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Contemporary Friendship Inspirational

Cyrus looked out of his window and rubbed his eyes. The marble statue of his dead wife had, amazingly, grown a recumbent child at her feet. He rubbed his eyes again. Still there. Either a miracle had occurred or he had drunk an inordinate amount of cheap wine last night.

He hastily threw on a coat and some shoes, tramping outside to determine which hypothesis was correct. Neither, as it turned out.

Cyrus bent down and touched the figure. It was an actual human, but one near death. Her skin was as cold as the marble she was draped over and her lips were blue. Cyrus felt for a pulse. It was thread, weak, ready to stop on a whim. He quickly – and a little roughly – turned the figure onto its back and started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

A few quick compressions to the thin chest. More mouth-to-mouth. More compressions. The sweat started to trickle from his brow, making him even colder in the frigid Chicago air. Suddenly, the girl coughed and sputtered, spraying Cyrus’ face with spit and phlegm.

“Whugghh…ummn…gurgh.”

Cyrus wiped his face, cursing at the girl and wondering why he was doing what he was doing. He should just call someone who dealt with this sort of stuff.

The girl was alive, yes, but he couldn’t get her to her feet. With no small amount of irritation, Cyrus picked her up and trudged to his door. Mrs. McKinley, his next-door neighbor, had been watching the events the whole time.

“Hey! What are ya’ doin’ with that girl? I’m gonna call the police on you!” Her voice screeched and grated against Cyrus’ ears.

“Go to hell, you old bat!”

“Die already, you pervert!”

With the formalities out of the way, Cyrus turned his attention to the girl in his arms. She was light, thankfully, so it wasn’t much of an effort to get her inside and on the sofa. He cleaned her up a little and threw a blanket over her, breathing a sigh of relief. The blanket would warm her, yes, but it also covered her up. Cyrus wryly judged that tea cozies were made with more material; it certainly wasn’t enough to hide the bruises and scrapes that peppered her skin.

Cyrus was at a loss as to what to do with this young person, so he simply did nothing except stare out of his front window and wait for her to wake up. He gazed at the statue of his dead wife. He gazed at the empty flower beds and the neglected lawn. He thought about eating but decided that it was too much trouble to pour cereal into a bowl and add some milk.

The day crept on and Cyrus kept vigil over the girl. He had a shot of whiskey for lunch, and another shot for dessert. He was contemplating moving his ass to another chair when the girl finally stirred, blinked and yawned, then sat up. She immediately slumped back down, groaning in pain.

Cyrus got up and found some aspirin in his medicine cabinet. He forced her to take them. So far, neither said a word to the other. He was afraid of this creature and she was too disinterested in this strange man to talk.

“What’s your name?” Cyrus finally spoke because he found that the silence he loved so much felt awkward and odd with another person in his house.

“Candy,” the girl said.

“No way.”

The girl stood up, stretched tentatively, and stared at Cyrus.

“Gotta cigarette?”

Cyrus nodded but declined to give her one. With a sigh of exasperation, the girl took a cigarette from the pack laying on a table and lit it. She blew out the thick, blue-white smoke and sighed in contentment.

“How old are you?”

The girl looked at Cyrus coyly.

“How old do you want me to be?”

“I, uh…I don’t…what?”

“Where am I? All I remember is being kicked out of a car and freezing my ass off trying to find some shelter. I fell asleep on a stone foot. I think. Maybe I was dreaming by then.”

The girl studied her surroundings. She didn’t like what she saw.

“This place looks like where a serial killer would live. You got your mamma in the basement?”

Cyrus didn’t respond to this. He didn’t know how.

“Anyway, I gotta go, dude. Unless you wanna date?”

Cyrus stared at her, puzzled by her words and questioning his actions in taking this girl in. She should be in school, not freezing to death on his front lawn.

The girl shrugged and headed to the door. Cyrus did nothing to stop her.

****************************

The bitter cold suddenly gave way to warmer weather and the advent of new growth. Cyrus studied his unkempt lawn with an indifference that would earn the respect of any high school kid. The grass hadn’t been cut since last July, and the yellow mass of growth was sprinkled with green shoots of new grass and a plethora of weeds.

