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Black Friendship Kids

This story contains sensitive content

Content warning: Themes of racism


The first time I went to Kyle Rockefeller's house, I spent the majority of my visit in the bathroom, marveling at his toilet water.


He showed me around the place with the authority of a junior architect, gesturing to the porcelain tiling of the outdoor kitchen and reflecting on the rooftop spire that looked like an upside-down waffle cone. We moved leisurely. Save for Benson, the Rockefeller's mustachioed butler/chauffeur who'd driven us there after school let out, the house was empty. Always Kyle called it his "house." He was careful not to use the word "mansion," not to acknowledge one of the differences between us.


Let me tell you: Containing my excitement proved no easy task. It took everything in me not to lunge across his foosball table and twiddle the handles, or collapse in the movie room's state-of-the-art massage chair and convert my body into Jell-O. I told myself to play it cool, to act like I belonged. 


Eventually, when we got to the bathroom, I cracked. Not when I saw the walk-in shower or the Jacuzzi in the corner, but when I noticed his toilet water, bright blue like a robin egg. 


"Whoa!" I said. The silhouette of my reflection rippled over the water. "Look at your toilet. It's so blue!"


Leaning against the sink, Kyle uttered a noise that was somewhere between a scoff and a laugh. "It's no big deal, Tyrone. It's Scrubbing Bubbles."


But I was unconvinced. I flushed the toilet once, twice, watched the water eddy around the bowl, spiral down the drain, and return bright blue. It was like watching a magician cut his assistant in half—captivating but with no logical explanation. How could something so familiar be so different?


Kyle tried to break the illusion when he huffed and said, "It's coming from the cistern." His mistake was thinking I knew what a cistern was.


We stayed in the bathroom longer than we should've, listening to the roar of the plumbing. After the seventh flush, Kyle grabbed my arm and pried me from the toilet. We shambled to the doorway before his grip slackened.


"Hold on. Wait right here," he said, and shuffled down the hallway. When he got to the end he yanked open a door and entered. The light was off inside, and even though it was daytime the room was raw with shadows, making it impossible to distinguish anything. Minutes later he re-emerged, slamming the door behind him. He smelled vaguely of something pungent and earthy, like rosewood.


"Got it," he said, brandishing something I'd never seen before: a fifty-dollar bill. He held it up to my face and the likeness of Ulysses Grant stared back. Kyle said, "Pretty sweet, huh?"


I didn't ask where it came from or why he had it. What I asked was to hold it.


And when he held out his hand and dropped the money in mine, I knew it wasn't just the toilet water that separated us.


Later, after he made Benson drive us to the strip mall downtown and we spent that fifty dollars on yo-yos and trading cards and triple scoop ice cream, Kyle sat next to me on the porch, trying to walk the dog with his yo-yo. The sun was low on the horizon, staining our eyes with light, and he blamed it whenever his dog laid down and died. He almost had it when his wristwatch blared.


"It's six," he declared, yanking the yo-yo. It returned swiftly, dangled there on Kyle's pale middle finger like an extra appendage. "My parents will be home soon."


"Okay," I said, unbraiding the coils in my own yo-yo. Whereas Kyle's dog had been continually dying, mine hadn't even been given a chance at life yet.


He turned to me, squinting in the sunlight. "I'll go get Benson. He can take you home."


I stopped unbraiding. My stomach knotted instead. His tone said it all: Kyle wouldn't take no for an answer, wouldn't entertain the idea of having me stay for dinner and meet his family. Did I do something wrong?


"Okay," I said, but the bang of the door eclipsed it. When the door opened again, Benson appeared and ushered me to the Rolls-Royce in the driveway. As we were backing out into the street, I took another look at the house and saw Kyle standing by the window in his room on the second floor. I rolled the car window down and waved, but he stood there like a sentry, his expression unreadable through the thick pane of glass.


At every stoplight on the drive home, Benson not-so-subtly inspected me in the rearview mirror with his hands tense on the wheel. I'd caught him doing it on the ride to Kyle's house too, staring at my dreadlocks and my gap-toothed smile. I tried to ignore it and focus on giving directions—lefts and rights still gave me a bit of trouble.


When we got to the nicer part of town, the part without the potholes in the streets and the busted lampposts and the cars strewn across lawns like two-ton garden gnomes, I pointed to a house and told Benson to stop.


