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I never found out his name.

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Old 08-24-2012, 06:13 PM
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Default I never found out his name.


I was searching through the fiction section of the city library for a book by Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises. There was the smell of old books lingering in the air and as I emerged out the end of one aisle I noticed a children’s reading being held. The kids all sat cross-legged and attentive and the reader.

It usually takes me a while to find books. Its hard to be distracted in a library but every time Im there I lose the ability of comprehending alphabetic order.

I found a Hemingway book, but not the specific title I was looking for. They had the book True at First Light, by Hemingway, I opened it up and flipped a couple of pages. It was first published in 1999. Didn’t seem like it would be that good being published after his death. I put the book back.

I began to search almost blindly, taking better notice of the colors of the side jackets. Never actually sliding them out to to look at the front until a silver, almost chrome like book caught my I eye. I was just about to pull it out as an old man holding several books in his hands accidentally bumped into me into me as he was walking past me staring up at the rows of books.

“ Excuse me, Im very sorry.” He said, showing a look of kindness.

“ No problem,” I said, offering a reassuring smile.

He looked like a lonely man. I wondered if he was married, or if he had kids. He looked like a widower to me. Something in his kind expression gave me the idea he was happy to simply be in contact with me, or just pleased to share any amount of time with anyone. The quick thoughts we have of strangers come and go like breathes in our lungs.

I turned my attention back to the book I was about to pull before the old man had bumped into me. I pulled the novel and looked at the cover, Less Than Zero, by Bret Easton-Ellis. I had read an Ellis novel before. I flipped through pages and started reading from midway through the book. I decided I was going to check-out the book.

As if almost in sync with my decision to bring the book home with me, I heard books drop from the old mans hands with several thumps on the floor. I looked over to see him holding his chest and losing his footing. His eyes were were glazed over and I could see he was in obvious pain. His legs were wobbly and he appeared to be looking at the ground trying to find a place to fall. I stood in shock for a moment.

“Help me.” He cried, gasping for air.

I dropped my book and screamed, “HELP!” as loud as I could.

I started hyper-ventilating. I I was scared for this stranger. He appeared to be having a heart attack. I grabbed the mans hand and attempted to brace him for a fall. I put my hand on his back but was unable to completely ease him to the ground. He fell into the adjoining aisle and knocked several shelfs off completely. I told him to relax as he looked up at me terrified and laying in a pile of fallen books with his lungs growing and getting smaller, while trying to make out words. I brushed off all of the books that had fallen on him when he fell. I reached into my left pocket and felt for my phone, it wasn’t there. My only free hand was my left hand, my right was in the tight grip of this stranger. I made the awkward reach to my right side pocket, never letting go of his hand while looking for my phone. Nothing, I must have left it in the car.

A librarian came running up after hearing the commotion and held her hand over her mouth in fear seeing the elderly man on the ground. She ran to dial 911.

I didn’t know what to say, I could only tell him to hang on, and that help was on its way. He kept trying to make out words. I told him to be calm, to not try to speak, I don’t know why I did this. I guess I assumed from television that in a moment of cardiac arrest the victim was always told to be calm and not to speak. He stared up into my eyes and I could see he was in complete fear. I could sense disappointment in him. Not at any cause of mine, but natural sadness that he was dying while his hand was was held by a man he knew absolutely nothing about. There had to be someone that he would of rather been with at that moment, a child, a wife, a brother, someone that he loved.

His breathing slowed and I sensed it was the end for him. I felt I should say something comforting to him. I didn’t know him but I challenge anyone inside of a moment like this to not express a vulnerable gesture, to be sympathetic to a fellow human beings fear. His life could be flashing before his eyes right now and I sat on my knees trying to think of something to say. I felt selfish for having to think hard for something nice to say. Panic had completely set in and after five agonizing minutes that seemed like hours, I became content with the silence. The man stared up into the ceiling lights, breathing slower and slower. I still had nothing to say, maybe nothing should be said. I could hear the sirens growing nearer. He had the smallest sign of relief in his expression when he also heard the sound of the ambulance, and he began to speak. Knowing he was near the end, the most I could do was not stop him.

He looked at me one last time and said, “Thank You,” and then he lost conscious.

"Thank you," never held the same meaning to me after that. I didn’t save his life. I yelled for help but the fact is that there is nothing I could do. I could only just be there with with him.

