Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April Secret Agent #24

TITLE: Thou Shall Not Kill
GENRE: Women's Fiction

Lily Birch threw wide the heavy curtains to sun her father’s deathbed.

Spring had freshly arrived in Savannah, Georgia and it was already beach weather. She hated the outdoors, but Lily longed for escape. If only the mosquitoes would halt their vampire carnival, a short walk would be sublime. But any reprieve from the weeks of close quarters and bed pans and pill bottles seemed like a far off dream.

Lily never thought she’d miss going to work or living in her old apartment, both of which she traded in to nurse her dying father, but she did. He moaned behind her and she turned to gaze sympathetically at him. There was so little time left. Pop was the color of sand.

His eyes were opened, so Lily went to him humming a tune and pretending to be happy. This was Lily’s talent. She was determined he should be as comfortable as possible right until the end. For her part, that meant being positive.

Optimism was Lily’s superpower.

She took a seat in the dining chair, which had been brought upstairs to facilitate the long vigil, and squeezed the old man’s shoulder.

“It’s a lovely day today, Pop,” Lily said, putting on a wide smile.

When he coughed, his entire upper half shook.

“Need some water?” his only daughter asked.

Pop shook his head and motioned Lily closer.

“What is it?” she asked, bending near.

“Lily, I have something to confess, alright?” he said with surprisingly lucid blue eyes.


  1. I would read more. This is well-written. I like that the first sentence leads you to believe that the father has already died, but then in the third paragraph we learn that he is still alive. Some wonderful details--"Pop was the color of sand". The only time I felt jolted out of the "tone" that is so effectively established is the use of the word "superpower". Doesn't fit the rest of the prose style. The opening sentence is wonderful and the last sentence stirs suspense.

  2. Ah! What a place to leave off.
    I think you did a good job setting the scene and describing a daughter that has put her life on hold for her father. I don't know what happens next, but my only suggestion is to watch the father's dialogue. If he is near death, his sentence may be shorter, more clipped.
    Good job!

  3. Well written, with the scene built and characters introduced at a nice gentle pace. I would definitely read on, particularly with the promise of a confession and the promise of a battle in the title.

  4. I would read more. It liked the superpower line. It made me know she needed a superpower to get through her father's death.

  5. P.S.
    Just checked and the commandment is "THOU SHALT NOT KILL".

  6. It's cool that you mention that, Elliot, b/c "SHALT" was in my original title, but as time went on, I felt as if the "T" would either fall off or get stuck in my teeth so to speak. Does anyone else have a preference one way or the other?

  7. I must admit the title turned me off on this one. I'm not a very religious person, and this struck me as very preachy. I also found the use of her full name and the city, state in the first few lines to be a lot to swallow. I need some action or a great setting to draw me into a story, and this didn't really do either for me. But that's just me.

  8. You should go with your original title because it's not a matter of preference, it's a question of what is correct and if you check Wikipedia, you'll see ALL the commandments are spelled with a "T" after "Thou". Good luck.

  9. There was just something ‘off’ to me about starting with her father’s deathbed, then immediately jumping into sunshine and beach weather. It gave me the idea that her father had already died and she was airing out the room or something.

    You might also let her voice her thoughts aloud to him, instead of keeping them to herself? It would show her personality, so you wouldn’t have to tell us, and it wouldn’t seem like she was ignoring her dying father

    As for the title, I'd prefer SHALT.

  10. This is lovely. I'd read more.

  11. Definitely hooked with that last line! Though I was also thrown, thinking that her father was already dead with the first line.