Author Topic: Angel (short story – finished)  (Read 4789 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Harlequin

  • Founder
  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1819
    • View Profile
Angel (short story – finished)
« on: January 25, 2009, 11:40:11 AM »
So I recently started a short story, and I\'ve become stuck with it. I know where I want it to end (though, I gave it to one of my friends to critique, and he gave me something that might point it somewhere else entirely – somewhere longer – if I chose to take it there) and more or less how Im going to get there, but I\'d reeeeeally appreciate if yall could give me some feedback in the interrim, maybe take it somewhere else.

Tell me what you think? Correct grammar, spelling, punctuation. Let me know if something bugs you about the characters (what little of them is here, anyway). Absolutely anything! Absolutely EVERYTHING! If you just straight up hate it, I want to know!

Angel (working/stupid title)

“I used to be an angel,” said the girl sitting next to me, in the dust by the side of the road.

“Huh?” I had been looking at the sky; the stars that came out as pinpricks in the blue-blackness of it. Sparks from the fading fire of the sunset over the desert. It was getting cold. Her voice distracted me; like the jingle of glass flowers – but glass that had been fired poorly. Carelessly scratched, or warped with time. It wasn’t unpleasant, just…different. She hadn’t spoken to me since she’d sat down next to me, hours ago. She just smoked, and watched the road, and kept my left side warm. I hadn’t minded; I liked the company – even if she was a stranger – but I liked the quiet more.

“An Angel,” she repeated. Her face was lit only by the glowing tip of her latest cigarette, fiercely orange in the gathering dark.

“Yeah?” I said. I wasn’t sure why she’d sat down next to me. Didn’t much care, either, truth be told. I watched her now, however, wary. Religious freaks weren’t my first choice in traveling companion. She didn’t look the type, though. I would’ve pegged her for a skinhead, because of the shaved head, but she didn’t seem like that type either. She didn’t look like any type, really. Nothing I’d seen before. . These roads were lonely, and she hadn’t tried to knife me yet, so I decided to push my luck.

“From that alt-porn site?” I tried to keep the cynical note of hope from my voice; keep the keel even, find out what I could before I decided to make camp farther down the road, even if it meant leaving the first of the traffic to her.  I could tell she was attractive, even under the baggy flannel shirt; unbuttoned, but voluminous enough to conceal her form. Her fingers were long and slim, and – though her nails were bitten tweaker-short – they didn’t shake, even as she lit cigarette after cigarette.

She shook her head. She still hadn’t looked at me, “No,” she said, “Of the Lord.”  There was no emotion in those words. No zealous joy, no bitter hatred. Just…nothing.

“Really,” I shifted slightly, beginning to feel the stiffness in my joints. Maybe there was a story in this, after all. Or maybe this was another bust; another crock of bullshit from another piece of roadside trash (like I wasn’t one of them, now, too. Like this book was ever going to get written. Like my editor even had my phone number any more. Like I hadn’t dropped out of school to find the American Dream and found myself part of my country’s invisible demographic.)

“Really,” she confirmed impassively, and looked at me for the first time. The light of her cigarette phosphouresced off the surface of her eyes, and I shivered as they fixed on me.  “ The Power sends one of us to this plane every thousand years. For one day, that Angel is mortal. They take on mortal flesh, and, for that day, they are alive. When that day closes, they return to the place where first they touched terra firma, and they die.” She inhaled from her cigarette, causing the light to flare. Something in those oddly luminous eyes disturbed me, and my gaze slid downwards, as if in shame, “I was not able to return to that place.” Turned slightly toward me as she was, the flannel shirt fell open slightly, and I saw, rising above the top of her thin tank top (much too flimsy for the growing chill, though her skin remained smooth, and free of goosebumps) a wavering line of inexpert sutures; holding together the edges of a cut traveling from just below her collarbone to the center of her chest.

