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"Stray Lust" - Your Story 51 Finalist : Your Story • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

"Stray Lust" - Your Story 51 Finalist

Read the top five entries and vote for your favorite in the current Writer's Digest Your Story competition. (You must be a registered member of the WD Forum to view and vote.)
TiffanyLuckey
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"Stray Lust" - Your Story 51 Finalist

Postby TiffanyLuckey » Tue Jul 30, 2013 3:41 pm

“Heads, we get married; tails, we break up,” Ben told her. A look of uncertainty crossed Gale’s face as she searched his eyes for an answer.

The song faded in the distance as the last of the vocalists skipped home, ending the continuous ballad that had started after the final bell rang: “Ben and Gale, sittin’ in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g!”

It wasn’t the first time they had been teased at school for walking together, but now he seemed upset. The sight of the coin brought tightness to her chest.

A cool wind blew through the treetops behind the school. They both turned and watched the tall trees at the edge of the woods sway and bow as if waving them entry, the massive plumes of leaves rolling like thick, green smoke.

“Follow me Gale.” His voice carried something she had never heard from him, something that commanded her to give chase as he disappeared like a ghost into the wall of darkness.

Her green eyes quickly adjusted to the dim light of the familiar path. She followed the foot trail, worn smooth by generations of child and critter traveling under the dark umbrella of ancient wood. She ran the winding passage, between enormous trunks that seemed to stretch into the sky, soon hearing the gentle flow of water ahead.

As she crested the high bank beside the stream, she paused to survey the scene below. Ben stood near the tree bridge, his back to her. Walls of forest surrounded him with steep, sloping hills of old growth. The runoff of recent rain escaped the wooded heights and formed a calm pool below the bridge before it narrowed and carried on.

She watched Ben cross to the middle of the bridge and sit down. He called to her. “Sit with me Gale.”

She closed the distance between them, cutting from the path and sliding down the loose soil of the bank. Sittin’ in a tree, she thought. His legs dangled over the edge of the felled tree and thin beams of sunlight broke through the canopy, creating a golden mosaic on the surface of the black water.

Gale stepped onto the tree remembering the first time she had crossed it, weak in the knees, looking down into the dark pool below fearing she would slip backwards into that terrible water. She now walked with the confidence of a thousand crossings, and admired the gleaming safety of gold and black that would cushion any fall. It was the coin in his hand she feared.

Ben watched as she approached, moving nimbly across the bridge, while the sheen of her jet-black hair caught the light like the water below. She looks just like the cats, he thought, and for a moment she transformed into a thin black stray and the coin, a can of tuna.

She sat down beside him, extending her legs to hang beside his own. Her filthy hand-me-down sneakers threatened to slip off of her small feet and into the black. He looked into her unwashed, freckled face. She was a stray.

He had decided months ago that she would be the one. Out of the entire sixth-grade class, she was the obvious choice. She had no friends. He had made himself hers, and she clung to him. The walk home from school was their time together, and she never missed it.

Ben’s heart rushed in his chest. It was finally happening. His desire for this moment had been obsessive, and he knew that she would give it to him. She’s perfect, he thought. He held the coin out between them. “Now close your eyes. It’s bad luck to watch.” He whispered.

As her lids shut, he threw the coin high and reached deep into his pocket. The coin spun, falling to the pool below, and Ben’s adrenaline was at climax.

He thrust the small knife into the soft of her neck as the water surface broke, a ripple of dark water and a spray of warm red. He watched her eyes explode open in shock and pushed her over to join the cats. Splash. Ben released a shaky moan of breath, feeling as though he was breathing for the first time. His body buzzed in ecstasy and he felt strong enough to fly. Watching Gale’s weakening body thrash in the water, he bit his lower lip and wept tears of euphoria on the bridge.

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Don Quixote
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Re: "Stray Lust" - Your Story 51 Finalist

Postby Don Quixote » Thu Aug 01, 2013 3:11 am

The author of this story would greatly appreciate reader's opinions and critiques. I've just started writing and I have so much to learn. I beg for your criticism. Thank you.

litpointe
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Re: "Stray Lust" - Your Story 51 Finalist

Postby litpointe » Thu Aug 01, 2013 3:12 pm

Congratulations!

I'm new to these competitions and appreciate learning from other writers too. Yours was the first story I read and I have to admit it affected me - negatively. Yours is not the type of book I read because it's too dark and scary for my taste. In fact, after reading it, I hurriedly rushed to read the others to feel better. :lol: With that said, because yours made much more of an impression upon me than the others I voted for it. Good luck!

p.s. I did notice from past competitions that although there may be 800 entries there won't be 800 votes. :roll:

bjamison71
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Re: "Stray Lust" - Your Story 51 Finalist

Postby bjamison71 » Thu Aug 01, 2013 7:58 pm

The beginning of the story gave me that "awww" feeling, and I thought it was incredibly sweet and creative that you thought to portray a grade-school crush, as opposed to an adult relationship. The imagery was fabulous-- the other kids' taunting, the wind in the trees, the beaten path through the woods, etc.--and I almost felt as if I were there watching the scene unfold. The gruesome twist at the end left me stunned, shocked, and horrified, and like the previous poster, I quickly moved on to the other stories to erase the image from my mind. But after reading all of the entries, yours was the one that struck the biggest chord in me, and that is why I voted for it. As a reader, having identified with your young characters, I absolutely hated the outcome! But from a writer's point of view, I thought it was amazing, and most definitely unforgettable--and isn't that what every writer strives for? Great job!