We slowed to a halt in front of a row of colonial houses, all two-story. The lawns here were deep green, well-manicured, weedless. The smell of barbecue wafted through the open window. A white man went to collect his mail. Benson craned his neck and looked at the neighborhood with what I hoped was approval, then told me to have a nice night. I thanked him, alighted from the Rolls-Royce, and waited until he was a pinprick in the distance to walk the remaining ten blocks to my house.


***


The second time I went to Kyle's house was a lot like the first, only with less time spent in the bathroom. Like before, Kyle disappeared into the shadowy room and came back carrying $50 and the aroma of perfume. But this time he grabbed a piece of paper and drew a fat red line down the middle.


"We each get $25 to use on whatever we want," he told me as we stepped into the popcorn-scented movie room. "You can just guess on the prices. Then we'll send Benson to pick it up. Deal?"


"Deal," I said, because what else do you say when it's someone else's money being spent?


Within sixty seconds he'd finished his list of demands. Among them he wanted a basketball, a Hot Wheels car, and a Slurpee. After every item came the word "blue" scribbled in parentheses.


I took longer trying to think of things we could share. My list consisted of fruit snacks, pizza, and a board game. I wanted to write "no preference" behind each suggestion, but I didn't trust my spelling, so I wrote "any color" instead.


And sure enough, halfway through our viewing of Toy Story, Benson entered the room looking like Santa Claus with half the facial hair. He pulled our requests from an oversized shopping bag one after the other like a magician with never-ending handkerchiefs. To my surprise, everything he handed Kyle was blue.


"Anything else I can do?" Benson asked, his gaze trained on Kyle.


"Nope, I'm good." Kyle resumed the movie, leaned forward to see Woody better. "You can go."


"Thank you," I called as Benson was leaving, but my chair was on massage mode so the two words came out shaky and with three times as many syllables. I hoped he understood me.


A few minutes later, Kyle paused the movie again. He bent to grab his Slurpee, shook it so the ice inside sloshed. With a smile, he thrust it in my face and asked, "Hey, what do you think of this?"


I gave him what he wanted to hear. "It's so blue," I said, and he kicked his feet and squealed with delight.


Since my first visit, Kyle had taken to assigning euphemisms to colors. Whenever another boy at school made him mad, he said, "Ugh, he's so red," as though he were casting a hex. Whenever anything was so-so, he rolled his eyes and said, "So orange." And whenever he thought something was at once simple and extraordinary, say, a slushy, we were to refer to it as "blue."


"It's no big deal, Tyrone," he replied in an exaggerated imitation of himself. He deepened his voice, even though puberty was still years away. "It's just a Slurpee," he said, and laughed again.


The movie was in its climax when his wristwatch beeped. Though he later told me he'd seen Toy Story at least ten times, Kyle didn't bother to pause the film when he called for Benson to take me home. I told him to have a good night, but he might've been too busy cheering on Buzz Lightyear to hear me.


This time Benson didn't need my slipshod directions. He navigated us to the same neighborhood as before, with the same picket fences and novelty mailboxes, almost as easily as if he were driving to the Rockefellers'. He pulled up to the curb and told me to have a good night. 


Before he sped off and left me to walk ten blocks southward, he told me I had a lovely home.


***


The third time I went to Kyle's house, two things were different.


First, Kyle hadn't invited me. Second, his mother was there.


At my own house, my parents were arguing, shouting, cursing, and weaponizing me. Back then, before things got really bad, they were always arguing. I guess I thought that because Kyle's home was always so empty, so quiet, I could wait there and ride the storm out until things died down.


So, at 6:05, I grabbed my bike out of the garage and pedaled past the potholed streets and broken lampposts to the one place I felt safe. I pedaled until my legs ached and my lungs burned and my clothes stuck to my skin like a wetsuit.


Perhaps it was because I'd never seen anyone else in the house besides Kyle and Benson that I'd pictured Kyle's parents all sorts of ways. In my imagination, they often took the form of monks, cloaked in drab brown robes and surrounded by wisps of incense. Other times, they were ancient, bony people with white hair sprouting from their ears and noses. Sometimes, in my wildest fantasies, they were just like my parents, wearing years' old clothing, barely scraping by.


In any case, when I parked my bike beside the mailbox and rang the doorbell, the blonde woman who greeted me was not what I was expecting.


She wore a white cocktail dress, and both her arms were bedazzled in jewelry. She looked young, younger than my mother, which made me wonder what she did to get this house. Red lipstick smothered her mouth. We both recoiled when she opened the door, then stood there waiting for the other person to speak.


The woman blinked fiercely, inching the door a little closer to my face with every movement of her long lashes.


