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gwilym.pocock

Him and Me - my first creative piece

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I would like to hear constructive feedback on this. Please tell me how to improve it, and how I can do better next time. Thank you for your time.

=================

"Why are you here?" he asks. The truth is, I don't know. I don't know what I should do any more.


*****


He moved to my school a few months ago. He was quite quiet and sat at the back of the class with a group of girls. It took awhile before we actually talked.


It was parents' evening for year 10, and I was waiting outside my chemistry teacher's class. My parents were talking to our neighbours. He came and sat down on a chair beside me. We talked for a while, saying nothing important. I can't even remember what we talked about.


The conversation drew to a close when his parents came out of the classroom.


"I've got to go now," he said.


He started to walk off, but I stopped him, placing my hand on his shoulder. "Would you like to come over this weekend? I have lots of games."


"Sure," he replied, "I'll have to ask my parents, though."


We exchanged numbers and said goodbye.


We became good friends, and then best friends. We slept over at each other's houses, we sat together in class. We went camping in the woods. As we became closer, I felt more and more drawn to him. I began to realise that I was in love with him. I loved the smell of his hair, the brightness of his laugh.


I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.


But then he got a girlfriend. I don't see him much any more. We never talk. He is always with her. I hate her. She came between us when everything was going so well.


It was my own fault. I allowed myself to fall in love with a straight guy. I wish things would go back to the way they were. Before she came along.


*****


Now I am standing outside his house, on a Saturday. I have been pacing outside for ten minutes, unsure of what to do. My heart is beating fast. I feel sick.


"Why are you here?" he asks.


The truth is, I don't know. I don't know what I should do any more.


"You've been standing outside for ages," he continues. "Do you want to come in?"


"Yeah, okay," I reply nervously, fidgeting with my hands. I walk in through the door after him and continue to his room. I sit down on a bean bag.


"Lemonade?" he asks, hovering in the corridor.


"Erm, yes, please," I reply.


I have a sinking feeling in my gut, a dread seeping through my bones. I can't keep still, my hands are sweaty. I have been waiting for an opportunity for weeks. And now, when I have created one, I can't carry it out. I can't tell him. How could I tell him? He might hate me. He might never want to see me again, no longer be friends. What if he tells everyone? I wouldn't be able to handle that. The name calling in the corridors, the comments behind my back. The pushes, the punching. I can't tell him, he would tell everyone. I would be labelled. I'd be an outcast.


His approaching footsteps alert me to his presence. He enters the room, places a glass next to me, and sits down on his bed. He takes a sip from his glass, but doesn't speak.


Why would he tell anyone? He has never made me think that he would. He has never said anything homophobic, but then the topic never really came up. He won't out me. I know he won't. He won't. He can't.


In the end he brings me out of my thoughts. "What's wrong? You can tell me. I'm your friend."


I look into his eyes, and I see that he is sincere. I take a few shaky breaths, still afraid to speak.


He places a hand on my shoulder, but I shake him off. He looks at me. "You been acting weird for weeks. I have hardly seen you. You've been avoiding me. I'm worried about you. You need to talk about what is wrong."


I take a few nervous breaths, and l look away.


Then, I blurt out, "I'm gay." I can't bear to look at him, can't bear to see his face. So, instead, I study the carpet.


He says, "Whew! I thought something bad had happened, or that I'd done something wrong."


"Huh?" I look back at him. He is smiling at me.


"Well, one of your relatives could have died, or something."


"No, you mean you don't mind?" I look down. "I thought that you would hate me. I thought that you would be revolted by me."


"Why would I be?" he asks. "You can't change who you are, and who you love." He pauses. "You can only accept yourself."


My relief is immense. I start to tear up, and he reaches forward and gives me hug. I know now that everything is going to be okay. He releases the hug, and I look back up at him.


"Thank you."


"Now that that is all over with, we just need to find you a boyfriend," he grins.

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Well, I very much like this story, it's a sweet account, the protagonist's anxiety comes over very convincingly and there's a positive resolution and a hopeful future. What's not to like?!

There's a little proof-reading needed; for instance the first sentence needs a full stop after 'asks' and a few lines further on there's a paragraph that begins 'The conversation' and in it the word 'when' is duplicated. Nothing too problematical though.

The one thing that threw me a bit was the verb tenses. The story starts in present tense and then immediately there's a short flashback in past tense, but there's a sentence in the middle of the flashback that switches back into present tense: 'He starts to walk off, but I stop him, placing my hand on his shoulder.'

We switch back to the present with the sentence that begins 'Now I am standing outside his house...' but the next sentence is 'I had been pacing outside for ten minutes' but I really think it should be 'I have been pacing...'.

This sort of thing will throw some readers more than others, maybe I'm over sensitive. In any case it's a technicality, don't be put off - you told a gentle story very nicely. Thanks for posting it!

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Thank you for your comments. I tried to use tense in order to differentiate between then and now. I guess it is quite hard to get that right, especially as a single slip up can confuse the reader. Is this a good technique, or would it be less confusing if it was all in past tense?

I have fixed the problems you spotted. It is amazing how you can miss such obvious issues, where fresh eyes see it immediately.

Thank you for your time.

~GP

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Thank you for your comments. I tried to use tense in order to differentiate between then and now. I guess it is quite hard to get that right, especially as a single slip up can confuse the reader. Is this a good technique, or would it be less confusing if it was all in past tense?

I have fixed the problems you spotted. It is amazing how you can miss such obvious issues, where fresh eyes see it immediately.

Thank you for your time.

~GP

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I think that it's wonderful! Really good to get that much emotion in such a short piece. I like the change of tenses; it does accomplish what you wanted it to.

My only comment, and it's a minor one, would be in the future to have dialogue a bit less formal. Boys in general won't say, "I have gone to the store." It'll be, "I've gone to the store." There are several places in this where the former type language is used, which makes the boys almost seem to be speaking English as a second language. So, that's simply something to think about when you write another one. Which I really hope is something you'll do. This was that good.

C

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This is a fine story as it stands after your fixes. I love glimpses like this, and this can even qualify as Flash Fiction. If you wanted to expand it into a more customary short story length nearly every sentence could be the basis for a paragraph or two of development. This would give you an opportunity to give your characters more dimension and personality. But don't feel as though you need to pursue that option if you are satisfied.

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Contractions form part of everyday language, and can get replaced by the word in full for emphasis.

For example, a boy's friend might say "Joe, don't do that" the first time, but spell it out fully a second time as "Joe do not do that". The boy's mother might say the same thing the first time as well. The second time, not only is the contractionless version likely, but also probable the boy's Sunday name will be used too, "Joseph Andrew Jones, do not do that".

I don't greatly like the term flash fiction as some sites seem to use the short length as an excuse for a lack of plot. Your story is fine from that point of view as the reader can see there was a definite thought behind the whole tale. So if you were to call it, a rather short, short story, I for one would be with you.

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