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February 8, 2013
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The boy sat on the edge of the wooden pier shivering as the ocean that once hugged him tightly dripped off his body in disgust, leaving only a thin layer of green sludge between his skin and the crisp air around him. The smell of dead fish rose out of the ocean grave and wrapped around him until his nose could no longer smell it at all. As the sun left the hazy blue sky, he watched the boisterous boats tread further into the ocean until they were eaten whole by the horizon. His stomach bubbled, gurgling as if to imitate a toddler drowning.

“You. Your shift’s ábeen outta here for an hour,” a man, dressed in rubber rain clothes and black boots said. “We don’t pay ya to loiter after your deed is done.”

“You don’t pay me at all,” Pi mumbled, directing his eyes away from the murky green water and towards the man’s agitated eyes. “What? You don’t.”

“I pay ya plenty,” the man sneered, “for a rat-boy.”

“My name’s Pi,” the boy said, standing up, “ like the number.”

“Like your endless complaining…” the man said, taking out his wallet and giving Pi a thin, closed envelope that still smelled like the old, summered books that must have been stacked in between it at one point.

“That’s your paycheck. Now scram, ” the man said, rolling his eyes.

Excitement rose as he walked off the pier as he watched the silver fish jumping and spinning out of the water, and he clutched the envelope tightly in his left hand, his fingers trying to feel the edges of the bills, before assuming checks weren’t that thick at all. He looked out to the horizon, and seeing a mass of red tainting the sky, seeping onto the edges of the clouds, turned back and started running through the wide sidewalks, still moist from the thunderstorm the following afternoon. The rain rose out of the pavement and suspended itself in the air, leaving the air thick and muggy. Pi took a deep breath as he felt his cool sweat rush down his back, leaving goose bumps in only small lines.

Looking out, the sidewalk seemed as if it would never end, but Pi knew better. He took a shortcut to the playground, where a large field of rolling hills, tremendous trees and big mudstones surrounded it, almost as if it was a safe zone from a battleground. In a way, it was. For Pi, it offered comfort, knowing forever wasn’t always constant. The two mounds of dirt the browning grass covered would become flat, the pebble by the mudstones would be kicked away, and the pretend arrows and huts would soon decompose back into the soil. Pi sighed, looking briefly at the playground, noting the changes already occurring.

No one was there. The wood chips were an ashen hue, and the tall grass was better suited for cows than eyes. áThe swing sets swung in the wispy wind as the rusting metal cried and the wind wrapped around it. Pi glanced twice, left to right, before sitting on one of the empty swings. He locked himself in by hugging the chains and resting the check on his lap.
He smiled weakly whenever the wind would nudge him forward. It was as if his sister was still there, pushing him just enough to keep going.

"This is still our place," Pi whispered, his words not even strong enough to be carried by the wind, "Just our place."

Pi then looked down at the envelope. Never once in Pi’s life did he ever consider what life would be like if he wasn’t clenching a dried-up loaf of tomato bread, leaving unintentional crumbs for the mice to follow, his feet slapped against the sidewalk, clacking like a horse escaping from the chains of a carriage. This could be it. This could be the check to not only set him free, but to give him his family freedom as well.

“What are you looking at?” a girl said, her brown hair covered by her black hat with the exception of her messy bangs.

Before Pi could object, he found her sitting next to him on the open swing, taking off her glasses for a moment to clean them using the soft sleeves of her jacket, which was designed for some sort of computer RPG game which Pi only knew from advertisements he'd see in the magazines the hospital collected and placed in the various waiting rooms. He sighed.

“Looks like some sort of letter?” The girl asked again, putting the glasses on her face. Pi noticed how the red frames of the glasses complemented her pinkish-pale skin, bringing out the quiet, but nature imperfections of an average teen complexion.

“It’s none of your business,” Pi mumbled, shifting his feet, hoping that starting to swing would make her leave.

“Aren’t you a little old for that?” She said, but still started swinging with him.

“What are you doing ‘ere? Leave me alone.”

“My house is right across the street. I just moved in. This playground’s practically my front yard.”

Pi sighed again, swinging harder. The girl went along with him, pumping her legs harder the faster Pi got.

“What’s your name?” She áasked him.

“He who must not be named,” he said back.

“Oh, you’re a Potterhead?” She asked. “I loved thos—”

“I don’t waste money,” Pi said, cutting her off with a quick tongue. “Can’t afford it.”

“What? No, a Potterhead is what people who read Harry Potter are called,” She explained.

“Sounds dumb,” he said, pumping his legs even harder out of frustration, jerking himself hard enough for his elbows to give and for him to lose balance halfway in the air. Panicked, his arms automatically reached for the metal ropes, and the check flew out of his hands. It fluttered through the air, before it was grasped by the other body on the adjacent swing.

