741 comments

Nov 17, 2020

Thriller Suspense


Trigger warning: murder, mental illness, drowning


***


I sigh with content as I watch the sunrise, filling the darkness of the world with its light. The fiery red slowly turns into orange, then a bright yellow. 


The rays hit my body, and the sudden warmth makes me shiver. I close my eyes, and my long, black hair spreads out on the grassy hill below me. Lifting my head, I look forward groggily.


I study the sun’s reflection in the lake, a blend of colors making art.


“The view is nice, isn’t it?” Alice giggles beside me. I squeeze her cheeks, wrapping my arms around her tiny body. “Aurora!” she cries.


Ignoring her comment, I speak. “You never grow up, do you? You’re still the same after all these years.”


She rolls her eyes. “I’m seven! What do you expect? I won’t be as old as your seventy-year-old body!”


I mock a gasp. “I’m actually seventeen!”


She tsks. “Same thing in my eyes.”


Flicking her forehead, I grin. “The same eyes that basically don’t work anymore?” She groans in response, too tired to respond.


We stay quiet in comfortable silence, watching the sun slowly rise. I notice that Alice’s skin becomes brighter, more alive, as the sun travels farther across our sky.


We don’t move. We eat a sandwich, although I’m unsure about where it came from. 


My eyebrows furrow. “Where did you get that?”


She smiles mischievously. “I prepared it ahead of time,” she explains.


Alice said she prepared it, but it looked like she created it out of thin air. But that’s my sister; always prepared, always ready. Unlike her body, her brain is huge, constantly thinking ahead of time.


I sit up, leaning over to kiss her forehead. She makes a disgusted face but I don’t care. I love my sister, I would never let her be in harm’s way.


“Aurora...?” she calls, pulling me out of my thoughts. 


“Yes?” I answer, tilting my head.


“Can we hug?” She pouts, giving me puppy eyes. I beam, she is never one for affection.


I scoot over and hug her, feeling her ribs. I notice that she’s skinnier than usual, but I don’t worry- I’m sure she can take care of herself.


She slowly dozes off, her little snores making my heart fill with an immense amount of love.


It’s the middle of the day but I don’t care. Snuggling into her, I am lulled into a deep sleep.


***


“Aurora!” somebody is shaking me awake. I groan, rubbing my eyes. Lazily sitting up, I look at my little sister.


“Yes, Alice?” I’m now fully awake.


She points forward, beaming. “Look! The lake!”


“What about it?” I ask, curious about her sudden excitement. 


“It must be warm right now!”


I peer at the water. She’s right; it does seem warm right now. Nodding at her, we run forward. Wobbling down the hill, we take a seat on the dock and peel off our socks. We didn’t bring shoes in the first place, I don’t need to worry about those. I do wonder what happened to them, though.


Sitting beside each other, we dip our feet in. The water ripples, and the sudden rush of water between my toes tickles.


We sit peacefully, watching as the sun slowly makes its exit. The sky darkens and the water is no longer comforting. Despite the lack of warmth, we stay seated, hands intertwined. 


The sun sets, and another light rises. The moon.


I watch as the moon reflects off the lake, no longer aware of the cold. It caught my breath— the beauty of the moon could not be captured by mere words.


It rose, higher and higher. The sun, forgotten, had taken all the warmth and comfort of my world away. I look to my left.


Alice is gone.


My mind clouds with confusion, yet no fear. I look around, knowing that something wasn’t right. 


Getting up, my dripping feet are blasted with wind. I ignore my freezing toes. 


“Alice?” I call, my voice echoing. No response.


I look around once again. A memory hits me, and wild laughter escapes my body.


“She’s dead!” I laugh, slapping my knee.


“Because I killed her!”


I smile calmly and sit down again. This time, I cross my legs so that my feet don’t get wet. 


She had disappeared with the moon.


A memory plays in my head.


“Aurora! Aurora!” Somebody is screaming my name frantically. We were on the dock, my thoughts foggy.


