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The Veiled Lady

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Old 01-01-2009, 09:49 AM
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The Veiled Lady


I pass the woman in the silk scarf without much thought. I’m separated from Gregory for these few valuable seconds, and I must make my selection in the canned goods aisle quickly. If I take too long, he will come looking.

It is not until the purple silk floats down to my feet that I bother to pay any attention. I pick up the expensive looking thing and hand it back to the woman, jerking with a start when I glimpse the stranger’s face. The woman, it seems, has no lips.

I flush, embarrassed by my outwardly rude reaction, but she takes no notice.

“Thank you,” she says. I’m struck by the way the mysterious woman talks, forming the words with two pinkish-white, scarred lines over exposed teeth. There is only a slight hindrance to her speech. I think of an old lady who has taken out her teeth; but this woman is still young, beautiful too. The only flaw in her perfect features is the jagged lines of skin hidden once again by the scarf, which the woman reties with expert speed like a veil beneath her nose.

“You’re welcome,” I reply, watching as she pushes her cart toward the boxes of pasta. I grab my items hastily, counting each can of tuna and reaching for the fourth stack back before rushing off to Gregory. He is in our designated meeting spot: the deli. He ignores me completely as I drop my items in the cart—one at a time—counting as I go. Always counting. I end on a perfect, even number.

Gregory bids the hair-netted meat lady a lovely day and pushes the cart forward. His sharp, blue eyes focus on me then.

“Laura,” he says, his voice gruff. I grab the side of the cart, following the unspoken rule that I am to stay close. Like some child he fears is stupid enough to wander.

We walk the fluorescent, nearly empty aisles. The hour is late, but I still haven’t eaten. I’m afraid he’ll hear my stomach’s gurgling. He won’t like that I forgot to eat while he was working late. He won’t like that I wasn’t taking care of myself, making sure I got a healthy snack before he came home to the apartment to cook dinner for me, (like I couldn’t do it myself). He doesn’t understand how difficult it is to work up an appetite. The anxiety his homecoming inspires is enough to make my stomach churn. Though he always insists he is only here to love me, to give me what’s best and to keep me safe.

Safe, I think with longing. I cough into my hand to cover up another rumble and he throws me a look that could slice steel. I lower my hand, smiling apologetically—the rehearsed smile I’d learned to flash automatically. He stops the cart, pats my back, then rubs, his hand moving in gentle circles. Gregory pushes a piece of brown hair behind my ear. He cups a hand around my neck and kisses me deeply, right there in front of the cereal boxes and granola bars. I let him. The kiss ends abruptly and we are on our way. I grab the cart tightly, and welcome the cold metal that digs into the palm of my hand.

We move like that, as one, gathering groceries. If I want something, I turn to Gregory. He either nods or shakes his head. I silently get approval for raisins. Coffee. Saltines. Tampons. He rolls his eyes at that, but nods just the same. The entire time, I count the goods and admire their pristine organization among the shelves. I only reach for items hidden behind the others, always in the fourth spot; though there is clearly nothing wrong with the things in front. Odd numbers unhinge me. The even ones are comfortable. Safe—unlike the tall, handsome man standing so close I can still smell the aftershave he put on at six that morning. Gregory ignores my ritualistic behavior. He won’t argue in public. Our most horrific of fights happen only at home, deep in the secluded woods, in the privacy offered by locked doors and closed blinds.

We get to the aisle with the different soaps and shampoos. My heart is racing. Gregory stops the cart and glares, questioning me silently. I grab a random bottle; pop open the lid, and inhale the scent deeply.

“More shampoo?” he asks, incredulous. “Already?”

I nod and take the next bottle in line. It is supposed to smell like cucumbers and melon. I know the scent well. It is artificial and smells more like chemicals than fruit. It is not what I want, but I cannot help smelling anyway, just in case I’ve changed my mind. I have not.

