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Contemporary Coming of Age Inspirational

Someone invented romantic love. Probably a woman. I hope she contracted syphilis and was drawn and quartered for her sins.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Well, it’s ugly and depressing and oppressive,” Talia said, touching a countertop and then wiping the dust from her fingers.

“It has some good qualities, dear.” Layla drifted through the old country house, pausing beside a window and looking out.

“Those were the good qualities, Lay.” Talia grimaced at the picture hanging in the living area. A richly-colored, fat bull gazed indifferently forward. The background was the countryside, muted and blurred to force the eye to focus on the animal.

The women exited the house after their cursory inspection and made their way to the main barn. Old milking machines were hoarding dust and bird droppings, reposing comfortably in the dull afternoon light and not giving a damn about their shabby appearance. Hay was scattered about the earthen floor, mixed with dried cow dung and dead flies. Every small sound echoed in the unnatural silence; ghosts were present, assuming a wait-and-see attitude.

“Ughh. Five minutes in this place and I want to slit my wrists.”

“It wasn’t always like this, Tal. When it was milking time, my uncle and my four cousins were busy as bees. After the milking was done, the girls cleaned the milking machines and the boys cleaned out the barn. Cows shit a lot when they’re milked.”

“Doesn’t make it better, dear.”

“Dairy farmers keep Mother Nature sanitized for profit, Tal. That milk you drink doesn’t start out in cartons.”

“I drink soy milk.”

“Of course you do. I’d expect nothing less.”

“What’s your point?” Tal was close to being defensive about her choice of alternatives to cow’s milk.

“No point, Tal. Just observation.”

Tal made her way outside; the sunshine, she thought, would surely restore her flagging spirits. Layla followed her out, albeit at a slower, more thoughtful pace.

“I think I’ll turn this into my writing space. Knock out parts of the walls on the east and west sides, add some large windows. Lay down a floating wood floor. White pine, I think. Keep it light. A few throw rugs, a couple of…”

“Seriously? You’re thinking about leaving Taos for…this?” Talia waved her arms around the property.

“I am.”

“But…why?”

Layla turned to her friend and smiled. Talia was taken aback; it was the best, most genuine smile she had seen on Layla’s face in a decade.

“Cedric is having an affair.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I think men understand the secret to life. Take my husband, for example. His wants are simple: food (quality is not an issue for him), a roof over his head (again, quality is not a priority), golfing with his buddies (whenever the mood strikes him), and a refrigerator full of beer (domestic, imported, craft – whatever). He highly esteems two things and two things only: forbidden sex, and a mobile quarterback who can throw the deep out. Existentialism doesn’t find a way between his ears. The human condition will not visit his soul. He lives life and he never overthinks anything. I may have married an asshole, but his philosophy on life is genius.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The pastures were bright green. Absurdly so, thought Layla. The kind of green that belied the darkness that had visited this family.

All of Layla’s uncle’s kids had died young. The two boys committed suicide. The two girls succumbed to the tender mercies of a drunk driver. The aunt had fallen foul of the laws of force and gravity; blunt-force trauma to the head and a tumble down a hillside did her in.

“Why you?”

It was a good question. It deserved a plausible response, though the response Layla gave was part truth, part lie.

“June bugs.”

Talia shook her head slightly and frowned.

“Uh…”

“When I was just a little girl, about five years old, I would stand out here. Right where we are now, as a matter of fact. I would watch the June bugs dive-bomb their way to the ground, entranced by their actions. It was quite a sight. The air was filled with these green flying things. I called them mini-dragons. They were little kamikaze insects, shooting straight for the ground. I found it terribly romantic, figuring that they were killing themselves because of unrequited love. I told my uncle my thoughts on the matter, and he laughed at what I told him. He told my parents that I was the brightest, sweetest little girl he had ever met.”

“So he gave you this property because you were a romantic?”

“Yes. There was no one else, you see. His kids were dead. He didn’t much care for his other nieces and nephews. Called them dullards and trollops.”

Layla picked a blade of prairie grass from the ground and studied it before tossing it carelessly to the ground. She led Talia out to the middle of the near pasture and sat down among the tall vegetation.

“That’s quite a statement. Your uncle knew those words? Dullards and trollops?”

“I think he learned them in church. The church here is big on that kind of thing.”

“Hmmm.” Talia lay back and considered this. She soon sat back up because the prairie grass made her skin itch.

