Divergent --approx 1200 words Caution: Suicidal Thoughts

Gramps

Endless imagination brings limitless nightmares
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This is about a third of a short story I'm working on.

It is a western with some mystic influence. I'd appreciate feedback and structural-grammar and punctuation. I tend to be a comma freak when writing prose. Thank you in advance for your time.
G




Divergent


Molly awoke to the certainty she wasn’t alone. She knew the feeling of being alone since her parents died of what Doc Wilson called the croup. This was so much worse. Her hand drifted under her pillow, and she wrapped her fingers around her father’s revolver. The cold metal and weight felt reassuring. She pointed the gun at the door as she reached for her shawl. She listened.

The floorboards did not creak. The wind was breathless. There was no sign anything was wrong. Nothing but the voice inside her, screaming. Molly heard another voice inside her head. “Girl, stop shaking or you won’t hit a thing.” As always, her father was right. Molly took three slow breaths and allowed her feet to touch the cool wooden floor.

Molly hesitated. She knew as soon as she put weight on the floor it would creak. Even when the wooden planks swelled with spring rains, the floors creaked. During summer walking across the floor was like playing a music box. “Control what you can and heed what you can’t.”

“Yes, Father.” Molly whispered in her head.

True to their nature the floorboards sang out as soon as Molly placed her weight on them. The intruder would know she was awake and on her feet. The door was what her father called a choke-point. One way in, one way out. Even the window was too high off the ground for someone to enter, another thing her father meticulously planned. She couldn’t wait here forever, and she wouldn’t allow a stranger into her home uninvited.

Molly opened every door the way her father taught her. Stand to the side, swing the door wide. She rushed to the door and swung it wide. The muzzle of her gun traced all the familiar objects in the kitchen, searching for the unfamiliar. The muzzle found what it was searching for.

Molly was a slender young woman. Her striking auburn hair, normally braided to the small of her back, now pulled into a messy bun as she wore it nightly since she was a child. At eighteen, she was no longer a child. Her freckles followed her through childhood as did her emerald eyes and other Scots-Irish features. She was the sole owner of the McDonovan ranch, and she would protect what was hers.

“Get off my property now, or I’ll shoot you.”

“No. Molly, you won’t shoot me. You failed to reload your revolver after you cleaned it yesterday. You shot at a jackrabbit but missed. Your father always told you; you were too impatient with the handgun and to use a rifle when hunting, but you saw the rabbit out by the barn and took the shot, anyway.”

“Who are you and why do you think you know so much about me?”

“Everything I know about you is true. I know after you cleaned the gun you put one cartridge in the cylinder and spun it twice. You laid it on the table, and cried. Then, you unloaded it and cleaned it again. Unable to touch it for a while, you eventually placed it back in the holster and hung the holster back on the wall. May I turn up the lamp now?”

The stranger did not wait for a reply as he reached for the lamp and turned up the wick. The kitchen slowly came into view. Everything but the stranger was familiar to her and yet still dream-like. Molly had misjudged the age of the stranger. He was no older than fourteen but still about her father’s height, over six feet tall. He had sandy-blonde hair and his teeth were straight and even and as white as the first snow. His sapphire-blue eyes, like the deepest part of Miller’s Lake, and like the stone in the necklace she wore. The necklace belonged to her mother and her mother’s mother and now her. It was precious like his eyes. In a few years, his chances of a steady-girl looked promising.

“I’ll wait if you still want to load the gun. The cartridges are in the small boxes by the door. Top box for rifle cartridges and bottom for handguns.”

“I know where they are.” Molly’s voice trembled as she slumped into the chair opposite the boy.

“I can stoke the fire and warm up what’s left of the coffee.”

Molly nodded. The boy turned to the fireplace, and although he touched nothing, the fire came to life. He swung the pot over the flames and from the three cups hanging on the wall he selected her cup and placed it on the table. Molly placed the useless revolver on the table, still pointing at the boy and next to the empty cup.

“Who are you and why are you here?”

“People call me Kid and I’m here because you need me.”