The paramedics came in with a gurney and quickly lifted the man onto it. They placed an oxygen mask onto his face and asked if he had any relatives present to the crowd surrounding. I remained silent and so did everyone else in the Library. I watched them wheel him down the aisle and out of sight. I stood there for several minutes staring down at the books that had fallen on the floor when the man fell. A woman came up and put her hand on my back and asked me If I was okay.

I simply replied, “yes.”

The mans books were on the ground, several feet away from the pile he was laying in. I walked over to them. I looked down and picked up the books. It felt wrong to take his books so I began going through the alphabetized names of the authors on the shelves around me again, this time paying careful attention to the order. I placed the books back into their proper places and headed for the door. I walked outside to the sound of the siren getting farther and farther until it was completely out of hearing range. I never found out his name.


Last edited by Reliesonwits; 09-08-2012 at 12:32 AM..
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Old 08-24-2012, 06:17 PM
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It was Rosie Odonell. She's fine.
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Old 08-24-2012, 06:19 PM
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My character wouldn't have yelled for help.
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Old 08-24-2012, 07:08 PM
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Your stories have a lot of human kindness in them, but a bit too much. I feel like indifference and destain are more common, but they are always softened in your pieces. Everyone is redeemed, in the end everyone means well. You write well, but everything is so nice, there's always a moral, or something like it.

I'm not trying to be overly critical, I like reading them, it's just an observation of something that colors much of what I've read. A little humor or brutality might go a long way in this context.
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Old 08-24-2012, 08:19 PM
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Does it help if I tell you the man died?haaa

Yeah I know what you mean, I'll take that as a personal challenge and start thinking of something to switch my style up.
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Old 08-25-2012, 01:05 PM
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I'm the other way around; all the people in my stories are either dying or total bastards, with the exception of the protagonist, who more often than not is lousy with character flaws.
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Old 08-25-2012, 04:36 PM
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Its strange because Im actually quite cynical in real life.
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Old 08-25-2012, 06:14 PM
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Mein gott!
I'm relatively positive... Creepy...
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Old 08-26-2012, 10:46 PM
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I started hyper-ventilating. I was scared for this stranger. He appeared to be having a heart attack. I grabbed the mans hand and attempted to brace him for a fall. I put my hand on his back but was unable to completely ease him to the ground. He fell into the adjoining aisle and knocked several shelfs off completely. curious here, did the entire structure fall, or just several tiers of shelfs? I told him to relax as he looked up at me terrified and laying in a pile of fallen books with his lungs growing and getting smaller, while trying to make out words. I brushed off all of the books that had fallen on him when he fell. I reached into my left pocket and felt for my phone, it wasn’t there. My only free hand was my left hand, my right was in the tight grip of this stranger. I made the awkward reach to my right side pocket, never letting go of his hand while looking for my phone. Nothing, I must have left it in the car.



I like to call this the shit happens story structure, where shit happens and the protagonist just has to deal with it.

Very good piece. I've only read two of your stories but I think I can say that you do a good job with the "bummer vibe."
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Old 08-27-2012, 04:39 AM
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I enjoyed reading your piece Reliesonwits... Some of my writing is closely similar to your style. You said your character wouldn't had yelled for help; but the truth is it's human emotions. It can make one act any way it likes. When the situation arises, the way we react surprises ourselves because we never thought we would act like that.

I like that you have gone with your character yelling for help rather than changing it for something else as its against your character's nature. I like this sort of writing. Free and Truthful.
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Old 08-27-2012, 07:13 AM
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Hi Reliesonwits Your story pulled me in from the start, when you mentioned a library, hehe. I like the set-up, and did not expect a heartattack story when I started reading. The essence is good and I enjoyed the read! Comments below. Don't be discouraged by the amount of orange

I was searching through the fiction section of the city library for a book by Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises. [Titles in italics] There was the smell of old books lingering in the air as I walked down the dimly lit aisle and a summer program children’s reading was being held. [Take a more active stance, it makes the difference between showing and telling. Do you feel the difference between your sentence and this one? ‘The smell of old books lingered in the air, and I walked down the dimly lit aisle, the sound of a summer program children’s reading in the background.’] It usually takes me a while to find books. Its [It’s] hard to be distracted in a library but every time Im [I’m] there I lose the ability of comprehending alphabetic order, it seems. [Fun fact, this! The same happens to me, whether I’m in a library or browsing a dictionary. I fail to see the link between it being hard to be distracted in a library and losing the ability to recall alphabetic order. The processes aren’t really related as far as I’m concerned. Mentioning the last bit is enough.]

