63 comments

Submitted on 09/14/2020

Categories: Drama Romance

George didn’t know the actual definition of marriage but he liked to think of it as two people, one of whom sleeps every night in a room that is too hot while lying in bed next to another who thinks the room is too cold. This was undoubtedly the case with him and Maggie. George was a city boy through and through. He was born in Brooklyn and had the accent to prove it. He's never actually said fugetaboutit but if he had no one would have batted an eye. Maggie, on the other hand, was a southern belle from Jackson Mississippi and used expressions like fixin’ to and Y’all with the sweetest drawl you ever did hear. They were a mismatched couple if there ever was one but somehow they fit like two comfortable socks. To the outside world, they were different in every way but their hearts fit more perfectly than an interlocking puzzle.  



The first time George saw the “For Sale” sign in front of the house he knew he had found the worst possible perfect place. To most the home would be a front-page listing in Better Homes and Gardens, it was an American Foursquare painted light blue with a wrap-around porch. The third story had dormer windows on all four sides and from the front, it had a beautiful mountain view.  

That’s not what George saw though. The large hill on which it stood would be a devil to mow and for a city boy, brought up on apartment living and with elevators, the three stories would be daunting. The closest general store was almost eight miles away and to get to a God’s honest supermarket you’d have to set aside at least an hour for the round trip. The porch would be perfect for an early evening pipe smoke but he had to sneak those in to avoid the ire of his loving wife. Yes, there was nothing George liked about this monstrosity except that Maggie would love it, and to George that was all-important.



“It’s darling, George. How did you ever find it?” The excitement in Maggie’s voice said more than her words. “I love everything about it. Look how majestic it is, sitting up there on the hill, and it’s three stories!” George managed a small smile as he pulled into the driveway. “When I was a little girl my Mamma said the more stories a house has the more stories it will tell. I want to hear all of this house’s stories, George, don’t you?” By this time Maggie had left the car and turned her gaze towards the mountain. She paused to take in the majesty of it all then turned back to her best friend and exclaimed "Look, George, not a single building for as far as the eye can see. It’s perfect, just perfect, please tell me we can afford it. Please make it ours” George just smiled and nodded his head.  



Before he brought Maggie to see the home he knew he wanted to buy, but after her response he was determined. The list price on the house was $575,000 but George knew it had sold two years earlier for more than $100,000 less. The housing market hadn’t improved in the last few years and the comps in the area screamed this house was overpriced. What made matters worse was the listing agent was an old friend.


Bobby Jones, owner and one-man crew of Bobby Jones’s Real Estate, shared a name with a famous golfer but not the swing. He had known George and Maggie for the better part of 20 years and had handled the sale of their home a few years earlier. He had helped George and Maggie find the “perfect” place in the city just a couple of years back so when he saw the familiar number on the Caller ID, to say the least, he was perplexed.



George, never one to make small talk allowed for only a few pleasantries before stating emphatically the reason for his call. “Bobby, I want to buy a house and ironically you are the listing agent.”  



“Which house are you looking to buy?” Bobby responded, confused at what might have changed in such a short time.



“The one on Sycamore. You know the one.” The silence that accompanied this revelation lasted almost long enough for George to think he had lost connection before Bobby finally responded, “I only have one house available on Sycamore, you can’t mean that one.”  



“I do,” George replied bluntly. “Maggie loves the house and I love Maggie, so that’s the house I want.”



After another long pause to contemplate the situation, Bobby, well aware of who he was talking to, gingerly broached the subject of price. “It’s listed at $575,000 and the owner is firm on the price.” There was a hesitation in Bobby’s voice and the statement was delivered almost like a question and with a hint of fear.



The process of buying a house is like a religion to a boy from Brooklyn. It is the culmination of a lifetime of learning to negotiate. Brooklanders are street smart and relentless, they don’t buy anything for full price. When George’s father used to take him to the market to pick up groceries for the family restaurant he taught George the art of haggling. “Georgie Boy,“ His dad would say with a a roguish twinkle in his eye, “you gotta start low. If the first offer isn’t an insult then you’ve lost already. After that you get their indignant response and the competition is on.” George’s dad would play this game with all his vendors and they would eventually settle on the price both had in mind when the negotiation started. It was magic to George, it was in his DNA. It was also another in the long line of differences between George and Maggie. Maggie always paid full price even when buying a car.  



