The Curtain Falls (490 words)

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Elle.

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I fling the front door open, hurrying through it to escape the swarm of feelings chasing me out of the house. I hasten the pace, hoping I can outrun them, lose them in a web of side-streets and intricate turns. When my feet can walk no more, they take me to a bar. I order a whiskey, ask the barman to leave out the bottle. I can drink now.

I woke up this morning and for a few moments all was fine, every feeling as it should be. I had shuffled past the bathroom, eyes still full of sleep. The door was wedged open - an invitation for the heat to escape. I dropped a hand on the handle ready to close it. Inside, the ripped shower curtain slumped over the side of the bath, metallic rings scattered on the floor. I had gripped the handle my knuckles turning white as I remembered.

I had balanced on the edge of the tub, careful not to sit on the curtain. I stroked the fabric, the memories of yesterday stitched all over the shiny plastic - the sharp, stabbing pain, the weight of my leaning body pulling it from its hooks, the shrill in my voice, calling for Dan. Tears crashed on its surface with a tap, slow at first, then quicker. Rows of one-eyed flamingos stared at me under the splatter of tears as I shivered at the memories of the cold gel, the paddle pressing on my skin, the holding my breath, the mumbles of sympathy wrapped in a "I'm so sorry".

I stare down at my drink, and the glass stays full, the expanse of emptiness inside too vast to flood.

I go home when the streetlights come on - beacons showing me the way home. His car is in the driveway. He's somewhere inside, and I don't want to go in. He means well, but I can't take it. We will cup my hands in his, his eyes looking for mine. They will be filled with a quiet despair mixed with a need to comfort me. His love will crush me.

I open the front door a crack, the low thud of the fridge closing before the hissing of a can, confirming he's in the kitchen. I slip in unnoticed, making it halfway through the hallway before I stop. He's forgotten to close the bathroom door again. The curtain's gone. I couldn't bear to look at it, now I hate him for taking it away. The evidence, it really happened to me even for the briefest of time, has been discarded. Tears are back, pooling at the edge of my lids, the emptiness deepens - how can someone the size of a peanut leave that big of a void?

"Sarah?"

The quiver in his voice unleashes the flood. He cups my face in his hands. His gaze slices through me, a reminder that I am to blame, that I lost the baby.
 

The Urban Spaceman

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I fling the front door open, hurrying through it to escape the swarm of feelings chasing me out of the house. I hasten the pace, hoping I can outrun them, lose them in a web of side-streets and intricate turns. When my feet can walk no more, they take me to a bar. I order a whiskey, ask the barman to leave out the bottle. I can drink, now.

The whisky connoisseur in me wants to know what whisky the MC is drinking. Simply because if it's Scotch, it's whisky. If it's American or Irish, it's whiskey. Might not seem important, but it totally is.

I think there should be a comma after drink.

I woke up this morning and for a few moments all was fine, every feeling as it should be. I had shuffled past the bathroom, eyes still full of sleep. The door was wedged open - an invitation for the heat to escape. I dropped a hand on the handle, ready to close it. Inside, the ripped shower curtain slumped over the side of the bath, metallic rings scattered on the floor. I had gripped the handle, my knuckles turning white as I remembered.

A couple of comma splices to address. The last line is confusing. The MC is already remembering. To remember within a memory... could you make it something more descriptive and clear? "I gripped the handle, my knuckles turning white as the memory came flooding back in."

Once it's established that something is in the past, you generally don't need to keep up the past-perfect tense. It's fine to dropped most 'had'.

I had balanced on the edge of the tub, careful not to sit on the curtain. I stroked the fabric, the memories of yesterday stitched all over the shiny plastic - the sharp, stabbing pain, the weight of my leaning body pulling it from its hooks, the shrill in my voice, calling for Dan. Tears crashed on its surface with a tap, slow at first, then quicker. Rows of one-eyed flamingos stared at me under the splatter of tears as I shivered at the memories of the cold gel, the paddle pressing on my skin, the holding my breath, the mumbles of sympathy wrapped in a "I'm so sorry".

I understand you're using repetition for emphasis, but the one sentence here doesn't flow like the others.

