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Every Sunday, I sit in the same pew with my family. In the summer, the church is abominably hot, and my cotton dress sticks to my skin. In the winter, the wind tears through the bell tower, right through my many layers of wool. Whatever the season, my burning shame in that church never changes, never ceases.
I am fourteen and I am in love with my preacher.

Father Reed is a fine, imposing man, with his black robes and dark flashing eyes and thunderous Commandments of God. "Christ died for our sins," is the popular refrain these days. Not my sins, I am sure. I have not yet confessed them, so how could He know? Christ was too pure, too good and humble to do as I have done. To touch himself under the blankets after his sisters have fallen asleep. He knew nothing of the want in the tips of his fingers, the heat lingering in the pulse at his throat. He has never wanted what I wanted. I have never confessed, but I can truly be silent no longer. I must do something, or else I am sure I will go mad.

This Sunday, I am in my best dress, the one with the daringly low bodice and lace at the cuffs and hem. I button my coat up to my chin so mother does not see and demand I put on a more appropriate garment. I sit through the entire sermon, unable to focus on the Word of God, only on trying not to fidget on the uncomfortable bench next to Father.
After the service is over, I tell my sisters not to wait for me. I approach Father Reed and he invites me into his office so we may converse openly. His voice is still at sermon volume. My legs tremble. He does not know I am wearing my best dress, my best garters, my smallest corset, that my hair is curled beneath my bonnet. I do not know how to tell him. He will surely not want me. God will surely think me wicked.

But I do tell him. I tell him, kneeling at his feet because I can not bear to look him in the eye. I unchain my gold cross from around my neck and hold it up to him, an offering of all that I am. The church is silent.

Father Reed reaches down and raises me to my feet. He tells me gently that I am just a child. He says not to be ashamed of womanly desires, but here is not the place for them, he is not the place for them. My fingers close back round my cross, the metal biting into my palm as I flee from the church. Hot, shameful tears stumble from my eyes and trickle burning paths down my cheeks. Foolish girl, I tell myself, of course you are only a child.

At home, Father asks if Father Reed had any guidance for me. I murmur that he did. Mother wishes to know what it was. "To keep God in my heart for always," is my answer. I can't bear to tell them the truth. I excuse myself to the outhouse and lock myself in and cry. I am sure this is what a broken heart is like. I can never show up in that church again.

But next Sunday, I am back in that very same pew. Father Reed wishes to talk to me after the service again. He says not to fret. He is sorry I feel this way, particularly of him, and he knows what it is to desire, to feel like it will never end. "At least," he adds, "you don't feel as if it's ended until after it has." He asks if there are any other gentlemen in town my age to occupy my time. I bow my head, tears needling my eyes again, and say Yes, Father, perhaps there are. He tells me to go home and read the select passages from the Bible he has marked for me. I flip through them. They are about patience and wisdom coming with age, mostly.

They say men of God never lie. Father Reed has lied. He said he understood how I feel. He does not. No one does. I fear I shall feel this desire, this sinful shame forever.
This was written from the prompt where we were supposed to take our most shameful moment and then put a twist on it. My most shameful moment was all of 6th grade, where I had the hugest crush on my English teacher and I though no one knew. Although, of course, everyone knew. Silly me. Anyway, this is full of so. much. angst. And yes, you are allowed to laugh. Oh, teenagers.

And now, QUESTIONS:
:bulletblue: Is the voice done well?
:bulletblue: Do you sympathize with the narrator?
:bulletblue: What time period/geographical location would you say this was?
:bulletblue: Would you have liked a surprise ending?
:bulletblue: Would you have liked a dirtier ending? (This is me being a pervert; you needn't answer. ;))
:bulletblue: Any technicalities I missed?
:bulletblue: As I said before, this is terribly angsty, but did you feel that it was well-expressed angst, or just "my heart bleeds black roses and we were all born to die and why aren't i pretty gawd" kind of angst?

Critique: here.
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:iconplaugh:
To start, this is a marvelous piece of writing. So, to you questions.

