Trying to Forget Disgruntled and exhausted, Alex was lying in his feather bed with a look that expressed he was lying on a concrete bed in a prison cell. Uncomfortable at least and not well rested, his eyes were droopy and his body was contorted. It seemed as though he had tried to get comfortable, but it was just not possible. He woke up, and not to his surprise his roommate had left the fan on again. Alex does not like fans, at least not while he's sleeping. He knew it must have been his roommate, especially because they had just been in an argument that resulted in his roommate’s preference of a cool wind when studying. Alex is an easy guy for the most part, but there are a few things that he cannot stand. Like memories. He is a mnemophobian. He hates dwelling in the past because he does not think he will go anywhere with it, yet he does it anyways. However, to solve his problem, Alex slowly rose from his bed, and brushing off his sheets, he plopped each leg out to stumble across the room. He flipped the switch and the fan fell silent. The cool air went away, and Alex went back to his bed. As he lied down, he looked to his left and saw the two tickets to "West Side Story" he had hung up after a trip he and his girlfriend took to Branson, Missouri. "Two tickets to the Saturday showing of 'West Side Story' please." "That will be 80$." "Gladly." The attendant rummaged around a bit, until the dispenser released the tickets. "Here you go - enjoy the show!" He grabbed the smooth laminated tickets from the attendant's hand, and immediately noticed the blank white people hanging from the z-formed ladders. These people devoid of color now hung up in his wall, climbing down zigzag black ladders of solitude. They used to visit Branson together for the abundant theatrical performances that were held there. When deciding which theater to go to, they would always call the hotel lobby and ask a question. Whatever letter the first word of the answer began with was the first letter of the theater they would go to. It didn't matter the show because she probably had background knowledge to it. Sometimes, she would have already chosen a theater and asked a question with the answer in mind. "Hello...yes, I just have a question," she asked. "Certainly, how may I help you?" "What is the name of Albert Einstein?" "Albert Einstein, I am guessing." "Okay, thank you!" After that, they would have to pick a theater that started with the letter A. She had done research before and picked out the theater on purpose if she really wanted Alex to see a specific play. The door slammed shut and he got up to talk into the living room. His roommate had come back from his evening plans with his girlfriend Molly. "Bring me back something?" asked Alex. "Well, if you want my leftovers, yeah." He giggled, "I was only kidding. Where did you end up going anyways?" "La Grenouille" "Oh, did you make plans earlier this month?" "Yeah, and I ordered your favorite dish, in case you wanted some - the ‘Lobster and Tarragon Ravioli’"
Comment [JD1]: Consider making this a straight metaphor (Alex was lying on a concrete bed) and let the reader gather that he is not really in prison. Comment [JD2]: This awkward shift to PRESENT tense makes the narrator very casual in the eyes of the reader, as if we all know each other. Is that the intention? Comment [JD3]: Can an argument RESULT in a preference? Strange syntax here. Rewrite. In fact, this whole paragraph – in retrospect – might get chopped substantially, right?, in your revision? Comment [JD4]: Another switch to PRESENT and then back to the PAST. Why? Comment [JD5]: Notice the crispness of these two sentences; you just show the scene unfolding, whereas the rest of the paragraph gets mired in confusing clauses. Trust your storytelling skill. Comment [JD6]: lay Comment [JD7]: hung up? How? Framed behind glass? Pinned to bulletin board? This little detail throws me out of the story. Comment [JD8]: Your workshop mentioned that this dialog didn’t ring true. How do you feel about it now? Comment [JD9]: I like the attempt her for action in between dialog, but is “rummaged” the right word. That little metal slot dispenser is a good opportunity for a metaphor… Comment [JD10]: Laminated from the dispenser. Never seen this before. Accurate? Comment [JD11]: I don’t get it. There is a real attempt here to visualize the scene, but I don’t understand the “blank white people” nor the laders. Comment [JD12]: Diction doesn’t fit here. Too academic? Comment [JD13]: What a great, cute, intimate detail that the reader gets access to…I feel like I’m spying on the couple. Comment [JD14]: Very funny. Original. Cute. Definitely show who SHE is. Comment [JD15]: I get this already. DELETE. Comment [JD16]: Not sure this is necessary either. Cut it. End with her “Thank you!” Comment [JD17]: Not sure who this is now. Alex?