“Who pays full price for a car?” George would ask, more disappointed than angry. “My dad is rolling over in his grave.”  



“Your dad is on the mantle in an urn.” Maggie would reply, knowing full well George could never really be mad at her. 



Whenever George would start to haggle Maggie would cut her eyes, sigh, and walk away not wanting to see George go in for the kill. It was a dance practiced and perfected over the years and they performed it masterfully.  



As Bobby sat back in his chair anticipating the free for all he was sure was coming George said the most unexpected thing, “Done. When can we sign the papers?”  



“You are paying the asking price?” Bobby blurted out unexpectedly.  



“You got a problem with that?” George replied aware of the shock that accompanied this departure from the norm. Then his voice got shallow, “It’s for Maggie, Bobby, it’s for Maggie.”



“No problem at all my friend, I understand. If you’re paying full price we can get this done this week. I’ll call you when the papers are ready.”



Like most boys from Brooklyn, George had an opinion on everything and he made his opinions known. Everything, that is, except for the layout of the house, that was Maggie's department. On moving day, after his easy chair was placed in the front sitting room, George made a point of staying out of the way as Maggie worked the poor moving guys to exhaustion. He watched as each piece of furniture was placed in every possible spot until Maggie found its perfect home and then she would repeat the process with the next piece. George hated this home but he loved to watch Maggie set it up and as the process drew to a close and George looked at her choices he knew right away they were exactly right. Sitting there, in his favorite chair, George contemplated what he and Maggie had accomplished in just a few weeks and he found his soul lightened and his face smiling for the first time in at least two years.  



There is no night like the first night in a new house and the night is even better when it happens at the beginning of fall in the country. After a nice but easy dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, Maggie and George found their way to the rockers on the front porch and held hands as they watched the sun go down over the mountains. George, noticing their breath now visible in the cool night air, placed a sweater over his wife’s shoulders.  



“Beautiful, absolutely beautiful,” Maggie said breathlessly, breaking the silence, as she scanned the wonder in front of her.



“Absolutely,” George agreed never taking his eyes off his wife.  



“George, thank you so much for this. I know this isn’t your cup of tea but it’s everything I could ever want, this house, this view,” she paused and finished her thought “and you.”



George just nodded and smiled. This is proof of God, he thought to himself as he took in the moment.



"I’m getting a little tired now,” Maggie said, almost reluctantly. “Would you mind if I turned in early?”



“Not at all, sweetheart.” he responded truthfully, “I’ll be up shortly.”  



“Don’t think I don’t know you’re going to smoke that nasty pipe,” Maggie said pretending to be annoyed but smiling all the time. “Make sure you brush your teeth before you come to bed, you old poo.” and with that, she kissed him on the cheek and headed into the house and up the stairs.  



George waited long enough for Maggie to make it to the top of the stairs and enter the bedroom before he pulled out his pipe, filled it with his favorite tobacco, and flame in hand took a drag.  



For George time would seem to stand still when he could sit alone and smoke his pipe so he wasn’t sure how long he had been there when he saw some people coming up the walk.



“Hello.” came a voice piercing the silence of nightfall. “We come in peace.”



“John and Emily? Is that you?” George responded squinting so as to use the last of the sun's residual beams to make out the figures turning onto the front walk but only being sure of their identities when the porch light illuminated two familiar and confused faces.



“George? What are you doing here? Is everything okay?" John asked with obvious concern.



“Yes, it’s me. Maggie and I have moved back in.” George replied before pausing to take a deep breath "Maggie’s worse, much worse. She doesn’t remember almost anything anymore. I thought it would be better to be in the city, near her doctors and the hospitals but I was wrong. She would wander aimlessly until I couldn't find her.” George shuddered sharing the memory. "She didn't know that I knew but I could hear her crying almost every night.”



“That’s awful,” Emily replied as she hugged George. “So you bought your old house back?”



“Yes,” George said, “Maggie doesn’t remember the house, to her it’s new but she loves it just like she always did. I should never have moved her out. This is where we belong.”



The revelation brought tears to Emily's eyes. “Is there anything we can do?”



“Just pretend you don’t know her when you meet. I’m not sure how much longer she has but for now, this house has brought her smile back. She’s forgotten that she forgets and for now that’s a gift. 



