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Drama

His alarm woke him up before sunrise. There were clouds in the sky, a frown on his face, and misery in the air. He tried once again to place the strange smell in his room, maybe his son had been eating chips in there? No, that wasn’t it. It smelled like garlic and something stronger, but what?

He got out of his king-sized bed, washed his face, shaved, brushed his teeth, showered, slapped himself on the face, and smiled at his reflection in the mirror. Anything to stay awake, to function, to go on living. It was Sunday, his day off. Usually, on his days off, he took his son to the park. Not today, the weather was the worst it had been all week. 

He went to his son’s room across the hall, dragging his feet on the carpeted floor they had upstairs. It was light brown, with dark stains in it, like shadows of an invisible monster.

He entered the room and saw his son cowering under the blanket. Outside of the window, he could see streaks of blue. Then booming noises, like a marching band playing in his ears. Oh no, he thought, trying not to swear in his head. It was hard, but swearing in his head could lead him to do it out loud, and his son was close.

He noticed the blanket shuffling; scared, hopeful, big emotions for a blanket. The boy knew how to act, probably because of all the movies he watched with his mother. They were huge movie buffs, both of them, and they would often recite their favorite lines together and recreate scenes for him. He loved watching them act, even though he was the furthest thing away from being a cinephile. There were better escapes in his opinion, more interesting things to explore. It was these more extreme escapes that he pursued in college, paired with a history of poor mental health, that had led to his first detachment from reality. He broke down, couldn’t tell what was real and what wasn’t. He couldn’t afford to do that again. He had to take care of his son. 

“Mom?” The boy asked.

“No, it’s dad,” the man said. 

“Oh.”

“Come here, I want to see your face,” the man said.

The blanket shifted. Then, a clap of thunder and the blanket was still as a stone.

“I don’t want to come out, dad,” the boy said. 

“Fine, I’ll join you.”

He walked across the room and sat on his son’s bed. 

“I want to watch a movie with mom,” the boy said.

The man sighed, this was a long-time tradition his wife and son had. Any time there was lightning on a day-off, they snuggled up together downstairs on the brown couch in front of the TV. The man would make them popcorn, give them blankets, then go upstairs to work. He didn’t want to stick around to watch the movie, it was their tradition, not his. 

“How about we watch a movie together? I’ll make popcorn with melted butter,” the man offered.

“No, I want to see mom, I miss her,” the boy said. 

“I’m sorry, but you can’t see mom. Why don’t I read you a book, you can stay under the covers while I do it if you want.”

The boy considered the offer.

“No,” he said, “I want to watch a movie with mom.”

“We can visit her today," the man said.

“Good, where does she live?”

The man fought back tears. He couldn’t afford to start crying, that would make his son cry too. The man preferred to keep his emotions locked up.

“Far away, are you sure you want to go out in this storm?” The man asked. 

“Um, can you give me a second to think?” The boy asked like he was in a negotiation. Under better circumstances, that would have been adorable.

“Sure.”

The man shuffled back to his room. He could smell the garlic, and...misery? No, it wasn’t misery, it was booze. His room smelled like garlic and booze, even though he didn’t drink anymore and he didn’t eat garlic in there. 

“Dad, come back,” the boy called out.

The man shuffled back to his son’s room.

“I want to see mom,” the boy said. 

There was another streak of lightning, the boy started crying. Oh shit, the man thought. Hey, no swearing. But if one streak of lightning produced so many tears, what would happen when they stepped out in the storm. The man pretended that he hadn’t seen his son crying. He lifted the boy and carried him downstairs, helped him get his boots and coat on, then scooped him up again and placed him in the car seat. The boy loved being carried, but he was getting older and so was his dad, he’d have to walk on his own soon.

They drove for forty minutes, to the borders of the city, where the graveyard was located. On the way, the man was determined to make conversation with his son, to distract the boy from the harrowing storm outside. The man didn’t think it would rain this much, his windshield wipers worked overtime just so he could get a glimpse of the road. He was so focused that he couldn’t come up with anything normal to talk to his son about.

“Does your room ever smell like garlic?” He asked the boy. 

The rain was hitting the car so hard he had to raise his voice. The boy looked scared.

 Is he scared of the thunder...or me? The man wondered. 