Comment [JD18]: Very believable dialog here.
*** "I'll have the ‘Lobster and Tarragon Ravioli.’" "I'm so glad you made reservations for us" she said hugging Alex's arm. "Yeah, me too. I had to do it before finals started to even reserve us a table tonight." "It's the perfect way to spend Christmas Eve. This restaurant is supposed to be one of the finest in the city." "I'm glad you are happy - that's what matters." A few minutes later, the server, who seemed more than excited to be there, came walking towards them and placed their platters in front of their respective persons with a flick of his wrist, causing the plates to spin as they landed. Till this day, the Lobster and Tarragon Ravioli is his favorite dish. Whether the way it is displayed or the way it tastes, the plate remains a classic. The plate is beautifully decorated with the tarragon herb to the lobster's right, left, and top. Cooked to perfection, the lobster melts in the mouth, while the tarragon herb provides the main flavoring. Famous for it's origin in béarnaise and tartare, it gives a sweet punch to counteract the tender yet slightly chewy meat of the lobster. Even before biting into it, the aroma is immediately noticeable for its scent of herb and steamy spice that grazes the nose. *** "I can smell it." "Would you like some?" "No, I'm done reminiscing." "What do you mean?" "Nothing. I'll just get something later." His girlfriend's name was Rachel, and she was not always satisfied with the lifestyle they lived in New York. Maybe that was because she could not make it in Broadway. She was a theater major at the American Academy for Dramatic Arts, but never got a "big break." She had mentioned this in a letter she wrote to him nine months ago. He walked back to his room to look over the letter she had left him before heading out to walk around the streets. He pulled out the top dresser drawer of his night stand and grabbed the yellow envelope that was already opened. He took out the parchment and read: Dear Alex, I know that this doesn't come at ease, but I can no longer stay in New York for the lifestyle, the people, the city - it just doesn't suit the one I am pursuing. I know that you have tried your best to "be the one for me," but the truth is that you love New York and I would not want to make you live anywhere else. I enjoyed every moment we spent together, especially the trips to Branson, but it is time I move on, and you too. I'm not getting great opportunities here in New York as an actor, but photo journalism is always needed. You're safe and sound, and at home here. I would not want to take that away. So, I am leaving you with the warmest regards. You were a great lover, but my career is more important at this point in time. After graduating, I thought I would have more of a chance here, but I don't. As to lessen the load on your life, I have decided to move. I am staying with my friend Nina outside of Boston in search of the next theater opportunity. If you ever come up here, do not be afraid to visit. Always Adored, Rachel xoxo
Comment [JD19]: So Alex takes his girlfriend to the same restaurant that his roommate went to earlier?
Comment [JD20]: DELETE and reveal this through the waiter’s action, physical behavior.
Comment [JD21]: This sentence shows knowledge of food and is convincing, but the previous sentence uses expected language (cooked to perfection, melts in the mouth, main flavoring). Comment [JD22]: Eek. Verb tense shift. Stay with simple past.
Comment [JD23]: Clever. I see now. Roommate’s lobster sent Alex into flashback about his date with his girlfriend. But does the flashback above reveal anything else about the TENSION, COMPLICATIONS, DESIRE of the characters or does it merely talk about the flavors of the food? Comment [JD24]: You do a good job of using rd the 3 person LIMITED POV to reveal glimpses of Rachel from Alexi’s viewpoint only. She sorta seeps through his looks, glances, memories, letters. Nice job. Comment [JD25]: Is it really on PARCHMENT paper? For real? That’s odd. Comment [JD26]: Awkward diction here. Missing word?
Comment [JD27]: Your workshop was divided on this, but I don’t think this is believable letterwriting from a young woman in this scenario. How would Rachel truly write to her “lover”? Comment [JD28]: Interesting lie she’s telling here. She’s moving because NY doesn’t suit her, not because she wants to lessen the load on him. Intriguing.
As a tear trickled down the crevice of his nose and fell to the roof of his upper lip, he took a deep breath and exhaled all of his thoughts. As soon as he placed the paper back in the drawer, his phone began to vibrate in his pocket. He looked at the number and realized the caller-id said "WORK."
Comment [JD29]: Very inventive physicalizing here.