I passed title after title, reading them quickly but not taking notice of their meanings, just rapidly inspecting. I found a Hemingway book, but wasn’t able to find the specific novel I was looking for. . [This can be tightened up. ‘I scanned the titles, found a Hemmingway book, but not the specific novel I was looking for.] They had the book True at First Light, by Hemingway, [Italics, and it’s clear that it’s by Hemmingway, since you mentioned that before.] I opened it up and flipped a couple of pages. It was first published in 1999. Didn’t seem like it would be that good being published after his death. [Tighten. ‘It was first published in 1999, after his death.’ The fact that he puts the book back shows that he’s not interested.] I put the book back.

I began to search almost blindly, taking better notice of the colors in the fiction aisle judging them not by cover but by side jacket. [Blindly would be without method, but he just changes methods: looking at covers instead of titles.] Never actually sliding them out to to look at the front. They say never judge a book by its cover but what else do I have to lose? [He’s by himself, right? Who has he got to judge him? Why would it make a difference if he searches by cover instead of by title? It’s just a different method, not less commendable than the first one. No need to put it down.]

An old man holding several books in his hands accidentally [No need to mention accidentally] bumped into me into me as he was walking [walked] past me staring up [Staring seems a bit strong, more like searching?] at the rows of books.

“ Excuse me, Im very sorry.” [‘I’m so sorry,’ sounds more natural than ‘very sorry,’ I think.] He said, showing a look of kindness. [A look of kindness? Is he smiling? Do his eyes express kindness? Show me.]

“ No problem,” I said, offering a reassuring smile. [You can’t smile and talk at the same time.]

He looked like a lonely man. I wondered if he was married, or if he had kids. He looked like a widower to me, Why did he look lonely? What makes him look like a widower to the character? Show me.] something in his kind expression gave me the idea he was happy to simply be in contact with anyone. [If you take out ‘kind,’ and just mention the something in his expression, I really like that addition. Makes me wonder what the expression looks like and allows me to picture it.] He seemed happy to share any amount of interaction with another human being. [Repetition, you already mentioned him seeming happy with human contact. Why does it seem that way?] The little interactions we have with complete strangers sometimes falsely grant us a sort of psychic ability to size them up and down. [I see what you mean here, but the wording is a little clunky, and I had to reread it a couple of times. Consider a rewording.] Its a strange thing, those quick thoughts that pass through our minds carrying very little bearing in our real lives. They come and go just like breaths in our lungs.

I turned my attention back to the books, somewhat mimicking the old man, [Mimicking implies that he does it on purpose, to do the same the old man is doing. Just mention his attention going back to the books.] scanning the rows with my eyes again. I found a book that caught my eye, [colon instead of comma here? it was silver, chrome-like. I pulled the novel and looked at the cover, Less Than Zero, [Italics] by Bret Easton-Ellis. [What’s he doing away from the H when he’s looking for Hemmingway? I had read an Ellis novel before. I flipped through pages and started reading from midway through the book. I decided I was going to check-out the book. [This sounds like he’s standing there, taking his time to read, while I imagine he only catches a few sentences before deciding he’s going to give the book more attention later.

As if almost in sync with my decision to bring the book home with me, I heard books drop from the old mans hands with several thumps on the floor. [I doubt he hears the books drop from the man’s hands. He’ll hear books drop, look, and then realise they came from the man’s hands. I looked over [Make this part more urgent. A lot happens in a short timespan, and I doubt he takes his time to look. Just mention the man holding his chest, falling . . . No need to mention that he’s looking, since it’s from his viewpoint.] to see him holding his chest and losing his footing. His eyes were were glazed over and I could see he was in obvious pain. [How does he see that? Does the man cringe? Does he make sounds? Show me.] His legs were wobbly and he appeared to be looking at the ground trying to find a place to fall. I stood in shock for a moment. [Skip the moment. He’s in shock. Period.]

“Help…help…help me.” He cried, gasping for air. [I have no experience in the matter whatsoever, but I find it hard to believe he can talk very loudly in that state, or even ask for help. Gasping and reaching out maybe, asking help with his eyes, and maybe a vague word or two. Then again, I could be wrong.]

