Today we present 2 first-page submissions– sort of a buy one, get one free or 2 for the price of one. You get the idea. My comments follow each.
They say bad things happen fast but good things take forever, like saving up a hundred dollars one penny at a time.
I don’t know about that. Looking back it seems more like a cartoon avalanche that started with a pebble that hit a stone that hit a rock that hit a boulder that just buried me and everybody and everything I knew and loved.
Knowing what I know now I can see that it wasn’t a series of unconnected random events; even if that’s what they had meant for it to look like. Everything had been meticulously planned months – or maybe years – in advance.
They had contingency plans and had contingencies for contingencies.
The only thing they hadn’t counted on was Bill.
I like this one, particularly the voice. Although it’s short and there’s no sense of place or time, I know that the narrator is in trouble. “They” caused something bad to happen to him/her and others. There’s not a lot to pick at because it is so short. But I would definitely keep reading.
Friday, 3:08 am
Dan Taylor sat in the wingback chair next to his bed, watching the quietly dreaming form of his wife in the darkness. The pale sheets rose and fell ever so slightly as she breathed. Dreaming of starting a family, he was sure. Maybe that had been possible when they were living in Camden, but he couldn’t allow it now. Not until he felt safe in his work. He just wasn’t sure how to tell her that yet.
He hadn’t slept well since they moved to North Carolina. Vicki told him countless times how much she liked living in his hometown. She seemed really happy. He still hadn’t figured out how to tell her that he wasn’t. Not at all.
To be fair, Raleigh was a nice town. Always had been. And he had to admit that finally making detective at 33 was a relief.
Still, he left a lot of personal demons behind when he moved away. Every night for the last two weeks, they invaded his dreams to remind him they were still here. Lurking. The only solace he could take was that Vicki thought he slept as well as she did at night.
Glancing out the window, he watched the ghosts of past mistakes dance before him. Long gone, but still alive in his mind’s eye. He saw the anger, the handkerchief.
He shut his eyes, but the images only became clearer. Too long ago, he thought. I should be over this. What the hell was he thinking, coming back here?
The blare of his cell phone in the stillness made him jump. He lurched for it, his pinky finger banging on the edge of the table. His eyes flashed at the sharp jab of pain. He bit his lip to stay quiet, involuntarily shaking the injured hand.
The phone rang again and Vicki twitched, groaned from somewhere in the depths of her slumber. He picked up the cell to keep it from waking her.
“You asleep, kid?”
Kid. Mark Harris, his partner, insisted on calling him that. Dan glanced at the face of his alarm clock, shining blue in the early morning darkness. He grimaced.
“Harris, it’s three o’clock,” he whispered. He considered going in the other room, but watching Vicki sleep was calming. Dan needed that calm right now.
OK, the good news is that I see this as strong writing. I feel the narrator’s pain. I have a vivid sense of place. I am aware of his mental and emotional tension including the conflict of family planning between the cop and his wife. Within a few sentences, I believe he is a three-dimensional character. There’s a wonderful sprinkling of backstory without explaining anything or slowing us down. And of course the proverbial call to action. We know there’s a dark past and more bad things are coming. We’ve been given a quick setup and now we’re ready. We read on.
Now the bad news. I’ve seen or read this central casting setup more times than I care to remember. Although it’s written well, it’s a cliché. There’s nothing fresh or unique or different here. Still, I see an excellent writer at work and would keep reading.
Thanks to both brave authors for submitting their work. Good luck to you both.
How about the rest of you Zoners? Any thoughts?