I stare down at my drink, and the glass stays full, the expanse of emptiness inside too vast to flood.

I go home when the streetlights come on - beacons showing me the way home. His car is in the driveway. He's somewhere inside, and I don't want to go in. He means well, but I can't take it. We will cup my hands in his, his eyes looking for mine. They will be filled with a quiet despair mixed with a need to comfort me. His love will crush me.

Home x2 is a bit repetitive, and I think there are better verbs than 'showing me the way'. What about, "I leave when the streetlights come on - beacons guiding me home." ?

We will = he will?

Nice crushing imagery.

I open the front door a crack, the low thud of the fridge closing before the hissing of a can, confirming he's in the kitchen.

This sentence reads a little awkwardly. Could you consider a revision? For example, "I open the front door a crack. His presence in the kitchen is confirmed by the low thud of the closing fridge door, and the hissing of a can." Or something that separates the actions a little more clearly.

I slip in unnoticed, making it halfway through the hallway before I stop. He's forgotten to close the bathroom door again. The curtain's gone. I couldn't bear to look at it, now I hate him for taking it away. The evidence, it really happened to me even for the briefest of time, has been discarded. Tears are back, pooling at the edge of my lids, the emptiness deepens - how can someone the size of a peanut leave that big of a void?*

The parenthetical sentence desn't really add anything.

*So large a void?

"Sarah?"

The quiver in his voice unleashes the flood. He cups my face in his hands. His gaze slices through me, a reminder that I am to blame, that I lost the baby.

Overall, sad, poignant and well-written. There were just a couple of things I felt needed tightening up or revising but, as always, take with salt tablets.
 

Elle.

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Thanks Urban Spaceman. English is not my first language and for some reason I really struggle with those commas, so this is really helpful. Also great that you spotted that repetition, I always seem to miss those!

Regarding the whisky, I can understand the reasoning for a connoisseur but from the POV of a woman who just miscarried I don't think she would care or notice what kind of whisky, she's being served.

Thanks for reading!
 

The Urban Spaceman

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Regarding the whisky, I can understand the reasoning for a connoisseur but from the POV of a woman who just miscarried I don't think she would care or notice what kind of whisky, she's being served.

This is true, however, if I walked into a bar and said "gimme a whisky" or "gimme a beer" I wouldn't assume they only serve one brand of alcoholic beverage, or expect the barkeeper to be a mind reader.

That said, it really isn't important to the story, it's just a minor detail (if somebody's described as driving a car, I want to know what kind it is so I can have a better visual) so probably fine for you to leave out (unless others start questioning it).
 

Elenita

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I go home when the streetlights come on - beacons showing me the way home. His car is in the driveway. He's somewhere inside, and I don't want to go in. He means well, but I can't take it. We will cup my hands in his, his eyes looking for mine. They will be filled with a quiet despair mixed with a need to comfort me. His love will crush me.

This is my favorite part of the story and it's one the most powerful to me. The earlier paragraphs are a little too filled with descriptions (something I have trouble balancing myself) but this paragraph hits directly to the heart and emotion of the character, and I was able to understand and feel her state of mind completely. The reveal at the end is very good too. I like your style, it's vivid and arresting, and I look forward to reading more from you!
 

TexasPoet

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I love this story.

I don't think the word "out" is needed in the first paragraph.

Is there another way to end without writing "I lost the baby"? The reader knows the protagonist feels the guilt...maybe something in the fashion of "we've lost what can't be replaced"...not really this...but you get my meaning.

tp
 
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Elle.

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This is my favorite part of the story and it's one the most powerful to me. The earlier paragraphs are a little too filled with descriptions (something I have trouble balancing myself) but this paragraph hits directly to the heart and emotion of the character, and I was able to understand and feel her state of mind completely. The reveal at the end is very good too. I like your style, it's vivid and arresting, and I look forward to reading more from you!

Thank you for reading and for your comments.


I love this story.

I don't think the word "out" is needed in the first paragraph.

