87 comments

Friendship Historical Fiction

June 1917

Two boys, barely even men, were drafted into their separate armies. 

Two boys, barely even men, got onto the train. 

One going from Pittsburg to New York. 

The other going from Kiel to Berlin. 



August 1917

War was here. For the Americans, for Europe. The Great War, they called it. The war to end all wars. Matthew Hunter looked around the section of the trench he was assigned to, along the Western Front, near the Belgian province of Ypres, and shook his head, feeling the vast distance between here and his small hometown outside of Pittsburg.

President Wilson had finally told his country that the United States would be joining the Allied side in the Great War after the Zimmerman telegraph from Germany had provoked the nation. And so, all eligible men, ages twenty-one to thirty-one, were required to sign up for the US army. Matthew had only agreed to go to the draft with a positive attitude, because his father, too old to fight, wanted his son’s name emblazoned across history.

Matthew privately thought the only thing of his emblazoned across history would be his acute embarrassment. But, as all dutiful sons did, he made his way to the Pittsburg Drafting Office, filled out the enlistment form, and got all the tests done. Two months later, he received his orders to ship out to New York, where he would get on a boat that would take him across the Atlantic to fight some German dogs out in Europe. How uplifting.

“Grenade!” A soldier, a little further down the trench bellowed in fear, as a small pineapple-shaped object clinked down the trench walls. Everyone stared at it for a split-second, before it detonated, exploding Matthew’s entire section of the trench, shrapnel shredding through soft flesh as easily as if it were paper.


August 1917

Oskar Müller knew it was going to be a bad day. Not only did General Karl von Bülow give the orders to advance down No Man’s Land, which was an obvious suicide mission for the drafted soldiers, but he also gave the order to advance down to Ypres, and push the Western Front back toward the coast of France. Completely and absolutely absurd. The General should have just killed all of the soldiers under his command with a grenade and been done with it.

Oskar didn’t even want to fight. He was an artist, for goodness sake. He was a painter, used to the brush in his hand, their paints in their pans, and the canvas upon which anything was possible. But now, there was a gun in his hands, bullets in the pans, and the bleak and desolate plain of No Man’s Land, upon which death was possible.

But the Führer had demanded all able-bodied German men to fight against the enemies of the Motherland, and so Oskar had no choice. The draft had increased tenfold once the General’s had realized that America was joining the war, and Oskar was shipped out to the Front almost immediately after he had signed up for the draft in his hometown of Kiel. He hadn’t even had enough time to say goodbye to his mother and father before he boarded the train. Probably was for the best, anyway. They didn’t want him to waste his life as a painter. A soldier was no better.

“Mach es Jetzt,” A soldier next to Oskar grunted softly, pressing the small grooved object into Oskar’s gloved hands. "Granate." He added, seeing Oskar's confusion. Bile rose in his throat, but he quickly pressed it down, not wanting his fellow soldier to see the disgust on his face. He pulled out the pin and gently chucked it under the barbed wire and into the American’s trench.

Oskar heard an American soldier cry out, before the grenade exploded, sending shrapnel and terror exploding into the night.



October 1917

Two boys, barely even men, were sent from the trenches to Paris. 

Two boys, barely even men, were sent to protect leaders of their opposite sides.

One was sent due to his visible injuries. 

The other was sent due to his mind. 



November 1917

Matthew was no longer going to play baseball. No longer going to be able to throw a fastball at the batter. No longer going to be able to use his right arm. He had been facing away from the grenade when it had exploded, so he hadn’t taken the full impact, unlike several of his fellow soldiers, but his right arm had been ruined beyond repair.

They’d had to amputate it.

And now, Matthew was a one-armed wonder. No longer fit for soldier work, but not going to be discharged either. He was, apparently, too important to send home. Instead, going to Paris. The City of Love, and the City of Lights. Also, the city the Germans took over. Filthy pigs. They knew how much Paris symbolized to France, to the world, and they seized the city.

But now, Matthew was in Paris, something he’d never thought would happen. If only his mother could see him now. She’d be so proud. And the best part was, he didn’t have to fight. Not that he could, being an amputee and all that, but the feeling of no longer having a gun in his hands-hand was indescribable. All he had to do was protect and guard Attorney Avery D. Andrews. A simple enough job, the man was kind and didn’t seem outwardly affected by the war, but Matt knew all too well the internal injuries war could wreak on a man.