I dropped my book and screamed, “HELP!” As loud as I could. [No telling! ‘I dropped my book. “Help!”’ Maybe mention him looking around for help, as I can imagine myself doing. I’m not sure if calling for help is the first thing someone would do, even. Looking around, lost, unsure what to do, panicking . . . ]

I started hyper-ventilating. [Show me. How does it feel?] I was scared for this stranger. He appeared to be having a heart attack. I grabbed the mans hand and attempted to brace him for a fall. [He still isn’t on the floor?] I put my hand on his back but was unable to completely ease him to the ground. He fell into the adjoining aisle and knocked several shelfs off completely. [Agreed with someone else’s comment on this – library shelves seem pretty sturdy to me, does the whole thing come down, just books, or shelves come loose?] I told him to relax as he looked up at me terrified and laying in a pile of fallen books with his lungs growing and getting smaller, [Chest rising and falling rather? You don’t really see a person’s lungs growing bigger or smaller. The narrator is telling the story, try to imagine how he sees things, and how he would describe them, not what actually happens on a science level. while trying to make out words. I brushed off all of the books that had fallen on him when he fell. [This seems a little unrealistic, him being buried under a pile of books. Especially now that time has elapsed between the falling and this action. Maybe rather say that a book is in the way somewhere or something the like.] I reached into my left pocket and felt for my phone, it wasn’t there. [I doubt he cares about which pocket it is at that time, just have him feel for the phone, make it urgent, take the reader along with him. The stranger is on the floor there, gasping, bring that back every now and again.] My only free hand was my left hand, my right was in the tight grip of this stranger. I made the awkward reach to my right side pocket, never letting go of his hand while looking for my phone. [I like this addition, having to make that awkward turn. That last bit seems strange though, since you say the stranger has him in his grip, which implies he doesn’t really have a choice in holding the hand or not. Nothing, I must have left it in the car. [Doesn’t that add to the panic? He seems awfully calm about it.]

A librarian came running up after hearing the commotion and held her hand over her mouth in fear seeing the elderly man on the ground. She ran to dial 911. [It takes quite long after the call for help for someone to stop by, especially since you mentioned the group of people doing the children’s reading at the beginning. Having the librarian stand still and shocked is good, but it seems unlikely that she would just snap out of it by herself and dial 911. Sometimes people need to be told what to do. Also, how’s the man doing?]

I didn’t know what to say, I could only tell him to hang on, and that help was on its way. [Show me this. He doesn’t know what to say, and he probably thinks he can’t come up with anything fitting the situation, but somehow he does feel he needs to talk to the man. Inner conflict right here.] He kept trying to make out words. I told him to be calm, to not try to speak, I don’t know why I did this. I guess I assumed from television that in a moment of cardiac arrest the victim was always told to be calm and not to speak. [That’s what I mean, saying things he heard in TV shows because he doesn’t know what else to do. Tighten, though, the situation hasn’t calmed down yet. ‘He kept trying to talk, but I told him to be calm and try not to speak. I don’t know why, I guess something I heard in one of those medical television shows.’ Something like that.]He stared up into my eyes and I could see he was in complete fear. I could sense disappointment in him. Not at any cause of mine, but natural sadness that he was dying while his hand was was held by a man he knew absolutely nothing about. [This feels slightly unrealistic . . . Fear, yes. Disappointment with a whole explanation as to why from a completete stranger? Seems unlikely. He can’t see into his head. He can guess what the man is thinking, which is an interesting thing to write about, but if he makes an assumption, say that clearly. I can imagine him wondering about how the man feels, how it must be for him to be accompanied by a stranger instead of a loved one . . .] There had to be someone that he would of rather been with at that moment, a child, a wife, a brother, someone that he loved.

His breathing slowed and I sensed it was the end for him. I felt I should say something comforting to him. I didn’t know him but I challenge anyone inside of a moment like this to not express a vulnerable gesture, to be sympathetic to a fellow human beings fear. [Tighten. You want to hit the reader in a soft spot. ‘I felt I should say something comforting. I challenge anyone in a similar situation to not feel vulnerable, to not show sympathy toward a fellow human in fear.’]His life could be flashing before his eyes right now and I sat on my knees trying to think of something to say. I felt selfish for having to think hard for something nice to say. [Repetition of ‘to say.’ Keep it tight.] Panic had completely set in and after five agonizing minutes that seemed like hours, I became content with the silence. [It seems to me that that calmness and silence has set in already; the panic was before, and after the librarian went to dial 911 he starts to make his peace with it, figuring he’s going to die. What happened to the librarian by the way? Doesn’t she come to let them know the paramedics are on their way?] The man stared up into the ceiling lights, breathing slower and slower. I still had nothing to say, maybe nothing should be said. I could hear the sirens growing nearer. He had the smallest sign of relief in his expression when he also heard the sound of the ambulance, and he began to speak. Knowing he was near the end, the most I could do was not stop him. [This all feels a little jumbled. Make it clear and tight. ‘The man stared up into the ceiling lights, his breathing slowing down. I still didn’t know anything to say. Maybe nothing could be said. The sound of the sirens grew nearer, and the smallest sign of relief flickered on the man’s face.’ Do you see what I mean? No need for the rest.]