I continue on, smelling each one. It is a slow, routine process. Gregory stands like a statue, leaning against the cart and crossing one leg over the other. The only move he makes is a glance at his watch. It is a wordless warning that I had better get my bizarre little nostrils moving.

I get to my usual brand and scent. It has vanilla, mint, and eucalyptus. I pop the cap and breathe deeply, closing me eyes and imagining that this is something close to what Heaven must smell like. It’s borderline psychotic—my obsession with this compound that does nothing more than clean my hair. But I need it. I need that one, calming, daily ounce of calm in my life. Shower time is mine.

I take four bottles.

“One,” Gregory says quietly.

I freeze in front of the cart, hugging the bottles to my chest, pleading with my eyes. He is in a mood, I realize. This is a punishment. Something to make me suffer. And suffer I will.

“Please,” I whisper, turning to him. “I’m all out. And I can’t just take one. Please.”

“Laura,” he breathes. He is around the cart and gripping my arm in a split second. He stands behind me, turning me around to face the shelf. “This is getting ridiculous,” he whispers in my ear. He will not condone a scene in the supermarket. He will do everything it takes to punish my quietly.

“You can’t keep doing this, using up four whole bottles in a week. Your hair’s going to dry up and fall out. I pay for your therapy, and where’s the progress? I want to start seeing it. Now.”

The last word is through clenched, white teeth, and it sounds dangerous. Still, I can’t loosen my grip on the shampoo. My four, precious bottles of shampoo. I had rituals before Gregory, but since we’ve been together, they have moved heavily into the bathroom area. I’m terrified of not being clean enough, perfect enough. Every trivial aspect of hygiene has a certain number and pattern. It is the one small portion of life I can control—and control I do.

Unless Gregory physically stops me.

When I don’t move to put them back, he grips my wrist. Even through my coat, I can feel the pain of the raw, bruised skin there. I gasp and drop the bottles. I shut my eyes tight, waiting for what will come next. Just then a couple meanders down the aisle.

“I’ve got it, hon.” Gregory’s smiling now, putting on a show. He places all of the bottles back but one; and I have no choice but to follow his command.

I will come back later, I think desperately. I will sneak out when he’s asleep; make it come out to an even number. I’ll have to hide them. And then there’s the risk of getting caught…

I remember our previous night’s argument. He’d caught me in the shower, taking longer in the bathroom than my allotted fifteen minutes. I was washing my body over and over. Wash, rinse, repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Again and again, until I reach ten. He had shoved me down in the shower and started kicking. Then he got out the rope. I shudder in Gregory’s grasp as I think of being tied to the chair all night. I had not listened to his drunken lecture, but instead counted each tile on the floor. I counted each speck on the wall, every crevice. It is all I can do to separate myself from Gregory when he gets like that—focus on the numbers.

I banish the memory from my mind. That’s all it is now, a memory.

“Will you grab the milk?” He asks. “I need to stop by the liquor case.”

I nod and take over the cart. I am cut loose two times in one visit. It is a rare event. When I turn down the next aisle, I can’t believe who I see. I stop, frozen in front of the cheese and yogurt. He turns and smiles at me, looking pleasantly surprised.

“Laura? Wow. I’ve been waiting for us to run into each other like this.”

“Hi there, Warren,” I reply. I have his gentle face memorized. His charcoal eyes. Dark, curling lashes. The five o’ clock shadow he always wears. He is thin, but tall, his wave of blond hair covered by a baseball cap. But the biggest attraction for me, I know, is his kindness. For some reason, I trust this man. I like this man.

“I guess it was bound to happen,” he says. He starts toward me with his reusable grocery bag. The kind people get so they don’t pollute the earth with plastic. Despite where I am and who I’m there with, I welcome his presence and conversation. I should duck and run, I know, but I just can’t help myself.

“I wanted to talk to you outside of, um, the class,” he continues. “Wasn’t sure I ever would.”

I smile. “I’m glad to see you out and about.” Though you couldn’t tell by looking, Warren’s extreme anxiety made him avoid most social situations—even the grocery store.

“Oh you wouldn’t believe the progress I’ve had,” he says, leaning on my cart. “I’ve even joined a book club. I wanted to ask you...but it seemed, I don’t know, not right at therapy. Would you like to come with me sometime? I know how you like the classics. It’s just at this little café, not two blocks from my place. Probably the only reason I can get myself to go.” He looks away, sheepish.

“It sounds amazing,” I say.

He smiles a sincere, crooked smile.

“Who’s this?” Gregory’s voice. I feel my spine straighten like a rod, every muscle tense.

Warren meets Gregory’s unwavering gaze and takes a step back. He is instantly nervous, and seems to shrink into himself. Gregory could make any man who was talking to me nervous. But Warren, agoraphobic as he is, looks like he’s just swallowed glass.

“Oh, this is Warren,” I squeak, putting a calming hand on Gregory’s. He’s holding the cart in an iron grasp, knuckles pure white. “He’s in my therapy group, remember? Every Wednesday? We just happened to bump into each other.”

Gregory turns to look deep in my eyes, trying to decipher any lies or fault on my part for this seemingly innocent run-in. I suppose he convinces himself that I did not plan this, for just as suddenly as his temper furrowed his face, it is now smooth and pleasant, smiling. Gregory moves close, wrapping one long arm around my waist and reaching out with the other to shake Warren’s hand.

“Gregory. Nice to meet you. I hear that group is really something.”

Gregory has heard nothing about group. He only knows that I go. Not how it saves me.

It takes quite an effort on Warren’s part, but he manages to shake Gregory’s hand. We all stand there silently for a moment, Gregory’s vice grip around my waist. He kisses my neck and glides his hands possessively over my arms until they clamp around each wrist. He knows the exact spots under my sleeves where the ropes have rubbed and burned. He had blamed me for my injuries when he saw the raw markings. I shouldn’t have tried to fight it, he’d said when he was sober, patting my hair like a precious doll. He was just helping.

He is punishing me now—again. For knowing this man, for being briefly happy with him. I flinch involuntarily, and Gregory’s hands only tighten. I look at Warren, who quickly averts his eyes. He’s seen my pained reaction.

“Well, pleasure meeting you, Warren, but we’ve got to go. It’s late and I’ve yet to make dinner for Laura.” Gregory believes I need him to cook for me every night. He thinks I can’t take care of myself, and I suppose I’ve been letting myself start to believe him.

We get in line at the one open register. I don’t bother to turn when I hear someone behind me. I hear a squeaking cart, so I know it’s not Warren. I am both relieved and disappointed.

When I know Gregory isn’t looking, I quietly lift my jacket sleeve to survey the damage. The markings are redder than before. I know I will have finger shaped bruises in the morning. There is a gentle tap on my back, and I quickly cover my arm.

I turn to see the lady in the purple veil. Her eyes are crinkling, and I imagine the white, scarred remnants of her mouth turning up in a smile that I can’t see. She places a single finger over her veil where her mouth is, making the hush sign. I turn to Gregory, who is digging into his wallet for his ID to buy the liquor. Gregory is thirty-three and still gets carded every time.

Curious, and trying to be as discreet as possible, I turn to the side. I lean my elbow on the cart handle in a casual stance. I look like I’m simply resting my weight, but I can see the lady now. She passes me a folded piece of paper, watching Gregory to make sure he doesn’t see. I take the note and unfold it down at my waist.

“This is what it took for me to leave the man I loved. Don’t wait for something like this to find the courage to get out.”

I feel a rush of chills sweep through my body. Though she didn’t have to, the woman points to her veil to tell me exactly what she was talking about in the note. A picture of the jagged lines on her face flashes through my mind. I think of scissors or a serrated knife. I know I can’t be far off.

Cringing for this poor woman’s struggles, I stuff the note in my pocket. I turn my head slightly. Gregory, amazingly, hasn’t seen any of this. He is helping the lady bag the items, and doesn’t expect me to lift a finger. I hear squeaking wheels and see that the mystery lady has turned and left. Over to another line that has opened up. As far as Gregory knows, she was never there.

Gregory and I go through the sliding glass doors and I can feel the note in my pocket like a heavy stone. I place my hand around it, squeezing tightly. Oh, God, I think. Oh God, oh God. It is my attempt at prayer. I pray silently for everything I can think of. I pray for strength, for guidance. For the strange lady. I pray that her bastard husband or boyfriend is in a prison or some psych ward. And I pray for help—something I’d given up doing long ago.

Like a divine answer, a bolt of lightning steels across the night and a ground-shaking clap of thunder rolls.

“The sky’s about to open up,” Gregory says. “Wait right here for me. The last thing you need is a cold. You’re too skinny already.” He smiles and kisses me, taking no notice of my dry lips or weak response to his affection. He takes the cart and crosses the lot.

As Gregory departs, the door opens and Warren walks out. The idea is instant. I know this is it, and I have to act now, or I will lose my only chance. I don’t want to be the veiled woman. I shiver. Was Gregory capable of going so far? The only way I could know was to stick around and find out.

“Warren,” I say. My voice is almost non-existent, but I get his name out. He looks up. He is startled, but smiles again when he sees it’s me. Only me. Warren, my angel.

“You have to give me your coat,” I say. “And the baseball cap. Now, please.” I grab for his hand, and I know that therapy must be helping, because he doesn’t recoil at my touch. My eyes, I figure. My dull brown eyes I thought had lost whatever soul they once had must have shown Warren something. My face must have registered enough pain and desperation and fear. He hands over the items without question.

“Now what?” He asks, as I put on his black coat and blue cap. Good question.

“Your car?” I ask. “Did you bring your car, or walk?”

“I have my car,” he says, and I thank God. “I figured it would storm. Let’s go.” We are walking even before he says this, and I focus on nothing but holding his arm and doing my best to look invisible. Gregory must be driving around to pick me up at the door by now. Somehow we make it to the car. We get inside and lock the doors. We are both breathing heavily, as if we’ve been running for miles. I feel a rush of adrenaline that gives me a strength I hadn’t felt since falling in love with Gregory years ago. Now that I’m free, I feel like I can do anything. I look at Warren.

“Is this okay?” I whisper. “Are you okay with me being here?”

To answer my question, he starts the engine, confirming he is strong enough to take me away. “There’s something about you,” he says, making his way to the winding road, to our escape, “Something that makes me want to be braver.”

I know exactly how he feels. We’ve both pushed ourselves to the limit, and we are okay, for now. I silently thank the veiled lady, who could have easily been a ghost.


* * *


Not four minutes after he’s left her by the door, Gregory pulls up to the entrance. He expects Laura to jump into the SUV the moment he stops, but she doesn’t. He looks around, stunned to see she is not outside. Stunned, and then pissed. He does not want to go looking for her. But he can only wait about thirty seconds before his patience runs out and he cuts the engine. He leaves the car illegally parked and goes in search of his Laura.

The downpour starts the minute he steps out. “Shit,” he spits out. Now his suit is going to be soaked. He expects to find her inside the door, but to Gregory’s surprise, she is not there either.

“Laura?” He calls, roaming the vacant aisles and feeling more like a damn fool every minute. He is furious, but it is not until he gets through the small store that he starts to panic. He can’t find her. She’s not in the store! He confirms this by asking the checkout lady. No, she tells him. The woman he was with did not come back in. Gregory sprints out, his eyes scanning the lot and its few cars. Nothing.