“Of course we will,” John replied. “And if you need anything else please don’t hesitate to ask.”



“Thank you so much," George said casting his glance up the stairs then turning back, "If you’ll forgive me, when you came up I was about to go up to bed. I don’t like to leave Maggie alone for too long”  



“Absolutely,” Emily said knowingly and with that, they hugged once again and left George alone on the front porch of the house he never liked.  



As George took the last drag on his favorite old pipe and looked out over his new old view he said out loud but to himself. “I guess I don’t hate this place after all.” And with that, he headed up to bed.






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63 comments

Jonathan Blaauw
06:41 Sep 18, 2020

Congratulations, you have been invited to a special, pre-release screening of J.Blaauw’s new story. Date: Whenever you’re able Time: See above Place: My page Dress: Formal Entry fee: 1x ‘Like’ of the story will be required for entry. RSVP: Not necessary See you there! 🎉🎉🎈🎈

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Thom B.
15:35 Sep 18, 2020

I officially accept your invitation. Oh sorry. Is my tie straight? Here I go.

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Doubra Akika
10:02 Sep 16, 2020

This is absolute perfection, Thom! Choices will always be my favorite though. I'll definitely keep reading to see if anything tops it. (Although I highly doubt that) This story is a perfect mix of heartwarming and heartbreaking. The twist at the end definitely did the trick and as you re-read that bit, you also look back at the hints along the story. It's sad seeing the person you love disappear before your eyes. I can't imagine that, but I know a lot of people have had to deal with that. You'd do anything for the person, so I think Goe...

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Thom B.
12:43 Sep 16, 2020

I know there are a lot of reason why people write but comments like this are at the top of my list. You encourage me to keep writing and make me want to get better. Thank you for taking the time to not only read my writing but to encourage me as well. I am in your debt.

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Doubra Akika
13:31 Sep 16, 2020

It was honestly my pleasure! I’m happy my comments encourage you. Yours do as well!

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Stephanie Anne
17:15 Sep 15, 2020

That ending broke my heart. This is so beautifully written too. Also, that opening sentence is 100% me and my fiance haha

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Thom B.
18:37 Sep 15, 2020

Ha ha, I know how you feel. It's my wife and I as well. She's the one who's always cold. Thanks for the read and feedback. I know I always say it's appreciated but it really is. :-)

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Kathleen March
01:50 Oct 07, 2020

Jackson, Mississippi Please make it ours.” never one to make small talk, and, flame in hand, took the house he had never liked OK, I had to find something to pick on so you'd know I'd read the whole story. I just seem to like commas more than you do... More seriously, I truly like what you did with this. It was a surprise to find out what George had done for a wife who didn't remember much. I am not certain if memory loss can actually function as it does in your story, but that's all right. You are a sensitive writer. The world...

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Thom B.
12:40 Oct 07, 2020

I have only one rule about punctuation. Always put commas where they don't belong and leave them out where they do. :-) Seriously I am the worst editor. I really suck at it. I also can't spell very well but spell check and Google help me hide that deficiency. As for the specific type of Memory loss Maggie was experiencing, I kind of made it up. I usually try to do a little research to make sure I'm making my stories real but I figured maybe this could happen so I went with it. I'm still not sure it can't. :-) I love your feedback...

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Kathleen March
21:03 Oct 07, 2020

Memory loss is great in fiction. Lots to be learned, and maybe forgotten... https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/punctuation/commas/index.html

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Katina Foster
17:02 Sep 18, 2020

This is so good, Thom! I see these two, their lives and their house on the hill so incredibly clearly. The dialogue is perfect, and you add just the right amount of detail to bring the scenes to life without burying us in unnecessary prose. Dementia is near and dear to my heart. I really enjoyed your approach to the challenge of it in this story. Okay, it made me teary if I'm being honest here. In a good way. It's a beautiful story and well told. I like the irony of it in terms of the prompt, how he doesn't hate it after all. Actual...

