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“I didn’t want him,” she says. “I wanted something, something I saw in the eyes of Libby, Sam, Sandi, and Agnes. Something that would have made our new world, our safe world, a home. Children were a part of that world and so I found myself a child. Perhaps, I thought, I would love him and everything would fall into place. Perhaps with a child I could be content with safety, and normality, and a world without knives taped on mop heads.” A cold smile. “I still catch myself thinking that. I still think that maybe tomorrow will be the day where I can fall asleep with the lights on.”

Carmen’s features are stark and cold; like the chiseled lines of Soviet propaganda etched onto an icy street corner. A straight decided nose, high sharp cheekbones, and thin pinched lips. Her eyes are black. We sit together in a small, bare walled, room on a pair of fold up chairs.

I frown. “You mean off?”
“No. I mean on. During the war we were always hiding. If we needed light; a fire to cook, a light to clean the gears of a gun; then we would make it small and turn if off quick. Never would we sleep with a light. I still sometimes walk around the house at night without a single light on. I think that was my first mistake with him. A child is like a sapling. It needs light to grow. But I was – still am – a creature of the dark. He would get back from school and do his homework and I would sit nearby not helping but looking out into the dark to make sure nothing saw our light.”

Carmen grimaces and stands. “Do you want something?” Gestures towards the fridge. “I have everything. I even made some tomato juice the other night.”
I shake my head.
“Suit yourself.”

The house is small, curtains thick, and outside an indecisive rain comes and goes. I check my recorder though I already know everything is as it should be. I make a meaningless adjustment to the microphone and set the device back on the table as Carmen returns with a strip of jerky and a cup of brown red. She doesn’t speak.

“You were a child during the invasion,” I begin again, “you and your sister lived for years behind enemy lines and you weren’t old enough yet for high school. I understand coming back to civilization after such an experience must have been tricky, for both of you.”

The phone rings. Carmen flinches at the sharp noise but doesn’t move to retrieve it. I wait. Soon the sound stops and a robotic answering phone deals curtly with the would-be caller.

“I’ve read your book,” I try. “Taming Libby.”
A hard, fast, look. “It was a stupid thing to do,” Carmen grunts around a mouthful of dried meat. “The social worker told me to do it. She said it would make people aware of what it was like to be one of those left behind. But nobody really wanted to know.”
“It’s a best seller.”
“It’s mostly lies. The editors didn’t like draft one. They said it was too pointless and needed an angle, and edge, and a resolution at the end or it’s not a story. Just a bunch of words on a page. So instead I wrote about how hard it was to teach Libby to read and how we never got her to wear shoes.” Shrugs. “Not a good story, really.”

“It’s an extraordinary story,” I object as a stray tendril of wind darts in an open window and sends the curtains into a twirling dance. “Teaching a woman who grew up wild to be part of society again. And the deep connection you two had to sever. How old was she when the war began?”
“And you were…?”
“And your parents died in the first bombings?”
“And it was almost sixteen years later, when the war was almost over, when you both crossed no mans land.”
I grin. “What did you tell the commanding officer on duty that night? That line?”
“Do you want to trade for some blue eggs we found?”

Carmen keeps eating as she speaks; bites, chews, and swallows with a deliberate practiced efficacy; consuming not enjoying. She saves the tomato juice for last and drinks it in one long gulp.

“It is a marvellous success story,” I continue, less enthusiastically, leaning back in my chair. “She now has a husband, two children, and a job. A far cry from the day by day survivor she had become. And to think she didn’t remember what life was like before, to adapt so well…”
Carmen looks up. For the first time I notice a faint pink scar snaking from her chin and down her neck. “Yeah.” A pause. “But that’s the thing isn’t it? She figured herself out. Me? I’d been taking care of her so long that once she got herself figured I didn’t know what to do. This place,” she waves a hand at the sparse room, “this peace isn’t home. It is for her now. She’s moved on. But me? It’s just another sanctuary. A place to hide until they get too close and we have to move on.”
“The war is over.”
“I keep telling myself that.”

She sits still, feet planted, and eyes hard. She wears a simple brown top the same colour as her skin. Her boots are made for hiking. The rain is getting heavier and I know it will distort the recording. I speak louder.