“You know, I never figured Cedric for infidelity. I guess I can see why you want to get away from him. And here I always thought you had the perfect life. Best-selling author…” Talia said, deciding to broach the subject that had to be painful to Layla.

“Compounding my sin of being in love with writing about being in love.”

“…scads of money…”

“With which we buy things, only to have those things own us.”

“…two beautiful kids…”

“Organic tethers with a long shelf life.”

“…a bangin’ bod…”

“That would be more bangin’ if I hadn’t pushed out two cracker snatchers.”

“…and a beautiful house.”

“Which is nothing more than a well-stocked mausoleum.”

“I think,” Talia said, brushing ants from her jeans, “you’re having a mid-life crisis. Like Cedric. Why don’t you have an affair? Get back at Cedric for his indiscretions. Hell, sleep with a woman. That’ll show him!”

Layla laughed at the suggestion.

“I think Cedric would see that as a win for himself. No man is good enough for me except him, so I resort to women.”

“Geez, really? Men think that way?”

“Count on it, Tal. Any way to twist the truth in order to make themselves look good. It’s kind of comforting to know how simple they really are.”

“Mmm. I guess.”

“So.”

“So. I guess you’re gonna start wearing denim and plaid out here.”

“Probably.”

“And grannie panties.”

“Assuredly.”

“You’ll eschew the bra.”

“Absolutely. Set the twins free and see where they take me.”

“South is where they’ll take you, you crazy biatch.”

“And I figure that I’ll use organic deodorant.”

“Probably give up perfumes, colognes, and other pleasing scents for cow shit and mud.”

“That’s a given.”

Talia turned to her friend and stared at her.

“What about Paco?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When I got a little older, I revised my June bug story. I told my uncle that they were speeding to the earth out of sheer joy. The exhilaration of hitting the ground and flying back up to the heavens was in their little souls. They did what they did and found their bliss. My mother apologized for my ridiculous stories. Later, my uncle hugged me. A little too long and with his hand on my ass. I started to dislike adults around this time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Paco was Layla’s personal chef. He was gay and he was Brazilian, so Layla believed in his talents right away. Unfortunately, Paco had romance problems. Continual romance problems. He could catch a man, but he couldn’t keep him. This made for some rather dicey meals and random bouts of crying in the kitchen.

“He’ll have to make that choice.”

Talia looked around. Familiarity did not improve her judgment of the environs.

“He’ll never find a man out here. Hell, this is the kind of place where men go to family reunions to find a wife,” Talia spat out.

“And a place where the women say ‘yes,’ presumably.”

“Well, yeah. Take my word for it, Lay, one of these days you’ll spot a seven-foot tall man with three chins and two teeth. Inbreeding is real.”

“As is my decision.”

“Are you high? When was the last time you did some booger sugar?”

“That’s a crude way to describe the lovely white powder that we both enjoy from time to time,” Layla said.

“Answer the question.”

“Last Friday with you, Tal.”

“Hmm. You talk like you’re high.”

“No. Just…clear headed. My mid-life crisis already happened, well before Cedric’s affair. My path through life became…obscured. I didn’t know what to do. Cedric did me a favor by sleeping with Phyllidia Linton-Gore.”

“Phy what?”

“Yeah, it’s a mouthful. She’s about our age. Married with three kids. And,” Layla sat on the front porch and sparked up a joint, “she is uh. dor. uh. buhl.”

“Yeah. You’re high.”

“Not even, darling. Like Cedric, she enjoys a little bit of rumpy-bumpy outside the confines of the marriage bed. She also dresses modestly, doesn’t ask him to divorce me, and is a tiger in bed.”

Talia looked up sharply.

“How do you know that? You been stalking them…and being a voyeur?”

“Heavens no. I hired a professional stalker and voyeur. A private investigator.”

“Do they really exist? I thought you only found them in movies.”

“This one exists. Got a lot of candid photos of their adult activities. She prefers to be on top.”

“Damn!” Talia shook her head and took the proffered joint. A heroic toke ensued.

“Anyway, it’s all for the good. I need a place to write my memoirs and to do some serious writing.”

“Your memoirs? You’re only forty-seven, dearie.”

“Fair enough. I need to write my memoirs, part the first.”

“What are you gonna write about? Cedric’s affair?”

Layla stood up and retrieved a beer from the cooler. She opened it by placing the neck of the bottle snugly against the porch railing and giving it a sharp rap. The cap flew off. Talia was impressed.