In a surge of anger, I grab their neck, my vision blurry and red with fury. I throw the tiny body into the lake, and my vision clears in time to see flying arms. Splashes of water land on me as I hear a wail.


“Aurora!” Alice is screaming, trying to stay afloat. Her eyes beg me to save her, begging for me to jump in and rescue her. 


“Please! I don’t know how to swim!” She flails her arms and desperately tries to kick her legs. I sigh, rolling my eyes. Duh.


Her legs and arms stop fighting the unpreventable, excitement enveloping my body. Her screams are no longer clear, her mouth gurgling. 


I watch as her body sinks to the bottom, her lifeless eyes staring into my soul. 


I walk away, shameless.


But I come back. I have nowhere else to go, anyway. Something in me cracks. “What did I just do?” I murmur repetitively to myself, the situation surreal. “What did I just do?!” I plop down on the dock and pull at my hair in disbelief. “No, no, no!” I scream. My eyes are wide open, staring at her. Her eyes are still open.


“Never in harm’s way! I’d never let her be in harm’s way!” I’m screeching, chest raising and lowering rapidly. I’m pulling out clumps of hair, trying to make myself hurt somewhere besides my heart.


I swear she just turned her head towards me. I swear I just saw her blink-


Hands are grabbing at me, the memory dissipating. What’s happening? What did I do this time? People are surrounding me but my eyes can’t focus, my heart is beating crazily.


I hear a man sigh. “We found her.” 


Adrenaline pumps and I kick my legs, screaming in defiance as they hold me down. They push me on my back so that I lay on the rough wood.


I tire and I stop moving. Panting, I lay on the ground. I look up at the moon with a blank expression. 


A man hovers over me, blocking my view. He murmurs to the other people, who appear to be doctors. 


I can’t hear anything, only the sound of howling wind. I see that he stabs me with a needle, and although I don’t feel anything, my vision is quickly darkening.


A sudden wave of serendipity washes over me, calming my nerves. I smile happily and the doctors look confused. 


The last words I hear are “bipolar disorder” and “hallucinations,” although I don’t understand what they mean by that. My eyelids threaten to close but I force them to stay open. But I can’t continue to fight.


I’ll see you tomorrow night, Alice.


I love you.


I stare at the moon’s reflection in the lake as the world turns completely dark.

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741 comments

Philip Clayberg
01:51 Nov 17, 2020

Wow. Reads like an episode from either "The Twilight Zone" or "The Outer Limits" (the b&w original series). It seemed so real, until Aurora hears "bipolar disorder" and "hallucinations" and one wonders if she actually saw and heard what she thought she saw and heard. What if she really did throw her sister in the lake and let her drown? I just hope I don't have any nightmares tonight after reading this. My dreams are often quite vivid enough without being scary, too. I found three typos (at least I think so): 1) You never grow, d...

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Angelina Tran
02:00 Nov 17, 2020

Thank you! I’ll fix those, thanks for pointing them out. I’m sorry it wasn’t your cup of tea! I appreciate you for reading it, nonetheless. I now realize most of my stories have sad endings, haha. I’m more of an angsty person! I did write one happy one, but I felt like it was too fake and sappy. (Pressure)

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Philip Clayberg
02:33 Nov 17, 2020

You're welcome. I wanted to be fair and give your story a thorough read (not just to find mistakes, but to try to enjoy it). Every author has their style and preferred plots, settings, and atmospheres. If yours tend to be dark, sad, violent, etc. Then that's just how they are. Nothing wrong with it. Some readers will definitely like what you write. And some, like me, will probably prefer something a little less dark, less sad, and less violent. These days, I find I even skip over violent scenes that I used to think were just fine. ...

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Zilla Babbitt
22:12 Dec 13, 2020

My mother always told me to end my stories in hope. I argued against that as a rebellious teenager, saying that some stories with dark endings had good things to say (The First Circle, 1984). I still hold to that but try to have some hope within the story if the ending is dark. I think the skipping-over aspect is reader's preference. I'll skip over romance most of the time because I think it's sappy and cheesy. But it's true that it's been a hard year. It's important to keep the spirits up, and reading dark/scary/hopeless works will rarely d...

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Philip Clayberg
23:38 Dec 13, 2020

Your mother wouldn't happen to be named "Pandora", would she? If so, she would understand why it was important to keep Hope trapped inside her box (after everything else escaped). I guess it's a matter of taste. Some like a 50/50 mixture of light and dark (like I do). Some like it only light; some like it only dark. (Which actually sounds like someone talking about which turkey meat they prefer to eat on Thanksgiving Day.) I try to avoid sappy or cheesy romance scenes. I want mine to seem as realistic as possible. Things won't al...

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Zilla Babbitt
02:20 Dec 16, 2020

She certainly took Pandora's lesson to heart! Those shows sound good, and show why people love stories and movies that take a new approach to romance or action or something. Your comment about Dragonsong makes sense. It's like life. And also "The Firebird's Answer" by Phoebe Barr touches on those themes as well. I recommend it, honestly.

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Angelina Tran
05:32 Dec 14, 2020

For me, I struggle with getting that perfect balance of happy and sad. I either go full happy or full dark but I’m working on it!

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Yuk Yuk
22:28 Dec 22, 2020

I thought I was the only one that found romance cheesy

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Angelina Tran
22:01 Dec 13, 2020

I’m so sorry for not responding! So many people were spamming me that I didn’t even get the notification! Thank you so much for the tips; I struggle with happy endings. Thank you :)

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Philip Clayberg
23:24 Dec 13, 2020

Finally found your recent response on the website. Some threads can get *very* long and I have to keep going from response to response until I get to the most recent response. No apology needed, and I'm sorry that you have spam problems. Glad to give you tips. I've had people give me advice, too, and I've tried to keep that advice in mind when I'm writing (both in the drafting stage and during the editing). Writing, like solo piano playing, tends to be a lonely endeavor, unless you're lucky enough to collaborate with another writer....

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Angelina Tran
05:29 Dec 14, 2020

Oh! Thank you!

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Arjun Chen
02:49 Nov 30, 2020

OOF BRO U WROTE LIKE A CER FOR ANGELINA AND SHE DIDNT EVEN RESPOND. THAT SUCKS BRO ILL RESPOND THO LOL :)

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Philip Clayberg
22:21 Nov 30, 2020

The choice as to whether to respond to my message was up to her. I won't force people to respond to my messages if they don't want to. Maybe she wasn't interested in what I said. Or maybe she got mad at me. I don't know.

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B. W.
23:16 Dec 14, 2020

You know, maybe she wanted to respond or something but couldn't find the comment again because of all your spam.

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Arjun Chen
01:36 Dec 16, 2020

omg cool

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Amaya .
23:58 Dec 15, 2020

she said that she missed it because of all your spam

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Arjun Chen
01:36 Dec 16, 2020

cool cool

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02:27 Nov 25, 2020

This story was amazing! I loved the twist. I didn’t expect her to kill her sister! Your writing is also really descriptive. It really adds a lot to the story! This might be one of my favorites.

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Angelina Tran
05:55 Nov 25, 2020

Thank you so much! :)

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20:42 Nov 25, 2020

Of course! :)

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Thom Brodkin
21:59 Nov 20, 2020

I chose this prompt as well and your story just shows me how many different ideas can come from the same start and end point. This was powerful and dark. It was difficult to read and a pleasure at the same time. You created characters so real that I felt for both of them. Even the descriptions of the lake and the water and the dock just added to the mystery and uneasiness. All in all this is a great story and I'm glad I found it. I am going to take you at your word and ask you to read mine. It's called "Silence". Again it it the s...

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Angelina Tran
23:49 Nov 20, 2020

Thank you!

