Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Drop the Needle: Death #23

TITLE: Black Diamonds
GENRE: Women's Literary Fiction

Tragically, Zoe is crushed to death by a continuous mining machine operated by Allen in an accident that could have been meant for Jamie, although it can never be proven.

In the confused kind of silence that follows tragedy, Zoe's death hadn't registered at first. Not then, at the moment of the accident when she had plowed her way through the bodies of men, screaming all the while. They wanted to lead her away. She didn't want to be led away; she didn't want to leave Zoe alone. She'd gotten disoriented and violent - maybe it was all these men who kept running around shouting at each other. Maybe it was the intonation of their voices, the rhythm all wrong.

Then she understood the loss.

She understood even better, as she lay alone in the dark after she came home from the hospital, the deep loneliness she wouldn't be able to shake for a long time. What she realized, even in the hospital, as she wandered aimlessly through the corridors, as she finally passed the revolving door and into the parking lot, was that life would never be the same, and that one day she would have to forgive herself for Zoe's death. And she started walking fast, then faster. Then she ran. Gulps of breath came in harder and harder to swallow. She would have run indefinitely, if she hadn't lost her footing. She fell. Warm liquid oozed from her flesh, she wished the soreness from her hands and knees would last forever, diverting the pain from her heart to total forgetfulness.
Vomit ejected from her mouth. It kept pouring out, splattered on the ground, landed on her hands.


  1. Wonderful first paragraph! I was captured right away, felt like I was right in that horrible scene. Some beautiful phrases: "in the confused kind of silence that follows tragedy" and "maybe it was the intonation of their voices, the rhythm all wrong."

    One minor point -- "at the moment of the accident": did you mean right after it? Because it seems like it's already occurred.

    In the second half, there were a few passages that made me stumble a bit: "passed (through?) the revolving door"; "she would have run indefinitely (forever?)"; "warm liquid oozed from her flesh" seemed rather general -- perhaps have the blood ooze from her scraped hands and knees?

    Last paragraph -- this is probably my issue only, but I think it sounds more rhythmic to say "pouring, splattering, landing" or "poured, splattered, landed." But the vomit was for real! Very nice!

  2. I liked this one. Very raw and powerful.

  3. This entire scene was incredible, but I especially liked how she realizes - almost in a cold, detached way - that life will go on, that someday she'll have to forgive herself. Like dispair looking at the future, and hating it's rationality. Excellently done!

  4. I feel like I am missing something important in this piece and I don’t know what it is. Maybe this is due to the short submission, maybe I don’t have all the information but I feel like there isn’t enough meat in the story to satisfy me.

    The first paragraph doesn’t track for me, emotion-wise. Forget about the ‘ the confused kind of silence…” and skip to “…Zoe’s death didn’t register at first…”

    I would edit the rest of the paragraph to give it more emotion. Such as: Zoe’s death didn’t register at first, not even when she plowed her way through the men gathered at the scene. Someone was screaming and they wanted to lead her away. But she didn’t want that, she didn’t want to leave Zoe alone…”

    Some of the sentence in your paragraphs run together and fill the space without evoking an emotion to fit the scene. She is lost in her mind and nothing makes sense to her. Try to build on that.

    I didn’t care for the vomit part, but that is subjective. The picture it created was more farce, as in a comedy-type movie that is a spoof of a dramatic movie.

  5. Certainly an excitement factor here, but I was lost in a lot of questions. "Who was screaming?" men in pain or her? "Who led her away?" the screaming men or someone else.

    "Then she understood the loss." I would prefer to see this through showing it to me. (I know 250 words...) This felt like an intrusion from the author's narrative voice, which in this instant pulled me from the tragic feelings of the main character.

    Finally, I liked these lines. I thought they showed me intimately what she was feeling and the action showed me what she felt inside. "She fell. Warm liquid oozed from her flesh, she wished the soreness from her hands and knees would last forever, diverting the pain from her heart to total forgetfulness."

    Nice job!

  6. I guess I'm in the minority here.

    To me, the writing was too labored and refined. I noticed it and not the story behind it.

    But, then, what do I know?

  7. I kept going back to read 'Not then....' second line and I still can't get the flow of it, but it's a nice piece.
    I'd cut the vomit ejection though.