November 1917

The nightmares wouldn’t stop. They keep coming, no matter how tired Oskar thought he was, they kept coming. Four words that kept circling in his brain. What was war? A three-lettered word that could obliterate everything. War tore people apart, even those who were once close as brothers. Victims of war were constantly drowned in tidal waves of guilt, regret, and pain. Pain isn’t simple; it’s physical, emotional, and mental; all victims of war feel all three types. In war, nowhere is safe. Nowhere. And Oskar knew it.

Knew it when the grenade exploded in the American trench.

Knew it when men died because of his actions.

Knew it when he was shipped to Paris because of his mental instability within his trench.

Knew it when the nightmares started.

He didn’t want to look down at his hands for fear that they would be stained in blood, the blood of innocent men that he had killed.

But he had to keep going. For his family, at least. They wouldn’t be proud of a son who died from his mental injuries. However, a son who was responsible for guarding a general, particularly, General Dietrich von Choltitz? Now, that’s a son to be proud of. Oskar’s job wasn’t the hardest thing he had had to do in his life, just making sure the General was safe when he left his rooms. The hard part? Looking at him and not remembering the innocents Oskar had killed on the General’s orders.



January 1918 

Two boys, barely even men, were wandering the Belgian wilderness. 

Two boys, barely even men, were abandoned by their armies. 

One tried to catch up, but couldn’t make it. 

The other found him struggling to survive. 



February 1918

“Move out!” General John J. Pershing called to his troops. Matthew blearily looked around at the army packing up. They had camped in Belgium after heading out from Paris, and Matt had been called back from guarding Andrews. He didn’t know why. He was just extra weight for the army. He couldn’t even shoot. Matt struggled to his feet and started clumsily packing up his bedroll one-armed. “Not you, Hunter. You’re staying behind.” A hand clapped onto his shoulder and he looked into the General’s eyes.

“E-excuse me, sir?” Matt said, looking warily from the General to the packing troops.

“You heard me, soldier. We appreciate your efforts, but we can’t afford disabled soldiers in the army.” And with that, the General squeezed Matt’s shoulder one last time before heading out with the rest of Matt’s fellow Americans.

Matt’s amputated shoulder twinged, and he winced, feeling fresh blood trickle down the bandage. He’d caught the limb on a tree branch last night, and it had been hurting ever since. But now, there was no army to help him. No medicine to heal him. As he shoved his bedroll into his pack, an army doctor walked by, pressing a tin of salve into Matt’s hand.

“For your arm,” he whispered, before quickly walking away. Well, he still had no army to help him, but at least he had medicine to help heal him.

So Matt walked. He walked across the Belgian countryside, marveling at the scars within the land, and dreaming of a world where war didn’t happen. And as the daylight waned, he stopped for the night. Matt leaned against a tree, setting his pack down, and blowing out a breath at the pain throbbing from his arm. Gingerly he unwrapped the bandage and winced at the black streaks making their way up to his shoulder. He didn’t have to be a doctor to know what that meant. Blood poisoning. Scooping a little bit of the salve the nurse had pressed into his hand, he carefully smeared it across the stub of his arm, making sure to avoid the seeping wound. He pulled a clean bandage out from his pack and wrapped it back up.

Matt was about to close his eyes when a man crashed out from the bush across from where he was sitting. A German soldier. Matt was dead.


February 1918 

“Hände Hoch!” Oskar yelled, immediately pointing his gun at the American. He hoped his arms weren’t trembling, showing off his dread at killing another innocent. The man held up his left arm, looking warily from the gun to Oskar and back again.

“I said hands in the air!” Oskar said sharply, in English. The American’s face contorted in pain, and he twisted his body to show that he had no other arm.

"I don’t have hands anymore, man. I only have one left.” Oskar blew out a breath that he didn’t even realize he was holding and lowered the gun.

“Are you going to kill yourself so that you can kill me?” He asked skeptically. The American huffed a laugh.

“I’m dying anyway, man. I don’t need to kill myself.” He motioned with his hand to the stub of his other arm, and Oskar realized the white bandage was already scarlet with blood. The American’s face was pale and drawn, and Oskar realized he was no threat to him. He slung the gun around his shoulder and knelt by the other man.