He tugs at his dark, styled hair. “Where is she?” He demands of no one. There is no answer, except for the rush of rain, another clap of thunder. He paces in front of his vehicle, bewildered. He suddenly remembers Warren, the boring-looking man they’d bumped into. “No,” he shakes his head slowly. “It’s not fucking possible.” Coincidence, he tells himself.

He stands in the rain, miserable, one hand scratching at his head when he sees her. She is barely visible through the sheets of water, but there is a single light in the lot that enables him to make out the veil. He knows instantly who the woman is. He remembers that shock of blond hair. The deep, dark eyes. He remembers every inch of her body.

He takes a few steps toward his ex-wife—the woman he had loved so desperately. The one he’d let slip away, despite how hard he’d tried to make her stay. In a flash he replays that fateful, drunken night. Soon after, she’d gone anyway. She’d hidden. Never to return, or so he thought.

Two more steps, and she’s in the car, speeding off. Her tires squeal and Gregory realizes what has happened. She had met Laura. She’d met her replacement, and convinced her to leave him, too. Gregory slumps back to the car. In a fit he punches at the window until it breaks. His knuckles run with his own blood. He remembers all the blood in his life. “No more blood,” he breathes. “No more.” He has no idea if he can follow through on his promise.


Last edited by singphantom7; 01-02-2009 at 08:09 AM..
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Tau (01-01-2009)
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Old 01-01-2009, 10:09 AM
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Well well well
A compelling read, I will be back later with more comments, I just need to think first.
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singphantom7 (01-03-2009)
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Old 01-01-2009, 10:11 AM
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My, my... I've never actually read a story that I could call enthralling, but there it is. That was an immense pleasure to read; every action brought a question, and every answer brought a new one. I had to keep reading.

I'll come back with a more detailed critique but I'm getting kicked of the computer right now. I just wanted to leave that so I didn't forget to come back (happens often, no matter how captured with something I become).

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singphantom7 (01-03-2009)
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Old 01-01-2009, 10:13 AM
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The woman, it seems, is missing a mouth
It would be better as 'missing lips', I think. At 'missing a mouth'. I thought you meant...literally no mouth.

He stops the cart, pats my back, then rubs, his hand moving in gentle circles. Gregory pushes a piece of brown hair behind my ear. He cups a hand around my neck and kisses me deeply, right there in front of the cereal boxes and granola bars.
Using his name in lieu of a synonym right smack in the middle of this seems weird to me. When there's only one male and one female character present, I tend to just use the synonyms, myself.

I am cut lose two times in one visit.
Lose -> loose.

I silently thank the veiled lady, who could have easily been a ghost.
I think you can take off the section after the comma. You're trying to make the point that she didn't quite seem real, right?

_*_*_*_*_*_*_

Until the last part, I really liked it. But finding out that the veiled lady was Gregory's ex-wife seemed a little too coincidental. His sudden 'promise' also seems a little too good to be true. I think it would be better to end it with Laura's happy ending -- just my opinion, though.

EDI: because I forgot, in all my eagerness to critique, to say that I really liked it. It's long, but it kept my attention - not much does that.

Last edited by Rezna; 01-01-2009 at 10:26 AM..
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singphantom7 (01-03-2009)
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Old 01-01-2009, 10:21 AM
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Wow this is really good!!! You have me completely hooked, and honestly, that's saying something. I don't read books like this hardly ever, but your writing style and descriptions have got me really wanting more. Great job!
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singphantom7 (01-03-2009)
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Old 01-01-2009, 10:44 AM
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Whoa. This story is just excellent. It descriptive, without being overly worded. It's eye-catching, without being about mass-hysteria. It's simple, yet so many things are happening-internally and externally-that the mind has no choice but to continue reading. It's truly a great story.

I do agree with Rezna in terms of using the word lips, rather than mouth. I, too, was initially thinking the whole shebang--teeth, tongue, hole to injest food...