“No. I’m gonna write about June bugs.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Possible titles for my memoirs:

1. I Know Why the Caged Bird Does Cocaine

2. Of Myself and Menopause

3. Fifty Shades of Fuck My Life

4. Murder on the Disoriented Express

5. The “Oh My Lord!” of the Rings

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Paco won’t come out here,” Talia said. The joint was gone, but plenty of beer remained.

“Probably not,” Layla said.

“So what are you gonna eat?”

Layla hadn’t considered that.

“I suppose I’ll have to get Paco to teach me how to cook.”

Talia laughed. It wasn’t a happy laugh.

“Good luck with that. You’d have more luck getting pigs to perform The Nutcracker Suite.”

“There are some talented pigs out there, Tal. Don’t sell them short.”

“I imagine there’ll be all sorts of pigs out here. Of the four-legged and two-legged variety.”

“Well, I like bacon, but I doubt I’ll ever get involved with a man again.”

“Huh?”

“I’ll partake of the four-legged creatures’ bounties but not the two-legged creatures’…uh…gifts.”

“Ah. Well, you gotta eat.”

“I can have food delivered.”

“Out here?”

“Maybe.”

The sun was starting to kiss the horizon, tossing out colors that promenaded across the sky. Yellow, orange, magenta, and pink all vied for attention. The eastern sky had turned to pastel blue; soon, it would have the hue of gunmetal gray. A lizard crawled by, stopped and peered at the two giants on the porch, and then proceeded on its way, looking for a final meal before darkness set in. The breeze was soothing in its coolness and determined not to let up. The landscape was peppered with wildflowers, all standing sentinel and nodding to each other as the wind directed their movements. June bugs stopped their crazy flights and settled in for the night.

“Time to get back, Lay. I’m not staying out here after dark. Some lunatic with murder on their inbred mind might chance to wander into your house.”

“You’ve seen too many horror movies, Tal.”

“Uh huh. It’s all fun and games until someone fires up the chainsaw.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I understand June bugs now. They don’t shoot to the ground in a crazed desire for death. They don’t dive-bomb the earth out of joy. No, they do it because they must. There is a need in them, a deep-seated instinct to find what they must have in order to survive. This is much more beautiful than it appears to be. It’s breathtaking.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“I like what you’ve done with the place, Lay. It no longer looks like a movie set for the house of a serial killer.”

Layla looked around approvingly and nodded. The darkness that had claimed squatters’ rights in the house had been replaced by large windows and fake natural light. The milking barn, now devoid of milking machines and cow shit, housed a large desk, a sleek laptop, lots of chairs and a couple of sofas, a coffee machine from Italy, a wet bar, a refrigerator, a counter with a double sink, a pantry, and a stray cat.

“Thirteen months is all it took,” Layla said.

“Have you met any of your neighbors?”

“You bet. My nearest neighbors, the Wilsons, had me in for coffee and pie.”

“And?”

“The pie was great, though Mrs. Wilson probably used up half the sugar supply in New Mexico making it. The coffee was strong enough to float a horseshoe on. They had furniture that Goodwill would decline. Nice people, though. I leased out most of my land to them. He grows sorghum.”

“What the hell is sorghum?”

“It’s a grain, used mainly for cattle and chicken feed.”

“Sounds lovely.”

“Not terribly romantic, no, but useful. Gotta feed the carnivores of America, you know.”

Talia plopped herself down on one of the many chairs in the writing studio. The oppressiveness of the barn no longer oppressed. She felt like she was in Layla’s studio back in Taos.

“And Cedric? How’s he doing after the divorce? I haven’t seen him around.”

“He’ still banging the woman with the long name. They have a good arrangement.”

“Hmm. Yeah, ok. And here you are, writing serious novels and dressing like you did it in the dark. Doesn’t seem like much of an upgrade, dear.”

“That’s what my publisher said. And then my latest novel sold 300,000 copies domestically and close to half a million worldwide. The paperback edition comes out soon, so that’ll bring in more coin for the realm.”

“What’s it called? I forget.”

“Talia dear, did you even read it?”

“I never read your books, darling Lay. But I do buy five copies and donate them to the library. I like to support my friends.”

“I’m your only friend. But thanks.”

“So what’s the title?”

Fierce Invalids, Observed in the Wild. It reads like Jane Eyre but feels like Jude the Obscure.”

“Translate that for me.”

“Dark as hell, but hopeful. A very unromantic look at romance.”

“Great. Can we do some coke now?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Talia stayed for a week this time. Good timing on her part. I’m between novels and I need to rest my writing brain. We did a lot of nose candy, smoked a lot of God’s green bud, and drank an inordinate amount of wine while trading snarky comments with each other. I think we both needed that quality time together.