I could feel her watching my face, and the slight discomfort on it. I had seen wounds before, but this was different; unsettling in its elusive familiarity. But she was watching me, so I spoke, and tore my eyes away from the wound – caught now, in her story – though I knew it to be false. “Why?” I asked.

She lit another cigarette from the glowing tip of her last, and inhaled deeply, “I was caught,” she said, “Somehow, your people learned of the ritual. They waited for me, out in the desert. Like serpents, with their guns, and their lights, and their pain.” Her eyes focused on the vast expanse of cracked Earth across the road. “I had never felt pain before.” An idle comment, which held the most inflection I’d heard yet. Otherwise, her broken-glass voice was eerie in its monotony.

“They took me away before the appointed time. I did not die. I did not transcend. But no longer was I mortal, either, but something else, something in-between. When they strapped me to the table and cut me open, I did not bleed, nor could their drugs kill my senses. My heart was dead. I could not fill my lungs to scream. But somehow, still, there was pain.” I shuddered again. Suddenly, I knew why that wound had seemed familiar; I did not need to see the identical cut on her other side, nor the incision that split her down the center, sprouting from their apex.

“They shaved my head,” she went on, “And I knew shame.”
 (fin. for now)

Offline MythsAndLegends

  • Wordsmith
  • ***
  • Posts: 112
    • View Profile
Re: Angel (short story – unfinished)
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2009, 12:05:30 PM »
Alright, I really, really liked it. It had a good theme to it, a good feel and tone. After all my AP English crap I\'ve learned to analyze a story, and from what I\'ve seen, this is good. You use a lot of commas and shorter sentences that seem to be a long the lines of the rebel that the character is, also it does not hint at a great intelligence like longer, more intricate sentences with a lot of big words might do, which is good, because he dropped out of school.

The writing fits the character. It\'s good. ^.^

If you want my opinion, if you want to keep it short, tell the back story on her "capture" for a little bit, then come back to them sitting there again, and then just sort of have them be like, "Yeah..." awkward silence, ending. :D

It\'d be neat, especially for a short story. I look forward to all additions!

Offline Satyr

  • Devil's Advocate
  • Administrator
  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 10096
    • View Profile
Re: Angel (short story – unfinished)
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2009, 08:14:03 AM »
I enjoyed the story :D

MaL brings up a salient point in her assumption that your character lacks edcuation from dropping out of school.  My own assumption was that your character had dropped out of university, and probably a well spoken English major at that, so which one of us is closer to the truth?  Different readers will make different guesses if you don\'t clarify yourself properly.  School can be many things, college or high school is specific.  Perhaps you could clarify.

I\'ve also assumed your character is male.  Something I shouldn\'t have assumed coming from you, but the voice of the character feels male to me.  Once again you don\'t specify.  If it doesn\'t matter either way, you don\'t have to confirm, but if there\'s a particular gender you need for this story to make sense then you should say earlier on, hint at it when the pair of them are sitting together on the road.

If you don\'t capitalise \'angel\' the first time she says it, don\'t capitalise it the second.  Consistency!  *smack*

The phrase about the jingle of glass flowers poorly fired, is a nice turn of phrase but seems out of place because it\'s on its own.  It\'s poetic and the main character doesn\'t think in poetic similes or terms after it.

I tried to keep the cynical note of hope from my voice; keep the keel even, find out what I could before I decided to make camp farther down the road, even if it meant leaving the first of the traffic to her.
I don\'t think that the semi-colon should be there since the rest of the sentence flows from the main thought and structure.  It could just as easily be a comma, rather than a semi-colon which I think should be used as a break in thought, flow, separation or a clarification.  In the next sentence, you use it correctly:

 I could tell she was attractive, even under the baggy flannel shirt; unbuttoned, but voluminous enough to conceal her form.
After the semi-colon, you stop talking about her and start talking about her shirt, so the semi-colon sits well.

I like the way you aptly describe the autopsy scarring.  It tells the reader loud and clear without literally spelling it out.  That\'s a good piece of writing.