"Is Kyle home?" I asked quickly.


Her voice, more shrill than I'd expected, pierced the silence. "Kyle!" Then louder, more urgent, "Kyle Martin Rockefeller, come down here this instant!"


Somewhere behind me a dog barked, a car whizzed by. Then came the sound of heavy footsteps on the staircase, one step at a time, and I knew something was wrong. Kyle always raced up and down the steps, trying to beat his personal record of making it past the staircase in two leaps.


He pushed past his mom. A VR headset sat atop his floppy brown hair. He looked askance at me, as though wondering if he'd left the virtual world.


"Tyrone?"


I sighed in relief, took a step forward on their porch. Kyle intercepted me. He pushed forward, wrapped an arm around my shoulder, and guided me back to the lawn.


"I'm so happy you're home," I said. "I could really use—"


"Um," he stammered, looking over his shoulder where his mom stood in the doorway, arms crossed. "Now's not really a good time, Tyrone."


"Please," I said, surprising myself by how whiny I sounded. "My parents are having a huge fight. I didn't know where else to go."


Kyle looked again at his mother, gulped. "I'm sorry, dude. I can't. They're home. It's past six."


His words felt like there was a python around my throat, cutting off my air. My eyes burned like my lungs had on the ride here. I wanted to say so much, but said nothing at all for fear of disintegrating.


Kyle made a face. "Hey, are you crying?" 


And I was, but I told him, "No. I think I just have something in my eye." And my voice sabotaged me. I went to the mailbox to retrieve my bike. I thought Kyle might follow me, say something else, but he returned to the porch.


His mother spoke loud enough for me to hear. "Is that him?" I heard her hiss. "Is that the boy who's been stealing my money?"


And as I got on my bike and left, I wished I'd moved faster. I wished I'd had a bell or a horn or baseball cards shoved in the spokes of my bike's wheels, something distracting, something that made noise, something that would have prevented me from hearing Kyle say, quietly but clearly, "Yes, Mother, that's him."


***


The last time I went to Kyle Rockefeller's house, my parents had split up. At school I'd only told our teacher, Mrs. Williams, what happened, how after I came home on the day I saw Kyle's mom, the police were in our yard, getting ready to conduct an Amber Alert to find me, and how during that time my father had taken his beat-up Volkswagen and sped off. My mother had assumed he was riding around the city to search for me too, until he didn't return the next day.


It didn't matter that I only told Mrs. Williams. By the end of that week, the whole class knew. It's a strong possibility Kyle only invited me over again because of what happened that day.


We were silent on the ride over. Kyle, the natural chatterbox, asked Benson to turn off the Kidz Bop, and we cruised down the streets looking out opposite windows. Earlier at school he'd told me about a yacht race taking place at the bay behind his house. "A regatta," he'd called it, with the same practiced tone he'd used when he said "cistern" so long ago.


When we pulled up to the house, Kyle led me to the backyard, past the outdoor kitchen, and through a wooden gate. I'd never been this far before, never seen beyond the stove's porcelain tiling. The grass was high and ticklish, scratching my legs and arms. We passed ladybugs and bees until we came to a grassy bluff that overlooked a wide, angular bay. In the water were at least fifteen different yachts, each as big as a whale. 


Kyle took a seat and patted the grass next to him. I sat.


We watched the people move like ants, heard their voices riding the wave of the wind. They sounded happy.


Kyle cleared his throat. "I'm glad you came."


I grabbed a handful of grass, plucked it, and opened my fist. We watched it dance in the breeze and fall down to the bay.


"Sorry about your parents."


"Yeah," I said, because what else do you say when it's your parents and not someone else's?


He played with his shirtsleeve, rubbed the fabric between his fingers aimlessly. "My mom says I can't invite you over anymore," he said.


"I know," I said.


"But we can still talk at school and stuff. We could still be friends."


"Okay," I lied.


"I'd like it if we could," Kyle said.


An air horn sounded, announcing the start of the regatta. We watched as the yachts all cut straight lines through the water, making the bay look choppy and uneven. Two yachts immediately took the lead, vying with each other for dominance. Water sprayed underneath their hulls. Very slowly one yacht started to inch ahead, and it stayed that way until they finally rounded a jagged corner and we couldn't see them anymore. It was only a few feet, but that already made a world of difference. The other yachts trailed behind, battling for third place.


Kyle pointed to the yacht in the rear, the only one in the race painted metallic black. The boat was still close to the starting line, coasting leisurely across the water as though it were in no hurry at all. "Hey, look at that one. Look how badly it's losing."


But I didn't want to acknowledge it, didn't want to admit that, in a way, I could relate to it. "Look at the water," I said instead, and remembered Kyle's toilet when I first came to his house. Only a few months before but already it felt like years, centuries. Small waves rippled and crested through the bay. Above us seagulls wheeled and squawked. 


"It's so blue," I said, and waited for Kyle to laugh, to tell me that things would be okay, that it was no big deal.


He said nothing.


We stared ahead at different things. The heat seared my skin and the grass itched my legs, but I said nothing. Out ahead, eighty or ninety yards, the blue water shimmered under the sun. Or, at least, I think it did. I might've just had something in my eye.

June 25, 2022 03:54

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34 comments

Aeris Walker
00:31 Jun 29, 2022

You kicked up so much emotion with this story! I think everyone can relate to a time in their childhood when they realized something about them made them different from other children, and when those differences are social/race related, it takes longer to truly understand and identify what exactly it is that sets them apart. So all that to say, you did a great job showing how Tyrone recognized some kind of class disparity between him and his friend, but never explicitly came out and said what it was. And not only were they apart of differe...

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Zack Powell
05:40 Jul 01, 2022

Belated thanks, Aeris! Loved your story for the week too. Very glad you caught all the differences between the two boys as well, especially the moral one - I was wondering whether or not that one specifically would translate to the page. You're a great reader. I love all things nautical, but you're right - not the easiest thing to write about in an engaging manner, is it?

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Aeris Walker
11:29 Jul 01, 2022

Yes, it absolutely did, you could tell someone raised Tyrone to be a young man of principle. Yes—writing about boats. My first attempt would look like: “and then the boat did boating things in the water and the boat person pushed buttons and stuff. And it floated.” 🥴😂

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J.C. Lovero
19:13 Jun 26, 2022

Hi there pen pal~ When I saw that content warning, I had a feeling this would be a gut punch 👀 It's always so heartbreaking to see how kids who could've got along find themselves in between two different worlds because of circumstance. It's really great social commentary in the context of how things work in the world, even today. As always, your prose is wonderful to read, and I have nothing to say about their technicality. Both Kyle and Tyrone come across as relatable characters that we care for each in their own way. Again, congrats o...

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Michał Przywara
22:14 Jun 25, 2022

Love it! Always look forward to your stories. There's something about stories where kids encounter racism, possibly for the first time. Often it's one of the first adult irrationalities they meet. A problem that doesn't have to exist, except we go out of our way to keep it alive, generation after generation. This reminds me a bit of some of Shirley Jackson's work, like "After You, My Dear Alphonse". Anyway, the story hits hard. The opening line is a great hook, and Tyrone comes off as a likeable kid. Hell, so does Kyle, even though he's n...

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Shea West
20:20 Jun 25, 2022

First of all-- How dare you? We all waited, and waited and thought, 'Nah, he'll sit this one out.' Then you went all hoe on us and submitted at the last hour, even later than me and that can be nothing but calculated, strategic mess with our heads nonsense. HAHHA. {join the discord, you'll see that you're worshipped.} First, I applaud you for tackling every single genre on this site. It's fun to see you come up with something new every week. I think this is how we grow as writers! When we allow ourselves to push past what is familiar and ...

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Zack Powell
05:02 Jul 01, 2022

Forgive me for responding so late, Shea! (Summer colds are literally the devil.) Just came from your story and wow! Yours had mine beat by a mile. Full disclosure: I almost did sit this one out - I spent almost 9 hours laboring and stressing over this last Friday (no wonder I got sick, LOL). The struggles of a last minute Lacey, amirite? Love your takes on this story! This story was definitely a victim of the 3K word limit, and draft #2 will likely look a LOT different/longer because of that, so it's nice to see where I can still take this ...

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Amanda Lieser
21:53 Aug 02, 2022

Hi Zack! Boy oh boy did this piece break my heart. I loved how you alluded to the racism through the beginning without nailing it too much in the reader’s face because I’m sure that wasn’t the first thing on Tyrone’s mind throughout the whole story. I also love how you captured moments of extremely rich childhood and how it made Tyrone feel. I was so sad when he really needed his “friend”. This was beautifully written. Nice job!

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Zack Powell
02:19 Aug 03, 2022

Thanks for this, Amanda! Just got through reading your newest piece and I'm still recovering from the impact. Glad you enjoyed this one, and I'm glad this story didn't come across as too in-your-face (I had my doubts).

