148 comments

Romance Suspense

Michael Mulgrave saved his wife from the fire. They had met thirty years ago when he was a cologne salesman. 


“Hi there sir, would you like to try some avion for men?”


It was cold outside on that day, with enough snow to put Siberia to shame. She was wearing a thick jacket, with her hood pulled over her head.


“Sure, I’ll try some,” she said, removing her hood and blowing a strand of blonde hair out of her face.

“Oh, um, I’m sorry,” he said. 

“Don’t apologize, spray,” she replied. 

“Yes sir, um, I mean ma’am. You’re probably the first female customer I’ve ever sprayed. Oh, um, that sounded kind of weird.”

“Am I the first female you’ve ever talked to?”

“Sure sounds like it.”

“I’m Izzabella.”

“Michael.”


He had watched her walk away for a long time. Then, when he wasn’t even sure if she was within ear-shot anymore, something in him snapped. The same part of him that snapped every time there was something scary he needed to do.


“Izzabella!”

“Yes!”

“Um, can I have your number!”

“Sure, and you can call me Izzy!”


An old woman standing between them almost had a heart attack. His boss chewed Michael out for raising his voice in the store. A female customer told him he wasn’t acting very professional. It was one of the best days of his life. That’s all it takes to turn a crappy day into a good one, a moment. Too bad it works the other way too. 


“I don’t usually do this after a first date,” Michael said in his bedroom. 

“Oh, me neither, but I’m willing to make an exception,” Izabella said next to him. 

“Are you wearing men's cologne?” He asked.

“Of course, it’s avion for men. I went back and bought some.”

“Oh yeah, what convinced you?”

“Cute salesman I guess.”

“That’s just a day job.”

“Oh yeah, what do you really want to be?” 

“I’m studying finance, so I guess I’ll be an accountant.”

“Wow Mikey, you sure know how to turn a woman on.”

“What do you want to be?”

“A photographer.”

“Oh, that’s so cool…”


She didn’t let him finish. Fifteen minutes later, she blew a strand of blonde hair off her face.


“Wow, that was amazing,” Michael said.

“Oh, um, yeah,” she said with a shrug. 

Michael looked hurt.


“I’m just messing with you, it was good. Hey, we’ll get better.”

“Does that mean there’ll be a second date?”

“Sure, but why wait?”


He made her breakfast in bed the next morning.


“Jesus, when did you wake up?” She asked.

“Two hours ago,” he said. 

“Should I be impressed or creeped out?”

“Try the scrambled eggs, then let me know. Oh, and the orange juice is freshly squeezed.”

“Not bad Mikey.”


They had breakfast in bed together. Every time a crumb fell on the bed, his eyes got wider. Izzabella had to bite her tongue not to laugh at his pained face. 


“Do You have classes today?” She asked.

“Only in the afternoon. What about you?”

“Not at all.”

“What are you studying?” He asked. 

“I’m taking different classes, just to figure out what I want to do. I’m mostly focused on photography, maybe graphic design.”

“Graphic design sounds cool.”

“Yeah, and don’t forget photography.”

“Sure, as a hobby.”

“Or as a job.”

“Well, I don’t think that’s going to pay the bills.”

“I don’t have to worry about bills, I’m dating a very successful perfume salesman.” 

“I’m a cologne salesman.”

“Right, my manly cologne salesman.”


Michael didn’t have a TV in his room. He lived in a small, suburban home an hour away from his college campus. They left his bedroom together and crossed into his bathroom. Michael brushed his teeth while Izabella stood behind him.


“Can I borrow that toothbrush?” She asked.

“What? That’s so gross.”

“You’re such a neat-freak.”

“For not wanting to share my toothbrush?”

“Yes, come on, we should be sharing things now.”

Michael went quiet, not sure what to say.

“Fine, I guess we don’t have to share everything,” Izabella said. 


Michael finished brushing his teeth and smiled at his reflection. Izabella laughed, stuck her tongue out, and made a funny face. 


“Come on, do it,” she said.

“What?” He asked. 

“Make a funny face.”


Michael focused for a moment. He scrunched up his nose and raised his brows.

“You look like you’re constipated,” she said. 

“Are you suggesting my funny face has never been that funny?” He asked. 

“Hey, chin up Mikey, you just need a good teacher.”


They spent the length of a feature film in front of the bathroom mirror, practicing funny faces. Michael was almost hopeless, but Izabella was a good teacher. He was so focused on these studies, that he forgot about his real ones. He was going to be late for Statistics class.