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Mel Shield
09:42 Nov 17, 2020

I didn't expect the double-twist. I thought it was going to be that Alice had died (of cancer; the bony description) and Aurora was reliving a memory, and coming to terms with it in her own way. Great subversion. Opening two paragraphs, you've used warmth twice. I'm nit-picking, but I feel it may be more rounded, with greater flow, if you were to alter one of them. The sandwich part (which in hindsight I see is a precursor, or a cue, to the hallucination) distracted me a bit. Alice pulls out the sandwich (and had prepared it), but then...

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Angelina Tran
14:23 Nov 17, 2020

Ooooh, thank you! A story’s flow is important so I appreciate your critique a lot! Thank you!

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Mel Shield
14:32 Nov 17, 2020

Any time!

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Raquel Rodriguez
13:18 Dec 14, 2020

Angelina, my deepest apologies. I'm apologizing for Ashona, Arjun, and Isabella. I don't know why they would do this. This is the second time I'm seeing something like this, but it's so bad. I don't have spammers, but I definitely will soon thanks to all of the ones on here now. I just want to apologize for them. Nobody needs to go through this. :/

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Angelina Tran
17:27 Dec 14, 2020

:,) I’m doing okay now! They’re super annoying but hopefully something will be done soon!

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Raquel Rodriguez
18:08 Dec 14, 2020

Okay, that's good. Don't let them get to you at all. They are really annoying, and they're targeting people left to right. I really hope it doesn't happen again to anyone, but if it does, I hope they'll let me know.

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Angelina Tran
03:51 Dec 15, 2020

Thank you! :)

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Raquel Rodriguez
12:58 Dec 15, 2020

It's no problem! ;)

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02:41 Nov 20, 2020

I loved it! I really wasn't expecting those twists, but they kept coming and coming. I adore a story with a good twist. It was wonderfully put together! As someone who also writes sad stories, I really really love yours. My first two were horribly written (I wrote the drafts at around 10 PM and just copy-pasted, no editing whatsoever) but I think my last one (To The Moon And Back) for this same prompt was okay-ish. I really loved your story. i was sort of confused first time reading through, but I understood completely the second time around.

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Angelina Tran
02:57 Nov 20, 2020

Sorry for making it seem confusing! Anyway I can make it better...? And thank you for commenting on my stories :)

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17:35 Nov 20, 2020

no problem! There really isn't any way you can make it less confusing, I just read through it too fast (I tend to skim, it's a bad habit of mine)

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Angelina Tran
20:05 Nov 20, 2020

Ah, okay! Thank you

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Radhika Diksha
18:34 Dec 15, 2020

I just want to say that you are a very strong woman and we all will fight these downvoters with our strength and will.

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Angelina Tran
21:29 Dec 16, 2020

With all these people supporting me, I feel super motivated again. It feels good to know that I have people supporting me :( <3

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Zilla Babbitt
20:15 Dec 13, 2020

Long story to how I got here :) Seeing all the number of useless spam comments I feel obliged to leave a useful, detailed review for you. Also, I'm terribly sorry about those spam comments. Annoying for sure. First, those descriptions. Wow! The lake and colors and sunset and everything were all SO beautiful. It creates a peaceful atmosphere without you having to say "it was peaceful" and plus it sets a contrast to the dark scary turmoil inside the character. Second, the absolute craziness of the character is set up early. It's set up ...

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Angelina Tran
21:58 Dec 13, 2020

Thank you so much! And I’m trying to ignore them, I’ll be emailing Jenn soon.

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Zilla Babbitt
22:07 Dec 13, 2020

Of course! It would be a good feature to give the authors the ability to block or allow the posting of comments on their submissions. Until then... it's just a vie for attention, like toddlers do :(

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B. W.
02:37 Dec 12, 2020

Uh- i dont really understand whats going on, mostly with all the spamming so I'm just really confused :/ I just decided to check out one of your stories though and leave a small bit of feedback. I don't have that much to say for it besides that its a great story and maybe you should make some more, ill give this a 10/10. Sorry that everyone seems to just be spamming you for some reason and all of the other stuff.

