[Writing] The Salesman

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   She was half her mother’s age. Her father left the picture before she could remember. The mother was 30, the daughter 15. The generational symmetry was menacing. Her biggest asset was her youth, or rather that nothing was expected of her. No failure was sufficient to shake her value as a person. No flaw of her character could make her unlikable, because in the eyes of her elders, she was still a child. Her feet were tiny. She looked at them, after removing both of her socks with some effort. She made sure the bathroom door was locked and then she unbuttoned her jeans, pulled the zipper half way down and hastily pulled her legs out of them. The jeans were too small for her, but she wouldn’t buy bigger ones. Not for as long as she could force herself into them. It was a battle, not one she would give up. She elegantly relieved herself of the last piece of clothing still covering her lower half and then she looked upon herself with an evaluating stare in the mirror. Her T-shirt was too long, it mischievously reached just far enough to hide all and any hint of her sex, but no further. She blinked for a long time and then stepped into the shower, still wearing her oversized T-shirt. The warm water fell over her hair and changed its consistency entirely. The long brown locks were now glued to her skin, covering her face, her neck and her juvenile shoulders.


   When she stepped out of the shower the air was almost unbearably warm. She freed herself from the soaking wet T-shirt and wrapped herself in a towel. From downstairs she heard the voice that was distinctively masculine.  She wrapped a smaller towel around her hair while she felt the warmth of the moist air invade her body. When she stuck her head out the door, it was like she had entered a different world, one that is cold and one in which sounds are clear and crisp. She hastily made her way to the top of the stairs and listened intensely to the conversation in the room below. Her mother was laughing enthusiastically while the male voice talked in short sentences. It was too deep and diffuse for her to make out the words. Still, it was clear to her that his motives were dishonest. She could tell by how eagerly her mother swallowed his bait. Only the simplicities of lies could ever spark her mother’s interest. The real world was too nuanced, too deprived of easy yes and no. In eastern London, there are only two shades of gray. Anything in-between is suspicious. He was probably another investment scam artist, or maybe an ordinary salesman. Or perhaps a potential boyfriend. Bad news. Then, in a matter of seconds, the mysterious man and his voice vanished from her thoughts as she disappeared into her room to get dressed.


   Both adults looked up as the daughter of the house stepped down the stairs and into the room. Her hair was all wet and she was wearing a baggy T-shirt with Winnie the Pooh printed onto it. Her mother gazed angrily at her bare legs.
   «Put on some clothes! You’re too old to walk around in panties…»
   «I live here!» she yelled black, interrupting the man who had just opened his mouth to greet her. She headed for the kitchen without acknowledging the guest with as much as a look. The mother rolled her eyes and the man regained her focus.
   «She is always like this!» she apologized, in a lower voice this time. The man was in his early 30s. His eyes were dark and his eyebrows arced upwards, as if in a constant state of fear, or perhaps just anxiety. Yet his smile indicated that he felt excited to be here.
   «She is very beautiful» he said, «she looks just like you.» The mother tried her best to feign a smile.
   «How are you two holding up?» he continued.
   «The plan was to get her into college, but that looks more and more like a lightheaded fantasy. She hasn’t showed up for three weeks and when she does show up she causes nothing but trouble.»
   «Have you talked to her?»
   «The school administration didn’t let me know ’til yesterday, I’m guessing they enjoyed being rid of her so much they didn’t wanna end it.»
   «Don’t say that, it’s not easy being her age.»
   «Oh, it’s not easy?» The mother laughed bitterly. «I give her everything for free and all she does is sit in her room doing God knows what.»
   «You sound old» he teased. She looked angrily upon him.
   «Am I supposed to be a perpetual teenager? No thanks!»
   «Relax, I was only joking.»


