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Those Eyes

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  #1  
Old 02-01-2011, 09:53 PM
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Default Those Eyes


Tried to write a short story under 300 words. Feel free to critique.


I’ve heard that Allen Ginsberg once found Walt Whitman amidst the aisles of a Californian supermarket, and ever since I’ve been searching.

Last night, round midnight or so, I was on the train. I saw this girl. She looked, - amazing.

She had eyes. Grey eyes, with black pupils like orbitals, - encompassed by a celestial gold that turned soft around the edges of her corneas. The effect was heavenly, like some miraculous silvered flower.

She had other features, but what I remember most is those eyes, - that and the cage.

The cage was draped but one could make out the bars through the sage cloth. For a while I pondered on what was in it. From the arched frame I could tell it was some sort of bird, perhaps a cockatoo.

I continued to examine her throughout the train ride, waiting to see if she’d drop the curtain once, - sneaking glances, trying my best not to look like a creep. Passengers cycled in and out. Still, not once did the curtain move.

We reached the final train stop.

The train door opened and I left my seat and walked towards the door. I looked back one last time to catch another glance. Gone.

Dismayed, I turned out of the train. I walked up the steps, and into the main platform of the train station. I took three steps and stopped.

There she was, - the young lady with the bird cage. I wanted to talk to her, maybe over coffee, over lunch? Feeling strangely confident I walked up to her and tapped her on her shoulder.

“Excuse me”

She turned.

“Yes”

Her eyes were hazel, - like nuts.

I stared into them for a while.

“Yes”

Louder this time.

“I’m sorry, would you like to grab some coffee?”

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Last edited by mistborn; 02-02-2011 at 08:26 AM..
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:06 AM
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Although I think you write extremely well, I didn't get your story. What does the reference to Ginsberg and Whitman have to do with the story? And what role does the caged bird play?

Would it have been better to call your character a "young lady" instead of a "girl." The mention of "coffee" and "girl" didn't sound right--not too many girls drink coffee. But not for the time (around midnight), I would have thought you were talking about a child.

Also: The cage was draped but one (not "you") could make out ....

I think one sounds better.

And the last line of the story should mention "eyes"--not coffee. (Unless I missed the entire point of your story). Nice writing.

Last edited by Cityboy; 02-02-2011 at 08:09 AM..
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:39 AM
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Thanks for reading.

As for the changing of girl to young lady, I agree with you. I've changed the other instances of girl to young lady but I don't feel I can change the first usage. I also agree with you that one would work better than you.

As for the first sentence, it's a reference to Ginsberg's poem: A Supermarket in California. As Ginsberg revered Walt Whitman and he was openly homosexual the first sentence is a sort of light humored jest. In a way I'm saying that I (the narrator) once heard that Ginsberg found his soulmate in A Californian supermarket and ever since I've been searching for my own. The woman on the train with the grey eyes and the bird cage represents something equally as strange as Ginsberg's encounter with Walt Whitman. A possible encounter with my own soul mate.
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Old 02-02-2011, 10:55 AM
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Since it is such a short story, would you consider ditching "Ginsberg, Whitman, and the supermarket" and focus only on the "train, girl, and your feelings for her?

Is a reference to homosexuality included in your story because you yourself are a homosexual? If so, I might work it into a longer version, but for one so short, I might just try to capture the interaction between both characters. In this story, her eyes and your feelings for the girl seem to be the two biggest issues. I'd use the 24 words in your opening sentence to describe the girl.

Maybe start the story off like this:

She captivated me. Last night about midnight on the train, I gazed into her eyes for the first time in my life, and immediately I was swept away (smitten).

The stunning, young lady had green eyes with pupils black like orbitals.

Create a vivid snapshot of the scene/story..


24 words in a 300-word story is almost 10% of the writing. Better to use the 10% of some detail related to the "moment" instead of introducing something outside the "moment."

Last edited by Cityboy; 02-02-2011 at 11:08 AM..
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Old 02-04-2011, 06:11 AM
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I liked the piece, but I had one question about your word choice here:
Originally Posted by mistborn View Post
She had eyes. Grey eyes, with black pupils like orbitals,
Is it not obvious that she had eyes? Or were you just going for that they were so infatuated with her eyes that he was dumbfounded by them?
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Old 02-04-2011, 08:18 AM
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I can't fault the writing on this one little bit. It drew me in and had me wondering at the outcome throughout.

My gripe is that your ending is weak. We never get to find out what's in the cage and her enchanting eyes are all of a sudden just hazel. why not raise your limit to 500 and give your reader a little bit more meat?

I wrote a similar short about bewtiching eyes - called 'Hazel' - which funnily enough also involved a coffee.
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Old 02-04-2011, 11:15 AM
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I think this would be a great longer story but as a short story I think it seems more inclined as a description than as a story. If made longer this would be quite an interesting read but currently I think it needs more of a plot to it .
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Old 02-05-2011, 06:21 AM
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To Shelly:

The reference to Ginsberg is just there. Not because I'm homosexual or as a reference to myself. Just because I like Ginsberg and I thought it'd be a nice way to start out. Perhaps I should change it...

To Shyl:

The repetition was to attract attention to her eyes. I wanted two things to be the focus of the story and the reader's attention. This woman's amazing eyes and the cage.

To Lorry:

I agree. The ending is kind of week. My main focus in writing this story was trying to say a lot with a limited amount of words. I wanted to create not just a scene but an entire mini story in the space of 300 words. In it I got carried away and decided to put some mystery into the story by adding the cage. By the end of the story I didn't have room to fully go in depth about the cage so I tried to change the focus of the story to another girl hoping the reader would accept it none the less. It seems not. Perhaps some fleshing out is in order. I'll give it some time and see if I can develop a more complete story.

To Amia:

I agree with you completely now. As I said to Lorry I'll give myself some time to flesh it out and if it's any good I'll post it back up here.

To you all:

Thank you sincerely for the criticism (and the compliments ), it's really appreciated.
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:12 AM
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A captivating scene. Not much more to add to what has already been said really. I too would like more description of the woman. When I read scenes like this I want to be falling in love with her too. As it is I'm thinking of her as any beautiful woman you may see on the train, and despite the characters being obviously smitten, I'm not. Maybe something of her behaviour as well as physical appearance Ė the way she puts her hand up to her face to push away her hair or the way she's sitting. If he noticed things like that I'd believe his infatuation more.

I like it left hanging at the end, although maybe it could be more obvious if they do (or don't) get together. I like not knowing about the cage, has she just bought a pet or is she a magicians assistant? I like not knowing.

As others have said, nicely written and I really enjoyed sharing the moment with the characters.
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:18 AM
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I liked it overall, but I also felt like the portion about Ginsberg was out of place. I'm a big fan, and I know the poem you're referring to. To me, it didn't really have anything to do with Allen Ginsberg being attracted to Whitman as a homosexual, and more how Ginsberg was thinking of what Walt Whitman would think of this strange world that people live in today, and the isolation he would probably feel. I get the sense that they are two lost souls, and kindred spirits because of that. While that would be a good theme for meeting a stranger on the train, I felt like this story was more about the curiosity factor of seeing a beautiful mysterious girl. Maybe add something about how she didn't seem to fit in with the crowd around her. Or not, it's your call.
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