He looked at me one last time and said, “Thank You,” and then he lost conscious. [‘“Thank you,” he said, and lost consciousness’ seems enough.]

Thank you [‘Thank you’] never held the same meaning to me after that. I didn’t save his life. I yelled for help but the fact is that [Take out the part of the sentence up to here. It doesn’t matter that he called for help] there is nothing I could do. I could only just be there with with him.

The paramedics came in with a gurney and quickly lifted the man onto it. They placed an oxygen mask onto his face and asked if he had any relatives present to the crowd surrounding. I remained silent and so did everyone else in the Library. [When did more people arrive?] I watched them wheel him down the aisle and out of sight. I stood there for several minutes staring down at the books that had fallen on the floor when the man fell. A woman came up and [Comma instead of ‘and’] put her hand on my back and asked me If I was okay.

I simply replied, “yes.” [‘simply’ makes it sound like telling. “Yes,” I replied’ makes it simple in itself.]

The mans [man’s] books were on the ground, several feet away from the pile he was laying in. [You mention those books an awful lot. Just mentioning him walking to the scattered books will show the reader which ones you mean]I walked over to them. I looked down and picked up the books. It felt wrong to take his books [Books books books. Repetition.] so I began going through the alphabetized names of the authors on the shelves around me again, this time paying careful attention to the order. I placed the books back into their proper places and headed for the door. I walked outside to the sound of the siren getting farther and farther until it was completely out of hearing range. [He spent a while inside after the paramedics took the man, I’d imagine the ambulance is already gone. I never found out his name.
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Old 08-27-2012, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by WilliamS. View Post
It was Rosie Odonell. She's fine.
Fine? How much you been drinkin?
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Old 08-27-2012, 09:17 PM
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She's so fine-butch and fine!
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Old 08-30-2012, 06:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Ilseum View Post
Hi Reliesonwits Your story pulled me in from the start, when you mentioned a library, hehe. I like the set-up, and did not expect a heartattack story when I started reading. The essence is good and I enjoyed the read! Comments below. Don't be discouraged by the amount of orange
I was searching through the fiction section of the city library for a book by Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises. [Titles in italics] There was the smell of old books lingering in the air as I walked down the dimly lit aisle and a summer program children’s reading was being held. [Take a more active stance, it makes the difference between showing and telling. Do you feel the difference between your sentence and this one? ‘The smell of old books lingered in the air, and I walked down the dimly lit aisle, the sound of a summer program children’s reading in the background.’] It usually takes me a while to find books. Its [It’s] hard to be distracted in a library but every time Im [I’m] there I lose the ability of comprehending alphabetic order, it seems. [Fun fact, this! The same happens to me, whether I’m in a library or browsing a dictionary. I fail to see the link between it being hard to be distracted in a library and losing the ability to recall alphabetic order. The processes aren’t really related as far as I’m concerned. Mentioning the last bit is enough.]




I passed title after title, reading them quickly but not taking notice of their meanings, just rapidly inspecting. I found a Hemingway book, but wasn’t able to find the specific novel I was looking for. . [This can be tightened up. ‘I scanned the titles, found a Hemmingway book, but not the specific novel I was looking for.] They had the book True at First Light, by Hemingway, [Italics, and it’s clear that it’s by Hemmingway, since you mentioned that before.] I opened it up and flipped a couple of pages. It was first published in 1999. Didn’t seem like it would be that good being published after his death. [Tighten. ‘It was first published in 1999, after his death.’ The fact that he puts the book back shows that he’s not interested.] I put the book back.




