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Under Scrutiny (part1)

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Old 08-05-2016, 07:14 AM
Andy Mitchell (Offline)
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Default Under Scrutiny (part1)

A repetitive sharp shriek of a phone alarm awoke Harris from his sleep. He half-opened his eyes in a dreary semi-conscious state and reached for his phone to silence the piercing shrill of his wake up call. Harris sat up in bed and wiped his hand across his forehead, pulling it down on his face almost to try and peel his eyelids from each other. Harris looked over to his right to see his beautiful wife laying peacefully next to him. Harris watched Mandy lovingly as she slept, as she breathed so gently and looking completely content in her relaxed state. Harris cautiously brushed Mandy’s hair away from her right eye, being careful not to wake her. Harris smiled to himself thinking about how fortunate he was to have found someone so special and that they could be so happy together fifteen years on. He looked at his phone to check the time, 06:09. He shut his eyes as tight as he could and pinched the top of his nose, as though he were pressing his personal reset button, and gently got out of bed.

After taking a shower and getting dressed for another day of cases and files, meetings and tribunals, phone calls and emails, Harris made his way downstairs to the kitchen. Harris lived in a two-floor apartment, 109 Grove Court on Drayton Gardens, Chelsea. The building had a gracefully-structured, red-bricked, terraced architecture, accentuated with pure white partitions contrasting the deep auburn brickwork on each level. On the exterior of the building, each apartment floor had tastefully crafted cast iron fence balconies, coated in a smooth black veneer. The bay windows of each apartment were slender and neatly fitted between equal lengths of the apartment. The curvature of the bay windows was more of a work of art than a simple design feature. The front door of the building was more modern than the rest of the continental traditionalist style of the construction, but was tucked delicately within the cavity of the bright white doorway. The finishing touch of the construction of the quintessential middle class living facility was a wonderful and classically dressed doorman, with a navy trench coat that suspended a perfect inch from the ground and a crisp neat hat.

For breakfast, Harris made himself his usual meal of porridge oats with blackberries and honey, a slice of wheat grain toast, and a decent strength macchiato. Whilst eating his breakfast, Harris did the familiar task of sorting through the pile of envelopes that had collected from the previous day's post. The pile often consisted of the same old things, such as: water bill, electricity bill, internet bill, pleas from local charities, takeaway menus, and his favourite, council tax. But on this day, there was one letter that did not fit in with the usual postage routine. Harris inspected the small, white, and rectangular in shape envelope. On appearance, there didn’t seem much wrong with the out-of-place letter, but Harris had an ominous feeling about what was inside.

For a moment, Harris held the envelope between his index finger and thumb before putting it to the back of the pile. For the next twenty minutes, he went through the pleas for money from British Heart Foundation and the like, and found himself gazing at the back of the pile. He tried to show strength and constraint with the strange letter, but the force of it drained his face. It was like a wedge that made him powerless to the letter, and a kind of fear gripped him. His heart fluttered for a single beat. His fingers tipped closer to opening it, but he knew it was going to cause heartache.
He sat there as he felt an unjustified feeling of worry, which he had felt before concerning his brother. The lack of contact through the twelve years of prison bolstered the uneasy strong will of his younger brother. Harris, the oldest, had tried to look for Callum, but this was different. He had misstepped the mark of love and loyalty to their family, and he had thought henceforth of a troubled childhood that found Callum running from the police most days.
He finally got on top of his nerves and grabbed the letter, and he held the edges ceaselessly on both ends. He ripped it open without realising what was in the letter; it had sufficient importance to affect his life forever.

He read it;

Dear Harris, firstly I want to say that I'm sorry for what I put you and mum and dad through. It was selfish and I know I wasn't thinking. I know also that you and Mandy hate me and I can't blame her.
On the lonely evenings in the cells while we twiddled our thumbs, I recalled those memories of the quaintest café and its staff, and one of them jolted a smile at me. It caused a joyful explosion in my heart. It seeped like a mountain, and made my day.

My release came about because I kept myself to myself, and the Governor alongside the sullen looks of the guards, was impressed that I held my own. The other prisoners had egged, vexed and prod the stick on me.

I know, dearly loved brother, that mum and dad had hated me, and had made me out as a black wolf and soon, in a different light that was as dark as the night. It was like I have been dancing on my own accord with demoing a coated coat. In that Court, when they had taken me to my cell, the tears poured down my cheek.

Please don't hate me, I'm begging you. It's bad enough that mum and dad do.