gbtreasures
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Re: "Stray Lust" - Your Story 51 Finalist

Postby gbtreasures » Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:04 pm

When I read this story, three things came to mind. #1, the writing was good; #2, the imagery bothered me; #3, the story left too many unanswered questions and didn't make a lot of sense. This was more like an excerpt instead of a self contained work. Readers voted for "Stray Lust" based on shock value and imagery rather than overall story performance and I question this emphasis. I'm not saying it wasn't good, it just didn't work altogether for me. I enjoy reading a good story for what it is - a good story. Not everybody will agree with me, I'm sure.

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Don Quixote
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Re: "Stray Lust" - Your Story 51 Finalist

Postby Don Quixote » Fri Aug 02, 2013 4:04 am

In response to the three previous posts in sequence,

litpointe,
Thank you for your vote despite your aversion to the style. I think your head's in the right place. Thanks.

bjamison71,
Your reaction to my story has been more exciting than placing as a finalist. It is the ultimate validation of the success of my story, as it is the EXACT reaction that I desired. EXACT. This is the first time that I've recieved feedback indicating the success of my intent. I wanted to control the reader's emotions, leading them down a familiar and comfortable path in effort to amplify the sudden contrast when they are slammed into a wall of shock headfirst. Thank you.

gbtreasures,
I definitely agree with your critique. While I can identify all of the essential parts of a story, it is definitely lacking classical form. It could very easily be viewed as only an excerpt. I've just begun writing and I have much to learn. I write to affect the reader. I believe that the purpose of any writing is to affect the reader in some way. I do not believe that the purpose of writing is to write properly, or to follow a structure of writing perfectly. I definitely agree that writing "well" can greatly contribute to affecting the reader, but I will never allow it to drive my writing. I would rather hear a great idea or story that has a powerful impact from the fumbling mouth of a drunk than hear a perfectly delivered story that fails to leave an impression. You are absolutely right though. If you enjoy a good classicly structured story, this might not be for you. Thank you for your help. Trust me. I'm my worst critic. I thought the actual writing was terrible.

Jayez
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Re: "Stray Lust" - Your Story 51 Finalist

Postby Jayez » Fri Aug 02, 2013 9:25 am

I totally agree with with GB Treasures but hated the ending, glorifying an uneccessary example as to the direction our how the next generation resolves conflict. Even though the charecter was most likely mentally ill, psychotic perhaps it was still a very ugly ending.

CGRhodes
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Re: "Stray Lust" - Your Story 51 Finalist

Postby CGRhodes » Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:54 pm

I have to say that I find it interesting that some of the “critiques” of the writing involve individual preferences/aversion to specific genre. Not liking the story or it’s ending because of an aversion to the genre doesn’t speak to the writing. :| That being said, I agree in part with gbtreasures. I thought the story was memorable and the imagery was good. However, I did feel that it started to go awry toward the end. The transition from Gale’s point of view to Ben’s is a bit awkward and was confusing. It drew me out of the story for a minute to reread and make sure I hadn’t missed something. It might have worked better if you expanded on the story behind the cats, juxtaposing the cats and Gale without revealing their demise. How he’d befriended them as well, taken care of them when no one else would, beguiled them with cans of tuna, like a promise of tenderness, to this place where the “dark pool” lay beneath the branch and the world was quiet. And while the writing is very good, you could manipulate some of the word choices early on such that the image of a burgeoning coming of age relationships remains intact but the reader senses something foreboding just under the surface. This way the ending also remains shocking and surprising without feeling like a “twist” for “shock factor;” rather something that was developing throughout the narrative all along, introducing the reader to the actual main character of the story who happens to be a burgeoning sociopath. Just my nickels worth. Good job and good luck. ;)

fbxwriter
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Re: "Stray Lust" - Your Story 51 Finalist

Postby fbxwriter » Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:49 am

I agree with CGRhodes. While your story has shock value, the ending doesn't seem inevitable based on what came before. To me, that is the mark of good writing. The reader is surprised but then considers the rest of the story and thinks "of course." You had some elements of that, but not enough.

I also wonder why you wrote the story. You mentioned earlier that you want to shock the reader. To what end?

You've definitely got talent. I encourage you to keep writing.

Backlotanimation
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Re: "Stray Lust" - Your Story 51 Finalist

Postby Backlotanimation » Sat Aug 10, 2013 5:32 pm

As a new writer myself, I liked it! A story is a story and all have value but I understand not to everyone. I have what I call a redneck writing style and it does not bode well for the classics, but makes for some killer stories, your style is much the same, rough and ready. I found it hard to write the story with such limited wording, This was the first time I've posted a story to anywhere. My first draft was 1175 words long. I fear my cutting and editing may have hurt my story here, not sure but I think that happened here also, something got omitted or changed. Can't put my finger on it, but to me something is missing? It's a very good story and I will be voting for it. Good Job, Keep on writing your own style, you'll have way more fun that way. :!:

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