1. The voice is done very well and consistently. I originally thought that it was a little too mature for a 14 year old, but once you mentioned the garters and bonnet, I realized that the more formal language was due to time period. You may want to indicate that in the first paragraph. Working in just the word bonnet should be enough to do the trick.

2. Not having ever been a teenage girl I can't directly relate, but I do have to say that you have created a sympathetic character. She relates her feelings and her conflicts in an understandable way.

3. Geological is hard to determine. It could be New England or the mid-west because of the extremes in temperature. The language is not Southern. Time is definitely pre-WWII. I don't think bonnets and garters would come up as a normal thing. The time is not much before the turn of the 19th century or the language would contain some more anachronistic words I think.

4 and 5. The ending is fine. I am glad in several ways that it was not a surprise or dirty. For one, child sexual exploitation, especially by clergy, hits a raw nerve with me and there is far too much of that going on in reality to want to read fiction about it as well. Secondly, there is a much more "real" moment created when the beloved simply does not realize or return the love. This is much more accessible to more people.

6. I already covered that in number 1. The setting needs to be established as quickly as possible unless you want to leave a certain mystery or timelessness to the story. This seems a much more concrete tale so it would benefit from less confusion.

7. The angst level is just fine as far as I am concerned. It is specific rather than general. She does not engage in a pity party, she is having a real dilemma with some very large life consequences. For example, she does not rail against her mother for being a busy body and blame her for her problems.

A very nice story with a believable and full, 3-dimensional protagonist. It is self-contained and complete. It presents a real-life situation without judgement (by the author) on the feelings or decisions of the protagonist.

Very good work! :)
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:iconwanderinghere:
WanderingHere Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2011
okay, so first - lolololololol father reed! :rofl:
but right.
this is really good! it definitely felt very time periodlike. all posh, and such, and that you could read that from the way it's written is very cool.
also it's very angst no one knows what it's like, and so really, very teenagerish. remarkably believable.
and thank you, actually, for giving it the ending you did. had it been dirtier, i think it would have turned into a very cliche, like, all priests are pedos. which i don't think is true, and so that he was good was quite nice.
anyway well done!
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:iconindigoskyes:
IndigoSkyes Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Oh crap. I forgot you'd be reading this.
IT IS NOT ABOUT YOUR FATHER I PROMISE. BECAUSE I'VE ONLY TALKED TO HIM LIKE TWICE AND IT WOLD BE SO AWKWARD LIKE OMG.
:faint:

Thank you for the comment, dear. Much appreciated. :hug:
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:iconwanderinghere:
WanderingHere Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2011
:D i'm sorry, but that's actually hilarious. i must admit, i'm tempted to show him...
welcome, love.
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:iconindigoskyes:
IndigoSkyes Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
:headdesk:
Oh my please no.
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:iconwanderinghere:
WanderingHere Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2011
oh i shall.

haha, no i won't. (:
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:iconsolarune:
Solarune Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2011   Writer
This is brilliant. An unusual subject and you've tackled it well – perhaps it seems so original because there are parts of yourself in it, like all the best pieces. I think putting it in a historic setting was good, because it's not something you would immediately associate with that.

Is the voice done well? – Brilliantly. I'm not sure I agree with other comments saying it's too mature for a 14-year-old – I've read writing by 14-year-olds that is like this, and it seems fairly authentic. Just the right balance between honesty and floweriness.

Do you sympathize with the narrator? – Completely, and despite never having been in that situation myself. I think it's possibly because it shows up everything frightening about adolescence – something you're a little ashamed of and frightened to talk to anyone about, and then of course it becomes worse in your mind and you become more afraid of what everyone's reactions will be.

What time period/geographical location would you say this was? Time – anywhere from the 1700s to the 1900s. I'd put a guess at 1850-something if I had to be specific, but I'm not quite sure. Place – well, I would say England, but the climate seems a touch extreme for that. Mind you, some parts of England can get bitterly cold and pretty warm in the summer too. So possibly Europe or somewhere in America.