“Why did you adopt?”
“I told you. I wanted something the others had. A sense of peace, perhaps, or a sense of home. I’m not sure. Again, it was a mistake. I was never that boy’s mother.”
“How often do you speak?”
“When forced to; birthdays, Christmas, and at family gatherings. It’s not that we dislike each other but we don’t have anything in common. He is post war, political, smart, and studies fine arts. I write unsellable stories in my basement so the glow of the computers can’t be seen on the street and fish with a stick.”
“Are you proud of him?”
“No. He is not mine to be proud of. I am proud of Libby.”

She leans forward and cups her hands together. “I’m proud that she is so solid and safe. I know that if something happens she can deal with it and I don’t need to worry. I know she is also happy and content here in this new world.”
I mirror her movement and shuffle forward. “But you are not?”
“Why?” I don’t voice the full question. She’s a famous author, a pioneer of wartime stories, and a strong independent woman who saved her sister and survived in a battle drone, and mutant ridden warzone for an impossible period of time. How, with such a successful life behind her, could she be unhappy?

“I don’t know,” she answered. “I think it’s like I said before. Here isn’t home. It’s a sanctuary. A hole where I hide. I kind of wish,” her wartime accent invades her speech, “that Libby hadn’t left so quick, you know? I hadn’t gotten used to not being needed and… no. I kind of wish I could go home.”
She stares at me while she speaks, making no move to hide her emotion. I look away, embarrassed.

“Your parent’s home?”
“No. The warzone, but we never called it that of course. It was just where we were. Where we lived. And the bombs, and the bullets, and the monsters, and the robots were all just part of life. I know it’s a terrible wish and I don’t really want it to come true but… I still… everything made sense back then. A and B, black and white, hunger and food. No fine arts, politics, kids, or packed to the ceiling grocery stores… I know I should be grateful for the new world - the safe world - and really I am, but sometimes I wish I could just leave this sanctuary before I… eh… what’s the word? All the air has been breathed and you can’t breathe anymore?” She clutches her throat and mimics gasping.
“Suffocate,” I supply.
“Yeah,” she nods and lowers her hands. “Before I suffocate.” A frown. “I should know that one.”
This is my piece for :iconwriters--club: 's latest and greatest contest [link] . It is round two however so if anyone is thinking of joining, I'm sorry but you must have passed round one first. If you have great! and see you on the battle field. :D

This piece is VERY dialogue heavy and originally was written without anything else (WWZ style) but I found it too sparse and just had to throw in some minimal character action, and setting description. Please let me know what you think (I LOVE feedback!) . I personally quite like it but, that said, it is still very young and I am still unsure.

Also, there has been some confusion with odd spelling errors slipping in and out of this piece. I think I have ironed it flat now but if you spot anything that, well, shouldn't be please give me a heads up and I'll beat it over the head with an iron pellet. Or perhaps I'll just fix it. One or the other.

And, another feedback question, did anyone among you wonderful readers perceive Carmen's slight strangeness? If so, what did you think of her? Did her character action tell you anything about her? Did it just reinforce what she was saying? Was it at odd with what she was saying? Or did you get nothing and everything you learnt from Carmen was via her dialogue?

I am not brilliant at character action so this is some small time experimentation going on.

Thanks, I hope you all enjoyed it, and don't forget to check out other people in the contest!

P.S for tWR here is a critique I did: [link]
Add a Comment:

Daily Deviation

Given 2013-07-30
Suffocate is a creative approach to dystopian fiction by ~EvilpixieA. ( Featured by neurotype )
pearwood Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
I read this again.  It is beautifully done.
PennedinWhite Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
A wonderfully enthralling read. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on the DD (belated)!
simplyfeel Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2013  Student Writer
You did an excellent job with this story. Your piece reminded me of the parts of "Life of Pi" where the interviewer and Pi are interacting form the interviewer's perspective. Your piece is exceptionally well-written and I enjoyed reading every part of it. 

That being said, I did not notice any blaring spelling or grammatical errors in the piece. I was paying closer attention to the story and there were not any errors -- as far as I can see -- to detract from my experience. 