I began to search almost blindly, taking better notice of the colors in the fiction aisle judging them not by cover but by side jacket. [Blindly would be without method, but he just changes methods: looking at covers instead of titles.] Never actually sliding them out to to look at the front. They say never judge a book by its cover but what else do I have to lose? [He’s by himself, right? Who has he got to judge him? Why would it make a difference if he searches by cover instead of by title? It’s just a different method, not less commendable than the first one. No need to put it down.]




An old man holding several books in his hands accidentally [No need to mention accidentally] bumped into me into me as he was walking [walked] past me staring up [Staring seems a bit strong, more like searching?] at the rows of books.




“ Excuse me, Im very sorry.” [‘I’m so sorry,’ sounds more natural than ‘very sorry,’ I think.] He said, showing a look of kindness. [A look of kindness? Is he smiling? Do his eyes express kindness? Show me.]*




“ No problem,” I said, offering a reassuring smile. [You can’t smile and talk at the same time.]*




He looked like a lonely man. I wondered if he was married, or if he had kids. He looked like a widower to me, Why did he look lonely? What makes him look like a widower to the character? Show me.] something in his kind expression gave me the idea he was happy to simply be in contact with anyone. [If you take out ‘kind,’ and just mention the something in his expression, I really like that addition. Makes me wonder what the expression looks like and allows me to picture it.] He seemed happy to share any amount of interaction with another human being. [Repetition, you already mentioned him seeming happy with human contact. Why does it seem that way?] The little interactions we have with complete strangers sometimes falsely grant us a sort of psychic ability to size them up and down. [I see what you mean here, but the wording is a little clunky, and I had to reread it a couple of times. Consider a rewording.] Its a strange thing, those quick thoughts that pass through our minds carrying very little bearing in our real lives. They come and go just like breaths in our lungs.




I turned my attention back to the books, somewhat mimicking the old man, [Mimicking implies that he does it on purpose, to do the same the old man is doing. Just mention his attention going back to the books.] scanning the rows with my eyes again. I found a book that caught my eye, [colon instead of comma here? it was silver, chrome-like. I pulled the novel and looked at the cover, Less Than Zero, [Italics] by Bret Easton-Ellis. [What’s he doing away from the H when he’s looking for Hemmingway? I had read an Ellis novel before. I flipped through pages and started reading from midway through the book. I decided I was going to check-out the book. [This sounds like he’s standing there, taking his time to read, while I imagine he only catches a few sentences before deciding he’s going to give the book more attention later.*




As if almost in sync with my decision to bring the book home with me, I heard books drop from the old mans hands with several thumps on the floor. [I doubt he hears the books drop from the man’s hands. He’ll hear books drop, look, and then realise they came from the man’s hands. I looked over [Make this part more urgent. A lot happens in a short timespan, and I doubt he takes his time to look. Just mention the man holding his chest, falling . . . No need to mention that he’s looking, since it’s from his viewpoint.] to see him holding his chest and losing his footing. His eyes were were glazed over and I could see he was in obvious pain. [How does he see that? Does the man cringe? Does he make sounds? Show me.] His legs were wobbly and he appeared to be looking at the ground trying to find a place to fall. I stood in shock for a moment. [Skip the moment. He’s in shock. Period.]




“Help…help…help me.” He cried, gasping for air. [I have no experience in the matter whatsoever, but I find it hard to believe he can talk very loudly in that state, or even ask for help. Gasping and reaching out maybe, asking help with his eyes, and maybe a vague word or two. Then again, I could be wrong.]




I dropped my book and screamed, “HELP!” As loud as I could. [No telling! ‘I dropped my book. “Help!”’ Maybe mention him looking around for help, as I can imagine myself doing. I’m not sure if calling for help is the first thing someone would do, even. Looking around, lost, unsure what to do, panicking . . . ]*