“I can help you,” Oskar said softly, holding his hands out in a peace gesture. The American warily looked at him.

“Why?” he said, gasping in pain as he shifted and the stub of his arm scraped against the bark. Oskar thought about it. Why did he want to help the American, his enemy?

Negative actions create negative chaos, and negative chaos is destructive. Positive actions create positive chaos, and positive chaos is constructive. And when one looks at the history of war and peace they see these simple truths at the heart of the matter.

Helping the American wasn’t helping the enemy. It was helping a fellow man, a man who was just as caught up in the war as he was. A man who was just like him.



March 1918

Two men, no longer boys, were sent to fight for their countries. 

Two men, no longer boys, who had seen the worst humanity had to offer. 

One was clinging on to the wavering threads of life. 

The other was hoping his newfound brother would make it.



April 1918 

War rages on, soldiers fight. They pray for the safety of their loved ones, their only photos shattered into a million tear-stained fragments. They sing melancholy songs for the nightingales who swoop through the sky carrying their whispers of encouragement up, up, up to heaven, where their lost ones frolic in a land unlike the one below, so consumed with rage, hatred, and greed. They wish they were up there, a happy family all together not a grieving family torn apart by the selfish deeds of men who seek happiness for themselves and themselves only, for they, to them, are lesser men, servants considered with cold utility rather than love.

The German soldier was proof that man could change. Was proof that even during humanity’s worst moments, people could come together and heal one another.

Matt studied the other man as he deftly unwrapped the bandage around his right arm, and smeared another salve around it. Matt hissed in relief as it immediately numbed his stub, and he could see the blood gushing from the open wound ebb a little bit.

“Thank you,” Matt said softly, as the German rocked back on his heels, satisfied, “My name is Matt. Matthew Hunter.” He added, not wanting to call him the German anymore, but by his name. Because no matter what country they hail from, no matter what country they fight for, they are all one species.

“Oskar Müller,” Oskar replied, smiling at Matt.


April 1918 

“Some war, huh?” Matt said quietly into the approaching dawn. After Oskar had helped him with his wound, he had shared his meager portions of food that he’d stored in his pack after the General had dismissed him. They had talked well into the night, about the war, about their lives, and their futures. The war had brought them together, soldiers from opposite sides, but the war had also left them closer than anything. The war had left these two men, brought together by the worst global war the world had seen, family. Brothers.

“Some war,” Oskar agreed, staring at the rays of sunlight from behind the hills. He smiled, leaning back against the tree, Matt’s rattling breath in his ear. He looked out over the Belgian landscape, warming with the coming of dawn. He knew he could never go back to fighting, never go back to killing innocents. Not after he met Matt.

For it is when we love our enemy that they become our friends, our brothers, and this is the death of war itself. When we see their future children in their eyes and feel the yearning to put food in their bellies and hear their laughter ring, infusing with the laughter of our future children, we make a lasting bond, a pact with love itself. This is when the truth comes, and the silence is all the words we will ever need, for this is the intelligence of the heart, the language of the universe.


*Nainika’s Note* As you could probably tell, Oskar and Matthew were fictional, but I tried to keep everything else as real as possible - from the general’s names to the names of the different battles. If I got anything wrong, please don’t get offended! Let me know, and I will fix it - this was not an attempt at poking fun at the over twenty million lives lost. This was just my way of reading the prompt and my way of writing a story from it.

February 01, 2021 16:37

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87 comments

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16:44 Feb 01, 2021

THIS WAS AWESOME!!! For this style of story, I always recommend epistolary, but I think this worked out great too!! I would say that the german army seems much like the American one, despite their obvious differences, so maybe have more cultural reference. GREAT JOB!!!!!

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Nainika Gupta
16:46 Feb 01, 2021

ahhh I see :) yeah, they do seem a bit similar...i'll fix it! THANKS So MUCH!

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. .
16:50 Feb 01, 2021

NoOoOo PrObLeM

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Nainika Gupta
16:51 Feb 01, 2021

HEHE!! Ook, i fixed some...tell me if I should continue like that!!

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16:53 Feb 01, 2021

It was pretty good, but continue even more in that direction, talk about the differences in uniform, and also in fighting tactics, because I think the germans used gas of some kind but I might be mixing it up. those were in the right direction tho!!