I perceived her slight strangeness. I take this strangeness as a longing for the past. She wants to feel directly, not indirectly important to someone in the world once more. She wants to be a protector. She wants to give guidance and safety and without the war occurring, she can give none of those. She feels useless even though life after the war has brought her many successes. What little action Carmen had in this story reflected her as a person I feel. She was unfeeling, yet open. Sad, but not willing to fully give in to her sadness although it taints everything she sees and hears. Her dialogue and actions matched up together well.

Although you speak of character action, I didn't see much of that in this piece. Are your pieces usually solely dialogue and this is slight step up? If not, for a true experimentation, I would attempt to increase the amount of character action by increments. First step, 1/5 of the piece. Second, 1/4. Third, 1/3. Fourth, 1/2. Fifth, just have one line be dialogue. That way, you can master the art!

Anyway, you did an excellent job and I throughly enjoyed reading your piece.
EvilpixieA Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2013  Student Writer
Thanks for the in depth review! I'm thrilled you liked it.

Having such a positive, and knowledgeable, interpretation makes me feel a lot better about this piece.

And thanks for the advice regarding character action. It is something I struggle with and I'll defiantly be taking up your advice! Cheers.
simplyfeel Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2013  Student Writer
You're welcome. I wish you the best of luck on your growth as a writer. :)
LibbyKeppen Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I saw this as a Daily Deviation and try to read all the writings that get featured.  But to top it off, there was a character with my name! Ha!  But back to the actual story, I really liked this and it reminded me of World War Z for sure.  I like dialogue heavy stories because you can really get a feel for the characters that way aside from other character's observations and narrative information.  I thought it was well written and the concept was very interesting - that the woman ended up wishing she could go back to when the war was full blown because at least she knew herself then.  Now, she's lost.  I love this, you really deserved the Daily Deviation!
EvilpixieA Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2013  Student Writer
Oh? Libby or Carmen? Either way they're cool names. Your parents have taste.

Thanks for the really nice reply. I'm honestly thrilled you liked it. :D
LibbyKeppen Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Libby, like my user name. :)  It was either Libby or Roxy. XD XD

You are so welcome.  I try to leave comments if I favorite. :)
EvilpixieA Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2013  Student Writer
I should have guessed! No worries. :D
Chipchinka Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2013   Writer
I really enjoyed this and I suspect I will have to read it again if you want an in-depth review.  Essentially, I read it in one big gulp, which is generally a sign that something is well done.  I always have to read things twice, if they're written well enough to suspend my disbelief. This suspended my disbelief and I wanted to just savor the ride.

It's interesting how the character in this story develops and I rather like the direction this takes.  I've read (and heard) numerous war-survivor stories, especially in terms of people from places like Bosnia, Albania, Romania (to a degree) and other countries either ruined by war or the collapse of the Soviet Union.  This story has the feel of such stories.  I remember talking to a Bosnian guy, once, a while back, and this story reminded me of our conversation.  He'd been through far more than most of us would ever dream of, and he kept right on.  At one point I was curious, and asked him: "Do you ever have nightmares?"  His response was simple.  He said: "Yes.  But only when I'm awake." That was incredibly telling, and I kept thinking about that when I read this.  

It was a bit of a nice puzzle trying to figure out the character.  I thought that perhaps she was East European: perhaps former Yugoslavian and it wasn't until the end that I had a firm idea of what had actually been going on.  I find that interesting in that this story would work extremely well without the science fictional/other reality elements in it.  The drive of the story is emotional and so it supports itself really well without the references to battle drones, etc.  This doesn't mean that they should be removed so much as it means that this story works so well as a character study.  I also like the way everything seemed pared down and very, very minimal.  Everything in this seems to be filtered through a really hard act of survival and loss, and that's what came across most strongly here.  

My overall impression is that this is a nicely polished piece.  I like it a lot.
EvilpixieA Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2013  Student Writer
Thanks for the comments. It's fascinating to hear about your experience as a reader, what you enjoyed, as well as what it brought to mind. I'll admit the Bosnian guy you spoke of has me interested. It... stilling... sometimes what others can tell us. I'll admit to a wide variety of stories people have told me motivating the creation of this piece and this character; from the playful version of WWII one of my granddad's used to tell me, the reserved comments of an America/Vietnam war scuba scout I sat next to on a plane, and a woman who proudly showed me the ruins of a tank outside her village.