“Caught it for ya’. Looks like a check,” She said, flipping it over, looking at every corner of the envelope, as if for another clue.

Pi glared at her as if he had more venom than a water moccasin.

“Give it back. Now.” He reached over and grabbed a part of her swing, hoping to make her lose balance the same way he did.

The impact caused her swing to end abruptly, but all that left the swing she was on was the girl’s glasses, which sailed off her face and into the muddy mulch. The girl let out a small shocked gasp and turned her head to Pi.

“I wasn’t going to steal anything,” she said, injured. “What do you take me for?”

“An inquisitive thief,” Pi said, short. á

“Well, I’m not. I just wanted to know what was inside.”

“Money I worked hard for!”

He snatched the check from the girl’s hands, quickly pocketing it as she hopped off the swing and stumbled for her glasses. Pi eyed her harshly, but the look she gave him back hit his own gut. He glanced down in shame, and let his feet drag against the ground, pulling him to a stop. With one last heavy sigh, he walked over and found her glasses, slightly bent from the fall.

“Oh. Thanks,” she said cautiously, taking them.

“There’d be an issue if you couldn’t see.” Pi stated, still examining the mulch.

“Oh, these aren’t for seeing. I see fine without them.” She shrugged.

“What?”

“Yeah, I find them neat, so I bought some the other day.”

While Pi stared at her with a twitch, the girl blew on the glass to clear out the dirt and slipped them back on, and glanced at her watch. The sky was getting darker.

“I got to go soon. I hope your paycheck is what you deserve.” She said, marching away from him and across the asphalt road, entering her house and shutting the door.

Pi moved back to the swing. He stared at the envelope one last time, before deciding the best time to open it was now, before anyone else could disturb him. He tore the top of the envelope, and let the check drift onto his hand.

He smiled. It was really there. His mind raced, hoping it was enough to spend it. His heart skipped, simply thinking about his plans.

“I could help my sister pay off those medical bills…” he quietly said to himself, as the breeze tussled his hair. However, the wind was not to blame for the goose bumps rising every part of his skin the moment he opened the envelope.

The check was there, but the amount was only three dollars and fourteen cents.
Author's Note:

This is concept piece for a story I'm developing. Since this was more practice than actual story line, I decided to upload it in hopes of getting second opinions and tips. While I don't expect anyone to ask, feel free to ask questions about the story, as well as offer advice. BE AS HARSH AS NEEDED.

Summary:

Pi, a young teenager, doesn't like change. Upon finally receiving what he considers his first "true" payment, he's overwhelmed with what he can do with it. As he walks home, he notices a childhood memory, a playground, and how it's slowly changing. Although it was always a place he could spend time alone, it doesn't stay that way for long. A girl, who just moved in across the street, tries to connect with him, only to realize Pi's problem isn't just being lonely, but also pushing away and judging anyone that doesn't seem to be likely to understand him. Though deep down, Pi doesn't mean to be that way, it's still how he acts. Once the girl leaves, he looks at the envelope containing the check, and opens it only to realize he's made a fool of himself.

Questions for the reader:

What was the tone of the piece, and how well did it flow with the story?
What message does each character send, are they developed enough for this story?
Is his the fact his sister is hospitalized not clear enough?
Was the ending confusing/disappointing?
How good was the imagery compared to the characters and vice versa?
What should I name the girl in the story, or does girl suffice?



Copyright:

Full copyright belongs to ~saevusWinds. Her work may not be distributed, copied, or sold without her complete consent or prior knowledge. All characters, imagery, etc are property of her. Please respect her rights and avoid copyright infringement, as she really isn't worth getting in trouble for. If you like the story, tell her and favorite this page. Do not download.

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Useful Writing Advice blog: [link]
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Daily Deviation

Given 2013-09-11
3.14 by ~saevusWinds ( Featured by Beccalicious )
:iconc-a-harland:
C-A-Harland Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2013  Student Writer
Hi, this is a critique on behalf of :iconwriters--club:

The flow of this piece is lovely, you write succinctly and evocatively, however I'm not sure of the setting/country or his age. His narrative voice is quite young and innocent/naive sounding, same goes for the girl when she first appears, but you say she’s a teenager, making me wonder if he is too as he doesn’t refer to her being “older”

 

What was the tone of the piece, and how well did it flow with the story?

Seemed to alternate between subdued, anxious and excited, which is good really as it keeps up the interest.


What message does each character send, are they developed enough for this story?

I like the contrast between Pi and the girl, they are quite clearly from very different walks of life, and her actions and comments show up how removed he is from your average modern boy.


