Your name is Lilith Jane Andrews. Having just reached the age of forty-three, you are still an uninformed introvert that dislikes going outside of your home, let alone meeting with a friend on a late Saturday night. Why did he invite you then? Why would he bother himself on such a broken cause? Should you go or should you creep deeper into your hovel and officially cut off all ties?
"What about the last time I left the house?" You whisper to yourself as you wash a single dirty plate.
The last time had ended in one disappointment after the other. Your friend had insulted you every chance he got, furthering the deep chasm in between both of you.
You had never really liked him. When the two of you became best friends (years ago) and had reluctantly gone on numerous coffee-dates he had slyly invited you to the one event you had told him you would never go to, but he drew you in. He told you it was going to be different, you wouldn't be emotionally traumatized as you had been the last time.
He was wrong.
You were bashed, hurt, and plunged into a new world, this world was different from the last. It was made up of grief, sorrow, and depression.
You had never fully made your way out of that world. Every time you checked the mail or wrote an email a fresh pang of guilt and iniquity sucked the slithering happiness out of your world, therefore separating your mind from your heart further and further.
Back to the point. Should you go to this late-night dinner that just wreaked impending doom? Do you want to kill off your last friendship and save your hide or go to a dinner and plunge yourself into the old world? It would hurt at first, but it should pay off.
You decide to guard your mind and brave up. You don't want to go fully insane and crawl into a hole where you lie to yourself that people don't exist. He would say something he would regret, you can feel it. You would be offended deeply and the friendship would end or he would woo you into your old life of love and glamour. Either way you would have to accept it. Either way you would have to return to your lonely home. Because of course, whatever life throws at you, you have to roll with it.
As you arrive at the restaurant he invited you to, you check the time. Perfect. As you intended, you've arrived fashionably late. You try on an excited smile: too unlike yourself. You entertain a complicated enticing grin: too much like your old self, you were new, and if he couldn't live with it he would have to leave of his own accord. Finally you didn't smile at all, and that worked just fine. You merely stared at the people around you, as if daring them to come any closer.
You walk further in the building and you spot the movie-star like man, rolling blonde and wavy hair, glacier-blue eyes, and tan muscle-y skin. For whatever reason this man was your 'best friend.' Although the friendship consisted of insults and put-downs.
You call him and walk over to him. He briefly grins and hugs you in a tight embrace. He always seemed to think he was in a Hollywood movie, in a romance or a comedy, and acted like such. He cracks an annoying cliché joke and then flashes an award-winning smirk. You giggle only for the necessity of it.
He tells you dinner is on him and you look away. He never pays for dinner, what is he up to? He asks if you are alright and you nod your head, still not looking at him. He asks you how you have been and you don't want to answer. You want to go back and throw one more painful plea at him to show what it was like when he did it to you. But you get ahold of yourself and sigh.
"I'm better than I was." You utter just above a whisper.
He doesn't inquire any further and shrugs as he pulls out your seat and helps you sit down. You want to run away from him before you decide you need him. You don't want him to love you more because then you would eventually slip back into a deeper depression. You would transport into the older new world of darkness.
You get up and whisper, 'I'm sorry.' Whether to yourself or to him you don't know. You run out the door and get in your car before he can chase you or catch you. Inwardly you know you would never see him again or feel the magnetic pull of his movie-perfect personality another time. If his life is a live-action drama, you just provided the perfect and classic theatric run-away scene. As you drive down the moon-bathed road and listen to an old country-classic song, you realize that you completely made the right decision.
When you get home you pick up a book on the coffee table. It's titled 'How to Prosper as you Gain A New Life'. You scoff and throw it back down. You don't need a new life, you just need to fix your old one. The last time you had a new life it was full of anger and gut-wrenching hurt. You need to just go to the one before that. Sure, it had its flaws, its own hurts, and its pangs of heart-break. But it was better than the current one you have.
