Title: Mortality
Subtext: Life on ice.
Date: 31 Dec 15 (Thursday in the AM)
Time: 1 minute
Replies: 19
Revisions: 16
Publicity: Superfeed

“What percentage of your life would you do differently if you could go back and do it again?”


“That’s reasonable.”


“Nearly everything. But there’s one thing I wouldn’t change – an early winter day, Christmastime. I came out of a hotel with my son of forty-six months.”

“Almost four, then.”

“That’s right. He pulled me across the street against the signal, to an ice skating rink. He’d seen people on skates gliding across the ice in fact, fiction and fantasy. He thought he could do it too. You know kids, they will get behind the wheel of a car and ask you to turn it on so they can fly it. And they’d have no idea it wasn’t awesome until it ended. So you’ve got to be their guardians. Well, we got him some skates, laced them up, and shoved off. He slipped immediately, and repeatedly, without fail but without fall for several seconds non-stop, and then he did go down. All of that again, and down a second time. On his third fall, he stayed down, looking up at the clouds, and the sky.”

“What was it?”

“I watched him there, lying a while, learning.”


Elk » May 11, 2016 @ 07:49:48 [Current Revision]
Elk » January 4, 2016 @ 18:04:27
Elk » January 4, 2016 @ 17:06:53
Elk » January 4, 2016 @ 11:56:37
Elk » January 4, 2016 @ 11:05:07
Elk » January 4, 2016 @ 11:04:43
Elk » January 1, 2016 @ 14:59:35
Elk » January 1, 2016 @ 14:58:36
Elk » January 1, 2016 @ 14:57:17
Elk » January 1, 2016 @ 14:56:42
Elk » December 31, 2015 @ 21:56:40
Elk » December 31, 2015 @ 21:56:12
Elk » December 31, 2015 @ 13:18:56
Elk » December 31, 2015 @ 10:05:21
Elk » December 31, 2015 @ 10:04:11
Elk » December 31, 2015 @ 10:02:45

The Thread (19)

 Author's voice in grey. 

  1. Does this make sense? Shouldn’t it be 99%, given the “one thing” the character wouldn’t change?


    “That’s reasonable.”

    “But there’s one thing I wouldn’t change – “

  2. This might work better as straight first person. No need for the pretense of a conversation.

  3. I was thinking that — but I specifically wanted a convo, not as pretense, but as fact. That the story gets told. Plus I want that first triplet — and no I don’t think it needs to be 99% to say there’s one thing that’s certainly not across the fence.

    Maybe I need to drop in some background elements (sounds, motions, environmental whatnot), because pure back and forth is a challenge of which I’m apparently not yet worthy. Suggestions for making this more believable?

  4. I’ve never had a conversation half this sincere, so I might be the wrong guy to ask.

    What I’m saying, though, is that the dialogue is a pretense whether you intended it to be or not. The second character serves only as an auditor for the first. There should be more justification for his/her existence. That’s why I’m suggesting monologue.

  5. The second character starts the conversation and asks the question I’m most interested in hearing answered. The rest is tacked on as a kind of reflection prompted by the question itself, although that part does become principal by the end.

    So in effect this sequence is half the purpose of the vignette, and the “second character”, as you put him, shows himself here to be first and foremost, in fact:

    “What percentage of your life would you do differently if you could go back and do it again?”


    “That’s reasonable.”

    How would you better pull off this sort of balance?

  6. There needs to be investment, if only slight, in the character asking the question (I call him second because he is secondary). The dialogue feels like a construct created to tell the story of the primry character’s memory.

    I have no problem with the idea of framing. I use it all the time. But we have no context, no point of reference for these two – no time, place, or most importantly here, relationship.

    Maybe have the second character (my denomination) answer the same question first in a much different manner. Maybe he doesn’t take the question seriously, creating contrast and adding significance to the way the primary character answers.

    I’m just telling you that it reads a little phoney, and that’s not what you’re going for, I don’t believe.

  7. I’ve changed the order here so that the primary character asks the question and the secondary character gets a say. Plus there’s a little dark humor to it.

    “What percentage of your life would you do differently if you could go back and do it again?”


    “That’s reasonable.”


    “Nearly everything. But there’s one thing I wouldn’t change – an early winter day, Christmastime. I came out of a hotel with my son of forty-six months.”

    Also, why the forty-six months thing? It feels slightly out of place.

  8. The ending is a great idea, but may be too spelled out. Maybe replace “learning of his mortality” (a tad philosophical) to “learning how to fail” (or something like that, something colloquial).

  9. How about just “learning”?

  10. Awesome changes. Much appreciated.

  11. I’ve got the ending as suggested – but I did want to make the point about mortality, because that’s in fact what the first character wants to convey here, hence the whole flying car thing. How can we do it but keep it as tight as Rabbit suggests?

  12. I think it still works because of the title. Now I’m thinking you might delete “looking older” as well.

  13. It now could be either the narrator or the kid who is learning. And since the “What was it?” question wasn’t properly answered, it leaves us hanging, whether there’s something up in the sky, whether there’s something for us to learn.

  14. Something like that. A little like that. More like that. Continue guiding, please.

  15. I really liked where we were, with the last line as such:

    I watched him there, lying a while, learning.

    Not a fan of “transfixed” or “the learning.”

  16. Ok then — switched it back.

  17. Repeated thanks to Bear and Rabbit for taking this piece to the place I’d hoped it would go.

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