I started hyper-ventilating. [Show me. How does it feel?] I was scared for this stranger. He appeared to be having a heart attack. I grabbed the mans hand and attempted to brace him for a fall. [He still isn’t on the floor?] I put my hand on his back but was unable to completely ease him to the ground. He fell into the adjoining aisle and knocked several shelfs off completely. [Agreed with someone else’s comment on this – library shelves seem pretty sturdy to me, does the whole thing come down, just books, or shelves come loose?] I told him to relax as he looked up at me terrified and laying in a pile of fallen books with his lungs growing and getting smaller, [Chest rising and falling rather? You don’t really see a person’s lungs growing bigger or smaller. The narrator is telling the story, try to imagine how he sees things, and how he would describe them, not what actually happens on a science level. while trying to make out words. I brushed off all of the books that had fallen on him when he fell. [This seems a little unrealistic, him being buried under a pile of books. Especially now that time has elapsed between the falling and this action. Maybe rather say that a book is in the way somewhere or something the like.] I reached into my left pocket and felt for my phone, it wasn’t there. [I doubt he cares about which pocket it is at that time, just have him feel for the phone, make it urgent, take the reader along with him. The stranger is on the floor there, gasping, bring that back every now and again.] My only free hand was my left hand, my right was in the tight grip of this stranger. I made the awkward reach to my right side pocket, never letting go of his hand while looking for my phone. [I like this addition, having to make that awkward turn. That last bit seems strange though, since you say the stranger has him in his grip, which implies he doesn’t really have a choice in holding the hand or not. Nothing, I must have left it in the car. [Doesn’t that add to the panic? He seems awfully calm about it.]*




A librarian came running up after hearing the commotion and held her hand over her mouth in fear seeing the elderly man on the ground. She ran to dial 911. [It takes quite long after the call for help for someone to stop by, especially since you mentioned the group of people doing the children’s reading at the beginning. Having the librarian stand still and shocked is good, but it seems unlikely that she would just snap out of it by herself and dial 911. Sometimes people need to be told what to do. Also, how’s the man doing?]*




I didn’t know what to say, I could only tell him to hang on, and that help was on its way. [Show me this. He doesn’t know what to say, and he probably thinks he can’t come up with anything fitting the situation, but somehow he does feel he needs to talk to the man. Inner conflict right here.] He kept trying to make out words. I told him to be calm, to not try to speak, I don’t know why I did this. I guess I assumed from television that in a moment of cardiac arrest the victim was always told to be calm and not to speak. [That’s what I mean, saying things he heard in TV shows because he doesn’t know what else to do. Tighten, though, the situation hasn’t calmed down yet. ‘He kept trying to talk, but I told him to be calm and try not to speak. I don’t know why, I guess something I heard in one of those medical television shows.’ Something like that.]He stared up into my eyes and I could see he was in complete fear. I could sense disappointment in him. Not at any cause of mine, but natural sadness that he was dying while his hand was was held by a man he knew absolutely nothing about. [This feels slightly unrealistic . . . Fear, yes. Disappointment with a whole explanation as to why from a completete stranger? Seems unlikely. He can’t see into his head. He can guess what the man is thinking, which is an interesting thing to write about, but if he makes an assumption, say that clearly. I can imagine him wondering about how the man feels, how it must be for him to be accompanied by a stranger instead of a loved one . . .] There had to be someone that he would of rather been with at that moment, a child, a wife, a brother, someone that he loved.




His breathing slowed and I sensed it was the end for him. I felt I should say something comforting to him. I didn’t know him but I challenge anyone inside of a moment like this to not express a vulnerable gesture, to be sympathetic to a fellow human beings fear. [Tighten. You want to hit the reader in a soft spot. ‘I felt I should say something comforting. I challenge anyone in a similar situation to not feel vulnerable, to not show sympathy toward a fellow human in fear.’]His life could be flashing before his eyes right now and I sat on my knees trying to think of something to say. I felt selfish for having to think hard for something nice to say. [Repetition of ‘to say.’ Keep it tight.] Panic had completely set in and after five agonizing minutes that seemed like hours, I became content with the silence. [It seems to me that that calmness and silence has set in already; the panic was before, and after the librarian went to dial 911 he starts to make his peace with it, figuring he’s going to die. What happened to the librarian by the way? Doesn’t she come to let them know the paramedics are on their way?] The man stared up into the ceiling lights, breathing slower and slower. I still had nothing to say, maybe nothing should be said. I could hear the sirens growing nearer. He had the smallest sign of relief in his expression when he also heard the sound of the ambulance, and he began to speak. Knowing he was near the end, the most I could do was not stop him. [This all feels a little jumbled. Make it clear and tight. ‘The man stared up into the ceiling lights, his breathing slowing down. I still didn’t know anything to say. Maybe nothing could be said. The sound of the sirens grew nearer, and the smallest sign of relief flickered on the man’s face.’ Do you see what I mean? No need for the rest.]*




He looked at me one last time and said, “Thank You,” and then he lost conscious. [‘“Thank you,” he said, and lost consciousness’ seems enough.]*