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Nainika Gupta
16:54 Feb 01, 2021

YAY! ok will do - and i think that was wwii if I'm not mistaken....

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William Flautt
04:33 Feb 02, 2021

Awesome story. Captivating from the start! I especially love the subtle mental connections between the two characters. For example, right after Matthew is hit by a grenade; Oskar compares going the Ypres to getting hit by one, too. A few small things: You say Matthew was drafted, but then you say he signed up for his father. Perhaps add specific dates instead of things like "August 1917" three times.

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Nainika Gupta
13:25 Feb 02, 2021

Thanks so much! I really appreciate that!! And ooh, I DID say that...ahaha I'll go in and fix that :) and sure...I'll specify the dates! THANKS FOR POINTING THAT OUt!!

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Radhika Diksha
18:08 Feb 02, 2021

New story out, would love your feedback on it.

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Nainika Gupta
18:09 Feb 02, 2021

sure! would you give me feedback on this??

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Radhika Diksha
18:10 Feb 02, 2021

How about tomorrow I am going to sleep now.

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Nainika Gupta
18:15 Feb 02, 2021

sure

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Megan Stone
20:19 Feb 09, 2021

I know this is dumb but like I'm dying to know what Radhika Diksha has to say abt it????

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Nainika Gupta
20:25 Feb 09, 2021

no yeah i knowww OMG XD

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Sunny 🌼 🖤
21:50 Feb 01, 2021

I- No words, I am speechless. Way too good for my tiny brain to think of any words to describe it. The story kinda gave me "Resistance" by Jennifer A. Nelson vibes.

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Nainika Gupta
22:08 Feb 01, 2021

awww, thanks sarah!! really appreciate it :D and ooh i get that!!

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i really love this! I love how you do, "two boys, barely even men..." its wonderful and i really think that historical fiction suits you!

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Nainika Gupta
17:03 Feb 01, 2021

thank you so much carolina! i really enjoyed writing this :D

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Anne Ryan
18:29 Feb 09, 2021

Stunning narrative! Loved it!

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Nainika Gupta
18:35 Feb 09, 2021

thank you so so much!! :)

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Mango Chutney
22:39 Feb 07, 2021

Loved your writing style.. Two boys, barely even men.. you weaved it together so well.. Good read

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Nainika Gupta
22:41 Feb 07, 2021

Aw thanks so much!! :D

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S. Athena
22:27 Feb 07, 2021

Great interpretation of the prompt - loved the themes explored in this. In terms of constructive feedback - I think I would have liked to see a glimpse of Oskar and Matthew before the war (e.g. is there anything in Oskar's past that made him such an exception?) . I'm a new writer so any and all feedback is welcome - here is my first story https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/contests/79/submissions/53837/

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Nainika Gupta
22:38 Feb 07, 2021

Thanks, soo much!! That means a lot!! I think so too, this wasn't by any means everything that I could have done. For example, I didn't really have to include Paris - I could have left it and made something else, but thanks for pointing that out!! And I'd love to check yours out as well!! Thanks for the read! -N

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Kristin Neubauer
19:14 Feb 06, 2021

A brilliant story, Nainika! I am sorry I have fallen so far behind - I can’t keep up with your rate of turning out amazing work. I am continually impressed by the diversity of your writing - you seem execute each genre you present here so masterfully. I’m also impressed by the history that you incorporate into so many of your stories - do you do research? Or do you just keep all the knowledge stored in your head? I loved everything about this story - the characters, the plot, the writing, the message, the very effective use of the refrain...

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Nainika Gupta
13:22 Feb 07, 2021

Ahshshhdjssn That just made my day Kristin!! That means so much to meeee ;) I do a little research but being in school rn really helps!!! Thanks so much again!!!

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Radhika Diksha
11:20 Feb 04, 2021

We kinda worked on the same genre and topic. "telepathy" I loved your story more than mine and you portrayed the war very well. I loved the emotions, the despair of the soldiers. At one point in time, I even loved Matts's character and got sad seeing his suffering. Great job Nanika. I can't point any mistakes in the story because I feel the story is flawless. I loved this narration. I even loved the way you included italics verses in between your story. Two men, no longer boys, were sent to fight for their countries. Two men, no longer bo...