Is his the fact his sister is hospitalized not clear enough?

The mention of medical bills made it clear enough, however it would have been nice to have a little more suggestion as to what her condition was, whether it be an injury, long term illness or something potentially life-threatening. Also, is the sister an older sibling, who he looks up to and respects, or a younger sibling who he feels protective of and responsible for? I get the feeling they’re orphans, so some more information on the sister’s importance to him would be great.


Was the ending confusing/disappointing?

The ending was both sad and almost ironic and brings back the question of where in the world is this?


How good was the imagery compared to the characters and vice versa?

You create some fantastic imagery here, such as “eaten whole by the horizon” and “The rain rose out of the pavement and suspended itself in the air”. However I find it difficult to picture Pi. The girl is said to have brown hair, pale skin and is obviously financially well off (compared to him at least) but this doesn’t help me to picture Pi. A lot of description of his appearance would feel clunky in this piece, so I’m not suggesting you do that, however some clearer indications of his age, ethnicity and even clothing would help the reader to visualize him more clearly.


What should I name the girl in the story, or does girl suffice? 

At this stage I don’t think she needs a name, her role is to better illustrate his standing and view of the world and she does that. Naming her would be unnecessary.

 

You mentioned this being part of a larger work, and as such I think the characters and pacing work well. Enough is given to introduce them, but still leave room for development as the story goes on. Immediate setting is described very well, as I said, you use some lovely and evocative descriptions, but a little more info on the wider context (such as a city, region, country, even if it’s a fictional land) would help the reader to see everything a bit clearer.

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:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner May 25, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you very much!
Reply
:iconsupershadowhuntr95:
supershadowhuntr95 Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
The tone seems one of na´vetÚ, as far as Pi is concerned. Yes, he is aware of problems going on around him, but his hopefulness seems to bring in a naive contradiction to his boss and the real world. I like how this particular tone flows, making Pi seem a bit detached is something that could be very fun to run with and see how his attitude changes. 

Pi: hopeful, naive, a bit oblivious. Very well developed. 
The boss: harsh, penny-pinching. Developed, but a bit typical for a boss character in a story.
The girl: nerdy, different with her all-black clothing, warm. Contrasting traits to his character make her a perfectly developed character for the story. 

The hospitalization of the sister is a bit vague. By medical bills, the reader can assume that Pi's sister deals with health problems, but it's not exactly evident that she is hospitalized. 

The ending was predictable in the low amount of the check, but I enjoyed the twist of linking the numerical value in with the character. The value of the check also gives the boss a bit of intelligence - it may be cruel, but it shows that he's not just another greedy, clueless idiot. 

Imagery was spot on. To be honest, I'm a bit jealous that I can't write with this same clear, flawless composition. 

"Girl" will do for now. If you plan to add to the story, details going further into her background and character may help you formulate a good fit for her name. 


Now, my question: is Pi Indian? Not to be racist or anything, but I pictured him as such while reading this piece.
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:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner May 25, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you very much. 

your question: No, but feel free to have a headcanon!
Reply
:iconscienceisanart:
scienceisanart Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I was left with a couple of mysteries that, if elaborated upon and explained, might really help your story. When exactly is this supposed to take place? What sort of country? And how much is the money worth? Just wondering
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:iconkarinta:
Karinta Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Student General Artist
Quite unusual... it didn't really seem to have a complete storyline, but now that I read the summary I think I get it now.
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner May 25, 2014  Student Writer
It didn't. It was just meant as practice. I didn't realize it would get attention.
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:iconkarinta:
Karinta Featured By Owner May 25, 2014  Student General Artist
:D Fair enough.
Reply
:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner May 25, 2014  Student Writer
:)
Reply
:iconasvoria1:
Asvoria1 Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2013  Student General Artist

This is a lovely story, and I'm not sure I can say anything that hasn't already been said by other people ^^;

the flow was nice and there was enough information to keep me enthralled with the story:) There was lots of wonderful imagery and I could clearly picture what you were describing.

The ending was slightly expected. Given the way you described the man giving Pi his paycheck I guessed that the amount would be very little, if there was even anything in it at all.

I think that "girl" is sufficient, and it allows the readers to come up with their own name for her :)

The main things I had problems with were (there's only 3 small things)

"...a thin, closed envelope that still smelled like the old, summered books that must have been stacked in between it at one point." makes it sound like the books were in between the check.

The character being named Pi (a point I know has been brought up repeatedly) while interesting, only makes me think of "the Life of Pi" as opposed to your character.

Last thing, the fact that Pi's sister was hospitalized is clear, but as to whether or not she is still alive is unclear. I get the feeling she isn't, but that may just be me.

Overall, this is a wonderful story:)

 

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