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Thom B.
21:00 Sep 18, 2020

This is about the nicest thing you could say. It’s exactly what I was trying to convey. I kind of think of myself as an old fashioned story teller and you are validating that. As for irony I think it’s appropriate but who the heck knows, right? 😄

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02:03 Sep 17, 2020

Thom this is such an emotional sweet story. It’s sweet but sad and happy and peaceful all in one. I thought it read smoothly and I was hanging on the words. That opening line is soooo good. It’s so simple but so true. Wonderful story

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Thom B.
02:04 Sep 17, 2020

Thanks so much. I hope you know how much I appreciate your kind words.

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Kristin Neubauer
17:08 Sep 16, 2020

Chills! Literally - I had chills all over when I read the reveal. As you probably intended, I thought George and Maggie were a relatively young couple....and I was holding my breath, thinking "Oh George, if you can't grow to love the house, you're setting yourself up for years of unhappiness down the road." Such a sense of foreboding I had. And then the twist! My gosh, it completely changed my perspective and I became a pile of mush. You have such a way of exploring the subtleties of human interactions. You must be very observant and p...

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Thom B.
18:14 Sep 16, 2020

You make me want to write more just so I can get more of your comments. Thank you so much. I do work myself and shadows of those I know into my stories. Sometimes it takes awhile to convince them the characters are fictitious. :-) I hope you do get your story in by the deadline so I can read it. I look forward to yours very much.

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Jonathan Blaauw
06:27 Sep 15, 2020

Wow, this is an exceptional story. I loved the way you shift it towards the end, a twist, but not like a last minute, “Ha! Didn’t see that coming, did you?” twist. It changes the whole story and makes the reading a powerful, poignant experience. You really bring through a mix of emotions – it’s sad, but in a happy way. That’s how I felt after reading, and that’s not easy to do. The only thing I noticed was the price of the house. No, I’m not going to argue about real estate values, don’t worry. As far as I know, the general rule is: numbers...

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Thom B.
13:29 Sep 15, 2020

I love your feedback. Shhhh don't tell Laura. :-) I wasn't sure on the house price format but now that you say it I totally agree. I'd also like to point out no people were eaten in this story. As for Gramerly, I have to give that a shot. I would love to learn all the rules I obviously don't know but in the mean time I'd really like my stories to look as if the writer took high school english. :-) Thanks again for the feedback. I'll be checking in to see when your next story is available.

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Jonathan Blaauw
05:25 Sep 16, 2020

Spoiler alert - people get eaten. In my story, I mean. I'll let you know when it hits shelves. Or screens. I remembered one last cannibal joke. It is something I've really said before, and results vary, so use with caution. When you're with a group of people (it works better if they're strangers) and the topic of children comes up, say this: "I love kids. I can just never finish a whole one." Anyway, rules are overrated. I don't know if you've read A Million Little Pieces, but the guy uses no punctuation. At all. And it was a bestseller...

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Thom B.
15:02 Sep 16, 2020

I'd take that class. It would also have a reading assignment titled The varied writing styles of Jonathan Blaauw, jack of all trades, master of all trades as well. I hope no one reads this far but there used to be a phenomenon about dead baby jokes. Here is my favorite. How do you make a dead baby float? (Scroll down for answer) Tall glass of root beer and two scoops of dead baby.

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Jonathan Blaauw
16:25 Sep 16, 2020

I remember that!! My favourite was, How many babies does it take to paint a wall? Depends how hard you throw them. We are terrible. If we get banned I'm blaming you 😂 It's fine, nobody will ever see this. I hope. What would Laura think of us?

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Thom B.
16:47 Sep 16, 2020

Shhhh. Don’t tell her. 😀

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02:07 Sep 17, 2020

Does Grammarly cost money?

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Jonathan Blaauw
04:13 Sep 17, 2020

Thank for not shouting at me and Thom for misbehaving. Grammarly is very much free. The free version, anyway, which does everything you need it to. There is a premium but it seems like the extra features aren't worth it. But don't worry, it's not one of those things where the free version is just like a demo, it's actually very good. And it works everywhere - word, browser, etc which is very useful. And no, I don't work in their marketing department, but maybe I should 🤣

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Thom B.
17:06 Sep 17, 2020

I just tried it. I'm impressed.

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Laura Clark
20:56 Sep 14, 2020

Oh, I love the premise of this piece! You fully had me with the expressions of love in the first paragraph. "Their hearts fit more perfectly than an interlocking puzzle" is a bit of a cliche but, I have to say, I loved it. So I was fully on board with this adorable relationship. Then the ending. I think the idea of a husband buying back the house that his ailing wife loves is such a beautiful idea. The clues of knowing that the house had been sold two years earlier fits into place with the reveal and so does the full price thing (which I...