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Nainika Gupta
13:30 Feb 04, 2021

Yeah!! Aww, your story was amazing :) thanks so much Radhika!!

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Roger Crane
04:32 Feb 03, 2021

Well Nainika, I didn't know whether to review your story or not, since I didn't hear back from you after the last one and considered that you might be offended. Still, I think I will. In this story you really defined for me the talent that you have and the thoughts of a writer. I'm glad to see it. The rest is immaterial. That is, whether I agree with your assertions or not, and the minimal grammatical errors, etc. I do not agree with another reviewer that you needed more detail about the armies, uniforms, etc. That was not the point at all....

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Nainika Gupta
14:00 Feb 03, 2021

Oh, Roger, I didn't even see the review for the last one - I'll be sure to check it out! Sorry, I am definitely not offended! Thank you so much for taking the time to give me such feedback, I really appreciate it! And ok, I understand now that he wouldn't be sent back - it was a bit of a stretch, I know - and yes, I did want them to go to Paris, but now realize that I didn't do much WITH Paris so I could actually take it out and make it more cohesive and make it make more sense! I can see how I got a bit preachy, and not letting my characte...

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Roger Crane
21:38 Feb 03, 2021

It is very nice that you said this, Nainika, but even better for you. You impressed me with that piece, even with its minor problems. Research and living takes care of that. In general, write about what you know, but that's not, as I said, a hard and fast rule. But do think deeply. Good writing! --Oh, BTW, I did not know that I could give more than one point until I saw that recently on some of the responses. I'll keep it in mind. So far, I have gotten zero critiques, and perhaps people think I don't need or want them. All writers of whateve...

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Nainika Gupta
22:18 Feb 03, 2021

Thanks so much, Roger! Sure!! and what do you mean by saying more than one point?? I'll definitely give your stories a read and let you know what I think!

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Roger Crane
06:50 Feb 04, 2021

By more than one point I mean that I saw what looked like multiple points for a story by some people. It said, "3 point" etc. I simply clicked on the "likes" but I don't really know how this works.

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Nainika Gupta
13:30 Feb 04, 2021

ooh gotcha - yeah, when I first got onto here, I had NO idea what that meant :D honestly I'm not sure I still do!!

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Roger Crane
21:38 Feb 03, 2021

It is very nice that you said this, Nainika, but even better for you. You impressed me with that piece, even with its minor problems. Research and living takes care of that. In general, write about what you know, but that's not, as I said, a hard and fast rule. But do think deeply. Good writing! --Oh, BTW, I did not know that I could give more than one point until I saw that recently on some of the responses. I'll keep it in mind. So far, I have gotten zero critiques, and perhaps people think I don't need or want them. All writers of whateve...

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19:24 Feb 02, 2021

Okay, so I JUST got around to reading this and I absolutely love it! Every word was beautifully crafted and the plot was amazing! For some reason, I always find myself reading stories set in the same time period, and they always have a place in my heart. You are a wonderful writer, and this is an amazing story. By the way, you probably have read it, but if you haven't, I strongly recommend "The Book Thief." By Markus Zusak. It relates to this time period, and though I read it a while ago, it still remains one of my favorite books :P Great...

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Nainika Gupta
01:47 Feb 03, 2021

Yeah, no problem! It means a lot, this comment :) I have read it! yeah, its an amazing book :D thanks Karina! you as well :)

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Maya
20:34 Feb 01, 2021

https://skribbl.io/?WiwlzjGzBwuU

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Maya
18:18 Feb 01, 2021

I love this so, so much! You did really amazing writing historical fiction, this was so beautiful! The way you had two characters from completely different backgrounds come together in the middle of a war between their people was so creative. Also, your descriptions of the war and the pain of everyone involved were so chilling. This was so wonderful! You should write more in this genre! :D

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Nainika Gupta
18:18 Feb 01, 2021

Thanks so much Maya!! That means a lot and yes...I should!!

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Maya
18:19 Feb 01, 2021

Wow- you responded like seconds after I posted that comment. XD Of course! :)))

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Nainika Gupta
18:25 Feb 01, 2021

ahaha :)

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Maya
18:25 Feb 01, 2021

:DDDDD

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Diana Quill
09:54 Feb 12, 2021

This is most definitely amoung my most favourite stories I have read on this site. Thank you so much for crafting such impactful scenes in my mind, and the historical relevance is wonderful.