Would you have liked a surprise ending? – Depends what you mean by surprise, but I think no. Although it's angsty, I think any kind of resolution to the conflict – like her losing interest in him or finding someone else – would make too much light of the whole piece. In a way it needs to seem never-ending to capture that feeling that you allude to in the final paragraph – I fear I shall feel this desire, this sinful shame forever. Of course, it will go away, but things like that never feel like it at the time.

Would you have liked a dirtier ending? – No; I'm not a fan of that anyway, but I think it would have made it too dark. The tone is quite gritty and angsty, and one point of light, or nice moment in it, was how sympathetic and fatherly the preacher was. It seemed realistic to me, too. Firstly, because of his attitude – too often we think of people in this kind of historical context as having very delicate sensibilities and being offended at the slightest thing, but I think it makes sense that the priest would be sympathetic and responsive rather than condemning it as a sin – he must have so many people confessing to him, he knows it's not real harm, just a girl growing up. Secondly, it makes sense that he wouldn't notice her in that way or reciprocate her love and desire – to him, she's just a child who comes to the sermons.

Any technicalities I missed? – Two paragraphs that I guess should to be on a new line if you want to keep the double spacing consistent – "I am fourteen and I am in love with my preacher" and the one starting with "After the service is over, I tell my sisters not to wait for me".
"so mother does not see" – Mother is capitalised in the rest of the piece (unless it's an indirect reference, like "my mother") so it seems odd to have it uncapitalised there.
Also, I don't really know much about churches, and certainly not historically, but would a priest have an office? Wouldn't she go into a confessional or something?

As I said before, this is terribly angsty, but did you feel that it was well-expressed angst, or just "my heart bleeds black roses and we were all born to die and why aren't i pretty gawd" kind of angst? – No, I don't think it strayed into that at all. It wasn't over-the-top. It definitely has a teenage feel – the uncertainty, the "no-one understands me" bit at the end – but there's enough insecurity to make it relatable, and also enough of the desire to do the – right thing? Pure thing? – rather than drowning in her angst and making no effort to do anything about it, or over-dramatising it. I think that cinches it, really. She never goes on about how plain she is, or resorts to overly flowery poetic language. She only thinks in the terms of herself – her dress, her new clothes – and him. So it's personal and evocative.

Brilliant piece, Indigo. :)
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:iconindigoskyes:
IndigoSkyes Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much for the critique, Sol! You definitely made me look at the piece in a whole new way.
You're pretty awesome, by the way.
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:iconsolarune:
Solarune Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011   Writer
You're welcome! :heart: And you're pretty awesome too. :tighthug:
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:iconindigoskyes:
IndigoSkyes Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
:iconohuplz:
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:iconsolarune:
Solarune Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2011   Writer
:iconnouplz:
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:iconruerae:
ruerae Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
~ Is the voice done well?
Extremely well. Absolutely wonderful I have to say. It had that pure feeling of a young girl who is religious, respectful and somehow new and insecure to the desires she craves. I've never read something in such a voice. You did an amazing job.
~ Do you sympathize with the narrator?
In fact, I do. I once had a crush on someone who was a lot older than I was and at some times I felt the agony and heart wrecking that the narrator felt, but it went away eventually.
~What time period/geographical location would you say this was?
England, I would say. Somewhere around the 19th century? I am not quite sure, but I hope I guessed it right. It feels like that after the way the girl is speaking and the fact that such a young girl is so dedicated to go to a church even after a crush.
~Would you have liked a surprise ending?
Hmmm, depends on the surprise. I wouldn't have wanted it to get dirty between the 2 of them because that would have ruined the peace of the artwork. So not really. It's perfect this way.
Any technicalities I missed?
None I spotted.