   The unmistakable sound of eggs falling from their carton and crushing against a surface was heard from the kitchen. Then came the sound of the carton being put black on the counter and the sound of liquid pouring from a flask came next. The mother noticed the man was no longer looking at her, but at something behind her shoulder. She turned around and saw her daughter standing in the doorway. Her hair, face, shoulders and body were covered in milk and egg yolks. She rested her head against the door case and looked calmly at the couple. Her face was without expression. The mother jumped from her chair and nearly ran toward the daughter. Her face was thundering.
   «What has gotten into you?» She raised her hand and slapped her daughter over the head.
   «Clean up your mess» she yelled. She gave her mother a stare of defiance, but obeyed. She proceeded to clean the floor that was covered with egg shells. After lying on all fours for a few minutes her knees started to hurt, but she continued to wash the floor, because she knew how badly dried milk would end up smelling. She was disgusted by this man who was so unsubtly trying to seduce or bamboozle her mother. She wanted him out, she wanted to squash his chances and scare him away. Judging by the sound of their chatter, it seemed luck was not in her favor. She finished up the floor and then hid behind the door case and tried to listen to their conversation.
   «I’ve been trying to find a way into construction, but they don’t need no more workers there» she heard him say.
   «I also tried to get a job driving a taxi, but apparently they only give those out to immigrants these days.» It was quiet for a while, then he continued.
   «So like yourself, I don’t have much, but I have some savings and I’m willing to spend as much of it as I can afford, of course I’ll need you to do the same.»
   «That sounds good» her mother replied after a pause, she sounded tired. «You’re a good man, Jacob.» Her suspicions were confirmed, he was selling her some sort of pyramid scheme. How could she get him to leave? She pictured herself stomping her foot, pouting her lip and saying mum, I don’t like him!
   «We need each other, I know you have no reason to trust me, but I promise that I can make your life happier.» His voice was trained. Smooth as silk. It was clear to her now, that the seduction was merely a means to an end and his fundamental motive was purely commercial. Her poor mother was terribly gullible, she had a tremendous bias in favor of optimism. She could already hear her explaining herself, claiming that he had an honest face and that there was no way for her to know that his promises were illegitimate. Her mother would surely give away their house and savings to this liar, unless she could stop him. She would have to be dramatic, she would have to make him leave before her mother could sabotage her rescue. She had to shocking. Thoughtfully, she started undressing.

   «I can’t solve your financial problems in a week or a month, perhaps not in years. At first you might be giving me more money than you’ll be getting, but I promise you that I will sooner die than stop trying to find some way to provide for you two» he said and his face was serious, almost melancholic.
   «I’ve been away for too long, this is where I’m supposed to be, I was always meant to be here. I barely know her, she doesn’t know me at all» he continued. The mother suddenly smiled and with consolidation she laid her hand on his.
   «I do miss you, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t.» Her voice was soft.
   «Walking out on you was the worst decision I ever made, there is no apology that would be sufficient, but we were both so young when you got pregnant…» She hushed lovingly and he went quiet.
   «Don’t worry about the past, everything will be good now. Everything.» She was confident in her words, it showed on her face.
   «GET OUT» the daughter’s voice was aggressive and piercing. He raised his head, but once he looked upon her his eyes became terrified and he looked away. The mother turned her head and was taken equally aback. She stood there without a single piece of clothing on her body. The assertiveness with which she revealed herself truly had a horrifying quality. Her face was red with anger and she looked at him with eyes that weren’t her own, they weren’t angry, but rather empty. As if she saw right through him.
   «Don’t come black, don’t call, don’t pick up the phone if she calls you.» He turned around for his coat, desperately keeping his eyes down as if they would catch fire if they caught glimpse of her, even for a split second. The mother was speechless. He stumbled as he ran for the door, but he quickly got up. The mother was speechless. The door shut with a loud bang. Then it was quiet.



   Once again it was just the two of them. She took a deep breath and her shoulders relaxed. The scene had been an exercise of extreme will power and it had exhausted her. Like the first drop of water, introducing a storm of heavy rain, a tear drop fell along the eyelash of her rightmost eye corner. It briefly stopped at the end of it, then fell down on her cheek. Soon came another and then one more. She closed her eyes and emotion started to distort the shape of her mouth. She collapsed onto her mother’s lap. With a stare bearing witness of someone who has last all hope, the mother caressed her daughter’s head, as if she was a much younger child. Her feet were getting cold, but she didn’t have enough strength to leave her mother’s comforting embrace.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2015, 09:18:04 AM by boe »

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Ok, the good.
I like the premise of your story.  "Her face was thundering." Was my favorite line from the entire thing. It portrayed emotion well, do more of that.

The nit picky:

Quote
From downstairs she heard the voice that was distinctively masculine.
I think this should be "she heard a voice"  But maybe that's just the difference in our languages?

Quote
When she stuck her head out the door, it was like she had entered a different world, one that is cold and one in which sounds are clear and crisp.
Be careful repeating the same word quickly. When one (;)) is reading it tends to throw them off. 

Make sure you use quotation marks to designate speaking "Put on some clothes! You’re too old to walk around in panties"

Quote
«Clean up your mess» she yelled. She gave her mother a stare of defiance, but obeyed.
This part is a little confusing. I get it, but I think it should be rewritten in a way that doesn't need to be read twice to get it. 