Also, the last sentence is kind of like a paradox to me. For such a strong story, I'm thinking a more definite, strong final line would be appropriate. Granted, ambiguity and the unknown is always thought-provoking, yet my reaction to the sentence was that he has instantly decided to turn over a new leaf. With his history, I doubt that would be the case.

And finally, I would just like to reiterate how good a story this was!
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singphantom7 (01-03-2009)
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Old 01-01-2009, 12:03 PM
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Very well done, singphantom. What a lot of bravery is in this story... Warren's, the veiled lady's (after all, she's getting really close to her terrifying ex in order to warn Laura), and ultimately Laura's.

There's nothing much to pick at, except the mouth/lips thing which others have mentioned. You did a great job getting into Laura's head as she lives with OCD and an abusive relationship. The ending seemed a little pat, though; I don't think you got into Gregory's head quite as well.

I found this thread when Tau recommended it here--where it richly deserves to be, I may add. Thanks for an engrossing read!
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Old 01-01-2009, 12:14 PM
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I third the lip sentiment -- it was confusing at first.

One thing that kind of threw things out of place were the references to being tied by ropes. We see that Gregory is controlling, but to show us that much violence, we need more of a back-story. It's completely believable, just not enough, if you know what I mean. You could maybe tell us about his kicking her in the bathroom, and then later, maybe when they're in the check-out line and she's looking at her wrists, reveal that he goes as far as to tie her up. Let things fall in slowly and carefully, so we don't know too much all at once.

And on his ex wife: I agree that it seems too coincidental. I think it's definitely something you should hold back for a while; if you were to wait to reveal that it was someone so close to Gregory that turned Laura away from him, say, eight or nine thousand words later, then it'd be much more of a shock. Something that makes a reader think back on what happened and really think about the events leading up to where you reveal that information. With the events so close to together, it seems unrealistic.

I especially liked Warren -- we got such a full view of his personality in so few words. It made me feel like he was an old character, someone who had been there all along, he was just now getting his screen time. Really, all of the characters had their own steady flow, and they were all very well rounded.

Overall, I really enjoyed this, and I hope you keep posting when more comes along. If this is what you write with short time on the hands, I'd love to see what you can do when you have quiet time.
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singphantom7 (01-03-2009)
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Old 01-02-2009, 07:45 AM
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Thanks all so much for the comments. I'm really thinking about a lot of the ideas and constructive criticism many people gave here.

Lips/mouth, for instance, is as good as changed. I agree I think "lips" is a more accurate description for the image I'm trying to create of this woman's face.

Also, I'm not sure I'm a huge fan of the ex-wife bit. When I first starting writing, the Veiled Lady wasn't ever with Gregory. She was just in an abusive relationship and ran away. She recognizes one with Laura and Gregory, and does her part to help. Then I thought of adding that twist in at the end. It's very possible that it doesn't work.

I am also fiddling with the idea of simply ending it with Laura and Warren driving off, making thier escape, and cutting out the part where I take it from Gregory's point of view. That last bit can be cut. I like it a lot, I like seeing Gregory's twisted perspective, but it doesn't have to be there.

Hmm. Lots to think about. Thanks all!!!
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Old 01-02-2009, 07:51 AM
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I actually really like the fact that Gregory and the lady were ex's. In this line:

I don’t want to be the veiled woman. I shiver. Was Gregory capable of going so far? The only way I could know was to stick around and find out.
It shows us that, yes, Gregory was capable of going that far--since he was the one to have done it previously. I was then that much more happy for Laura when she got the hell out of there!

Also, I did enjoy the end where Greg went to find Laura. I just thought that his realization over his actions was a bit "soft." Maybe, keep him angry and enraged--to further show Laura's luck to her decision to leave him.
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Old 01-02-2009, 11:46 AM
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I hunted long and hard for something to say about this, but the search was in vain. This was very well-written, and your character was terrific. I loved the way you developed her obsessive-compulsive personality, and how you showed the husband in bits and pieces, building up to the conclusion.