Kid folded his hands on the table and waited for Molly to decide what questions she wanted to ask. It was always the same. He saw the questions racing in her mind. She half-spoke, but another question floated to the top of the murky waters swimming in her head, and she started again.

“Kid, I appreciate you are here to help me, but I don’t understand.”

“I’m here because you didn’t pick up the gun with the single cartridge in it. I’m here for twenty-four hours, starting now. You can go back to bed, and we can talk in the morning, but of course, that would waste valuable time, or you can get dressed now and your coffee will be ready when you return.”

Molly stood and reached for the gun. It felt even colder now, and she left the useless thing where it sat. She went to her room and quickly dressed, always keeping her eye on the door. When she returned, the gun was in its holster and a steaming cup of coffee, her cup, replaced the gun. The floorboards remained silent. This thought occurred to her as she sat opposite the strange boy, Kid.

“I know what your problems are, but if you help me identify the problems which are most important to you, that would be helpful.”

“Oh, since you put it that way; the well is dry, the stock pond is a mud hole, my father wasn’t able to saddle the horse in the corral before he died, and all the cattle will soon die because we have had no rain in weeks.”

“Those are all valid issues. There is an underground spring which runs beneath the pond and your well. Your father dug past the spring when he dug the well. Your father had excellent skills, and he taught you well. His error was slight. I smell rain in the air. Would you like it now, or in the morning?”

Kid asked about the rain as if he had asked her if she wanted cream in her coffee. She heard herself say, “Now, please. The sooner the better.” She waited.

Kid smiled. He looked up like he was counting raindrops as she heard them land. Only a few like crows pecking on the roof. Then, a slow steady rain fell. Again, Kid smiled. He bowed his head over his folded hands. Silently, his lips moved. Molly rose from the table and ran to the door. She ran out to the parched earth and tilted her face to the rain. She opened her eyes, and the stars twinkled in a cloudless sky.

Kid waited patiently for her return. After all, these twenty-four hours belonged to Molly. If she wished to spend all her time, face turned to the sky, that was how it would be. Molly took a faltering step toward the porch. Her head was swimming and the knot in her stomach had climbed to her throat. It wasn’t as if Kid didn’t answer her questions. He did. But he only answered the questions she asked. She needed answers to impossible questions. She returned to find him waiting.

“The sky is beautiful, isn’t it?”

“Kid, there are no clouds, only rain.”

“Molly, you didn’t ask for clouds, only rain.”
 

Spukug

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Hello there Gramps!
I'm not the best at grammar, but I have some feedback.

I apologize in advance if all you wanted was the grammar. D:

Feel free to ignore what doesn't fit your style!

For starters, I really enjoyed this. I knew where I was at all times, and the descriptions were enough to let me fill in the blanks and not so much that I lost the feel of the plot.

I really like Molly as a character. She seems to have had a tough time, internal struggles, but is hanging in there (with some possible spirit aid heading her way. Interested in the--is this a a blessing or a blessing in disguise)

I like the supernatural element, especially fun to read in this genre. I think you blend it well, it doesn't feel forced or out of place.

It is a story I'd love to read the ending to!

I've added a few things that caught my eye on the way below:

His sapphire-blue eyes, like the deepest part of Miller’s Lake, and like the stone in the necklace she wore.
Not sure this one is a sentence. Maybe blue eyes were like?


Molly took three slow breaths and allowed her feet to touch the cool wooden floor.

Molly hesitated
In the opening few paragraphs I got distracted a few times by the MOLLY and SHE sentence starters. The content of the sentences never bothered me, I always followed what was going on.
Once the action started I was invested, so if it continued after the "Get off my property bit," I didn't notice at all.


When she returned, the gun was in its holster and a steaming cup of coffee, her cup, replaced the gun. The floorboards remained silent. This thought occurred to her as she sat opposite the strange boy, Kid.
There is something about this that reads off to me. It feels like it can be tightened. Maybe its the two guns/two cup in the first sentence, or maybe had replaced the gun. And the phrase This thought occured feels out of order in the last two sentences. I think because half the last sentence references the previous sentence and the second half does its own thing.