“I gotta go, I’m late,” Michael said. 

“Go ahead, but you do have homework here. I want you to practice your funny face after school,” she said. 

“Okay.”

“I’ll know if you don’t do it, Michael, nothing gets past me.”

“Good. That’s what a photographer is supposed to do, capture details.”

“Wow, pretty deep for a finance major.”


Being in a relationship is a bit like filming yourself all day. Things take a bit longer to set up, but you’re also more animated. Everything feels better. If being in a relationship is like filming yourself, raising a family is like shooting a movie. Michael graduated from college, not at the top of his class, but that didn’t matter. His parents threw heaps of praise at him and apologized that they couldn’t fly to his graduation. He was happy to take a job as an actuary. It felt good to provide for Izabella.


There was only one class he just couldn’t seem to pass; funny faces. Izabella continued lecturing him. Michael bought a new house, close to his old one but bigger, and asked Izabella to move in with him.


“You sure you want to live with a slob?” She asked.

“Only if you’re okay living with a neat-freak,” he said.

“We’ll make it work,” she said. 


The thing about watching yourself on film is that it can go one of two ways. Watching a bad video will usually make you self-conscious. Watching a good video can make you more self-aware. 


For their fifth anniversary, Izabella decided to wake up before Michael. No easy feat even though it was a Saturday, because Michael preferred to wake up before the sun. She made him breakfast in bed. 


“Careful Mikey, you’re getting crumbs all over the bed,” she said.

“Meh, who cares?” He said. 

“I can see it in your eyes, Mikey, those crumbs are driving you crazy.”

“We’ll clean them later, let’s at least finish breakfast first,” he said. 


Izabella smiled, then she stuck out her tongue and made a silly face. Michael laughed, she had a gift. 


Michael worked long hours to support her. One night, Izabella surprised him.


“Guess what?” Izabella asked.

“Oh, I’m not very good at guessing, just tell me.”

“Aren’t actuaries supposed to guess stuff?”

“Yeah, but we have a little more to go off of then ‘guess what.’”

“Fine, I’ll tell you. I got a job. I’m a graphic designer at this cool magazine.”

Michael smiled, his eyes going wide.

“Honey you did it!” Izabella said, “that’s the silliest face I’ve ever seen you make. Now we have two things to celebrate, my new job, and you finally passed the silly face class.”

“Oh wow, I did it, I’d like to thank my parents. My friends. And of course, my very talented teacher.”

Izabella stared at him for a long time. 

“Thank you, Michael,” she finally said. 

“For what?”

“Supporting me for as long as you did. Making sure I wouldn’t have to settle for the first job I found.”

“Come on, I was happy to do it.”

“I have a graduation gift for you,” Izabella said.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, it’s in the bedroom.”


She sauntered down the hall, turned around in the doorway of their bedroom, motioning for Michael to follow her.


“What, no dinner?” He asked.

“Is my Mikey hungry?”

“Yeah.”

“Want to postpone this until tomorrow so I can make you a sandwich.”

“You know what, never mind.”


Michael stood up and followed her into the bedroom. 


Two months later, Izabella had a miscarriage. Michael assured her that everything was fine. They had each other, and that’s what mattered. 


She was hesitant the second time, so was he, but they tried again. Another miscarriage. 


By their twenty-fifth anniversary, they’d given up on having a child. Adoption was in talks, but it would be a long, stressful process. Michael took up smoking. 


“Happy anniversary Mikey,” Izabella said, “I have good news.”

“What is it?” Michael asked.

“Can you put that cigarette out first, it’s nasty,” she said. 


Michael was going to argue, but then he noticed Izabella cough. She tried to hide it, but it was right there in her throat. He put the cigarette out.


“One of my photos made it into the magazine that I work for,” she said. 

“Wow, Izabella, that’s so great,” he said. 

“I love telling you good news, Mikey! You always make the same stupid, happy face.”

“I learned from the best. What picture was it?” 

“It was one you took of me. You know that big tree in our backyard, it’s me sitting against it. It’s going to be in the fall edition this year.”

“Credit is yours, I was just a human tripod, you did all the work.”

“Thanks, Mikey.”

“Are we going to have dinner now?” he asked.

“I have something a little better in mind.” 


Michael watched as she crossed the hall and stood in the doorway of their bedroom, index finger beckoning him to follow. He sat there, feeling like the luckiest man in the world. 