Thank you [‘Thank you’] never held the same meaning to me after that. I didn’t save his life. I yelled for help but the fact is that [Take out the part of the sentence up to here. It doesn’t matter that he called for help] there is nothing I could do. I could only just be there with with him.*




The paramedics came in with a gurney and quickly lifted the man onto it. They placed an oxygen mask onto his face and asked if he had any relatives present to the crowd surrounding. I remained silent and so did everyone else in the Library. [When did more people arrive?] I watched them wheel him down the aisle and out of sight. I stood there for several minutes staring down at the books that had fallen on the floor when the man fell. A woman came up and [Comma instead of ‘and’] put her hand on my back and asked me If I was okay.*




I simply replied, “yes.” [‘simply’ makes it sound like telling. “Yes,” I replied’ makes it simple in itself.]*




The mans [man’s] books were on the ground, several feet away from the pile he was laying in. [You mention those books an awful lot. Just mentioning him walking to the scattered books will show the reader which ones you mean]I walked over to them. I looked down and picked up the books. It felt wrong to take his books [Books books books. Repetition.] so I began going through the alphabetized names of the authors on the shelves around me again, this time paying careful attention to the order. I placed the books back into their proper places and headed for the door. I walked outside to the sound of the siren getting farther and farther until it was completely out of hearing range. [He spent a while inside after the paramedics took the man, I’d imagine the ambulance is already gone. I never found out his name.



Im gonna take this on as a project to try and change everything you corrected, is it cool If I send you a draft to see what you think of the finished project?

Last edited by Reliesonwits; 08-30-2012 at 06:08 AM..
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Old 08-30-2012, 06:05 AM
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Sure, I'd love to take another look at it after you've edited
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Old 08-30-2012, 06:31 AM
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I liked that piece very much. I love it's description of something so normal, so subtle, as if it is something special. I can feel the warm echo of emotions in it.

A job well done!
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Old 09-04-2012, 04:44 AM
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Dear Reliesonwits,

Forgive my boldness as I am a newbie but I must tell you I really loved your story and here's why: I live in Kansas City and stories like this are not at all uncommon daily on the news. This reads like something you would hear as testimony at church or on the 6:00 o'clock news' lead story.
Most would-be heroes are just that and those who die or are near death in reality are happy that they are fortunate enough to have someone to "see them off" and are not totally alone when they end this life.
Although this was a fiction story, it read as though it could have happened in any town or city library, to any two men, one old and one young and inexperienced and caught up by the surprise of the immediacy of another's life.
Death comes to us all and what would any of us actually do to help? How prepared are we and how much can we or should we help? Kudos to you for writing such a believable story!

Last edited by Gritsy; 09-04-2012 at 04:45 AM.. Reason: spelling*
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Old 09-04-2012, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by WilliamS. View Post
Your stories have a lot of human kindness in them, but a bit too much. I feel like indifference and destain are more common, but they are always softened in your pieces. Everyone is redeemed, in the end everyone means well. You write well, but everything is so nice, there's always a moral, or something like it.

I'm not trying to be overly critical, I like reading them, it's just an observation of something that colors much of what I've read. A little humor or brutality might go a long way in this context.
Learned a lot from this.
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Old 09-08-2012, 12:27 AM
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Awesome maidahl....totally awesome...
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Old 09-08-2012, 01:44 PM
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The kids all sat cross-legged and attentive and the reader
'At' the reader, not 'and'?

Its hard to be distracted in a library
'It's' with apostrophe.

I was just about to pull it out as an old man holding several books in his hands accidentally bumped into me into me as he was walking past me staring up at the rows of books.
A bit long. You could just say, 'Suddenly, a passing old man, clutching several books, bumped into me'.

“ Excuse me, Im very sorry.” He said, showing a look of kindness.
Should be 'I'm' with apostrophe. Also 'look of apology' seems more appropriate.

There had to be someone that he would of rather been with at that moment
It's 'rather have been with'.

This was quite vividly written, and evoked some real feelings of fear and sadness.
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Old 09-09-2012, 03:46 PM
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Relies,
I love the simple beauty of this piece. No bells or whistles, just something everyone could envision. The storyline is great and the reader gets it but you might want to watch that repetition.

Granted, it's a library but you mentioned the word book(s) quite a few times as well as other examples.

Try something a little different with each reference like:
venerable old tome, leather bound volume, iconic novel...

Have some fun with it!
Remember, if all else fails...a Thesaurus is our friend!
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