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Posted Sun Jan 11th, 2009 3:09am Post subject: Short Story - Cat

I've written a short story called 'Cat', but I just can't get the ending to work out and need advice on how to end it, not to mention criticism of the rest of it. Would anyone be willing to help mee out?

I'm not sure if I should just post it on here; while it is relatively short, it is two sides in Word.

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Posted Sun Jan 11th, 2009 3:25am Post subject: Short Story - Cat
I enjoy reading people's work. You can send it to me if you like, but some people have posted some quite long works on here, and it doesn't seem to bother anyone.


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Posted Sun Jan 11th, 2009 3:28am Post subject: Short Story - Cat
Thanks - in that case I shall post it here.

(Gosh, reading it through to myself just makes me cringe... I've got to get over that feeling of embarassment when reading my own stuff!)

* * * * *


I saw her the other day.

I’m sorry; that’s not the place to start. I don’t intend for anyone to read this, but I should write more than fragments, if only for the sake of my own thoughts.

Catelyn. She seemed happy, more or less, although her smile faltered a little when she saw me. Married with children. Her daughters, small and sweet smelling, made her happy; I am certain her husband did not. He certainly didn’t seem happy himself. I shall permit myself a small spiteful smile here, selfish though it is; he won, he got what he wanted, and he doesn’t seem to be finding any joy in it.

I remember the first time I saw her. Her parents had just moved house, taking her with them as is customary, and she had changed schools as a result. How terrified and delicate she seemed, standing at the front of the room as we all gawped at her, the teacher’s large hand pressing inexorably down on her exquisitely shaped shoulders as she directed Catelyn to her new place – the only empty place in the room, not coincidentally next to me. I glowered at her, out of reflex more than anything; always considered a bit strange, I had learned to hold myself aloof and alone to avoid abuse. But even then, filled with a ten-year-old’s selfishness, I was not without sympathy for this strange new creature. Despite my initial resentment at the intrusion into my space, we soon became friends.

Cat was interesting, and brought books to class. It was her who first engendered my love of reading. She was thin, and hopelessly fragile despite her height, which she had a habit of disguising by walking hunched, staring at the ground. I often had to defend her, and I did so fiercely and ferociously; she was shy, quiet, and clever, all things which call unwanted attention from those looking for victims. They soon learned to leave her alone, however; I can be quite vicious when I want to be.

Years flew past, and I hardly noticed them in my desire to be older and grown-up. Adults always seemed so confident, so sure of themselves; I always thought it would be nice to be old enough that you have learnt to be comfortable with who and what you are. We endured the passage of time together; I was there when her parents divorced, she was there when my granddad died. In-jokes were developed. Mutual obsessions were cultivated. In short, we remained close friends.

I couldn’t really say when it started. I know it was after the onset of puberty, and sometime before its end. I gradually noticed myself gazing at her in quiet moments, thinking how beautiful she was, how nicely curved her body, how wonderful the world became when she laughed, something which happened seldom; Cat was always both a serious and a private person.

I became disturbed, disgusted at myself; I had a crush on my best friend – my female best friend. I found myself suddenly closing off halfway through conversations, withdrawing from her and becoming distant; distressed, she kept asking me what was wrong, and was hurt when I couldn’t tell her.

We grew apart a little once we reached sixth form, becoming two separate beings rather than one, as two separate people eventually must. Then Cat got herself a boyfriend, and for a while forgot about me entirely. She had always been my only friend. During the ensuing months of solitude, I decided firmly to dismiss my feelings as being the result of confused adolescent hormones, and tried to lock them away. Cat’s new relationship lasted a blissful few months before ending in a stormy break-up; she came back to me, cried on my shoulder, and all was once more right with the world.

Things were never quite the same, though; Cat introduced new friends into our private bubble. I liked them well enough, but jealousy always interfered with any sense of closeness I might have developed for them. Sarah, Lily, Katy; we had sleepovers, and the four of them engaged in much silliness, giggling as I sat in the corner, watching and slightly wistful. But it was to me that she told, shyly and in private, of losing her virginity, and I guarded the knowledge possessively, even as I felt angry worms squirming in my stomach, that he had used her and discarded her. I would have treated her better. I could make her happy, if she would only let me try. Still, I could not bring myself to tell her.

Her second relationship was much more serious. Dominic Harper. ‘Dommie’. We didn’t lose touch, not this time; but every time we talked it was Dommie this, Dommie that; wonderful, talented, sweet, interesting Dommie.