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Sharon Hancock
01:36 Jul 04, 2022

Ugh! What a little lying jerk face! And his mother’s a jerk too! I hate to think that people treat each other that way but I know it happens. It’s sad to think that a mother wouldn’t recognize a kid in need of some kindness and that she’d pass that indifference on to her child. So well written and thought provoking. Great job!

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Zack Powell
06:14 Jul 04, 2022

Thanks for reading, Sharon! I got angry with Kyle and his mom just writing this. 😂 Jerk faces, both of them.

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Claire Lindsey
18:47 Jun 27, 2022

I think I have something in my eye, too. This is so moving and, once again, very tenderly written. The part that struck me the most was Tyrone walking an extra ten blocks to get home. As if part of him already knew that Kyle’s friendship was too good to be true. The recurring theme with the color blue is spot-on and makes your repeating line very memorable because you add new meaning to it every time. And your ending was perfect. Wouldn’t change a thing, even though it broke my heart a little. Excellent work!

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L. Maddison
16:56 Jun 27, 2022

Hello Zack, I was blown away reading this and I can tell it's going to be sticking around in my head for a while. I could really see through Tyrone's eyes- the wonder of the blue water, the movements of the yo-yos, but more importantly I could feel so much- that gulf between the two friends that was impossible to bridge is heart breaking. Powerful observations. This short story speaks volumes.

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Zack Powell
04:02 Jul 01, 2022

Belated thanks, L. Just came from your newest story and I'll return your comment - that's gonna be stuck in my head for some time. Well done.

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Daniel Jankowski
16:19 Jun 27, 2022

I could not stop reading. You really capture the unique characters with such a familiar concept of prince and pauper, but a modern and realistic outcome to it. I felt so much for the protagonist. Phenomenal experience writing, mate.

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Zack Powell
19:21 Jul 02, 2022

A very late thank you, Daniel. Just came from your story and I'm gonna return this compliment to you tenfold. You're a natural storyteller.

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Carolyn Brown
02:58 Jun 27, 2022

The melancholy ending... who hasn't had a high school friendship that fizzled because it just couldn't work? It's sad, but hooray for Tyrone for seeing Kyle for what he was. Blue toilet water is cool, but it doesn't make the man. Your story is strikingly genuine and simply told, with a few crazy details, like Scrubbing Bubbles, that just ring so true. I want to "convert my body into Jell-O" . I love how the sun "stained" their eyes. I want to read your story again.

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Suma Jayachandar
13:15 Jun 26, 2022

Oh Zack, what do I say? I'm close to tears. This is the best story from you that I've read. It's visceral. It's not a story with a lot of gut punches, it's a gigantic gut punch in the form of a story. Your talent has left me speechless. Thank you for sharing. P.S- Congratulations on shortlist!

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Zack Powell
03:37 Jul 01, 2022

A very late thank you to you, Suma! I just came from your story and I felt like you had just the same type of gut punch writing going on. Glad that you're sharing your talent with us as well.

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Kelsey H
10:48 Jun 26, 2022

The beginning has such an innocent feel to it compared to the end, I love how Tyrone is in this amazing mansion but he's fixated on how blue the toilet water is. Such an accurate depiction of the way children are often struck by different things to what adults are. But then when he sees Kyle get the fifty dollar note he has the more mature thought about what is different in his life. Its sad at such a young age he is aware of the fact he is being judged and knows he doesn't want Benson to see him as being 'poor'. Especially since he comes ac...

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Zack Powell
15:42 Jul 01, 2022

A very belated thank you, Kelsey, and a very early congratulations on winning! As usual, you got exactly where I was going with this. Happy to know the format of the story worked too - I can never tell if it comes off as lazy when I telegraph things in that "first time/second time/etc." way. Bonus points for the "weaponizing" line. I actually debated that for a while, then tried to justify it by saying I wrote the story in past tense so it was permissible, but I tend to agree with you - the word just doesn't fit with the voice of the rest o...

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Rebecca Miles
10:00 Jun 26, 2022

The colour symbolism got me thinking about The Great Gatsby so that's no small compliment.

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Awexis Wafflez
20:58 Jun 25, 2022

This is good, as usual! Not gonna lie, I laughed when I read the first sentence. I know I shouldn’t have, knowing your writing, but I did lolz :D

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Zack Powell
18:45 Jun 30, 2022

Late thank you, Awexis! The first sentence had me laughing when I wrote it too.