As Michael walked towards her, he noticed she seemed more pale than usual. When had those dark bags under her eyes formed? Michael had to dive forwards to catch her. She collapsed in his arms. Her pulse was weak. In the car, to the nearest emergency room. 


“I think she just had a heart attack,” Michael yelled at the woman in the emergency room.

“We’ll get a doctor out immediately, please take a seat.”


Michael sat down in the waiting area. He pulled out a cigarette.


“You can’t smoke in here, sir,” the hospital receptionist told him.

“Oh, um, sorry.” 


He made sure the cigarette was put out and threw it into the garbage can. He propped one of his elbows on the arm-rest and rested his head in his palm. He’d noticed it a long time ago; how pale she got, how she always shivered, the dark bags under her skin, the fluctuation in her weight. Why couldn’t it be him? It should have been him. He looked down at the cigarette he’d thrown into the empty garbage. He imagined it wasn’t well put out, that it started a fire that spread across the waiting room and engulfed him. But it was well put out, he’d extinguished hundreds if not thousands of cigarettes before. Why wasn’t he the one in the hospital? 


Five years later she was gone. To celebrate their thirtieth anniversary, he went out and bought a can of avion for men. Highly flammable, perfect. 


The firemen were too late. The house was up in flames and you wouldn’t be able to tell from that ash that used to be the dresser and the ash that used to be Michael. They went into the backyard to make sure the fire hadn’t spread. There, untouched by the flames, lay a picture of a beautiful woman with blonde hair. It rested against a big tree, saved from the fire. 

October 24, 2020 03:14

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148 comments

Molly Leasure
04:30 Oct 26, 2020

The progression of tone from light and sweet to dark and twisted was really well done :). I enjoyed the cute moments, the dark moments, the uncomfortable moments. And the little inserts like: "Michael took up smoking." They added this little bit of laughter to a failing situation; a morbid chuckle. My one little critique would be that sometimes your sentences can feel a bit stiff. Take this sentence for instance: "She stood up and walked down the hall, turned around in the doorway of their bedroom, and motioned for Michael to follow her...

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I. F.
15:03 Oct 27, 2020

Thanks for the feedback! I really like your example, 'sauntered' seems to bring lots of life to that sentence. I'll go implement it into the story and see if there are any other sentences I can improve.

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Rayhan Hidayat
17:40 Oct 24, 2020

"with snow and everything" Oh come on, I know you're better than that Itay ;) Be more specific than "everything." Anyway, WOW, that ending gave me chills. A little abrupt, but didn't take away from the enjoyment much. I especially love how snappy the dialogue here is. And quirky couples are a favorite of mine. There's just something about your writing style that's so digestible and so engaging; I can't put my finger on it. Awesome as always :D

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I. F.
18:29 Oct 24, 2020

Thanks! Quirky couples are a favorite of mine too! I also really like dysfunctional but crafty families. I changed "with snow and everything" to "it was cold that day, with enough snow to put Siberia to shame," what do you think about that?

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Rayhan Hidayat
18:38 Oct 24, 2020

That’s LEAGUES better. Anyway, I really hope you get on the leaderboard soon, just so more people click on your profile. You’re seriously soooo underrated. Literally B.W. is the only person consistently commenting.

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I. F.
18:51 Oct 24, 2020

B.W's helped me a lot, and honestly so have you! I think I'm like one hundred points away, but everyone else's points increase so we'll see. I guess I'm glad to be underrated and not overrated... not sure if that even makes sense but ya 😂

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Rayhan Hidayat
18:55 Oct 24, 2020

Always glad to! With the point system this site has, that makes perfect sense actually 😉

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I. F.
19:11 Oct 24, 2020

Exactly, at first, I didn't like the point system but over time I've changed my mind. People here are mostly nice and don't use the points maliciously, so it just creates healthy, friendly competiton.

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Shea West
03:19 Oct 25, 2020

I started the story, and after they first met and abruptly exchanged numbers I'd hoped that there was another interaction before a sudden number hand off.....But then, I realized this was the rhythm you set for your story and I loved it so much. The sweet nuances of couples, and how we can bounce from decade to decade without much to report. How a life lived with someone you love and care for can be simple, and full all at once. The end was heartbreaking and also so very real. I loved it so much!

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I. F.
19:39 Oct 25, 2020

Thank you!