Frankly, I think this story can go in any direction.  You could end it in the next five hundred words or continue for five thousand more.  In my short-sightedness, I can\'t see it being book size.

I must say though, the choice you made to write this in first person was certainly the right one.  I don\'t think it would have the right kind of impact otherwise.

Perhaps you could call the story, Shame?  There seems to be different elements of shame within it already.  The angel knows shame, your character is ashamed when looking into her eyes, it\'s a shame she didn\'t return to where she came from and is stuck.  There could be more.

Offline Harlequin

  • Founder
  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 1819
    • View Profile
Re: Angel (short story – unfinished)
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2009, 02:02:57 PM »
(Here\'s the rest – one version of the rest, anyway. I churned it out in two hours and haven\'t read over it. you can probably tell. Feedback, please!)

“Jesus,” I said. I didn’t know this girl. I didn’t want to hear this. I didn’t want to hear this; but none of it stopped my heart from breaking.
“Who?” She looked at me, head tilted to one side.

Unsure of how I felt  about that particular paradox to begin with, I just shook my head, “No one.”  Then – as if my mouth had a mind of its own – I asked her to continue.

She did.

She told me about how they took her heart from her body, and of overcoming the restraints before they took anything else; before the saw bit into her scalp. She told me how it felt to kill a man; how it felt to kill ten. She took them one by one as she crouched in the darkness, without even breath to give her away. As she waited, she sewed herself together, holding her insides in with her hands when she was forced to move. She was fast, and they were afraid, she said. It only took a night.

Then, she told me of her walk across the desert –naked, alone, and – for all intents and purposes – dead. She found clothes, and, eventually, a road. When I asked her how, she said it didn’t matter.

The whole time, her voice didn’t stray one iota from its indifferent monotone. She paused only when I spoke – which happened once – and to light another cigarette. I was never bored. I believed it when she said she killed those men. I wasn’t afraid she was going to kill me.

After she stopped speaking, there was a long silence. “What now?” I asked, finally, when the weight of her story began to press in around me, like the walls of some ancient booby trap.

She just shrugged, “I’m walking the desert,” she said, ”I lost the place where I was meant to ascend. I am trying to find it again, before this body becomes too damaged to use. Once I find it, I imagine I’ll go underground.”


“To wait.”

"For a thousand years?”


I opened my mouth to say something, but again, there were no words. I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. “Good story,” I finally said. The words felt like broken glass; smooth, but with a cutting edge.

 “I know.”

In the distance, a pair of lights emerged, hurtling toward us down the black ribbon of the road. I nodded to her, “I think your ride’s here.”

She glanced up the road, and pulled her shirt tighter about herself. A sound that might have been a sigh escaped her lips, and she took a final, huge drag off her cigarette, stubbed it out in the sand. With her right hand clasping her shirt closed, she stood, and stuck her thumb out. There were no fingernails on her left hand.

As the semi pulled up, she looked back at me. “Thank you,” she said – for listening or for letting her have the ride, I wasn’t sure. I didn’t care. I was suddenly struck dumb.

Standing there in the glare of the trucks headlights, the girl shone. It was as if her ruined skin refracted the light, or absorbed it. As my eyes adjusted to the glare, I thought I could see the faintest outline of great, feathered wings towering over her shoulders. As she turned her head, I thought the light filtered by a curtain of honey-blonde hair.

She stepped out of the light, and the vision was gone. Had never been there. I heard the truck driver ask where she was headed; “Nowhere,” she replied, in that dead, glass voice, still holding the edges of her shirt together, “The desert.”

It was only later – when I felt the sharp cold on my face and the ache in my throat – that I realized I was crying. Ashamed, I wiped the wetness from my cheeks, turned my eyes on the road, and stopped thinking.

Offline MythsAndLegends

  • Wordsmith
  • ***
  • Posts: 112
    • View Profile
Re: Angel (short story – finished)
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2009, 05:52:51 AM »
:O I like it. I never even noticed that you posted this section. ^.^ Good work! I hope you write more stuff. :P