I’ll visit my uncle’s grave tomorrow. Just to gloat, mind you. Let him know how pleasurable it was to drug him and smother him with his own pillow. He didn’t struggle much, more’s the pity. Still, he’s dead.

He’s buried next to my aunt. I bet she gets a chuckle out of it when I do this. She made pies like Mrs. Wilson: full of cherries, sugar, and love. No wonder everyone out here is fat.

This is the end of my memoirs, part the first. I haven’t decided on a title yet. I’ll smoke a joint and let the cannabis decide for me. Sometimes I feel like such a fraud when I write. Just another in a litany of sins.

When I die, I hope someone finds it and sells it to some newspaper or true-crime writer. I would rather be immortalized for killing my lecherous, abusive uncle than for my novels, although both would be nice. I’m hoping for both fame and infamy.

My memoirs, part the second will have to wait a few years. Right now, I have a porch calling my name and a pitcher of iced tea to drink.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The setting sun warmed the right side of Layla’s face. It was a pleasant warmth and not the killing heat that had visited the land for the past two months. Storm clouds were forming and gathering for an onslaught of the countryside. Layla hoped that it would reach her before giving out. The violence would sooth her.

June bugs and fireflies danced merrily in the near pasture, flying in random patterns that somehow seemed orchestrated. A gentle buzz permeated the landscape. Thunder rumbled softly in the distance. Layla stood up and went inside for the night, taking the empty pitcher and her pack of cigarettes with her.

The road leading to her house would be washed out tomorrow. The thought made Layla smile.

Roads? She addressed the pitcher as she washed it. We don’t need no stinkin’ roads.

March 17, 2023 07:22

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31 comments

Susan Catucci
16:09 Apr 01, 2023

This story and its players has more layers than French pastry, Del, and is as delicious a read, from beginning to - POW - end. I think your mastering of the contemporary relationship between women is some of your finest work. The humor is born of both heart and hurt and, the underlying motivations that drive your characters is always fully realized and relatable. You have a very wise and entertaining head on your shoulders, Del, and it's especially great that you know how to use it. (Math is just the tip of your iceberg) :)

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Delbert Griffith
18:41 Apr 01, 2023

I'm, as always, thrilled to get a review from you, Susan. I'm always pleased and a little surprised that you catch so much of what I try to convey. Your mind analyzes stories like a true professional, but your heart is unique. I'm also grateful for your friendship and your excellent and mesmerizing tales, so to have you review mine is quite the gift. I've learned so much from you, and I have no doubt that this will continue. Again, thank you, my friend. Truly. :)

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Helen A Smith
09:53 Mar 27, 2023

There’s so much in this, I hardly know where to begin. Having the memoirs to dip into gave a punch to a story which on a deeper level is about betrayal and revenge. I particularly loved the glimpses into nature (so beautifully written) and the vocal interplay and contrast between the two friends. You reveal the characters so well through your dialogue. Your love of the country and farming life comes through. Having been brought up in a town, it made me want to be part of it. Thanks Delbert.

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Delbert Griffith
11:20 Mar 27, 2023

Thanks so much, Helen, for the kind words and the nice review. I'm so pleased that you found the dialogue worthy, and that you saw depth in the story. Yes, betrayal and revenge, on many levels. Good catch, my friend. Again, thank you. I really appreciate that you took the time to analyze the tale so well. Cheers!

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Zack Powell
08:53 Mar 26, 2023

Man, how this didn't get recognized is beyond me. I loved this (as is the case with all your other stories I've read, but this one was especially poignant and realistic and ugh - I wish I'd written this). I've said this before - or, at least, I hope I have - but your dialogue is some of the best I've seen on this site. Subtlety, subtext, people talking past each other like they so often do in the real world, avoiding subjects, answering questions with more questions. It's fantastic. The realism is off the charts. Great banter. It's never st...

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Delbert Griffith
11:44 Mar 26, 2023

Wow, Zack, thanks for the soul-lifting review! It's even more poignant and powerful since you are a true expert in the field of literature. Your review inspires me to write more. Really! You know how it is with being shortlisted. Your fate is often in the hands of those who aren't struck by a story in a positive way. I find much more value and pleasure in getting reviews like yours; you validate my writing and you seem to always capture the truth behind the words. Layla is complex, as are most humans. She is in search of something better,...