“No,” his son answered. 

This worried the man, but he kept a neutral face. Smelling things that weren’t there, it was one of the first symptoms he noticed when he lost touch of reality last time. He panicked, turned the wheel a little, and lost control of the car. They skidded along the empty road, then came to a stop. He looked back at his son, made sure he was okay, then kept driving. If it was just him in his car, he would have slammed the gas and let fate take over. But his son was in the car, in his life, and when you care about anything as much as he cared about his son you start caring about your own life too. 

“Do you miss her?” The boy asked.

“Yes,” the man said.

“How did the two of you meet?” The boy asked.

“You’re a mature young man, you know that?” The man asked.

“Yes, so how did you two meet?”

“Let’s see, it was a long time ago. We met at work, so at first, I didn’t want to date her, office relationships are never a good idea.”

His son nodded, even though he didn’t understand what that meant.

“I tried to avoid her, so she had to make the first move. Your mother asked me out to coffee and we hit it off. Do you remember what she looked like?”

“Yes, like a movie actress,” the boy answered.

“She was something,” the man agreed, “she was my rock, for a long time. Helped me find some stability through all my ups and downs.”

“Mom was a rock?”

The man laughed. Sometimes he forgot how young his son was. 

“Would that make you half-rock?” The man asked.

“I don’t know,” the boy shrugged.

“Now you’re my rock, son.”

“Thanks, Dad, I guess.”

When the boy wasn’t sure how to react to things, he looked at his dad and copied him. Now, his dad was smiling, so he smiled. 

They parked outside the graveyard. It was a nice place, not creepy at all, the man had made sure of that. It was secluded from the rest of the city because the man didn’t want his wife to be bothered. The gravestones were large, made of white marble. They had roses and tulips and rocks and pictures and toys on them. The grass around each gravestone was trimmed and watered once a week. 

The man took his son by the hand, making sure that the intense wind and rain wouldn’t knock him down.

“Can you carry me, dad?” The boy shouted over the storm.

“No, the wind’s too strong and I might slip on the wet ground.”

“Okay.”

His son was an easy child, he was grateful for that. The boy inherited his mother’s kind, calm demeanor. They arrived at her grave. It was surrounded by flowers and toys and a big plastic baggie filled with papers.

“What’s in the bag?” The boy asked.

“Pictures you drew for mom,” the man answered. 

“Why didn’t you give them to her?” The boy asked. 

“I did my best,” the man answered. 

The boy waited patiently to meet his mother. This is a strange place to meet, he thought. His father told him they needed to go find a pretty rock to put on the grave, that it was a tradition to leave one every time they visited. 

“Tradition? Like when mom and I watch movies” the boy asked.

“Exactly,” the man said.

They walked out of the graveyard, back across the parking lot, and near the empty road. They searched for rocks on a gravel path to the side of the road, the man squeezing his son’s hand like a little child holding onto a balloon. They found two good rocks and went to put them on the grave. 

The boy noticed a gray plaque on the white marble, it had his mother’s name, the numbers 1982-2018, and a little blurb he struggled to read. It talked about how she was a great mother and a great woman who would be missed, and how she left behind her husband and son. The boy doesn’t understand, his mother would never leave him behind, she always took care of him.

The boy then noticed that the plaque on the grave next to hers’ was empty. The man had bought that grave for himself, without telling his son, of course. The man noticed his son reading the plaque, he had to fight off tears. The lightning didn’t care about any of this, it was relentless as ever. 

“Dad, is mom gone, forever?” 

The boy wasn’t sure how he figured it out on his own. Something deep-rooted and primal had told him that she was gone and that one day he would be gone too, forever and ever and ever, and the world would keep going. The boy fainted. 

The man picked up his son and ran to the car, doing his best not to slip in the rain. He strapped the boy into his car seat, buckled up his seatbelt, and pulled up directions to the nearest hospital on his phone. 

He explained what happened to the nurse, who called the doctors to examine the boy. The man was told to take a seat in the waiting. He made the doctor promise that he would alert him as soon as his son regained consciousness. The boy was placed on a cart and rolled away. 

The man sat down in a beige chair. There was a coffee-table full covered in magazines in front of him, and a vending machine in the corner. The man sat near a couple about his age. The woman had pretty features, black hair, hazel eyes, she was wearing a blue shirt, and a white cardigan over it. The man was fast asleep, his head rested on her shoulder. 

“I hope I’m not being rude, I overheard what you said to the nurse, where’s your wife? The mother should be here in times like these,” the woman said. 

The man was surprised. You are being rude, he thought. He tried not to show his anger, it would lead to other emotions. 

“I’m a single father,” he answered.

“Oh, that’s amazing, it’s so nice to see good men like you take responsibility.”

The man was happy with this response. He usually got one of three reactions when he told people he was a single parent; concern about his ability to raise a child, pity, or praise. Praise was his favorite, happiness was an easy emotion for him to manage, there was so much sadness in his life it could balance out any amount of happiness he ever felt. 

“I’m a single parent too, my husband left me with our daughter,” the woman went on. 

Huh? The man thought. Then who’s that guy sleeping next to her? 

“Are you here alone?” The man asked. It was a rude question, but he didn’t care at the moment.

“Yes, I’m waiting for my parents to arrive, they help me a lot with my daughter.”

“Can you come with me to the vending machine? I need help picking out a snack,” the man said. 

The woman furrowed her brow. A grown man had just asked her to help him pick out a candy. She obliged anyway, getting off her seat. The guy that was sleeping on her shoulder remained in the same position, not affected by her movements at all. Then, the guy disappeared. Oh no, it’s happening again, the man thought. He was feeling too many emotions, he had to calm himself down. Then, the smell hit him.

“Do you smell garlic and booze?” The man asked the woman. 

“No, I think the pretzels look good,” she said. 

“Huh?”

“You asked me to help you pick out a snack, the pretzels look good,” she said.

The man bought the pretzels, opened them, laid them down on the coffee table, and told the woman to help herself. Then, he excused himself to go to the bathroom. 

The man closed the door behind him and spread his hands on the sink. He slapped himself, then smiled at his reflection in the mirror, anything to stay awake, to function, to stay alive. It’s Sunday, he reminded himself, anything to cling onto reality. He could still smell garlic and booze. 

He remembered something his wife told him, “Sometimes the best thing you can do is just cry.” The man cried for a long time until there was a knock on the door. 

“Sir, the doctors are looking for you, are you okay?” asked the woman from the waiting room.

“I’m fine, please tell them I’ll be out in a moment.”

He couldn’t let his son see him like this. The boy would mimic his dad and start crying too. 

His son was returned to him in the waiting room. The doctor smiled and said that everything was fine and that he would like to see the boy again to do a blood test, just a precaution.

The man kneeled on the floor and hugged his son. 

“That was scary,” the boy said. 

The man tried to say something back, but his voice failed. He tried but he couldn’t summon any words. He cried on his son’s shoulder. His son smiled.

“Don’t cry dad, I’m okay, and so are you,” the boy said.

The man was shocked. He tried to stop his crying but found that he couldn’t. 

“Can we visit mom again?” The boy asked. 

“Yes, we’ll go again next Sunday,” the man said through tears.

Since then the man and his son visit her every Sunday. It’s their tradition. 

September 03, 2020 19:17

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67 comments

Another sweet story I’ve read tonight! Wow, I liked this...the relishing between the dad and son is cute ;). Keep writing! -Aerin P. S. Would you mind checking out ‘Life Sentence’? Thank you!

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I. F.
14:05 Sep 04, 2020

Thanks, I'll go check out your story as soon as I can.

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Zea Bowman
01:48 Sep 22, 2020

Wow! I was truly captivated by this story! Your descriptions were amazing, and the words seemed to flow together. You really have a knack for writing! Could you please come read a story (or stories) of mine? Thanks! Keep up the good work! :)

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I. F.
15:05 Sep 24, 2020

Thank you! I'll go check out your stories in a bit.

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Avery G.
00:09 Sep 12, 2020

Aww, this was so sweet. I loved it! I could picture everything in my head. It was that well written. Great job!

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I. F.
03:16 Sep 12, 2020

Thanks so much, glad you enjoyed it!

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Avery G.
03:56 Sep 12, 2020

You're welcome!

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B. W.
13:40 Sep 11, 2020

Itay :) are you getting excited, it'll be out real soon

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I. F.
14:40 Sep 11, 2020

Can't wait! Let me know when it's out.

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B. W.
15:27 Sep 11, 2020

The next story will be the reedsy friends one but i made another one at the moment "Crossover" which you should check out and leave some feedback ^^

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B. W.
18:44 Sep 11, 2020

Okay its also out "adventure with friends" is the name and check it out :)

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B. W.
15:12 Sep 10, 2020

Itay how do ya wanna act in the story? i mean the one with you and some other Reedsy friends, itll be out tomorrow so i need to know how ya wanna act.

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I. F.
15:25 Sep 10, 2020

Ohh can't wait, I've never actually read about a character with my name so I'm really excited about that. It doesn't matter how I act in the story, you can develop the character any way you want.

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B. W.
15:29 Sep 10, 2020

Is there maybe something that ya wanna happen in the story though? it can be anything and i could try to add it in there. i know you'll probably like it, you and my other friends on here have been so nice so i decided to do this for ya all ^^

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I. F.
15:45 Sep 10, 2020

Thanks! I don't really have anything specific that I want you to include. You're very imaginative, so I'll be happy with whatever kind of story you choose to write.

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B. W.
15:50 Sep 10, 2020

No prob ^^ its fine if ya wanna wait til tomorrow but i already have a plan on what will happen on the story so do you maybe wanna know now or wait?

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I. F.
20:11 Sep 10, 2020

I'd rather keep it a surprise, I feel like it'll be a better read if I go into it not knowing what to expect.

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Pamela Abwao
23:43 Sep 08, 2020

Sweet. Giving characters names gives life to stories . Don't they?

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I. F.
21:39 Sep 09, 2020

Thanks for reading! What's your question at the end? I don't understand.

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Jan Querubin
21:15 Sep 08, 2020

You showed grief in a realistic manner. The story was really sad and emotional. The characters' (especially the father's) emotions were relatable. Without using names, you captured your readers' hearts. Thank you for making me cry for a bit. Nice work!

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I. F.
21:41 Sep 09, 2020

Thanks so much! It means a lot to me that something I created had an impact on you. And yes, I wanted to experiment a little and see what could happen if I didn't give any of the characters a name.

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Aubrey Maria ✌
13:57 Sep 08, 2020

I definitely felt moved throughout the story with the characters -I thought maybe the son (I know this is a sad ending) would fill in the other side of the grave beside his mother at the end. When the dad swerved the car, I was thinking, ‘hmmm...’ But anyways, I really enjoyed this.

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I. F.
20:22 Sep 08, 2020

Yeah, I was considering ending it like that, with the man going crazy and doing something bad (like driving off the road with his son in the car), but I decided that he's been through a lot and he deserved a happy ending. Thanks for the feedback!

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Aubrey Maria ✌
22:36 Sep 08, 2020

I'm glad you ending it the way you did! The story was enjoyable.

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What a sweet and accurate use of grief being told in a story. I love reading stories like such because they always tug at my heart right away. You did a great job with this. Well done!

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I. F.
20:19 Sep 08, 2020

Thanks so much, glad you enjoyed it!

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you're welcome

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Lynn Penny
18:03 Sep 07, 2020

This was so lovely and sad, the emotion was high strung the entire time. You did a wonderful job with the dialogue and the differences between the father and son were done perfectly.

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I. F.
22:48 Sep 07, 2020

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it!

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Jan H
01:19 Sep 07, 2020

This is such an emotional story. I think you did a great job of capturing the struggle the son and father were having with the loss. My favorite line is, “Sometimes the best thing you can do is just cry.”

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I. F.
22:51 Sep 07, 2020

You're right on point, at its core, this story is about coping with loss, and sometimes it's important to cry while you're grieving. Anyway, thanks for reading.

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Jan H
23:39 Sep 07, 2020

Well, you did a great job. I enjoyed reading it.

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Rambling Beth
00:10 Sep 07, 2020

This was wonderful! You had me hooked from the very beginning, and I really loved the dialogue. Fantastic story, I really enjoyed it. The relationship between the father and the son was gorgeous. Wonderful writing. <3

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I. F.
22:52 Sep 07, 2020

Thanks so much!