I think it may be why I held of the science fiction until the end. I didn't want this story to be about an actual war nor did I want to distract from the character. Because, the war stories I know, haven't been about bombs and bullets (or in this case battle drones and mutants). But people.

Thanks again, and I'm thrilled you liked it. Sorry for the rambling. :D
Deemerr Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Student Artisan Crafter
This is amazing, It's a wonderful story. I love the plot to it. I applaud thee.
EmiOhki Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
No offense, but this is too long and pretentious for me.
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I vaguely remember learning that offense is best avoided by not saying something offensive in the first place.
SimplySilent Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013
:heart: Congrats on the DD! :clap:
Melloiguana Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I believe this is my favorite short story for this month! I will be reading more from you!
pearwood Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Beautifully, poignantly done.

Carmen's actions mirror her words and reinforce them. 

How we do miss the simplicity, the desert, the time when life was stark and everything matter.  And how the glamorous, the keeping up, the games do suffocate us.
JeffreyRebowlski Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Its interesting-tray WWZ-books written even after the world (nearly) has ended.
Schneefuechsin Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Etorik Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Student Writer
Yay! Finally a story written in the present!
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I've featured a few of those :shifty:
TruthisTruth Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Student Writer
Flawless. :clap:
alphabetsoup314 Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You've created a character that knows nothing but war, and so it continues into peacetime. It shows up not only in the dialogue, but in her actions too - constant watchfulness even with the phone ringing, the way she eats the as efficiently and quickly as possible. It was a brilliant portrait of a chronic survival mindset. I think the narrator also has a bit of character development going on, he/she seems quite detached from it all; he/she keeps from making any emotional judgement at all, other than marveling at Carmen's success and being confused at her lack of satisfaction. 

I also liked the comparison to a Soviet propaganda poster, firstly because it's a very unique description, and secondly because the internet knows the faux propaganda meme, and instantly it conjures images of very controlled vector art, often in a limited colour scheme. 

Minor spelling nitpick: "and a world without knifes tapped on mob heads". I think it should be 'knives' here. Also, not sure if you mean 'taped' or if you actually meant for it to be 'tapped'. Either way, whether you mean 'taped' or 'tapped', it creates a very confusing image. 

I think the setting could have worked very well without the monster parts thrown in. The references to any sci-fi elements were pretty minimal and only came into play at the end; I caught one subtle hint somewhere in the middle that they were fighting things and not people, but that was it. From the way you were describing the present setting like contemporary society at first, I thought that perhaps you were describing a historical war. A lot of the things that Carmen experienced during the war also felt quite generalized, and didn't really have any references to things out of the ordinary for real-life war survivors. And you described a lot of the things that real-life survivors could do or feel when going back to a civilized world. Then I came across the sci-fi elements at the end, and it just felt like a cheat thrown in to avoid having to describe what real war Carmen just survived. I think you could have either associated the story with some historical invasion, or made the sci-fi elements a little stronger, something more to hint that it wasn't an ordinary war; if they were running from monsters rather than human soldiers, perhaps they would be more worried about covering up their scent? Perhaps mention that Carmen and Libby survived for years in a heavily infested area rather than "behind enemy lines" as the narrator says?
EvilpixieA Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Student Writer
Thanks for the in depth review! Especially pointing out that sentence. It does look... awkward now that I put it under a spotlight. It's a wonder what another pair of eyes can do.

Thanks again.
alphabetsoup314 Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You're welcome :)
N-Lovad Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013
I loved the description with the Soviet propaganda (uppercase S). Was Carmen Russian or Eastern European, or did you just like how the description sounded and it wasn't about nationality?

I'd say that you could better describe Carmen physically. I know her face is sharp, but I keep imagining her as a model with a sharp face. You could maybe say that her sharpness was like her personality, or try to relate it to her survival past (like that her face looked starved, which would emphasize how Carmen still hasn't left her past behind).

The names also confused me (in the beginning, since they weren't really mentioned again, so I don't know how these people relate to Carmen), and sometimes I couldn't tell whose point of view the story was from, Carmen or the other person's, or even if the POV had changed at all. I think you should make that a bit more clear.

