours or relatives or "friends", are quite common in my experience.

The age of those involved ranged from under 12 to over 60.

Sadly, there were instances of some of them never being reconciled.

:lol:

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There are all kinds of instances where neighbor kids or classmates ... or adults ... don't speak to each other. That's all too possible and not too contrived.

Is it unfortunate that people can be like that? You bet. But it's human, and it's a source of dramatic conflict, and that's why people write about it.

Sorry you don't see that.

I think it's a great story.

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When I was 12-16, we had a lot to do with one set of neighbours, but not another set. Just because we lived next door to one of them, that didn't mean we had anything to do with them BECAUSE we would be doing things with the other set of neighbours.

The difference there is, the other set of neighbors didn't include your best friend, whom you saw every single day in school, on the sidewalk, and occasionally on weekends. That exceeds my ability to suspend disbelief.

I just gave a rundown of this story to my longtime partner, and before I could finish, he said, "wait a minute -- you're saying two 12-year old boys would just abruptly refuse to talk to each other for four years, just because of a kiss? That's ridiculous." So he got the same thing I did.

Again, I think the story is repairable, but only if they had a knock-down, drag-out fight that preceded the 4 years of silence. Embarrassment over one kiss is not a good enough excuse for 48 months of cold war; anger and resentment over a major fistfight (or screaming match) might be.

So my comment is not that it's impossible to live next door to someone you don't ever speak to. I also agree that it's possible for a friendship to end and two people to not speak to each other. But not over an incident this minor. That's my point.

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Pecman, I'd have to say that for me it would depend on whether the two boys thought, it was "minor."

The story may well benefit from elaborating on their respective internal reactions to show the kiss was not minor to them without the need of reverting to an all out physical brawl.

Just a thought. :lol:

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I first read it at GA. It's one of my absolute favorite Short stories, along with DomLuka's Under The Mistletoe.

I have a similar experience with my best friend all throughout elementary and kindergarten. We grew apart in high school after he converted to a more rigorous christian group... while i gradually became atheistic :P Anyway, I found another best friend while he became somewhat a loner among males because all my classmates found his newfound religious fervor a bit weird (as I did), but he did start girlchasing then , so I won;t bet he was really THAT lonely, LOL. I kinda feel guilty about it now. But still I didn't actually IGNORE him. I just hanged out less and less, and anyway, he prolly understood why, but we never talked ab out it seriously. I'm still friends with him now, but not as close as before.

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I must say that I'm much more disturbed by Pecman's insistence that the story is badly flawed, due to that one premise, rather than by the premise itself.

"Naaaa. To me, this is a contrivance around which the whole story is built. I don't buy that somebody could be that hurt (or surprised) to not confront the other person even ONCE. That's my objection." Well, gee. Guess what. Almost every story has a contrivance of some kind, and some are more plausible than others, TO BOTH READER AND WRITER. Your own character/personality and your experiences will lead you to view the situation as realistic, possible, or ridiculous, or anywhere in between. Just because you had a lovely life in which nobody ever acted this way, doesn't mean that it hasn't happened to others, or is about to happen to others, and for you to insist that it couldn't happen is downright silly.

I was friends with Brian H. in school. He was a school friend, but nevertheless, he was a friend. One day I asked him if he knew Lexy S. and he said no. I shrieked out loudly in the way only a complete moronic teen could, that he HAD to know her. Everyone knew her. Well, it turned out that he knew her, but by her real name, Wilma, not her nickname, Lexy, and I was mortified that I'd made a scene. I didn't talk to him and avoided him for over 2 years, and we had never even had a fight.

What you seem to be forgetting, or rejecting as a validity, is that Justin wasn't angry, he was trying to deny his own sexual orientation, totally and completely, and avoiding ALL contact was the only way he could begin to do so. Believe me, denying your orientation can take many forms, and in my case it involved complete amnesia of incidents of desire and suppression of all sexual behaviour for some 4 decades.

If it is possible to completely suppress this from your own consciousness, it is certainly possible to just not talk to someone for a few years.

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Well, my two cents, for what it's worth--I want points for using 'it's' correctly. In addition I will be deeply hurt if someone says my two cents is only worth two cents or less. :lol:

Chiam Potok (sp?) wrote a wonderful book titled The Chosen--which was made into a movie I think everyone should see--starring my boyfriend who has never spoken to me, Robbie Benson. I will state the reason for the silence was not related to the story in question, but for some 12 or so years the protagonist's father never spoke to him.

From personal knowledge and experience, my mother when a mere whisp went for over a year not speaking to her mother and they lived in the same house. My mother became very adept at doing this with her children--though not for a four year stretch. It was very unnerving for me. And her silence was usually over some slight--known or unknown to the unfortunate victim. Additionally, you wouldn't be able to find out because she wasn't speaking to you.

So in conclusion, I (too) do not find it hard to believe two kids with 'secrets' could not maintain a silence between them.

--Steven Keiths

PS-I also want credit for using to, too, two and 2 correctly. The parenthetical too was added purposely so I could get credit for using it too. And to bug Wibby for using parentheses. :wink:

If you can't laugh at yourself; you're probably not funny.

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my mother when a mere whisp went

I think you meant 'wisp'. Hey, I couldn't resist, what with all the tooting (toting, twoting, 2ting) going on.

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