“Kid, there are no clouds, only rain.”

“Molly, you didn’t ask for clouds.”
This one is completely personal preference, but to me, Kid's last line punches harder without the only rain.


That's my two cents. I hope it helps you at least a bit.
I hope everything works out for Molly. And if it doesn't, well, sometimes that's the way it goes.

Best of luck with your story!

--Spukug--
 
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Gramps

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I'm not the best at grammar, but I have some feedback.
Thank you for your feedback. I appreciate it. I was looking for all input. This, like all the others has been beneficial. Each of you has focused on different aspects of the piece which allows me to see how different readers look at what they read.

Thanks again for your observations.

G
 

PEBKAC2

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Hey Gramps,

I love weird west tales. I can tell the first part of the story is building up to something good. It makes me want to read more.

Take my feedback with a grain of salt. But I hope you find something useful to do with it.

Molly awoke to the certainty she wasn’t alone. She knew the feeling of being alone since her parents died of what Doc Wilson called the croup. This was so much worse.

To me, "this was so much worse" sound like you're referring to your parents dying. I don't think that was your intention.

and she wouldn’t allow a stranger into her home uninvited.
Very picky, but she knows the stranger is already in her home.

Molly opened every door the way her father taught her.
For a second I thought this was happening now (that she had gone through and opened every door in the house).

Her freckles followed her through childhood as did her emerald eyes and other Scots-Irish features.
I like this image (freckles following her through childhood).

the shot, anyway.
I would remove the comma.

Your father always told you; you were too impatient with the handgun and to use a rifle when hunting, but you saw the rabbit out by the barn and took the shot, anyway.”
The sentence is a little awkward. I'd split it into two sentences, so "your father always told you you were too impatient with the handgun and to use a rifle when hunting. But you saw the rabit..."

Also, would she really forget to reload the hand gun? It seems like she's pretty on top of things, being alert to not being alone, remembering how to open doors, etc.

You laid it on the table, and cried
You can remove the comma.

It was precious like his eyes.

...and placed it on the table. Molly placed the useless revolver...[/quote
placed and placed so close together sounds a little repetitive

Kid folded his hands on the table and waited for Molly to decide what questions she wanted to ask. It was always the same. He saw the questions racing in her mind. She half-spoke, but another question floated to the top of the murky waters swimming in her head, and she started again
The point of view shifts from molly to the stranger here. Not sure if you meant to do that.

You can go back to bed, and we can talk in the morning, but of course, that would waste valuable time, or you can get dressed now and your coffee will be ready when you return.”
You may want to split this into two sentences (period before "or").

Your father dug past the spring when he dug the well. Your father had excellent skills ...
"your father" is a little repetitive her. I would say "he" in the second sentence.

Kid asked about the rain as if he had asked her if she wanted cream in her coffee. She heard herself say, “Now, please. The sooner the better.” She waited.
It seems like she already believes he can do it. I was expecting some disbelief here on her part.

If she wished to spend all her time, face turned to the sky, that was how it would be.
I like the tone and image here. She's in controls, he's not. She's going to spend the time however she wants and he won't or can't change that.

“Molly, you didn’t ask for clouds, only rain.”
I liked ending this snippet with this sentence. It makes me think a little bit of the monkey's paw. There is no trick here, but she has to be careful because she'll only get what she specifically asks for.

Overall I liked this quite a bit. I'm curious to see where it's going. Thanks for the read.
 
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Gramps

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I love weird west tales.
Thanks!
Weird I can do. I even head-hop a few times. I appreciate your observations and feedback. Everyone here has been most helpful.

I've been able to use the valuable feedback given earlier to make this piece more effective (hopefully.) Unfortunately, I write the way I talk. It's the opposite of Jame Fennimore Cooper's "Last of the Mohicans" Cooper had all the Mohicans speaking perfect British-English.

I have a western with head and tense hoping, repetition and syntax which makes it even weirder than anticipated.

Thank you for spending so much time reading and providing feedback. I sincerely appreciate it.

G
 
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