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Elise Holder
23:13 Sep 06, 2020

This story was really good! I especially like the beginning with the boy under the covers. You conveyed a strong sense of emotion throughout the story, and it kept me invested throughout.

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I. F.
22:54 Sep 07, 2020

I'm glad you liked that beginning part, I had the boy hide under the covers to show that he was really afraid of the thunderstorm. Glad you enjoyed, thanks for the feedback!

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Rayhan Hidayat
08:32 Sep 04, 2020

“scared, hopeful, big emotions for a blanket.” <—ooh I like this one This was amazing, holy cow this was so good. There was this air of creepiness throughout the whole thing, made creepier by the garlic scent, like the reader isn’t sure if the events of the story are even real. The main character is so, so intruiging, he’s tragic and multifaceted and made for a very compelling read. I love that he is simply “the man” for the entire story, I’m guessing because he’s meant to represent men worldwide and how they’re typically seen as less “su...

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I. F.
14:04 Sep 04, 2020

Thanks so much! You're right about the garlic scent, I wanted to make the story seem sort of dream-like, so the reader can feel like they're losing touch with reality along with the main character. I decided to simply call the main character 'the man' for the exact reason you said, and to send out a message that all you need to do to be a father is be there for your child. I also wanted to show that somebody with mental health struggles isn't always going to be crazy and do bad things. Anyway, thanks for your feedback, you always leave me ve...

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Rayhan Hidayat
18:25 Sep 04, 2020

Always a pleasure, and likewise!

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Anshika Goyal
04:53 Sep 04, 2020

You got me at the first sentence Itay. I like the way you describe the setting. The whole story is well written- especially the dialogues. The dialogues really help the story come alive. You nice, keep going. P.s- Please check out-"Gleba- a not so successful technology". I want t get your opinion on it.

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I. F.
14:06 Sep 04, 2020

Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'll go check out your story in a bit.

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B. W.
20:36 Sep 03, 2020

hey i really liked this one ^^ i kind of like how you didn't give any of the characters names and just instead called them stuff like "the boy" "the man" and stuff like that ^^ do you maybe plan on making a story for the new prompts that come out tomorrow at some point? i didn't think there would be a story from these prompts but this is still really good. :) somewhere tomorrow i'll have a few of my stories out along with the princess thing but it might be a bit different and i'll tell you whenever they come out. they'll probably be out earl...

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I. F.
14:10 Sep 04, 2020

Thanks! Not sure if I'll make any new stories today, I'm working on one but school's starting up again for me so I'm kind of busy. Can't wait to read your new stories!

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B. W.
14:16 Sep 04, 2020

No problem ^^ yeah thats fine, its alright if your ever busy with school or anything just take your time. i think the new prompts come out in like an hour so you don't have to wait to long ^^ i'll probably make 3 or maybe even 4 stories this week :) i love doing this

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I. F.
14:22 Sep 04, 2020

Way to go! I think I'm going to try to soldier on like you and just keep writing and making stories. I love writing, getting stuck is no fun but those rare moments when I can actually come up with words and ideas are the best.

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B. W.
14:35 Sep 04, 2020

Yeah, i kinda just hate whenever i get writers block or anything like that which seems to be sometimes happening a bit more often but i'm glad i've still been able to come up with stuff and use the prompts ^^ i'll be excited to see your other stories :)

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B. W.
10:13 Sep 05, 2020

Hey Itay :) i made a couple of stories yesterday (maybe 4) but i'd want you to check out the first two stories i did yesterday so could you maybe go and check out "Useless" and "getting her back" i'd love to see what you say for those ones, i always like to see what you have to say ^^

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I. F.
21:45 Sep 05, 2020

Thanks 🙏 can’t wait to check them out! I’ll go read them and leave you some feedback soon as I get a chance.

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B. W.
21:49 Sep 05, 2020

No problem ^^ and thank's im excited to see what you have to say for them and, thats alright do it when your not busy :)

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I. F.
22:05 Sep 06, 2020

Sorry it took me a while, I'm off to read your stories now 😄

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B. W.
22:07 Sep 06, 2020

Its alright thats fine ^^ im excited what you have to say though

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I. F.
22:19 Sep 06, 2020

Just read "Useless" and left you some feedback, going over to "getting her back"

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