The next morning is the first time you go willingly out of the house on your own. You try on another smile, a different one. This one is innocent and nice, pretty and careful. It shows passion but caution, shyness yet a certain touch of courage.
As you arrive at your destination you step out of your car hesitantly. Is this the right decision? Should you really be going for the big one? The one you shied away from your entire lifetime? You try to shake off the ever-near anxiety, but it seems to course through your veins and wash through your body mixed in with your blood. You decide that if you can't shake it off, you will eventually drain it out. It would be hard but it would be accomplished.
You look at the big sign on the front of the building. It says, "Middle Creek Library and O.A.R". You sigh as you walk up the big stone steps and open the large oak door. You had dreamed of this day but never strived for it, and now you did it spare-of-the-moment. You have changed since the beginning of this story. You have realized that courage is not the absence of fear but the knowledge of it. You have realized that you have been living out of fear. Out of a fear of living itself. You have escaped your abusive friend and have defeated fear, time to introduce yourself to the world.
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Firstly, thank you for posting your work for me and the world to see. That is never easy. Secondly, all my reedsy critiques are done with my "typical reader" hat on, not my "beta reader" hat. Meaning I treat all these stories as if I pulled the book off the shelf at B&N to read the first page. I did not get past the first page of your work. The power of 2nd person is to have the reader be the story rather then watching it (3rd person) or being told it. (1st person). Your opening 2 sentences are so specific you undercut that power. I'm...
I am so sorry you didn’t enjoy reading this. I understand how this would make you uncomfortable, and I am so sorry it did. My books are not meant for everyone, just like any book! Thanks for trying it out and critiquing, I will take your comment to heart.
You have nothing to apologies for. All critiques come with the unspoken fact that it is only an opinion and you can do anything you like with it, including ignoring it.
Thank you, Philip.
Also, I would appreciate you critiquing my other stories. Maybe “Loving and Longing” or “Your Heart into Pieces”
I like how you give us readers a new name. Also, I study psychology and this is sounding a bit like agoraphobia. Not sure if you intended that or not. I notice some mistakes in your verb tenses (for example, in "You entertain a complicated enticing grin: too much like your old self, you were new," "entertain" is in the present tense, but "were" is in the past tense), which can puzzle readers in the wrong way if you're not careful. I really admire the narrator's struggle to overcome her intense anxiety about leaving the house. There's...
Thanks so much for this detailed critique and comment! I meant for there to be psychological disorders but I didn’t have a name for them. That, however, is definitely something that she struggles with. And for the tenses, I completely missed that, thanks so much for noticing that. I would definitely change that if it wasn’t already accepted and I was not able to edit it. I am glad you liked the redefinition of the audience! I thought there was a possibility It would make some uncomfortable or defiant. I think that people really are afraid t...
Also, do you mind reading my story “Loving and Longing” don’t feel obligated to like or comment, I just would like people to read it.
Hello Rose, You nailed this difficult 2nd person POV in an interesting story. At some points the psychodrama gets a bit heavy (for my taste) but you keep it moving. I was left confused though - is she trying to gain a new life or indeed fix the old one. If the latter, then the last sentence did not sit right with me. She should stop hiding, no ? - That suggests she is still living in fear. I'd rather she signs up for Tinder or a Church help group ;) Easier said than done, right. I'm attempting this prompt too. Drowning.
I know! I think this was one of the hardest stories I’ve ever written, and I’m glad that someone has at least a fraction of a compliment! I will edit accordingly.
Also, I edited it a bit. Could you read over the end and tell me what you think? Thanks!
Excellent :)) It packs a punch now. I like this transition sentence : It shows passion but caution, shyness yet a certain touch of courage. IS OAR a well known acronym ? I wasn't aware of it till I read your story. Maybe you want to put a foot note or even re-introduce an experimental conversation with a kind male librarian, who might even look like Richard Gere from a distance ;) ? Best wishes :)
I think I read that last comment wrong. OAR is not a well known thing. It stands for OUT OF ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS. I was going to sad something about that but I didn’t want it to be confusing.