Cyrus wiped down the statue in his front lawn, buffing it assiduously and inspecting it minutely. The statue gleamed in the spring sun, the cold marble warming up just a little.

“Mow your lawn, asshole!” Mrs. McKinley yelled at Cyrus. He gave her a sour look and the infamous one-fingered salute as a response.

“You should be ashamed of yourself, pervert. Diddlin’ that little girl,” Mrs. McKinley said. She stood by their property line and wagged a finger at Cyrus.

“God should be ashamed that He created you, you nosy bitch,” Cyrus shot back.

“Hmph!” Mrs. McKinley went back to tending her garden.

Cyrus went back inside and drank some coffee. Spring had sprung, but it was still cold for an old man like him. He took his coffee into the living area and sat down. A girl sat on the sofa, reading.

“She still think you’re screwing me?” The girl looked up and smiled wickedly. Cyrus frowned at her sense of humor. Little girls shouldn’t find stuff like this to be funny.

“Yes.”

“And?”

“She called me a pervert.”

The girl formerly known as Candy got up and kissed Cyrus on the cheek. Cyrus shifted uncomfortably.

“Look what I got,” the girl showed Cyrus two pairs of jeans, two sweaters, a few tee shirts, and a pair of shoes. “All for the fifty bucks you gave me. And I got some underwear…”

Cyrus held up his hand.

“I don’t wanna hear about the…undergarments. Do you need more?”

The girl looked at Cyrus with that world-weary look that she had, a look that saddened Cyrus. A smile tugged playfully at the corners of her lips, further disconcerting Cyrus. He didn’t know how to deal effectively with a 16-year-old girl (who does?), and he most definitely didn’t know how to deal with a 16-year-old girl who used to be a prostitute.

“Well, yeah! We need food.”

Cyrus handed her some $20 bills. She looked at the money in her hands and then looked back at Cyrus, melancholy eyes to the forefront.

“You know, I could hit the streets and earn a couple thousand real quick. I know you aren’t rich and I should be doing something…”

“No!” Cyrus said, loudly and forcefully. The girl straightened in surprise. Cyrus, her sweet, gentle, quiet, insufferably thoughtful Cyrus had yelled.

“Let’s…let’s get back to work.”

The man and the girl ambled off to Cyrus’ workshop. He took up a chisel and started chipping away at an amorphous piece of marble. The girl watched him. After a few minutes, he handed the chisel to the girl. She struck the chisel against the marble. Cyrus corrected her technique. She tried again. He corrected her again.

The day passed like this. Cyrus’ gentle instructions and the occasional clink of steel on marble were the only sounds heard, well into the evening. The amorphous piece of marble had been ruined by the girl. Cyrus thought that it was lovely.

****************************

“Blow it out!” Gail Teagarden, the girl formerly known as Candy, urged Cyrus.

Cyrus looked at the cake, a single candle burning its way towards white frosting. He washed his hands, wondering about the cake. It wasn’t his birthday, and even had it been his birthday, the candle count would have been woefully short.

“What’s all this?” Cyrus bent over the cake and quickly backed away from the heat of the candle.

Gail smirked and shook her head.

“Just like a man. They forget important dates.”

Cyrus looked at her and blinked.

“It was one year ago that you found my sorry ass on your lawn. You breathed life back into me.”

Cyrus shook his head.

“That’s a little dramatic.”

“Maybe. But I would’ve died. Now I’m reborn, like the phoenix.”

Cyrus smiled proudly at Gail. She was becoming literate instead of seductive.

They ate a piece of cake and fell into comfortable small talk. Gail still laughed too loudly, Cyrus thought, but he was enjoying it now. Laughter had been absent from his life for decades, and the reintroduction of it had been difficult to take.

“Hey! Go take a piece to Mrs. McKinley. See what she says,” Gail said. Her wicked smile accompanied the words.

Cyrus, to her surprise, agreed to do it. Gail stood on the lawn and watched what happened. Cyrus held out the cake. Mrs. McKinley pushed it away. Cyrus held it out again. Mrs. McKinley knocked it out of his hand. Cyrus walked away after flipping her off.

“You’re a dirty harlot, girl!”

“I’m a very clean harlot!” Gail retorted. Mrs. McKinley slammed her front door, leaving Cyrus and Gail on the front lawn, laughing.