On the other hand, I liked the description of the house, and the wartime experience.

And then the accent. I could usually tell when Carmen was speaking, but I didn't really notice an "accent." You could add in that she rolled her r's, or said "w" instead of "v", or just spoke very quickly or very slowly or with a drawl, but there has to be something more. A few of the words should be changed, there should be a dialect. Maybe she calls guns "firesticks?" I don't know, but if Carmen does come from a foreign place, then she should clearly talk differently than the narrator.

While I liked the phrase "a world without knifes tapped on mob heads" I couldn't discern its place in the story. Did she mean the current world, not her wartime past? Was she somehow referring to her wartime past, although I never heard mention of a mob? Was that supposed to be a capitalized Mob, meaning the Mafia? Was it a people mob, rebelling against something and then getting killed for it? Maybe that phrase wasn't supposed to mean as much as I thought it would, but reading that first paragraph I thought I was about to read a crime story about an urban setting. I think it should be clearer about what this mob is and where it came from, if it comes from the past or the current day, or if it's Carmen showing disdain for the modern, post-war world, despite its relative safety.

Even when it got a bit confusing, I overall liked your story.
EvilpixieA Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Student Writer
Thanks for the detailed and in depth comment! It really helps to get such a full understanding of how your experience as a reader was.

Though I have a few queries.

I hope this isn't a stupid question, but I didn't think soviet was spelt with an uppercase s. Yes, the former Soviet Union, as a country is spelt with an uppercase s and if she was Soviet (eg, a citizen) then I would have; but using the word as a descriptive word I didn't think applied. I was using it in reference to an art style not a country. Soviet, after all, also describes a society. Other words used to describe a society or a aspect of a group of people (words like capitalist, christian, and communal) aren't uppercase. Why soviet?

Again, I'm sorry if this is a stupid question. I really don't know. Should 'soviet' be an uppercase word?

I'm surprised you had problems with the POV. I scanned through it again but couldn't find anywhere where I believe you could have gotten lost. It remains in first person with a secondary character directed at a primary character the whole time. Could you point out where and how you may have gotten confused?

I personally hate dialect in text. I find it jarring, distracting, and usually an indicator of poor writing. I am also not the only one. While studying creative writing I was told never to write in a dialect. Poor English is poor English and, as a writer, I shouldn't have to deface the language (and flow) in order to portray the mode of a character's speak.

That said, Carmen didn't have an accent. Not at first and nothing like the kind of accents you suggest. "...her wartime accent invades her speech..." was how I introduced the shift in her speech right near the end where she forgets to speak normally. Was this too small an indicator? Did it confuse you? I'm honestly at a blank as to why you think she was speaking with a apparently German accent from word go.

Thanks again so much for the constructive feedback and I would love it if you could answer those questions. I really would like to get the most out of your review as possible and I hope this will help me do it.
N-Lovad Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2013
This may take a while.

I did research on the word "soviet", and found that it sometimes isn't capitalized, but it seems to be lowercase only when referring to a noun. A soviet isn't just a person, but also "an elected government council at the local, regional, and national levels" (in a communist country), or "a local revolutionary council." But you specifically said that you were referring to artwork. The word soviet is capitalized (at least it was in the online dictionary I looked up), when referring "of, characteristic of, or relating to the former Soviet Union, its people, or its government." On other sites, I also found that most of the time, the word Soviet was capitalized.
Even though it doesn't have anything to do with the story, the word Christian is also alphabetized, because it is a proper noun, referring to a religion and person. The only reason you wouldn't capitalize it is if you are describing how nice/humane a person is. And again, other sites say it is capitalized.

If you still have doubts about it, I'd capitalize it anyway, just in case, because for the most part I've seen Soviet being capitalized.