Is there another way to end without writing "I lost the baby"? The reader knows the protagonist feels the guilt...maybe something in the fashion of "we've lost what can't be replaced"...not really this...but you get my meaning.

tp

Completely understand what you mean. Thanks for your feedback.
 

Joseph Schmol

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I fling the front door open, hurrying through it to escape the swarm of feelings chasing me out of the house. I hasten the pace, hoping I can outrun them, lose them in a web of side-streets and intricate turns. When my feet can walk no more, they take me to a bar. I order a whiskey, ask the barman to leave out the bottle. I can drink now.

I woke up this morning and for a few moments all was fine, every feeling as it should be. I had shuffled past the bathroom, eyes still full of sleep. The door was wedged open - an invitation for the heat to escape. I dropped a hand on the handle ready to close it. Inside, the ripped shower curtain slumped over the side of the bath, metallic rings scattered on the floor. I had gripped the handle my knuckles turning white as I remembered.

I had balanced on the edge of the tub, careful not to sit on the curtain. I stroked the fabric, the memories of yesterday stitched all over the shiny plastic - the sharp, stabbing pain, the weight of my leaning body pulling it from its hooks, the shrill in my voice, calling for Dan. Tears crashed on its surface with a tap, slow at first, then quicker. Rows of one-eyed flamingos stared at me under the splatter of tears as I shivered at the memories of the cold gel, the paddle pressing on my skin, the holding my breath, the mumbles of sympathy wrapped in a "I'm so sorry".

I stare down at my drink, and the glass stays full, the expanse of emptiness inside too vast to flood.

I go home when the streetlights come on - beacons showing me the way home. His car is in the driveway. He's somewhere inside, and I don't want to go in. He means well, but I can't take it. We will cup my hands in his, his eyes looking for mine. They will be filled with a quiet despair mixed with a need to comfort me. His love will crush me.

I open the front door a crack, the low thud of the fridge closing before the hissing of a can, confirming he's in the kitchen. I slip in unnoticed, making it halfway through the hallway before I stop. He's forgotten to close the bathroom door again. The curtain's gone. I couldn't bear to look at it, now I hate him for taking it away. The evidence, it really happened to me even for the briefest of time, has been discarded. Tears are back, pooling at the edge of my lids, the emptiness deepens - how can someone the size of a peanut leave that big of a void?

"Sarah?"

The quiver in his voice unleashes the flood. He cups my face in his hands. His gaze slices through me, a reminder that I am to blame, that I lost the baby.

Hi, Elle.

It's a fine emotional story you've written here. I've not a lot of original comments to add to what's already been said, but I did notice how many sentences start in "I," to the detriment of your story. I stopped highlighting them after a dozen, but discovered 6 of the 1st 7 sentences begin with an "I," and 10 of the 1st 12. You might want to rewrite those sentences, maintaining the content but alternating the structure and rhythm.

I agree with tp the ending might be reworked. That she "lost the baby" has become apparent -- consider deleting that clause from the final sentence: "... a reminder that I am to blame." What happens then is the emphasis falls on the "blame," which is what adds the moral weight to the story.

Best wishes & thank you for sharing.
 
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Elle.

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Hi, Elle.

It's a fine emotional story you've written here. I've not a lot of original comments to add to what's already been said, but I did notice how many sentences start in "I," to the detriment of your story. I stopped highlighting them after a dozen, but discovered 6 of the 1st 7 sentences begin with an "I," and 10 of the 1st 12. You might want to rewrite those sentences, maintaining the content but alternating the structure and rhythm.

I agree with tp the ending might be reworked. That she "lost the baby" has become apparent -- consider deleting that clause from the final sentence: "... a reminder that I am to blame." What happens then is the emphasis falls on the "blame," which is what adds the moral weight to the story.

Best wishes & thank you for sharing.

Thanks Joseph for your comments and well spotted of all those "I's" - will be working on those.
 

The Urban Spaceman

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Is there another way to end without writing "I lost the baby"? The reader knows the protagonist feels the guilt...maybe something in the fashion of "we've lost what can't be replaced"...not really this...but you get my meaning.

tp

I second this. It's obvious by this point what's happened, and doesn't need to be stated.