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Angelina Tran
05:56 Dec 13, 2020

the spamming is so demotivating :( but thank you

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B. W.
05:56 Dec 13, 2020

why in the world are they all even spamming you??

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Angelina Tran
05:59 Dec 13, 2020

idk??

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B. W.
06:00 Dec 13, 2020

I'm just giving you some ideas, maybe you could email Jenn (someone who works on Reedsy) or someone else, maybe they could do something about it? or maybe you could switch to another account or something like that, so that they'll stop spamming you. At least for a while, I'm not entirely sure if that would work the entire time.

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Angelina Tran
06:06 Dec 13, 2020

I hope they create a feature where we can report/delete certain comments or even block people. Thank you for the suggestions!

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Clarice Shepherd
22:30 Nov 25, 2020

That was so good!! I love the way you transition from the present to the hallucinations, and I can't wait to read more of your work :O

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Angelina Tran
22:37 Nov 25, 2020

Thank you so much! I’m taking a break from this week’s prompts but I’ll try to write a story for next week’s!

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22:18 Dec 12, 2020

Btw, I hope it warms your heart to know that I just went through and downvoted every spam comment on this submission. Every last one.

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Angelina Tran
05:58 Dec 13, 2020

Oh my gosh. Thank you so, so, so much. It means a lot to me... I don’t even know how to express how grateful I am :( Thank you!!

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13:16 Dec 13, 2020

Yeah, they might not care about karma points, but the point is to send a big “not cool” message. 😉

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Angelina Tran
21:56 Dec 13, 2020

I hope they stop... I really want to start writing again

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B. W.
20:53 Dec 13, 2020

Hey, who knows? maybe we'll eventually be able to stop all the spam for you or something?

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Amaya .
00:05 Dec 16, 2020

i did the same. these people...

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Sarah 🖤💖
03:37 Nov 25, 2020

All the twists were amazing, though I'm a bit confused about the ending.

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Angelina Tran
16:11 Nov 25, 2020

Thank you! Basically, Aurora has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has hallucinations of her sister, Alice. She is supposed to stay in the mental hospital and sneaks out every night to “visit” Alice, but in reality, Alice is dead. The doctors search for her and find her at he place where she murdered Alice, their last true memory together. Aurora refuses to believe that Alice was murdered by her, and she copes with hallucinations. I hope that helped explain it!

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Sarah 🖤💖
16:37 Nov 25, 2020

OH! That makes so much sense now! I think I'm gonna re-read the story with that knowledge in mind. Thanks for the explanation!

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Angelina Tran
17:26 Nov 25, 2020

No problem! Thank you for reading!

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Adriana Wendling
20:02 Nov 24, 2020

Wow. This is great! It had enough love, yet enough creepy to just be great! I loved Alice and was so surprised when Aurora was the one who did it! Great job!!

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Angelina Tran
21:22 Nov 24, 2020

Thank you so much!

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Adriana Wendling
02:03 Nov 25, 2020

Your welcome!

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18:44 Nov 23, 2020

Wow. Was NOT expecting that. The double twist, the hallucinations, everything. Your descriptions are awesome! I did read your bio, and I didn't see any grammar mistakes. I wish we got to learn more about Alice, though (unless you ran out of words, because of the word limit. I struggle with the word limit). It would make the ending more dramatic, as the reader would feel more emotion because they would know the character better. Even if you don't change it, it was still AMAZING the way it was. Good job, Angelina!

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Angelina Tran
19:42 Nov 23, 2020

Thank you! I actually wrote very little, about 1,500. How can I fix it?

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Echo Sundar
18:05 Nov 23, 2020

Wow! OMG, this story is so amazing my heart was literally pounding in my chest. AMAZING story.

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Angelina Tran
19:41 Nov 23, 2020

Thank you so so much!

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Patrick H
13:05 Nov 19, 2020

General impressions: Aurora is actually 71 and only believes herself to be 17. She also has bipolar disorder. The sudden burst of anger fun Aurora could be related to bipolar and also the fact that Aurora has to care for the sisters who is not well judging from the description of Alice. I suspect that Aurora is revisiting this lake scene over and over again out of a sense of loss and guilt. Nice (or hair-raising, tragic, etc.)