Secondly, the POV. I think some of my confusion came from not knowing the characters (I thought the boy she said she loved in the beginning was a man/ her husband, oops), and then there was that narrator who I thought was a writer, and I thought he/she had written the book about Libby, and that Libby had been a feral child case (and then it was like, Libby was Carmen's sister, which made it sort of easier to understand), but then it goes on to say that Libby is now a normal person. And then, at the end of paragraph 8, it said "how hard it was to teach Libby to read and how we never got her to wear shoes", but then the narrator describes how "She now has a husband, two children, and a job." I though the end of paragraph 8 was the end of the story Carmen had typed, but then there's more that was never explained, like how she went from not wearing shoes, to having a family. I just, wasn't sure if Libby was the narrator's concern, or if it was Carmen's. At some point, I did think that Carmen and the narrator were both writers, and rereading the story I actually do get the POVs. Maybe I forgot Carmen was the woman's name?
I guess the only thing that should be clearer is the characters. Either reduce or explain them. If Libby changed dramatically after the book was already written, it's got to be clear.

Dialect! I understand where you would get an aversion to bad English, and yet, dialect is one of the best indicators of personality and history that I can think of, other than clothes. Maybe you haven't read this book, but in "Grapes of Wrath", the family in it came from Oklahoma, so they spoke very differently from other characters in the book, often in broken or "poor" English. However, I was never distracted by it, and I think their dialect gave them personality.
I think it might be more distracting (to the reader at least) not to give Carmen a dialect; I expected a character who comes from a foreign, war-torn land, with little social interaction and probably not a lot of education. And yet, she speaks almost as perfectly as the narrator does, doesn't hesitate very often, and you could almost never tell that she speaks any differently from the narrator. I could distinguish her of course, but I just think she needs more. It doesn't have to be bad English; maybe she just speaks in short phrases. Maybe she doesn't like to describe things. Maybe she rambles, or maybe she doesn't like to reveal a lot, and so needs prompting to reveal an entire story. And if you do want Carmen to speak normally, that should be explained. Did she go to school after the war, is she a naturally fast learner, or did she have access to some books in the war zone, and learn how to speak better from them? Were her parents very good at speaking (perhaps better than the rest of the population at the time), and did they know other languages that they could have taught her before she turned nine?
Maybe I'm too picky about it; I just think it may improve the character.

Accents... no, I was not at all saying that I thought she had a German accent. I was suggesting that you give her an accent, but it could have been any accent, European or not.
As with dialect, I noticed rather the lack of an accent. She didn't mispronounce words, she didn't slur any, she didn't struggle to pronounce anything and have to slowly say things. I would assume that if she had a "war-time accent" that she spoke a different language from the narrator, or again, a different dialect, but that part of it doesn't seem to show up. The narrator doesn't ask her to repeat things, nor do they mention it being difficult to understand her.
The indicator was a bit too small, too late, and it confused me only in that I never got that there was an accent. For one, it's at the very end; they were talking so much before, but only now the accent comes in, at the second to last paragraph?
Also, not knowing how to say suffocate is more of a vocabulary issue. If it was an accent issue, there would have to be a particular letter or sound in the word suffocate that made it hard for her to say the word without messing it up. What you did was more like Carmen being unable to say the word "vacuum"; she knows what it looks like perhaps, and what it does, but the idea of a vacuum is so foreign that she forgot the word, or just never learned it because she was never exposed to vacuums, and doesn't use them now either.
If the whole purpose of the indicator was to save the whole accent/speech shift thing for the end, then I guess I can't help you if you only want it for the end. I think it would have been better to keep the story consistent, and either go back and put in accent/dialect for Carmen, or else not mention the accent at all, and just have Carmen forget the word, as some of us normal people sometimes forgot simple words for no reason (you know those days, when you forget how to spell the word you're, and you don't know why?).
As a whole though, I really did like the dialogue, especially Carmen's side of it.