“You really shouldn’t say things like that.”

Gail smiled and took Cyrus’ arm, leading him back inside. It was too cold to have a decent conversation outside.

“I think I should, old man. I met women like that when I was doing business on the streets. They would say the same shit. Some would even throw stuff at me. You’ll never change her mind about us. She thinks you’re screwing me in exchange for me living here. That’s fact. If she knew what was really going on, her head might explode.”

Both chuckled at this thought. Mrs. McKinley’s head exploding pleased them both.

“The pieces of her brain would make good fertilizer for the lawn.”

“Gail!”

“I stand by my statement, old man. Now have another piece of cake.”

****************************

Cyrus looked at the certificate with pride.

“You’re a high school graduate! I knew you could do it,” he gushed.

Gail waved it off.

“It’s a G.E.D. And I barely passed math. I mean, what the hell do I care about linear equations?”

“And you turned eighteen yesterday. Now you can drink without having to sneak into my whiskey when I go to bed.”

Gail looked at Cyrus with a mix of contrition and satisfaction. The ratio was unequal.

“You know about that, huh?”

“Go get the bottle. We’ll have a toast. But only one. We have work to do.”

Gail was almost finished with her first statue. Cyrus would watch her and instruct her, but he wouldn’t help her with the chisels. The statue was of a young girl prostrated at the feet of an old man. Cyrus found the choice of subjects amusing.

The couple made their way outside and debated on where to put it. Gail wanted to put it in the back yard so that it didn’t take away from the statue of Cyrus’ dead wife in the front. Cyrus wanted to place them on opposite sides of the walkway. Gail argued that there would be no symmetry. Cyrus argued that it would please him.

“Stop parading your trollop out here, pervert! Get you and your slut back inside!” Mrs. McKinley yelled at the couple.

“Eat a bag of…”

“Gail!”

Gail stopped, but she didn’t want to. She did, however, deliver a final shot before they went back inside.

“The only reason Jesus loves you is because He has to, you crazy bitch!”

****************************

“What the…” Cyrus started, but couldn’t finish. The statue. It was gone. In its place was a scarred, jagged-edged piece of marble that had once been Gail’s first piece.

Gail stood back and looked at her work. Her dusty overalls and rough hands bore testament to her being the perpetrator of the crime.

“It wasn’t right,” she said.

“But it was! It was beautiful…”

Gail turned to Cyrus and wagged a finger at him.

“First rule of artistry: don’t question the artist’s vision.”

Cyrus looked forlornly at the shattered sculpture. Pieces of marble were strewn all over the workshop floor, glinting maliciously at him. Gail tapped the remaining piece of marble, chipping away a razor-sharp edge. Then she chipped another piece away, and then another.

Cyrus left her alone. His heart felt like the pieces of marble on the floor. He stood on the front porch and stared at the spot he had designated for the statue.

“No decent man would be doin’ what you’re doin’, pervert.” Mrs. McKinley had her hands on her hips and stared at Cyrus.

“Go back inside and read your bible, you old bat.”

“I read my bible every day, pervert. You should try it.”

“Oh yeah? What about ‘love thy neighbor’?”

Mrs. McKinley thought about that for a moment.

“My neighbor ain’t worth lovin’.”

“Neither is mine,” Cyrus said. He went back inside and left Mrs. McKinley to ponder her own hypocrisy. He doubted that the event would take more than a nanosecond.

****************************

Cyrus stared at the finished piece above the fireplace. It was small but exquisite. He gave Gail a shoulder-to-shoulder hug but she wasn’t having any of it. She hugged him from behind and kissed his cheek. Cyrus shrugged away from the closeness, causing Gail to laugh.

“You like?”

Cyrus nodded, wiping a stray and unwelcome tear from his eye. It was the same statue that she had done before, but in miniature, standing only seventeen inches tall. He studied the face of the old man; it was careworn and gentle. Gail’s talent was undeniable, but she attributed her talent to the skills of her teacher.

“The marble spoke to me one night. It told me to dig deeper for the truth of my vision, so I did. It was there, Cyrus. Buried under all that other marble.”

Cyrus nodded.

“Like truth,” he commented.

“Yeah. Like truth.”