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Ace Quinnton
16:55 Jun 25, 2022

I can relate to Kyle and Tyrone in some ways. My biological parents split up when I was only three years old, and my mother got remarried when I was about eight or nine years old. I was in the third grade then. If you were to look at my house with my mom, you'd think we're rich, when in reality, we are midclass. Wannabe wealthy people. My mother and stepfather argue a lot over smaller things, that don't even need to be argued about and could be solved without raising their voices. Unfortunately for me, being an only child, I'm always stuck...

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Katy Borobia
16:42 Jun 25, 2022

I loved reading this piece, Zack! Your imagery and descriptions are wonderful. I'm drawn to melancholy fiction (I haven't read 'Bridge to Terabithia' fifteen times for nothing!) and I was very touched by how natural, subtle, but genuinely heartbreaking the ending was. While it could be argued that Tyrone lacks agency, I think it takes a lot of self-control and personal dignity to act (or not-act) quietly in the way that he does. It showed me a lot about his character and reminded me of one of my brothers :) This and your story "Poor Unfortun...

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Zack Powell
18:44 Jun 30, 2022

Belated thank you, Katy! (Side note: HOW good is 'Bridge to Terabithia'?) I like your self-control vs. agency take on things. That's a great way of looking at it. I'm glad the two Black stories read authentically - a lot of the things/characters in both have been influenced by my own personal experiences, so maybe that's what it is. If I've learned nothing else, Tyrone's name is definitely getting changed in draft #2. Thanks for the valuable feedback!

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Riel Rosehill
10:31 Jun 25, 2022

Hey Zack! What's up with you and J.C. this week? Toilet water, toilet paper. 👀 But I'll admit I love an odd specific thing and that was a great start for this story! 😁 Felt so sorry for little Tyrone (you picked such a cool name for him btw!), Kyle was an awful bad friend to him. I kind of wanted Tyrone to confront him about that lie, but I get it that he didn't - a lot can go unsaid at the end of a friendship and it just makes this all the sadder. Loved how they used colours to describe things (so red, so orange, so blue!), and that Ben...

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Zack Powell
18:40 Jun 30, 2022

Late responding (what else is new, amirite?) because I've been sick since Saturday, but I hope you enjoyed your vacation (or are enjoying if you're still in France)! Definitely looking forward to what you've got planned this week - these prompts are killing me. You got everything that I was shooting for, too. You know me too well! (Except the Benson thing, where you were one step ahead - shame on Benson for not doing the right thing.) It's funny. "We stared ahead at different things" was the last sentence originally, but then I tried to ge...

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Riel Rosehill
19:02 Jun 30, 2022

Hey! Oh no, I hope you are feeling better! You're a true last minute Lacey with your comments as well, haha. I didn't go for the prompt I loved, because I was moody and did the thing I avoided until now - embraced the drama! I'll be posting my story within an hour so... I will find out whether it was worth to stear clear from the one I liked for that hot mess! Can't wait to see which one you picked! <3

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Zack Powell
19:16 Jun 30, 2022

😂 Last minute Lacey must be genetic or something, I swear. (Case in point: I haven't even decided which prompt I'm responding to for tomorrow's story yet.) Very, very excited to see what your story will be! I've got SUCH a long TBR from this past week, but I'm gonna drop everything the minute I see your story posted.

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Riel Rosehill
20:04 Jun 30, 2022

I also put your stories on the top of my TBR - that's probably why I have such a backlog, LOL. Can't wait to see what you think of the mess I made :D Best of luck with your story for tomorrow!!

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05:28 Jun 25, 2022

By now I genuinely look forward to what you come up with each week. Of your stories that I've read, for me this is one of the strongest. The format is easy to follow, the characters are believable, imagery is great as always, and the ending is spot on. One thing I love about your work is how you're unafraid to end on a melancholy note (especially with the last two stories), and more than that, you pick the right moments to do it. This was definitely one where you could have gone either way, but what you chose has the most emotional punch to ...

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Zack Powell
07:39 Jun 25, 2022

Just came from your story, Shuvayon, and wow! You wanna talk about strong pieces? You got me beat. You should have no problem when the time comes to apply for that MFA. I'm glad to know melancholy endings work for readers. It's tough trying to figure out how sad/dark to go (example: I was horrified posting that story from last week because I thought people would see that ending and think I went WAY too far). And you nailed the interpretation of the ending - couldn't have said it better. Big thanks for catching the "intercept" typo! And for...

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