I think you could take the ending out, though. It doesn't really add anything to the story, and the switch to present tense is a little weird. Pretty neutral on it, all-in-all.

Great story, singphantom!
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  #12  
Old 01-02-2009, 01:38 PM
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You could have it ending with Gregry watching the veiled lady drive away, and recognising her as his ex-wife. Leave it there, and we get the idea of exactly what Laura's escaping and how, without knowing Gregory's reaction.
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Old 01-02-2009, 03:35 PM
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I must say, that this is a story that captured my attention throughout. And that doesn't happen all the time. I've only don't it once, or twice. Honestly.

In fact, I only caught one mistake;
He will do everything it takes to punish my quietly.
My, of course, should be me... unless you want to say;
"He will do everything it takes to punish my lingering."

This would receive a member's nomination, but Tau's already done that.

Oh, and I agree with the others.

It was a bit too much of a 'happy' ending.

End it where she drives off.
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  #14  
Old 01-02-2009, 05:33 PM
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This was an amazing read, I loved it!

I have one suggestion for how you could end it, if you don't mind me offering it.

Maybe instead of him seeing the veiled lady driving away, have him drive home in a rage. He drinks himself into a stupor and somehow the alcohol calms him. Have him pick up a picture of Laura off of the mantle and carry it out of the room. We watch as he unlocks a trunk and places the picture inside, next to a picture of another woman, a woman wearing a purple silk scarf around her neck...

Sort of his way of saying goodbye to yet another woman who got away from his abuse. This way, the fact that he was the veiled woman's ex remains a mystery until the very last moment.

Just thought I'd toss the idea out there. This story is so well written and really captures the characters strengths and weaknesses in a beautiful, yet eerie way.

Good Job!
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singphantom7 (01-21-2009)
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Old 01-04-2009, 03:19 AM
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I said I would be back to say some more, unfortunately I cannot add too much, as your piece is very good. I do agree with the others that you should do something with the ending. Overall I think I like it more without the part after the three asterisks.

I do however like the idea of seeing his reaction to her fleeing. Then again, you might not need to if you can set it up properly within the main part. Maybe recount another punishment he dished out when she had “misbehaved”, something that would show not only how far he would go (so that we can guess at what happened to the veiled lady without ever stating who she is, as to me that lets things down a bit) but that he will be enraged and angry at her fleeing his control. Maybe she had let a door to door sails man in and bought something without his permission.

As I said above I don’t think we need to know that the veiled lady is his ex, it would work better if she was just a stranger who saw herself in Laura and wanted to safe Laura from what happened to her.

Talking of the veiled lady, because of the title ones attention is immediately drawn to her when we meet her, and yet we see very little of her, and until the second meeting I felt a bit disappointed, maybe have her walk past in the background, maybe during the shampoo bottle scene. That way we the reader can get a clearer picture of why she past the note to Laura.

So I hope that helps.
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Old 01-04-2009, 10:25 AM
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I found only one typo. This:




Originally Posted by singphantom7 View Post
He will do everything it takes to punish my quietly.



Aside from that, I thought this was an excellent piece of writing, but I felt the story fell apart towards the end. In the beginning and middle you maintain this excellent sense of realism; there is the woman in the abusive relationship who lacks the strength to leave her violent companion, and the scenes you use to establish this relationship are written and directed exceptionally well.

The story starts to go in a weird direction when the lady passes her the note. That itself I don't mind and think served its purpose, but the sudden bravery of Warren ("Something abot you makes me want to be braver," felt forced as well) and his drastic actions seem at odds with the character you portrayed him to be.

Finally, the veiled lady being Gregory's ex-wife made it look like you were trying to put this into a neat little package, and by that point the story lost its footing. Gregory's "No more blood" mutterings felt too stretched, as well.