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Angelina Tran
14:14 Nov 19, 2020

Oh, thank you! The 71 y/o thing wasn’t what I was looking for, thank you for mentioning that. How would you suggest fixing this?

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Patrick H
14:49 Nov 19, 2020

Hmmm.. I would leave the age bit out.. It's fairly clear from the rest of the story, that Aurora is the older sibling..

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Angelina Tran
00:05 Nov 20, 2020

Okay! Thank you :)

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23:17 Nov 18, 2020

Omg, this was even better than your other story. The double twist, her killing her sister, and the hallucinations, are both super good and unexpected. You deserve way more karma points because your stories are some of the best I have seen on this website.

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Angelina Tran
00:27 Nov 19, 2020

Oh my gosh 🥺 really? Thank you so much!!

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01:22 Nov 19, 2020

Yes! I am 100% sure! Of course! :)

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20:59 Nov 27, 2020

Hi! I just posted a new story and would love it if you could check it out (if you have time and want to of course) If not it is totally fine! :) Also, are you coming out with another story soon? I really hope so, if you do please let me know!!

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Angelina Tran
15:08 Nov 29, 2020

I’m sorry! I didn’t even see your comment because people are spamming me (I got 400 today) :(

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16:39 Nov 29, 2020

It’s okay!! Aww, I’m sorry. That’s a lot :(

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Angelina Tran
17:23 Nov 29, 2020

:(

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23:12 Nov 18, 2020

Omigosh! This was SO CRAZY!! I can't believe it, why would Aurora do that? And then THE LAST PART!! I cannot believe it wasn't real! The twists are so well-written, amazing job!

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Angelina Tran
00:26 Nov 19, 2020

Thank you so so much!

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Kat Bador
17:35 Nov 18, 2020

I like the concept and think it's executed pretty well. The only constructive feedback I would have for you is to try and make sure you're showing the reader the plot, instead of telling. For example, the exchange between Alice and Aurora at the start where they're talking about their ages seems a little clunky, as well as the end where you overhear the part about "bipolar disorder." Apart from that, it's really good, and a very interesting story concept

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Angelina Tran
21:04 Nov 18, 2020

How would you suggest fixing those parts? And thank you!

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Kat Bador
08:56 Nov 19, 2020

I guess maybe for the ending part, instead of having Aurora tell the reader that she hears the phrase "bipolar disorder," perhaps use direct speech from the doctor saying that she has "Bipolar." In the conversation between Aurora and Alice, you could perhaps cut out the mention of Aurora being seventeen as it's not vital to the story, or maybe mention it later on in the story. But these are only suggestion so take them with a grain of salt!

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Angelina Tran
14:12 Nov 19, 2020

Thank you so much! I appreciate it :)

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I. F.
16:52 Nov 18, 2020

The double twist here was so cool! I thought that Alice was sick and that this story was about Aurora coming to terms with that, but boy was I wrong... I really like psychological thrillers like this! The sun and the moon imagery was cool, I feel like it was a good way to show the two different sides of Aurora. I didn't find anything to fix that wasn't already mentioned in the comments, great job!

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Angelina Tran
21:03 Nov 18, 2020

Thank you! :)

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Kate Ashton
18:43 Nov 17, 2020

When Aurora thinks, "Unlike her body, her brain was huge, constantly thinking ahead of time," the verb tense doesn't agree with the rest of the story. I probably would rewrite it to be something like, "Unlike her body, her brain is huge, constantly thinking ahead of time." Overall, you did a great job with this prompt. I know it's not much of a revision, but I thought I'd put in my two cents. You definitely took the prompt in a direction I didn't predict, but also cleverly infused foreshadowing.

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Angelina Tran
01:34 Nov 18, 2020

Thank you! A story’s flow is extremely important, I appreciate anything!

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