Well, that's it. I'm sure that I've answered anything, but let me know if I've forgotten something, or if you need clarification.
EvilpixieA Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2013  Student Writer
Okay, thanks for all that. Especially the 'Soviet' thing. I looked it up after you mentioned it but couldn't find a consistent definition. I hope I didn't inconvenience you too badly. :)

I'm a bit ashamed that you've had such a hard time understanding certain story elements but, due to other people giving me positive feedback, I am reluctant to make such huge changes to the story. For example, I'm surprised you struggled to understand that Carmen had written a book about her sister Libby. In fact, I find this most surprising of all. I might go back and attempt to make it more obvious because I believe this is the hinge upon everything fell apart for you (correct me if I'm wrong). Once you have knowledge that Carmen wrote a book about her sister I believe it makes sense for her to speak better English. Due to the years she has spent in peace time I don't think it's surprising, honestly. In fact, I would find it surprising if - after years of living on modern society - Carmen hadn't learnt to speak and Libby hadn't grown to have some kind of family and connection beyond her sister etc. Furthermore, I don't think it strange that she doesn't speak with an accent until she becomes somewhat more emotional and distracted. I know a lot of people who revert back to old accents etc, when they're upset.

I will stand firm on accents and dialects not being portrayed in the text and spelling, however. I find it far too jarring and gimmicky at best; downright offensive at worst.

For example, I wouldn't write a conversation between an Indian and an Australian like this:

"Our wegtables arre werry good."

"Ay just want sume fud, mate."

And it's my biggest gripe with Harry Potter that Hagrid speaks like this. I literally suffered through his lines and I know I am not the only one. Having to translate your own language generally breaks people out of the story even if it's in an occasionally amusing way it does remove them none the less. But perhaps this is just me.

Thanks a heap for your responses. They've really helped. You rock. :D
N-Lovad Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2013
Oh, no, I actually understand that Carmen wrote the book. The first time I read the story I missed that, but when I reread it I understood completely, so there's no confusion there.

I can also understand the whole accent/dialect thing, in which case I would just make it obvious that at the end Carmen was getting emotional, because I wasn't sure if she was just talking to the narrator normally, or if she was sad or something...

And of course, I would never want a character to speak like a stereotype..or just plain stupid.. so Carmen stays.
Even though I didn't think of an accent, I still liked the description "her war-time accent", just because I loved the way it sounds. Like Soviet propaganda.
lintu47 Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
    Congrats on the DD! :dalove:
    Have a nice day! :heart:
DeadloveCalling Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013  Student Writer
Wow, that was beautiful. I didn't understand the description in the beginning but it set the stage for what followed nicely. Overall it's a very sobering, gorgeous piece :)
SAVALISTE Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013   Photographer
Cobrateen Featured By Owner May 11, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
First, answers to your questions: I could perceive her “strangeness” well enough, but I didn't think it strange per say; she survived a war and I think you have accurately described a survivor. She is careful with her emotions, always ready to put them aside and move on without them. The way she eats the beef jerky, eating beef jerky itself even, a survival food, her describing the contents of her fridge as “everything” even though I'm pretty sure she only has necessities in there, the curt way in which for a while she just says “Yeah” to everything, more obviously the way she dresses … it all points to her being a survivor. And so when we learn what she did it's not really surprising, and when we learn the full extant of what she went through it is unsurprising that she was so badly damaged by it. It's good how those two things, the descriptions of her and the dialogue, help reinforce and explain each other. She is a survivor, nothing less and nothing more – although I guess a bit more since she apparently wrote a book about her experience and is now a full-time writer. And I call her broken because I think she never got a chance to be anything but a survivor; unlike Libby who forgot and moved on, she can't. She can't heal and move on, which creates an interesting contrast since she is such a travel-ready person.

Now then, some random nitpicks: One thing that bothered me was the indecisive feel of moving back and forth between the boy she raised and the girl she saved. For some reason those two got mixed up in my mind, Libby and the boy almost felt like the same person to me even though the woman views them so differently. And she mentions all those other names at the start – perhaps people she saved? – and yet they never show up again. I felt like you couldn't decide as you were writing the piece how many people she saved, sometimes many and sometimes just Libby, and then switching to talking about the boy only further confused me. Also, the phrase “her wartime accent” is a nice touch but I'm not sure what to make of it. I don't get any feel for what that accent does, how it changes her voice. What specifically is the interviewer noticing when they notice that change?
EvilpixieA Featured By Owner May 11, 2013  Student Writer
Thanks for the critique. It's nice to see a solid amount of thought has gone into your review and the feedback you give is both different and hugely helpful.

Thanks for reading!
Cobrateen Featured By Owner May 12, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
You're welcome! You know what they say: The better the piece, the better the critique.
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March 8, 2013
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