Both stood in front of the unlit fireplace, gazing at the two figures before them, brought to life in one small piece of marble.

“It took you long enough,” Cyrus said with a smile on his face. Gail didn’t need the smile to know that he was attempting humor. He was never mean, and he was terrible at humor.

“Yeah, ok. So it took five years. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.”

“What pudding?” Cyrus asked.

“There is no pudding, old man. It’s a saying.”

“But why pudding?”

“Nevermind. You’re such a Philistine sometimes.”

“I can’t argue with you there. I never read much, so you have that on me.”

“I have everything on you, old man. I’m younger, prettier, more talented…”

“Whoa! You still have a lot to learn about sculpting, young lady. Don’t get cocky.”

Gail took Cyrus by the hands and shook him gently.

“I have the best teacher. What more do I need?’

Cyrus wiped another tear from his eye. This was getting tiresome, he thought.

“Well, we both need a new neighbor like Mrs. McKinley.”

They both laughed at this. Mrs. McKinley had been discourteous enough to die last year, but that didn’t surprise either one of them.

“The old bat was rude to the end. Left us with no one to trade barbs with.”

“I miss her.”

“Me too, old man. Me too.”

****************************

Cyrus died peacefully in the summer of 2022, at the ripe old age of eighty-three. Gail was twenty-five then, a woman with a colorful past and an even more colorful future.

She sat at Cyrus’ gravesite and poured out a shot of whiskey on his grave before knocking back a liberal shot of her own.

“Hey, old man. Here I am again, coming to give you some company and maybe a little grief. That’s my plan, anyway.”

The sun glinted off of the marble headstone that she had sculpted for him. The headstone was inscribed simply, with Cyrus’ full patronymic on it, and the dates of his birth and death. Gail chiseled out one quote, of her own making.

The Master Sculptor’s finest creation

“So, turns out I’m gay. Who knew? Well, I guess I knew, but that’s a story for another day. I have a girlfriend. Alissa. You’d like her. Got anything to say about that, old man? No? Well, you’re as talkative as ever.”

Gail took another healthy swallow of whiskey before continuing.

“I keep your wife clean, like you did. And I took over your bedroom so it wouldn’t feel so lonely. It pleases me to see our piece when I go to bed. And, just so you know, I’m still pissed at you for dying on me. I cry way too much over you, and you know how I hate to cry.”

Gail fell silent and drank more whiskey. She wiped away her tears and stood up to leave.

“I’ll be back next month, old man. Thanks for everything, especially the cigarettes.”

She wanted to say more, so much more, but couldn’t. Cigarettes would have to do for now.

Maybe someday, she thought.

December 29, 2022 19:51

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48 comments

Michał Przywara
17:29 Jan 01, 2023

Fantastic! Two damaged people cross paths, join forces, and find new purpose in life. And Mrs. McKinley is there too :) There's very strong characters here, and they undergo some drastic changes. Gail's changes are the most extreme, and much like the marble she sculpts, she learns of the capabilities/truth inside her. Cyrus's change is less dramatic, but still present. He seemed like a man that had finished living, mourning his wife, until he found new purpose. It doesn't seem like he ever had kids, so Gail was a child by proxy, inheriting...

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Delbert Griffith
19:07 Jan 01, 2023

Wow, that's high praise indeed, Michal. I have to admit to stealing a little from Greek mythology on this one, as well as from a playwright, but I think we all steal and modify, right? You got Mrs. McKinley perfectly: the ever-resilient hypocrisy of humans, especially those who claim to be moral. As usual, your analysis is as good or better than the tale itself. I applaud your skills at seeing a story for what it truly is. I'm continually amazed at how well you do this, and I am continually amazed at your amazing writing. I would be jealo...

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Edward Latham
00:08 Jan 02, 2023

An excellent story, full of humour, love and colourful character! You use a growing, changing relationship between two characters so well in your stories, and I think I need to take inspiration from you as it's something I think I don't do enough of! Particularly liked these funny lines: “The only reason Jesus loves you is because He has to, you crazy bitch!” 'Mrs. McKinley had been discourteous enough to die last year' and the nice simile about discovering the truth and unearthing the layers of marble.

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Delbert Griffith
01:15 Jan 02, 2023

Thanks so much for the nice review and the kind words, Edward. You really understood the parallels between the marble and getting at the truth. I'm appreciative that you picked upon that. Again, thank you. Your review means a lot to me.

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17:49 Dec 31, 2022

I thought I posted here - don't see it. I loved this story, so sweet, but not surypy = I can so relate to not even feeling like making a bowl of cereal. So, they both gave so much to each other - and was hoping the neighbor would change - but it's true to life - people don't change very often or very much. lovely

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Delbert Griffith
17:53 Dec 31, 2022

LOL you did post. I just read it, but I appreciate that you want to make sure that a comment is left for the author. I appreciate thoughtful people like you, Patricia.

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17:15 Dec 31, 2022

This is such a sweet, well written story. And although I hoped the neighbor would have an epiphany, people rarely change and she stuck to her sorry path. This was so uplifting! Thank you!

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Delbert Griffith
17:51 Dec 31, 2022

Thanks so much, Patricia. The kind words and the nice review are much appreciated. I did consider giving the neighbor a change of heart, so I like the way you think. Again, thank you very much.

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19:03 Dec 31, 2022

Yeah, the change of heart would be too Hallmarky.

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Tommy Goround
23:53 Dec 29, 2022

The narratives keep getting better. Good job. :)

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Delbert Griffith
00:24 Dec 30, 2022

Thank you so much, my friend. I appreciate your encouragement and kind words. Truly.

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Sophia Gavasheli
23:27 Dec 29, 2022

Aww! Of all of your stories that I've read, this is my favorite. Cyrus and Gail really spring off the page, and their dialogue feels very organic. The ending made me sad, but I'm happy for Gail and really enjoyed seeing her progression. Mrs. Mckinley is absolutely splendid! Some of my favorite lines: - "With the formalities out of the way, Cyrus turned his attention to the girl in his arms." -formalities, LOL! - “Mow your lawn, asshole!” Mrs. McKinley yelled at Cyrus. He gave her a sour look and the infamous one-fingered salute as a respons...

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Delbert Griffith
11:19 Dec 30, 2022

Thank you very much for reading and enjoying my story, Sophia. I appreciate the critique very much as well. You make a valid point: Cyrus's grief should be shown more. When I re-work the tale, I will endeavor to do that. Thanks so much for the insight, Sophia. THIS is why I write these little tales. I get thoughtful feedback from good writers and then I become a better writer. I will indeed read 'Pygmalion's Bride' today. Thanks for the suggested reading. That is always welcome! :)

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Wendy Kaminski
23:20 Dec 29, 2022

In this story, you came very close to capturing time in a bottle, as best I can describe it. Though short, the vignettes you have presented, with a surplus of affection but not ensacchrinated, with great dialogue but not unnecessarily verbose, and with action but not manic... the flow is just perfect, of two lives unexpectedly intertwined for a time, and then those moments sealed and corked in their essence of perfection at just the right moment. Divine! And then, of course: “The only reason Jesus loves you is because He has to, you crazy b...

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Delbert Griffith
11:31 Dec 30, 2022

Thank you so much for the kind words and the insightful review, Wendy. And you used the word 'ensacchrinated.' I didn't even know that was a word! LOL Writing a series of vignettes was the only way I could come up with to show this relationship over a long period of time. I really appreciate that you liked the dialogue because I've been working on writing more meaningful and realistic dialogue in my tales. I had Mrs. McKinley in there to represent judgmental people, and we know that the world is full of those. She's kind of the social medi...

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Wendy Kaminski
14:33 Dec 30, 2022

"It's a word, now!" :P

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Susan Catucci
22:34 Dec 29, 2022

I'll never be able to read this with a dry eye.

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Delbert Griffith
00:09 Dec 30, 2022

That's about the best compliment I can get, Susan. Thank you very much for helping me with this tale, and for the kind words here. I appreciate you!

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Mary Lehnert
20:46 Dec 29, 2022

Exquisite Delbert. “First rule of artistry don’t question the artist’s vision”. Brilliant observation.

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Delbert Griffith
21:18 Dec 29, 2022

Thanks so much, Mary. I appreciate you reading my little tale. I certainly enjoy reading your stories, for you always have something to say that speaks to me. Like you, I care more about authors' observations than I care about winning. The real joy is in reading comments such as yours. Cheers from Texas!