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A. S.
21:37 Oct 27, 2020

Great job with this story! I loved the ending and how he saved her from the fire. I read your bio... would you want to go on an upvoting spree? I will upvote you anyway, but I felt like I should ask.

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I. F.
14:32 Oct 28, 2020

Of course! I'll go upvote you now.

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B. W.
23:01 Oct 26, 2020

I made a new story :D could you please check out "He isn't real...or is he?" and then leave some feedback for it?

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Raquel Rodriguez
11:45 Oct 26, 2020

Upvote for upvote spree? :)

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I. F.
15:08 Oct 27, 2020

Sure 😁

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Raquel Rodriguez
15:15 Oct 27, 2020

Okay, how many points?

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I. F.
15:19 Oct 27, 2020

I'm still working on upvoting you, I think I've gotten you up by like 40 so far. Do as much as you want to.

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Raquel Rodriguez
15:19 Oct 27, 2020

Okay, I guess I'll do 100

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I. F.
15:21 Oct 27, 2020

That works, thanks! I'll give you at least 100 too.

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B. W.
03:25 Oct 24, 2020

This was a really good story just like all of your others and i don't think anything was wrong with it ^^ the ending was sad, which you also did a great job with it. i'll give this a 10/10 :)

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I. F.
15:42 Oct 24, 2020

Thank you!

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B. W.
15:46 Oct 24, 2020

no prob ^^

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B. W.
00:26 Nov 02, 2020

hola amigo ^^ how are ya?

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I. F.
00:56 Nov 02, 2020

Kinda tired to be honest, I just finished a pretty long debate tournament (ya I do debate, and ya it's kind of geeky 😂) hbu?

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B. W.
01:03 Nov 02, 2020

I dunno :/ kinda half and half

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I. F.
01:21 Nov 02, 2020

Why so?

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B. W.
01:27 Nov 02, 2020

Ive just been having a lot of bad days and 2020 just sucks :/

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I. F.
01:45 Nov 02, 2020

Ah I see, Halloween is nice and all but it's also daylight saving time here and the first big snowfall, and that always makes my mood a lot worse. 2020 has been pretty bad for different reasons for different people. Hope things get better for you, if you want someone to talk to I'm here for ya.

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B. W.
21:31 Oct 29, 2020

Itay, i got some good news i think! ^^ i just finished one of my novels :D

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I. F.
16:28 Oct 30, 2020

Yes!!! Congrats B, are you going to post or publish it anywhere?

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B. W.
16:36 Oct 30, 2020

i dunno, do ya think i should?

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I. F.
18:05 Oct 30, 2020

Well, how long is it? Also, could you give me a little bit of a summary?

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B. W.
18:10 Oct 30, 2020

well, its 21.1k words i think, is that good?

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I. F.
18:35 Oct 30, 2020

That's a bit short, I'd say it's more of a novella. Is it fantasy? I feel like that's what you're really good at?

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18:49 Oct 28, 2020

I'll upvote spree you, Itay!

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19:07 Oct 28, 2020

Okay, I just upvoted like every comment on every story so hopefully, you're on the leaderboard now!!!

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19:08 Oct 28, 2020

You're number 79!!!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations!!!!!!!! :)

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I. F.
19:10 Oct 28, 2020

Thanks so much! I'll go upvote you back now

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19:13 Oct 28, 2020

No problem! I'm so so glad I could help you!

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B. W.
05:45 Oct 28, 2020

Hola amigo ^^ how are ya?

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B. W.
17:58 Oct 25, 2020

Hola amigo

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I. F.
19:56 Oct 25, 2020

Hey, I just read your story and left you some feedback, go check it out!

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B. W.
20:09 Oct 25, 2020

heya ^^ i made another story as well, could ya check out "Ghostly fun times" and leave feedback on that as well?

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I. F.
20:15 Oct 25, 2020

I'll go check that one out a bit later.

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B. W.
20:23 Oct 25, 2020

alright thanks ^^

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B. W.
20:13 Oct 24, 2020

I just got a new story out a couple minutes ago ^^ could you check out "A strange night" and leave some feedback?

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D. Kase
00:49 Dec 14, 2020

Your bio says you're in high school I just read... your work though leads to another number. You must have an old soul!??? Orrrrr you're not from America 🤣🤣 jk jk... I was born in texas and live in Illinois. I can say that, right?? You are unbelievably talented. One more thing... what is a downvoter? I'm so new to this that I'm confused by the points system etc.