Those nits aside, I think this is a showcase of truly talented writing. You conveyed the voice of a psychologically and emotionally damaged narrator very well and used excellent turns of phrase to paint and continue a scene.

I just think the ending needs a lot of tweaking. Only my opinion, of course. Otherwise, great job.

Last edited by Neil; 01-04-2009 at 10:29 AM..
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Old 01-20-2009, 09:37 PM
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Definitely an enthralling read, and what makes it a double punch is the fact that Laura's situation is one that can be easily identified with. I don't think there's much I can contribute by way of critique (because my predecessors have done such a great job) but I do agree that the ending seems too convenient. The beauty of this story is that the veiled lady does not necessarily need a relationship with any of the characters but is at the same time representative of any one in Laura's position.

I concur with the prevalent motion above that Gregory's side can be eliminated without much impact to the story.
Once again, great job ^^
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  #18  
Old 01-21-2009, 07:45 AM
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Thanks all. Let me just say that I am in agreement with everyone that the ending could use some going over. I plan on doing that and probably posting the edited version to see what everyone thinks.

Thanks for taking the time to read it!
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Old 01-21-2009, 09:07 AM
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This is a beautiful story; I think I'll be voting for it for Member's Choice.

The ooonly thing is (and I'm not even completely sure about this), can you pop the lid on shampoo bottles and smell them? I thought they were usually sealed. But it's such a little thing that it shouldn't make a difference. Great job!
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Old 01-21-2009, 09:16 AM
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I don't know about "the cave where [you] eetz soouls", but you can sniff shampoo bottles where I live. They're not sealed because they're not food. Lotions are the same way, so you could moisturize on the sly as you go through stores!
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Old 01-21-2009, 09:46 AM
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I did think about that detail, Wanderer--and, as a side note, thanks soooo much for considering this piece for Member's Choice.

I share HoiLei's experience. In a Grocery store, you could pop the shampoo open, or twist it and take a whiff. Not that I do this with shampoo....deoderant is a whole different story.

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Old 01-21-2009, 10:06 AM
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This piece is better than most published stories I've read. Like others, I think it ends too soon. I wanted more, much more. From the first sentence, I kept thinking--professional. You have my permission to quit your day job. (Grin)
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  #23  
Old 01-21-2009, 10:13 AM
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I just wanted to say that this was a spectacular read.
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  #24  
Old 01-25-2009, 12:17 AM
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Sing Phantom!

Once again, Kudos to you!

This is the second piece I have read of yours, and I concur with Paco. You should be published.

Bear down and give birth to a novel. Seriously. Someone, somewhere will see how truly talented you are, and put you in print. I dare say that is, if you are not in print already.

There is little that I can add to what has already been said in way of advisement. But I will say this. Strengthen the ending with foreshadowed ambiguity, if anything. Leave the reader wanting more, and anxiously pensive. Do another rewrite and throw it to the wolves again. I'm sure we'll find it Kobe tenderloin at that point; aged and broiled to perfection.

Well done indeed!

Excelsior!

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Old 02-01-2009, 09:23 AM
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This was a fantastic read. I really loved it. I agree that the ending was a little too happy and unrealistic, but I love the idea that the veiled lady was his ex-wife. I really didn't even see it coming... i beg you to leave that part in there, but just re-work it somehow. Of course, my opinion seems outweighed.. but for me it's just rare to find such an unexpected twist.
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Old 02-08-2009, 09:26 PM
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Fabulous!! This is the kind of stuff one hopes to come across when perusing writing forums. I agree with a re-write of the ending, but otherwise it was brilliant. You MUST publish your work! There are some novels out there right now that the mind boggles over why anyone would choose to publish them and you deserve to be acknowledged on a grand scale!!!!
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Old 02-09-2009, 02:45 AM
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Thank you, artemisvale (and everyone). Such encouraging words, you've made me smile big today. I plan on doing something with this piece, at some point...and I've got to rethink the ending. But thank you!
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