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Nainika Gupta
13:30 Feb 12, 2021

awww thanks so so much!! that means a whole lot <3

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Zach Young
16:32 Feb 11, 2021

Hi Nainika! This was such a great story with a POWERFUL message and such a creative way to use the prompt. I’m eager to read more of your stories now haha! I couldn’t find anything to critique about. This story was well-written and so clear (It’s usually hard for me to follow historical fiction)! I love the parallel between the paint brush with possibilities being replaced with the gun for possibilities of only death. That really helps to show the character’s involuntary transition into what he now faces. Your writing style (especially inse...

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Nainika Gupta
16:38 Feb 11, 2021

you-aww you made my dayyyy thanks so much Zach! (hehe my 'To Trap A Heart' series has your name as the MC) and awww thanks again! I really love how you took the time to give me this feedback, means a lot!! I WANT TO!!! if you want to read my Game of Lions series..I'm thinking about writing it as a novellll :D

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Zach Young
19:35 Feb 15, 2021

Haha glad that it did! And oh that's so cool I'll have to look that up now thanks for the rec! Awesome I will definitely read that series... I like starting at the beginning of author's works to see their evolution so I'm gonna sift through your beginning work;) If you have any writer's blocks I'm open if you need to bounce ideas off someone (IG: original_withan_h) Kind of a random offer haha but I like brainstorming with friends. Ideas are always out there waiting to be plucked at the right time. You're crazy talented, keep up the amazing...

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Nainika Gupta
19:42 Feb 15, 2021

Aww thanks!! yeah... i love that :)) AND WAIT I deleted my Game of Lions series... but my To Trap A Heart Series has your name as the MC and My Trap the Dragon series is pretty cool if I don't say so myself :) THANKSSSSSS :)))

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Zach Young
06:40 Mar 06, 2021

Awesome! Now I've got some good reads. I'll check out that series, thanks!

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Nainika Gupta
15:33 Mar 06, 2021

of course!! :)

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Zach Young
06:40 Mar 06, 2021

Awesome! Now I've got some good reads. I'll check out that series, thanks!

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14:57 Feb 03, 2021

NEW THREAD FOR STEINBECK FANS.

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Nainika Gupta
15:37 Feb 03, 2021

Ok ok for your emoji puzzle I have challenged myself to only 2 guesses, bc i literally guessed SO much last time XD hint?

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15:39 Feb 03, 2021

Its considered actually by many people to be the great american novel. Not just by me.

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Nainika Gupta
15:42 Feb 03, 2021

hmm....ok one of my two guesses... The Scarlett Letter - Nathanial Hawthorne?

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15:43 Feb 03, 2021

Haha nope!!! Search up which two books are thought to be representations of the great american novel and you will find that only one of them fits the emoji, and its great.

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Nainika Gupta
15:52 Feb 03, 2021

darn im not looking up!! that defeats the purpose...i gotta use my BOOK KNOWLEDGE LUKEEE

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Nainika Gupta
15:56 Feb 03, 2021

ok, either: The adventures of huckleberry Finn or uncle tom's cabin

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Michael Boquet
15:38 Feb 02, 2021

I loved the split perspectives. I also liked the epithets that set the scene before each section

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Nainika Gupta
15:40 Feb 02, 2021

aaww thank you so much!! really appreciate that!!

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John Del Rio
02:49 Feb 02, 2021

so well done. i was too busy enjoying your well crafted story to notice if there was anything off grammatically or mechanically with it. i suspect if i went back to reread it and search for something, that i wouldn't find anything. i like the theme of War and how dreadful it is. i like how the two mens' humanity shine through even though they are "enemies". i will read more of your work because i enjoy well written stories.

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Nainika Gupta
13:24 Feb 02, 2021

you...made me cryyyyy thanks so much for the read and this feedback!

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Red Eleven
21:10 Mar 08, 2021

This was a sweet story; the effects and actions of WWII can be difficult to address when we think about both sides but you did well in describing the characters. I like how you split up the time with such poetic and italicized writing. It made it easy to keep up with the time change.

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Nainika Gupta
21:18 Mar 08, 2021

Thanks so much Katy! Really appreciate it :)

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