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Thom B.
21:04 Sep 14, 2020

You did. And yours are always better than his. 😀 Did you get that, Johnathan? I love your suggestions. The conversation with the neighbors was necessary but clunky. I fixed it a little already but I’ll go back and clean it up some more. As for the commas. Periods; and semi, colons the only thing I know for sure is I’m going to put a lot in and they are almost always in the wrong place. I think I need to go back to ninth grade English. Will they take me? Seriously though, thank you for the time and feedback. You make me better.

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Laura Clark
21:07 Sep 14, 2020

YAAASSS. Hear that, Jonathan! Ahem. I'd teach you ninth grade English (no idea how old that is but I'm sure I could swing it). I can give you a mini lesson on semicolons if you like but there are probably much better resources than me kicking around the internet. I'm always happy to field questions though. Actually, that was how Jonathan and I started chatting initially. He had grammar questions, I answered them and then we were silly for a bit. I also have extra time as my class is quarantined for two weeks so I'm remote teaching anyway...

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Thom B.
21:18 Sep 14, 2020

Grammar questions? Like if my Grammar comes for dinner is it okay for her to bring gramps?

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Laura Clark
22:00 Sep 14, 2020

She’s more than welcome but I only like the seedless red ones.

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Thom B.
22:14 Sep 14, 2020

I really did laugh out loud. 😀😀😀😀😀

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Jonathan Blaauw
06:30 Sep 15, 2020

In case Laura has confused you, allow me to explain. Grammarly. That’s all. It’s a brilliant (free) spelling and grammar checker. It’s a lifesaver. Every week they email you stats, and my top error is always – comma splice. I have no idea what it is, but Grammarly tells me when to correct it. So if the Englishy talk is confusing, just let technology help you out. That’s what I do. Is it cheating? Probably. But hey, it worked for Lance Armstrong. Not Grammarly (although maybe he does use it, who knows?), cheating. Call it artificial assist...

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Laura Clark
08:50 Sep 15, 2020

How dare you suggest that I am confusing? I am the light that shines on the unknown, illuminating it like a swarm of fireflies clustered on the poop of knowledge. (Did I confuse you, Thom? With my first grammar message? It happens a lot; I’m sorry). Comma splice is where you have two sentences that should be their own sentences but you stick them together with a comma instead. I know you both know this though. Grammarly does work well for lots of people on here. I’ve never used it but I’ve heard great reviews so I recommend it too.

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Jonathan Blaauw
10:56 Sep 15, 2020

It's not you that's confusing, it's the English language! But, since you guys over there kind of invented it, it is actually your fault. So Thom and I blame you. When you say Grammarly doesn't work for people here, you mean they prefer not to use it? Or they cannot get it to function? I'd be lost without it. I don't know how you manage. One would have to be an English teacher to not need it... Oh, wait.🤣 I know comma splicing in theory, it's just very hard in practice. I tried correcting by using less commas and my number one error for t...

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Laura Clark
10:58 Sep 15, 2020

Yeah, that’s fair enough. I feel like Britain deserves to take some amount of the blame! No, no, I said “does work well”. Does.

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Nusa Zam
18:52 Sep 21, 2020

This is cute, adorable and heartbreaking all at the same time !! I loved it!!

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Thom B.
20:12 Sep 21, 2020

It was a funny one to write because I wasn't sure where I was going with it until the end. In an odd way it wrote itself. Thanks for your reading and feedback.

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16:32 Sep 21, 2020

This is beautiful! You are so talented!

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Thom B.
16:40 Sep 21, 2020

You are so kind. Thank you. It’s comments like this that keep me writing.

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17:19 Sep 21, 2020

We writers don't need much, just someone to read our words and enjoy them. Keep writing!

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Patricia Adele
21:17 Sep 20, 2020

Thank you Thom for another story that put a smile on my face. This one almost made me cry. Possibly because I don't have anyone that would do that for me as I'm sure a lot of people don't. Very compassionate and uplifting!

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Thom B.
21:21 Sep 20, 2020

Thanks. That’s so sweet.