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Kendall Defoe
01:03 Mar 25, 2023

I really like this and relate to her...a bit. And I have to search for those book titles (The 'Oh My Lord' of the Rings sounds intriguing).

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Delbert Griffith
06:22 Mar 25, 2023

LOL Thanks for the kind words, Kendall. I'd read those books! :) Cheers, my friend.

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Emilie Ocean
20:34 Mar 24, 2023

Delbert, your writing is beautiful and authentic! Thank you for this story. I truly enjoyed it. I felt like I was sitting on that porch with the MCs, except I don't drink alcohol or do coke :'D I found it quite easy to relate to Talia and Layla, and absolutely loved having the lizard's point of view about them two giants! Your knowledge of the countryside and farming practices are nicely accurate and detailed. I had no trouble picturing myself there. Thanks again for this beautiful story.

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Delbert Griffith
20:42 Mar 24, 2023

Wow, thanks Emilie. I really appreciate the kind words and the nice review. Authentic is much more difficult to convey than most people think, wouldn't you say? It makes me quite happy that you found my little tale as such. I do work on my craft, but the improvement is rocky at times. So, I thank you for the commentary. It means a lot to me that other writers find this worthy. Cheers from Texas!

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Edward Latham
17:07 Mar 24, 2023

You write those snarky characters so well Delbert! The june bugs were an interesting thread tying the story together, and showing the growth of Layla; I liked that.

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Delbert Griffith
19:55 Mar 24, 2023

Thanks so much, Edward. I'm glad you appreciated the June bug motif. It really does tie the story together. Yeah, snark is becoming my second language. LOL Thanks again, my friend.

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Marty B
00:22 Mar 24, 2023

Great and believable dialogue. A slow meandering look at life, and change. I liked the June bug asides. And I need a Paco!

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Delbert Griffith
07:16 Mar 24, 2023

Thanks for the kind words, Marty. I've been working on dialogue, so your comment about it made me feel like I'm making progress in that area. Believe it or not, Paco's character was inspired by a Reedsy writer. Great guy. Great writer as well. I don't know if he can cook or not, but it seemed to fit. LOL Again, thank you, my friend. Cheers!

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Amanda Lieser
18:08 Mar 23, 2023

Hey Delbert! This one was interesting. It was a hell of an intro. I thought it mused on some big ideas-love, the definition of it, and the way we all show our love for one another. I liked getting into this character’s head with the italicized words and I liked that it jumped perspectives. I thought you did a great job creating a rich world under 3,000 words. I have a dear friend who is the daughter of a dairy farmer so that aspect of the story made me think of her. Nice work!!

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Delbert Griffith
07:13 Mar 24, 2023

Thanks so much for the nice words and kind review, Amanda. If a good writer like you enjoys my tale, then it must be a worthy read. I have an uncle, now deceased, who owned a dairy farm. I drew on my knowledge of his farm to create the background. I vividly recall the dive-bombing June bugs and how I was fascinated by them. Again, thank you, my friend. Truly.

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Keila Aartila
17:20 Mar 23, 2023

Hi - I found your story intriguing to the end - it kept me wanting to know the outcomes - I enjoyed the dialogue between the friends - it felt;t very real & not forced between good friends - I enjoyed the hints at the obscene behavior of the uncle & then understanding how it was dealt with & I liked the unexpected ending that really showed the under-the-surface anger that was really the cause of Layla's actions and lies. A very enjoyable story! With good imagery, too. I could see it vividly from the pastures to the barn.

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Delbert Griffith
07:05 Mar 24, 2023

Thanks so much for the kind words and the nice review, Keila. I appreciate the insights and analysis of my tale. Layla is complex, yes? She has anger. She deals with it in her own way. She takes action, but she also reflects on her actions and motivations. Talia, her friend, is the indispensable sounding board. Although there were dark undertones here, the story was still fun to write and to contemplate. Again, thank you for the review. Cheers!

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Keila Aartila
11:55 Mar 24, 2023

Yes! Complex - exactly the right word!

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Wally Schmidt
05:14 Mar 23, 2023

Loved the genuine dialogue between the MC's and the way it is interspersed with Layla's thoughts. While serious subjects are broached, you provide the reader with some comic relief as well (love the possible memoire titles!!!). I feel like this rich story is just one chapter in what should be a book and you could continue writing about Layla and Thalia (her side kick) as she goes through her life's trajectory. You've already introduced some subplots: the brazillian chef, Cedric and his paramour, maybe an insurance claims inspector (for th...