I hope to see you soon.
Kind Regards
Your brother,

Harris returned the letter to the table and shifted back into the chair. He felt unsure about the context of the letter and if his brother had meant anything that he said. He sighed, closed his eyes and took a long, deep breath before he opened them again. A pin drop could have creep on him as the sounds of his wife’s footsteps screamed like a child who has taken a fall. A minute later, he felt Mandy’s hands grip his neck, the soft texture of her lips smothered him.

“Why couldn't you stay in bed for a little longer?” She asked as he spun to look at her.

“I wanted to deal with this boring paperwork before I go to work,” he replied as he smiled a joyous smile.

“Darling, you know it will be here when you come back from your meeting with the young family.”

He waited for Mandy to settle down at the table and as she joined him, he wondered if she had already seen the letter. He felt the beat of the earth stuttering of the gist of fear that swelled his face turning it into a pale colour.

“Yeah, but I'm not one to leave it too late to deal with.”

If she saw the letter, that would break her, as I knew she hated the sight of Callum. His callous eyes piddled the room like the raging fires.

“What's this, Harris?” She questioned as she picked up the letter that was like the devil starting to laugh.

“Mandy please, put the letter down. It's not something you want to read.” Harris uneasily lurched forward as if to snatch it out of her hands, like their past yelping like a dog whimpering.

“What the hell, Harris? Why are you so sure you don't want me to read this? Are we behind on the bills?”

“No, it's not that. It's just…..."
She scolded him with the flames of red caught on her face as she read the condescending letter, much to the horrified status that rang on her husband’s face.

“Oh, it's him.”
They both turned their heads away from each other, and the reverberation of silence thudded into the kitchen, their eyes bounding towards the letter. It felt like eyes were watching them and laughing at their expense.
But then, Harris rose his head up and said, “Mandy, I know that you don't want me to see Callum, but he's my brother. You have to understand that. I can't leave him in the lurch.” He stopped, his eyes sternly staring at his wife, who turned her face away.
“I just don't want you to get hurt. I get that he's your brother, but I remember him being an animal towards you.”
He held her hands and made her look him in the eyes, which funneled the worry, of what his wife felt. The room seemed colder, more chilling as the frigid expression on her face made everything else look even tighter.
“As you don't want me to, I'm going to see the young family who needs my help.”
“Thank you. I'm sorry, I just don't want him to be welcomed into our family.”
He nodded as he rose up and started to collect his file that was on the brown table before he turned a look at Mandy. He was unable to smile, so he flourished his steps to the door and as he took one more glance, their eyes met in the silence that just returned.
He opened the door that broke a promise, and like a cheetah raced away from the hunter, the more of his moral had castigate to blinking lights.

My life has started to end to what I knew of my being.

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EricRomm (08-08-2016)
Old 08-08-2016, 11:13 AM
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Hi Andy,

I really enjoyed this first part of your story. I will start with the nit-picks, and then I will explain why I enjoyed it.

This first thing I'm going to point out is just based on my opinion. You are already doing a great job at describing the feeling of tension by using the character's surroundings, and internal feelings when he got the letter. At least for me, I find that using descriptions with strong words, and fewer of the not-so-strong words provide tension to the tone. For example, you said "swelled his face turning it into a pale colour." What if you said something along the lines of "Turning (something)-pale."? Doing something like that might just highlight the tension a little more.

The second thing I should point out is that the last paragraph feels like it wasn't meant to be one paragraph. At one point, the dialogue runs into each other. It was difficult to tell who was talking. You separated the different character's dialogue very well in the rest of this, so maybe it has something to do with this website not being able to use indents. When copying my work, I myself noticed that too.

Your story is very well thought out! For one thing, I enjoyed your use of descriptions. The way you described his personal feelings, such as when you said "...stuttering of the gist of fear...", or "His heart fluttered for a single beat", really hit the emotion you were going for. At the moment, I'm kind of in a rut with things like that. I usually end up with "heart beat" or "heart sank"... Sigh!* I really want to get out if my rut!

Your story didn't just state things as they were. You allowed me, (the reader), to understand the setting piece by piece. Another thing that you allowed to develop was curiosity about the content of the white envelope. Along with that, there was the anticipation of knowing whether the envelope was good or bad.

I've learned some new things from your story, such as the definitions for "council tax" and "bolstered". I didn't know what these were at first, so I looked them up. The way you built up the conflict gradually left me wondering what happens next; as a result, I'm inspired to try and do things like that in my stories a little more in the future. You even did that with the emotions. I should practice that.

Great work!

Last edited by Cricket Leaf; 08-08-2016 at 11:38 AM.. Reason: I wrote "new" as "sew" by mistake in the last paragraph.
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Andy Mitchell (08-08-2016)
Old 08-08-2016, 09:11 PM
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It's catchy.
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Andy Mitchell (08-09-2016)

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