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Julie Ward
00:36 Sep 17, 2020

Oh my goodness, Thom! I'm blown away. This story is so poignant and sad and human. You have a gift. I love the relationship between George and Maggie, so worn-in, warm and loving. You built up such gentle tension and your reveal brought tears to my eyes. Just beautiful.

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Thom B.
00:42 Sep 17, 2020

Thanks so much. I love your talent and that makes you compliment that much more powerful.

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Julie Ward
19:43 Sep 19, 2020

You are too kind, Thom. I had to read it again now that the week has wound down and it's quiet. I loved it even more the second time. I posted my story yesterday, when you have a minute I would love for you to read it.

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Thom B.
20:18 Sep 19, 2020

Absolutely. I’ll get over there this evening. Thanks again.

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Patricia Adele
22:10 Sep 14, 2020

Hi Thom. I have trouble with grammar also so I won't comment on that. Actually, I thought it was a lovely story! I was so caught up in the wonder of his love for her that I never saw anything coming. That we would all be so blessed to have someone love us that much! Thank you

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Thom B.
22:15 Sep 14, 2020

How sweet. We Grammatically challenged writers need to stick together. Thanks for your kind words.

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Jane Andrews
20:25 Sep 14, 2020

This is another story written in your distinctive voice and George’s love for Maggie shines out the whole way through. Yes, I saw the ‘twist’ coming, but that didn’t detract from the enjoyment. Re ways to improve, content wise, I think you’re fine: you sow enough subtle hints for the ending to be not entirely unexpected but for it still to retain some element of surprise. It doesn’t matter that Maggie isn’t fully developed because that ties in with her losing her mind and not remembering things. In a few places, though, You have typos due t...

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Thom B.
20:40 Sep 14, 2020

I have corrected the mentioned error and changed the dialogue with the neighbors. Both the error catch and the dialogue weakness catch were right on point. I'm going to do some more reading to find the areas where I need to fix the punctuation. Bottom line, thank you!!! I feel like I find depth in my writing in spurts especially if I don't turn in my first draft but I feel like even when I'm firing on all cylinders I still am a country mile from where you are. You really did knock it out of the park this week. It was a really great...

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Jane Andrews
04:13 Sep 15, 2020

Thanks for your kind words - but do remember how good you are yourself. You have your own style and your own unique voice and I would never be able to pull off the kind of stories you write. Like I’ve said before, I think there’s a real market for your stories. Good luck with the edit.

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Dean Kasozi
12:21 Oct 08, 2020

Thom, this is the best story I've literally ever seen. Can you make another story, I liked this one so much, it would be an honor if you make more amazing stories!!!☺️☺️☺️☺️🤍🤍🤍🖤🖤🖤😄😄😄😄😉😉😁😁☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️🤗🙂

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Zilla Babbitt
19:16 Sep 22, 2020

Thom, you can change your bio now. You're number 97 on the leaderboard!

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Thom B.
19:17 Sep 22, 2020

No way!!!! I made the leaderboard. No lie, I’m so happy. Thanks!!!!

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18:59 Sep 22, 2020

I absolutely love this story. I did not see the twist in the tail coming. Really well written. Fantastic.

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Thom B.
19:31 Sep 22, 2020

Thank you so much. Your words inspire me.

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Zilla Babbitt
16:57 Sep 15, 2020

You invited me to read, so here I am. This is a perfect mix of funny and tragic. I enjoyed the beginning and smiled at it, and the twist at the end was sad and meaningful. I was legitimately surprised, and stricken. “Your dad is on the mantle in an urn." Haha! Some sentences are awkward-- I'll chalk that up to having to write a story in one week. "George questioned the still indistinguishable visitors" is just not quite right. Perhaps delete the sentence all together. I'd watch for unnecessary information, like where they're from, unless ...

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Thom B.
19:38 Sep 15, 2020

I really appreciate the read and the insight. I am trying to get my stories in a little earlier so I have time to incorporate suggestions and yours are fantastic. You are making me better and I am really grateful.

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Zilla Babbitt
23:53 Sep 15, 2020

Of course!

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Dhananjay Sharma
08:57 Sep 21, 2020

Beautifully constructed. Simply amazing. https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/contests/59/submissions/34852/ give a read to mine. also I would love to interact with you and discuss writing as a profession provided we could share contact details.

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