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Delbert Griffith
07:25 Mar 23, 2023

Thanks so much, Wally. I appreciate the kind words and the nice review. I've been working on dialogue, so I'm pleased that it stood out for you. I do love the characters; they have a lot of potential. I will seriously consider expanding on their storylines and adding a few more characters. The Brazilian chef seems like he could be an interesting character. Cedric could be a semi-lovable asshole. LOL Thanks again, my friend. Getting positive reviews from good writers like you is the real reward here. I value what you have to say. Cheers!

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Wally Schmidt
13:58 Mar 23, 2023

Woke up thinking about your story. Seriously, these characters can go places. Write that book!

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Laurel Hanson
18:52 Mar 22, 2023

The dialog between these two is delightful. It just rolls along bringing the reader with it, charming and lively. The setting is really well evoked in just such swift strokes. A rich and diverse palette is created with these characters and the break-out bits in the first pov add are inserted in a way that just makes it interesting. Little reflections as well as hints of the backstory. Or the understory. I had to read it from the first one about romance, which is just great, let alone the title.

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Delbert Griffith
21:35 Mar 22, 2023

Thanks so much for the nice review, Laurel. I appreciate this, coming from such a good writer like you. The first person POV parts, I feel, made the story complete. We get to know Layla very well this way, and this allowed Talia to be a sounding board for Layla's character. I'm pleased that you liked the first person POV parts, and the dialogue. Again, thank you. Reviews from good writers mean so much to me. Cheers!

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Wendy Kaminski
21:29 Mar 17, 2023

Ahhh, that ending! Perfect and gave me a chuckle. :) I really want this country life - you've written it in such an appealing fashion through your depictions. I like both of these characters, murder be damned. I feel like they were incredibly complementary in a way that inspires real friendships to achieve. Wonder how they will do without one another's constant companionship... I suppose they'll make out just fine, same as they appear to have done before. Some favorites: - “Organic tethers with a long shelf life.” // cracker snatchers - I d...

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Delbert Griffith
22:14 Mar 17, 2023

Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, from heel to head, from a to z. You are an incredibly wonderful writer, and for you to take the time to read and review my little tales speaks volumes about your kindness and character. It pleases me that you like my snark. It comes from a good place, I assure you. Maybe I've watched too many episodes of "Modern Family." LOL And thanks for spotting my mistakes. That takes a good eye to spot them while trying to enjoy a tale. Thank you for being who you are. Can we have more of you, please?...

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Wendy Kaminski
22:21 Mar 17, 2023

You are too kind. :)

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Lily Finch
17:07 Mar 17, 2023

Del, Layla, as she stands and breathes at the end of the story, is a woman who knows how to take care of business. I suspected that she may have been involved somehow in the death of her uncle when you mentioned his hand remaining longer than it should have been on her ass. Love her character! No nonsense, very ok with herself in her skin and looking for infamy and fame. Everyone needs a friend like Talia! She partakes in all the "fun stuff" with her friend, and they get along well, but Layla is always aware of what she can disclose to Tal...

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Delbert Griffith
20:44 Mar 17, 2023

Again, thank you so much for the kind words and the nice review. Layla, indeed, is empowered. Talia is a follower. You got their personalities down pat. And everyone needs a friend like Talia. That was key to the tale. She was the confidant - up to a point - and the sounding board for Layla's musings. The uncle had to die. Layla had to do it. That she gloats over her actions is what makes Layla so real; she isn't perfect, but she is perfectly wonderful. Again, thanks so much for the analysis, Lily. Truly.

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Viga Boland
23:05 Mar 19, 2023

This is one hell of a long short story and you made every word count. The relationship between Layla and Talia was perfectly rendered. Loved their exchanges. Really liked the use of the “italicized “inserts” to fill in the blanks with Layla driving her feelings home. Marvellous control of dialogue too. Wendy and I were struck my the same metaphors e,g. “ “Organic tethers with a long shelf life.” That’s a beauty! 👏👏 On a grammatical note, if I may, this sentence has a misplaced modifier in the phrase: “I would watch the June bugs dive-bo...

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Delbert Griffith
00:20 Mar 20, 2023

Nice catch, Viga. Yeah, entranced June bugs sounds a little off, right? LOL Thanks so much for the nice review. I appreciate that you liked it so much, and I am always happy to receive your analysis. I do feel like the italicized inserts were the key to making the tale work. Layla was a complex character, and Talia was the comic relief. Both seemed to work out. Again, thank you. I appreciate your insights, and I appreciate your tales. Cheers!

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