I like where you're going overall with this story, but I just don't know about the end. The only way she could think of to get rid of some random man was to strip naked and run screaming at him?  :o 

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Ok, the good.
I like the premise of your story.  "Her face was thundering." Was my favorite line from the entire thing. It portrayed emotion well, do more of that.

The nit picky:

Quote
From downstairs she heard the voice that was distinctively masculine.
I think this should be "she heard a voice"  But maybe that's just the difference in our languages?

Quote
When she stuck her head out the door, it was like she had entered a different world, one that is cold and one in which sounds are clear and crisp.
Be careful repeating the same word quickly. When one (;)) is reading it tends to throw them off. 

Make sure you use quotation marks to designate speaking "Put on some clothes! You’re too old to walk around in panties"

Quote
«Clean up your mess» she yelled. She gave her mother a stare of defiance, but obeyed.
This part is a little confusing. I get it, but I think it should be rewritten in a way that doesn't need to be read twice to get it. 


I like where you're going overall with this story, but I just don't know about the end. The only way she could think of to get rid of some random man was to strip naked and run screaming at him?  :o

I agree the ending was a bit rushed! I just wanted something dramatic. Regarding "the voice", I have no idea why I wrote that. I was probably tired.

Thanks for your feedback, I'll look into improving it.

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Whut? O_o

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i dont know just letting you know i read it but didnt know what to say so i said something random and pointless
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i dont know just letting you know i read it but didnt know what to say so i said something random and pointless

Was it bad/weird? You can tell me! (:

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Definitely use quotation marks - think quoting someone! - for speech.
I admit, it was a hard read with all the angles distracting me.


I also agree that this story would have been better without that particular dramatic ending.
For a teenager, that seems a little extreme to strip down.
A little less likely to happen.
I could understand if it were a small child that doesn't know better.

The beginning and middle structure was better.
And I do love the same line Jules chose: "Her face was thundering."
That was an awesome choice of words, depicted her reaction perfectly, and made a quick point.
More of that, just as Jules suggested. :3

 

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Alright. Your use of the English language is actually above average. The words are fun to read in the arrangement you have made, and they roll off the tongue easily.

However, your punctuation is bad; use quotations instead of angle brackets,please. Additionally, while the piece was well constructed vicabulary-wise, the story was strange and seemed contrived at times. Its easy to see that her dad is trying to scam her mother, and its clear the girl has odd reactions, but she seems mentally ill and the first paragraph didn't explore that well enough. At the very least, if she does those things she would be under counseling or on mild medication.

 Not horrible, but I think you can do better.
:tinysmile:

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Alright. Your use of the English language is actually above average. The words are fun to read in the arrangement you have made, and they roll off the tongue easily.

However, your punctuation is bad; use quotations instead of angle brackets,please. Additionally, while the piece was well constructed vicabulary-wise, the story was strange and seemed contrived at times. Its easy to see that her dad is trying to scam her mother, and its clear the girl has odd reactions, but she seems mentally ill and the first paragraph didn't explore that well enough. At the very least, if she does those things she would be under counseling or on mild medication.

 Not horrible, but I think you can do better.

Thanks for good feedback. Are the quotation marks the only problem or is my punctuation bad in other ways? If so, please let me know so I can fix it.

I agree that the story itself is weird, but it was good practice. :)
« Last Edit: May 17, 2014, 01:03:00 PM by Abigaila »

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Just the quotes. I maintain, it has the possibility of being a real grabber, and I think with practice and some soul behind it you'll  start writing really cool shit. I think what your story needs is more tellability, more explanation of motive. Mystery is fine in its place, but in this context we need more information on the characters.
:tinysmile:

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Just the quotes. I maintain, it has the possibility of being a real grabber, and I think with practice and some soul behind it you'll  start writing really cool shit. I think what your story needs is more tellability, more explanation of motive. Mystery is fine in its place, but in this context we need more information on the characters.

Thanks for the encouragement! :) I think my largest weakness in writing is story. I love to describe situations and states of mind, but I rarely really know where I'm going.

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Ah, yes, I can see plainly in the story. Okay, this was you: "Shit. Now where do I go?"  Been there. Stories you write as you go, unless you are truly gifted  (and if you were you'd be published) are typically crap. Every once in a great while you strike gold but its few and far between. Keep trying, kid. You'll get it.
:tinysmile: