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Under the Rhubarb

If Fiction is your forte, this is the forum for you. This is the place to share information and get help on the road to writing the next great novel.

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doug blair
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Under the Rhubarb

Postby doug blair » Fri Sep 04, 2015 8:26 am

Barb had large plans for the backyard garden. The space had been there but never the time. With spade in hand, she chuckled wryly at recent developments.

Her company had been mercilessly down-sized, and she as number two in human resources had been kept on until the bitter end. It had felt like the role of the Angel of Death. Greg had insisted that she not worry about the time off this summer. Things were going very well for him in the new Corporate Governance Department at The Firm. It almost seemed as if he had not welcomed her success after the children had gotten older.

Had that not been one of the main issues in her sister's divorce? Jobs. Money. Competition. And the two of them had cut it off without any significant emotion. It just dried up. Barb was wondering now about her own marriage.

All afternoon she had been spading up sod by the west fence. She could almost see the planned brilliance of perennials. A strip of old rhubarb would have to be removed. It had been there for the nine years they had been in the house. Un-killable. Five minutes into the task, her shovel hit steel, and she unearthed an old coffee can. Curious? Perhaps it was time for a lemonade break.

With one of Greg's screwdrivers from the garage she was able to remove the rusted lid. Inside were a bundle of old letters held together with blue elastic. Wow! Hidden treasure or mystery?

With her second refreshing glass she got into the correspondence. Apparently a prior occupant, Christine had been writing to "Dear Brad". Hmmmm, Christine. Hadn't the title papers received at time of closing referred to former owners Thomas and Christine Platt?

The unearthed saga suggested that Thomas was spending overmuch time at his bank, and that Christine had "befriended" Brad, one of the other parents at the children's elementary school. It had started out with a refreshing talk at the end of a school function, and had developed into something of much deeper and forbidden hope.

Barb could hardly believe what she was reading. The Platts about thirty years ago had proved to be real community servants and their three children had all done well and were happily married. No scuttle on any scandal.

The last letter in the bundle held the key. It was a carbon copy:

Dearest Brad: Were I to follow my heart, we would be together. I am tempted by your growing insistence. But then I look at the kids. I see Tom working so hard at what he believes to be important. I remember the thrill of our past years together hoping, planning, quibbling. I must remain with them all. I will say no more about the excitement and discovery which you have opened up in me. We will not see each other again. All of the correspondence which I possess will be hidden in a place far from view, but still present in a way to remind me of the things we shared. I love you. I leave you. Christine.

For Barb it was time to attend to dinner. Greg had said that he would try to be early. Definitely, tomorrow the coffee can secret would be returned to its rightful place. And the rhubarb would stay. ... o-you.html

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Re: Under the Rhubarb

Postby Shann » Wed Oct 07, 2015 9:52 am

I love this story. Since Jan's lesson is on my mind, I was reading it looking for the conflict. You did a wonderful job of including several different conflicts and each one pulled me more into the story.

I'm not sure if you wrote this for something particular with a word limitlimit, but if possible, I'd urge you to expand it. I'm not sure if you are a silver, gold, or platinum member, but right now FW is offering a money back guarantee for people who upgrade to Platinum. Also for a short time platinum members get access to three great writing books, one which will help you a great deal do what I would suggest: do more showing and less telling. Check it out here: viewtopic.php?f=63&t=14858
Although this is a great story, you have done more showing than telling. Take your first paragraph, it's all back story. A lot of the information is needed, but not necessarily all at once. I'd urge you to sprinkle the details throughout and instead start with a hook to pull the reader in right away. This is just an example of what I mean:
As she gazed out at the backyard garden, her stomach bubbled with pent up frustration. With the downsizing at work, she as the number two human resource person had been kept to the bitter end. Human Resource Manager, Tah! My title should have been Grim Reaper. Her hand gripped the spade. Maybe Greg is right about me thinking of this time as a vacation. He is doing well at his job, and I've wanted work on this garden forever, but another part of me feels like he has resented my success, especially since the kids left. Perhaps jabbing the spade into the ground will help me figure it all out. Should I stay or would I be happier getting a divorce like my sister did? Kneeling downdown, stabbed the shovel into the tender earth.

That's not perfect of course, and I tried to use your words as much as possible, but I wanted to show how using body language and dialog (or in this case thoughts) can help pull the reader in right away. It would also allow her to mull her thoughts over more.

This story has so much potential. I could easily see it as the beginning g or part of a great novel. Some of the transitions need a bit more smoothing out. You do a great job of building the suspense and adding little teasers. I loved your MC. She felt real and I could see myself roosting for her. I hope you do expand on it some more. You have a definite gift and with some expandingexpanding, dialog, and body language, I have no doubt you could hit this one out of the box.

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Sometimes God calms the storm; Sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child

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doug blair
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Re: Under the Rhubarb

Postby doug blair » Sat Oct 24, 2015 10:11 am

Thank you for your interesting comments. Hadn't checked up for responses lately. Got to thinking that your site was more about craft and style than it was about becoming a library of good writing to explore.
You may have guessed that my interest lies more in poetry and the crystallized instances of thought and image. Even my short stories are microscopic. I write what I write without much rehash past the first couple of days. I once had a site for uplifting short stories and blank verse: ... clubhouse/

The Right Mistake

What if it been da right mistake
A fool’s choice of da past
A die was throwed
An roads was changed
An hurt come up so fast
A woman gone
A rage so foul
It brought you to the brink
A drunken night
An killin hands
Before you even think.
An years locked up
With simple things
Po’ servant of the bell
An nights so cold
An full of fear
With screams an deeds in hell.
But you still here
Yo’ time done paid
An now you free to go
The State keeps its long memory
But you’ve another throw.
An this time
Measurin’ consequence
An humbled by the fall
You lookin fo free breath and sight
To make amends
Dass all.
An with dat little place you got
And friends done cross yo track
You havin’ nights
Of healin talk
And gumbo from out back.
You checkin hate
An checkin fear
An bringing gangs ta peace
An freeing slaves
From ghetto raves
An soichin Love’s release.
You breathin still
An Fate’s strange hand
Has birthed another way
An where it leads
Through kindly deeds
Da blackest man caint say.

With thanks to novelist Walter Mosley for his excellent hero in the book The Right Mistake (Socrates Fortlow)

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