He answered, "Hello" "Hey Alex, there is an opening to take photographs behind the scenes at the next upcoming play on Broadway, would you be up for it on Saturday night?" "Yeah, I would love to take the offer." "Great, Saturday the 2nd, remember." "Sure thing, thanks Michael." He walked to the door and yelled back, "I'm going to go grab some food - be back later!" Alex made his way down Madison Avenue, passing a fanny pack and sweatpants couple on his left pointing at a map. He quickly sped up to chase away any memory that was about to appear when he noticed the antique shop to his right. Covered in chimes and paper mache ornaments, a giant window hid priceless jewelry boxes and fear filled-troll dolls. He remembered how often Rachel would walk down to this shop and look in the window for any new antiques. Alex panoramically looked inside. There were many dusty gold-rimmed vases on a shelf near the cashier to the left, a giant 12x12 painting of blacks and blues that formed the face of a dragon breathing orange fire to the left side of the frame in the middle, and a lifetime collection of troll dolls lined up color coded from yellow to purple on the right. He was about to keep walking when he noticed a girl in a yellow tank top and white jean shorts walk past the painting. She had sandy blonde hair and a purple handbag. He created a roof over his eyebrows with his hands and placed his forehead against the glass. He gave another close look and the girl turned around. He sighed with deep relief - it was not Rachel. He kept on walking until he made it to the famous pizza joint "Ray's Pizza." "HEY Alex!" exclaimed the man behind the counter. "What will it be today?" "The usual Tony," he smiled. "Two slices of pepperoni and a large drink?" "That sounds like the number one." "Comin' right up boss." *** He calmly finished his pizza, put 5$ in the tip jar and walked out of the glass door one more time to hear the chime of the bell. Walking back, he tripped over a tiny tennis ball stuck in the curb of the street. It forced him to look left. Immediately, he froze. He noticed a banner to his left with black zigzag ladders and those people devoid of color that read "West Side Story, Come see the show that started it all!" He started feeling that tarragon herb graze his nose and the lobster melt in his mouth. Underneath that writing in a smaller print it read, "Saturday April 2nd...Starring Rachel Darwin."
Comment [JD30]: Rewrite for believability. WORK would be telling him the EXACT assignment (not just “next upcoming play on Broadway”). Do some more research into the drama scene in NYC. Comment [JD31]: Weird diction here. Comment [JD32]: Comma before noun of direct address. Michael is the roommate, yes? Comment [JD33]: Cool use of the defining objects as adjectives for the “couple” Comment [JD34]: Good job revealing his anxiety without being too forward with the telling of it. Comment [JD35]: What an adverb choice! Comment [JD36]: Only in NYC would there be an “antique” store selling 1980s troll dolls. Comment [JD37]: Brilliantly put.
Comment [JD38]: Don’t forget commas before nouns of address, Chris.
Comment [JD39]: Miniature ball as in not a regulation size ball? Comment [JD40]: Okay, now I understand the earlier reference. Do something far above to clarify that he characters or iconography associated with that musical. (I’m showing my ignorance here.) Comment [JD41]: Great idea here. Maybe simplify it to…He could taste tarragon and lobster on the sides of his tongue.
1. Did the note Rachel left seem realistic? Jamar’s comment about the letter’s dual tones is a great one. There’s a tension in the poem between a formal “Dear John” letter and a tender intimacy. I’m not sure the voice is always realistic, especially for a young woman leaving a relationship with a young man. Since letter writing is a dying art, maybe this anachronistic-sounding diction is appropriate… 2. Did I do a good enough job with providing Alex’s emotions towards Rachel? Also, did I manage to provide Rachel with enough description through her tone?
Comment [JD42]: Probably the most emotional ending we’ve had. Great job ending here and not over-explaining the significance of this.
Yes, youâ€™ve created a sensitive and emotional young man whose rich sensory experience of the world (NYC) is tied inextricably to the memory of his former girlfriend. I love that we never meet her except through the longing, sentimentalism, and flashbacks of Alex. 3. Is the ending surprising, or emotional at all? Specifically, do I need to develop or remove bringing back the lobster and the ladders? Yes, the reader is upset that Rachel is STILL in New York, nullifying what she wrote in the letter. We feel dogged, just like Alex. Well done. I love the lobster and ladder return, but the lobster could be simplified and the ladder might be clarified in the first reference.
Published on May 11, 2011