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I. F.
01:30 Dec 14, 2020

Ohhh, thank you thank you! It's so cool to hear someone who's been writing for as long as you have say that I'm talented! You're right I'm not from America, I live in Canada, pretty much the same thing but a little further north 😂 Ok, now for the downvoter... and the point system. You can upvote people's comments and like their stories, which will earn them karma points that move them up the leaderboard. At the same time, you can downvote people's comments, which will have them lose karma points. Somebody's been going around taking awa...

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D. Kase
01:45 Dec 14, 2020

Okay, you're from Canada... that makes sense now! 🤣😎 that's super neat-o!!!! I'm a few hours south of Chicago. Of course! You're incredibly talented. I really mean that. I like your vibe and content wholeheartedly. I honestly don't know why you dont have MORE people on your page. I don't understand 'downvoters' that goes with any negative review. If it's not hurting or affecting you, then just move on! It's like what Bumper says on Bambi... if you dont have anything nice to say-just dont say it!!!!!!! (Para phrasing) lameeeee

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I. F.
01:52 Dec 14, 2020

Yeap, we're just like you but with a lot fewer people and a lot less McDonald's 😂 Aw thank you 🙌 I agree with you, I have no idea who it is but I sincerely hope it's a kid and not one of the adults because that would be really sad.

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B. W.
21:47 Nov 15, 2020

heyyyy

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B. W.
18:10 Nov 06, 2020

Hey, have ya maybe seen the new prompts yet? what do ya think of them?

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I. F.
15:19 Nov 09, 2020

I don't know, I'm having trouble coming up with stuff. So far I have one story I plan to post, but it doesn't even fit in with any of the prompts that well. What about you?

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B. W.
17:30 Nov 09, 2020

maybe i could try to help ya?

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B. W.
22:16 Nov 03, 2020

heyyy

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I. F.
01:49 Nov 04, 2020

Hi, I just left feedback on your new story!

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B. W.
01:56 Nov 04, 2020

thanks ^^ could ya maybe help with something?

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B. W.
20:01 Nov 02, 2020

ya wanna hear a joke or something?

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I. F.
20:13 Nov 02, 2020

Sure

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B. W.
20:28 Nov 02, 2020

knock knock

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I. F.
01:08 Nov 03, 2020

Who’s there? Sorry for the late response I had to stop talking cause of class, ugh! I’m back now though.

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B. W.
01:13 Nov 03, 2020

Kanga

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I. F.
01:16 Nov 03, 2020

Kanga who?

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B. W.
19:30 Nov 02, 2020

how do ya come up with your stories? I'm just kinda curious and I wanna talk to ya ^^

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I. F.
19:52 Nov 02, 2020

Oh, interesting! For me, it usually starts with a central theme/idea I want to explore or a character I have in my head. other times it's just completely random, how about you? Also, have you ever tried writing a screenplay, I've never tried but I feel like it would be really cool.

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B. W.
20:00 Nov 02, 2020

A screen-play? I think i know that is, but my brain and memory sucks so I barely know stuff about it :/ though I've never done a screen play before, how would I do it?

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I. F.
20:13 Nov 02, 2020

I don't know, I think when Covid goes away I'll try shooting a movie with some friends, just seems like a fun thing to do. How's your day been going?

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B. W.
20:28 Nov 02, 2020

whats a screen-play? I honestly forgot :/ I know its something for a movie or something along those lines

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I. F.
01:07 Nov 03, 2020

Yeap, it’s a script for a movie. I’m afraid that’s as much as I know about screenplays 😂

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B. W.
00:20 Nov 01, 2020

Hey, you said you were wanting to still read that novella about the thing, right?

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I. F.
00:46 Nov 02, 2020

Yeap

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B. W.
00:47 Nov 02, 2020

I could maybe try to send you a link to it if ya want?

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I. F.
00:58 Nov 02, 2020

Sure, go ahead! I warn you my editing skills are not the greatest but I'll do my best.

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B. W.
01:05 Nov 02, 2020

This is probably gonna be really terrible, so sorry if it is :/ and I'm not sure if the link is even gonna work or not, tell me if it does, cuz I might delete it soon after so no one else can go and see it :/ anyway here: editor.reedsy.com/book/193673/c/X2OobEdJCCqTFwC4/chapter-1

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I. F.
01:20 Nov 02, 2020

Sorry, it doesn't work, I tried going to the link and it just says 404 error.

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