By then I was 18, and knew that this feeling was never going to go away; but Cat was still oblivious, and obviously did not feel the same. I had not yet dared to have a boyfriend, deciding it wouldn’t be fair on them. When she told me conspiratorially that Dom’s friend Rich liked me, I couldn’t say no to her sincere and eager face. She only wanted me to be as happy as she was.

So began my desperate string of relationships. I chose men for whom I could feel a close friendship, in the hope that it would grow into something more, as it had done with Cat. But each time, it would not, and I would find myself becoming cold inside as I inevitably lost one more friend. When they touched me, when they pressed their bodies against me and into me, I lay passive, revolted, and tried to see only her, somehow. Deciding I must be gay, I tried girls, too; but although I felt less violated and sickened, even a little warmth toward them, I still could not be satisfied. I still cannot categorically tell my sexuality; Cat is the only one I have ever wanted, and the only one I have ever loved.

There is one particular night, however, that I shall always treasure, even as I try to forget the morning after.

I was single at the time, in one of my phases of epiphany, where I was strong and content to be just friends and always alone; eventually, my strength would crumble and I would give in, attempt to capture something that would always escape me. Cat had been with Dommie for over five years now, and they were still very much into each other; it was clear to everyone that they were meant for each other. I was up late, marking undergraduate papers, when I heard the knock at my door.

I knew who it was, of course. How could I not recognise that distinctive sound?

Defenceless Cat did not generally make a habit of wandering the streets at night; but even had it not been unusual, I would have known by her face and her voice, the way she moved her hands, that she was troubled. I knew she was not ready to talk right away. I sat her down in the living room, and made tea for us both. As calm descended, comforted by familiarity, she began to speak.

I do not remember her exact words. It was her eyes I watched intently, and the way her hands convulsively gripped the mug each time her jaw tightened. What she said, though was this; Dommie had asked her to marry him. She didn’t know why she had hesitated – had she not imagined this moment for so long? – but she had, and now she was confused. She had though she loved him; but she was no longer sure. In fact…. And here she paused, glancing at me before dropping her eyes to gaze at the now tepid murky liquid, a blush spreading across her cheeks.

I could read the unspoken thought, the unarticulated feeling in her eyes; my heart gripped my mind, vice-like, and I could hold back no longer. I kissed her.

I have kissed before, lips mechanical and unresponsive; but this kiss was true, full of longing and inexpressible passions, harsh. I could feel her sigh move through my fingers, as I cradled her head; I moaned. When I pulled away, reluctantly, her eyes were wide, her face still. A thoughtful look had settled itself across her features in the tense age before she kissed me back. This time, the kiss was tender and loving and sweet, and I wept.

That night I made love for the first time. She smelled and tasted of apples, and her touch was moonlight and fairy tales. I was at peace, that night.

The next morning, I do not wish to recall, not even to myself. It is far too painful to relive. Suffice to say, she left me, and married him. I hate her as much as I love her; but despite my best efforts, I am caught, ensnared by the siren. I am still waiting, and I always will.

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Posted Sun Jan 11th, 2009 3:44am Post subject: Short Story - Cat
This is lovely, very heartfelt. I get the feeling the writer is on the outside looking at a long-ago time, as if an adult is examining her childhood self. The pain at the end is obvious and inevitable.

What are you thinking of doing with this story? Trying for publication? I would recommend a couple of things if you are. And remember, these are suggestions. You do with your story as you will. You certainly don't have to listen to me.

Go through the story and see if you use words more than once in a paragraph. I don't mean words like "the" and "to." If you do, try to change them so you have variety. I would also intersperse a few more short, punchy sentences. And as the author Stephen King, who wrote a terrific book called "On Writing," said: Kill your darlings. Eliminate any and all words that aren't necessary to the story.

Get right into the beginning. I think I would cut the following "I’m sorry; that’s not the place to start. I don’t intend for anyone to read this, but I should write more than fragments, if only for the sake of my own thoughts. " But only if you want to cut that part.

I'm no expert, by any means. I've written and published (no pay, of course) a few stories, but that's all. I just love to critique people's work, though.

I hope this helps. And I hope you don't think I've been overly critical. I suppose I should add a smiley here or something, but I think you seen what I mean.

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Posted Sun Jan 11th, 2009 5:46pm Post subject: Short Story - Cat
Thanks for the reply.

I've not really thought about publicising it, although that might be nice; not really convinced my stuff is quite good enough, and no idea how I would go about doing it. It's about time I did some editing, though - I tend to write lots of stuff, then as I'm not really expecting anyone to read it, never actually edit it. I thought it might be a good idea to motivate myself to do something more with this story.

I think you're right about the start.

You're not being at all overly critical; constructive feedback is always appreciated, and thank you for your reply. I should go over the story again and follow your advice, then repost.

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