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Mary Lehnert
22:28 Dec 29, 2022

That was nice. A toast from Tulsa backatcha

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John K Adams
01:31 Jan 12, 2023

You are an amazing writer, Delbert. This was so enjoyable. You created deep characters with a light touch. I think Mrs. McKinley had a thing for Cyrus. It was such a pleasure to see one discarded person found and redeemed. There seem to be so many these days. Great stuff!

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Delbert Griffith
01:35 Jan 12, 2023

Wow, thank you so much, John. Your kind words warm my heart, truly. Yes, too many people discarded in our society. I lament that. It feels good to write about one that made it. Again, thank you very much. Cheers from Texas!

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Lily Finch
19:45 Jan 08, 2023

Del, you know already what I think. Great job bringing three people who need one another to make changes to their lives for the better. Cyrus becomes the father to Gail, who becomes a master sculptor of what lies within. Mrs. McKinley was an entertainment value in life and in death. The characters work together to become a great story. Well done! LF6

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Delbert Griffith
20:01 Jan 08, 2023

Thanks so much, Lily. I think I'm falling in love with these characters! LOL I like how you see what I'm trying to say. That makes me feel good. Thanks for being such an attentive reader and an excellent analyzer. Cheers!

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Lily Finch
20:29 Jan 08, 2023

Maybe there is a chapbook in all of this for you. Wouldn't that be great? LF6

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Delbert Griffith
22:28 Jan 08, 2023

Who knows, right? It's certainly an idea worth entertaining. :)

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Amanda Lieser
20:32 Jan 07, 2023

Hi Delbert! So I dashed on over quick as I could after reading your reply on your other piece. I liked meeting this character. He seemed like a good man. I loved how this story told truth and trust. I also loved the way this came back to the theme of making your own family. I loved the way you chose sculpting as a medium. It’s an interesting thing to me when artists make art out of other artist’s art. Nice job!

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Delbert Griffith
20:55 Jan 07, 2023

Thanks, Amanda. Cyrus could be developed a little more fully, but I ran up against that 3k word limit. Sigh. I chose sculpting because sculptors chip away and chip away...just so...and just so much...and they allow the stone to reveal its own beauty and truth. I was going for that sort of idea with Gail and Cyrus. I'm pleased you liked it, Amanda. I find your work compelling, and I look forward to more wonderful stories from your mind.

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Suma Jayachandar
03:05 Jan 06, 2023

This is such a poignant story of a cynic helping a young life find her feet and live with dignity; and in turn getting transformed into a person not averse to bonding with someone. The transition takes time but is well worth it and the bonding lasts beyond grave. A touching story, very well told, Delbert!

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Delbert Griffith
11:26 Jan 06, 2023

Thank you so much, Suma. The kind words and the nice review are appreciated, especially from an excellent author like you. I began the story with no real end in mind, but the characters grew on me and kind of told me where to go. That's doesn't normally happen to me! LOL I usually agonize over every word and detail. Again, thank you, Suma. I look forward to many wonderful stories from you in 2023!

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17:17 Jan 05, 2023

I love this retelling of the Pygmalion myth. It takes the old story and turns it into something so beautiful, so sweet, and so real.

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Delbert Griffith
18:12 Jan 05, 2023

Thank you very much, Tamar. I really appreciate your kind words.

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17:11 Jan 05, 2023

Nice. Took me on a real journey, with my emotional investment in the characters growing like the warm embrace of some good wine on a cold evening. I'll say a word in defense of Mrs. M: While on the surface a rather bleak and unredeemable character, there's no indication she reported the protagonist to the authorities, despite her threats, suggesting her comments, while on the surface offensive, carried no real teeth. Perhaps it spoke more of a need to feel, in her own damaged way, relevant, to herself, and maybe even to Cyrus as well. Cert...

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Delbert Griffith
18:11 Jan 05, 2023

Thanks so much, Robert. I like your interpretation of Mrs. McKinley. She has to vent because it's the only way to feel both happy and worthwhile. Yeah, I think the story would have been poorer without her. I appreciate that you saw the growth in the relationship between Cyrus and Gail. Their road to redemption took different paths but wound up in the same place. I'm glad you saw that growth.

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Helen A Smith
14:34 Jan 05, 2023

You’ve used dialogue in a way they creates some standout characters. There are memorable lines and touches of the unexpected which make for a great story. Mrs McKinley is an archetypal character “discourteous enough to die” always making judgements before knowing the facts. She adds spark to the story. I wondered what she was going to come out with next! Gail develops in a way that feels authentic. The story is strengthened and made believable by being true to life in the best sense.

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Delbert Griffith
17:59 Jan 05, 2023

Thank you very much, Helen. I appreciate the kind words and the nice review. Yes, Mrs. McKinley is a character you love to hate. Gail certainly knew how to deal with her! LOL Again, thank you. I appreciate it.

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AnneMarie Miles
16:05 Jan 04, 2023

This was just delightful, Delbert. It really was a unique story, not an ounce of cliche in this bit. I was eager to keep reading to see where this was going. The relationship between Gail and Cyrus is endearing, and the care he takes for his statue of his deceased wife gives us a sense that Cyrus is mournful and probably bitter about that. And with Gail coming from a prostitution background, the two kind of seem like the perfect mismatched platonic couple. The reveal of Gail's sexual orientation at the end really solidifies just how deep the...

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Delbert Griffith
16:54 Jan 04, 2023

Wow, thanks so much for the very kind words, Anne. I really appreciate the insightful review. You seem to have a knack for good analysis. I'm glad you enjoyed Mrs. McKinley. She really did add some body to the story, IMO. My latest tale, 'The Last of the Dandelion Wine,' is a continuation of Gail's saga. I couldn't help it; I fell in love with her character. LOL I might add that your latest tale, which I read, was splendid. I enjoy your wonderful writing style, I found the story to be sweet and light. Great work, Anne. And again, thank you.

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AnneMarie Miles
17:26 Jan 04, 2023

I wouldn't consider analysis to be my strong point so I appreciate that, thank you. I am working on it. I'd love to read "The Last of the Dandelion Wine". Gail is a character I'd follow. Thank you for taking the time with my story. I have chosen to write its polar opposite, with a dramatic and sad story this week. Sorry it had to be that way at the beginning of the year, but that's how it is. Hope you'll take a look when you can. Let me know when your next is up, too!

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Delbert Griffith
18:52 Jan 04, 2023

I certainly will, Anne. Cheers from Texas!

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Delbert Griffith
16:54 Jan 04, 2023

Wow, thanks so much for the very kind words, Anne. I really appreciate the insightful review. You seem to have a knack for good analysis. I'm glad you enjoyed Mrs. McKinley. She really did add some body to the story, IMO. My latest tale, 'The Last of the Dandelion Wine,' is a continuation of Gail's saga. I couldn't help it; I fell in love with her character. LOL I might add that your latest tale, which I read, was splendid. I enjoy your wonderful writing style, I found the story to be sweet and light. Great work, Anne. And again, thank you.

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Raey Kubiak
01:17 Jan 04, 2023

With the formalities out of the way! Loved that 😂😂😂 Great story, well done!

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Delbert Griffith
09:57 Jan 04, 2023

Thanks so much, Raey. I appreciate the kind words.

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Mike Panasitti
18:15 Jan 03, 2023

This reads like a mash-up of Black Snake Moan (movie with Christina Ricci) and The Agony and the Ecstasy (historical novel about Michelangelo). Great characterization with just the right amount of exposition and minimal dialogue. Memorable conclusion as well. I'll remember it next time I have a shot of whisky.

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Delbert Griffith
20:18 Jan 03, 2023

Thanks so much, Mike. I value your comments and critiques quite a bit. I remember Black Snake Moan. Great movie. Underrated. I love 'The Agony and the Ecstasy.' Brilliant book. If only I could write as well. I'm pleased that you liked the conclusion. It felt right, you know? Again, thanks for the very kind review. I appreciate you, my man.

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21:59 Dec 31, 2022

I like this tale of two characters, at first sight cynical, quietly but profoundly changing each other's lives. A third character is like a leopard — she cannot change her spots. The story is very well written, intriguing from beginning to end, and endearing without sentimentalism. Congratulations, Delbert.

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