After all, great piece. ;) Fave
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:iconindigoskyes:
IndigoSkyes Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Goodness, thank you so much for the wonderful feedback! :faint:

And thank you for the fave. :tighthug:
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:iconmarikob-k:
marikob-k Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Voice: Yes. I agree with the critique- it did seem a little formal at first for a 14-year old, but the time period makes it work. Especially with a girl in such a predicament, it makes sense for her to be more mature.
Sympathize: Yes! I feel so bad for her! In some ways, she's a little daring and edgy, sort of reminiscent of Abigail from the play The Crucible, but there's also a huge element of innocence to her. She's 14, right, so she's still so young, which is partially why it's easy to feel bad for her, and feel her pain, because there are a lot of things she doesn't understand.
Time: Definitely before WWII, maybe even before WWI. I thought it felt very like, colonial America kind of thing, you know, as far as location. The language doesn't seem right for it to be in England.
Ending: No; it still shoes her frustration and her emotional plight without a real answer, and that's better I think, than some big twist. It feels much more real this way.
Tech: It's beautiful, really, Indigo. Especially that last section. Man, it's awesome.
Angst: It's perfect. No heart bleeding black roses. It's just the right amount of teenage drama/confusion/frustration, and it works well!

I have to say though, your choice for the last name of the priest threw me off a lot- at first I thought you were writing about Jon & Sarah's dad! :rofl: I wouldn't say pick a different last name, per se, it was just strange!
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:iconindigoskyes:
IndigoSkyes Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much Mariko! Your critique really means a lot. :tighthug:

Yeah, I know. I was having issues with that, because I was trying to think of a different name. The only other name that really sounds right to me is my own last name, and that feels weird. But I hope they don't read this and show it to their dad, because that would be so many levels of awkward.
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:iconmarikob-k:
marikob-k Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome my dear!

And oh my god, how bad would that be! *dies*
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:icontearoses:
TeaRoses Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2011
I really liked this. I feel too much for her to laugh.

Questions:

I felt her voice was very real and I definitely sympathized with her.
I was picturing the 1950s U.S., but I could picture other times too. The religious title and approach do seem very U.S. though.

I wouldn't have liked a different ending, especially a dirtier one. Yes, unfortunately he could have taken advantage of her but that would make a different, darker story.

I didn't see any missed technicalities.

I thought the angst was expressed well. It is a teenage angst, but not in a bad or cliched way.

Overall a great story which I really enjoyed.
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:iconindigoskyes:
IndigoSkyes Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much for your feedback! Much appreciated!

Perhaps I'll write an alternate ending. (;
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:iconsammur-amat:
Sammur-amat Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2011   General Artist
The tone you've used to narrate this tale is extraordinarily befitting. I became 14 again and was able to feel all the emotions faced by the narrator. This made me turn fuchsia in the face, heh. I think that even if I could not relate (though I definitely can, I mean, who can't relate to having a misguided teenage crush anyway?), the way you write makes one able to relate.

How old are you now? The voice used makes me feel like this hasn't happened too long ago. Well no mater how recent or distant, the point is you made it feel so alive and fresh in one's memory and that is something only an amazing writer can do! Bravo and more power!:heart:
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:iconindigoskyes:
IndigoSkyes Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
I'm so glad you liked it! :hug:

I'm fifteen now, and this happened about four years ago.
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:iconpuppetspoisonink:
PuppetsPoisonInk Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2011  Student Writer
I, sadly, cannot write an official critique, but here's my unofficial one, anyways. :)

I do love this voice in this. It tells perfectly how ashamed the narrator felt, exactly how the desire was and it managed not to incorporate the feeling of "Oh, I was so silly back then!" I love it when these pieces do that, because it still shows the depth of emotion THEN, not NOW. It sounds more intimate, telling the reader how it was without any biases from an older narrator.

I definitely sympathized with the narrator! I have had these feelings before, and although I never shared them with anyone, this is exactly how I felt! The style and voice of this piece amplifies that feeling, something that most people in this world have had. The shame that makes you want to curl up in a ball, and the embarrassment. Wow. The emotions that come from unrequited love are often painful. I might have added some more about the pain of rejection, just a little bit more, but it's lovely without it.

Setting. Well. I'd say it would either be almost Victorian era or the present, for no reason apart from that's just how it feels to me, with the daringly-low bodice. I also want to say that it's in the Southern United States.

I think this ending is perfect just the way it is. A dirtier ending would make the effect entirely different, unless you'd want to add the looking-back, which would ruin it for me. :)

Er... there's some places where you forgot to "enter" the paragraph again, so the two paragraphs are stuck together, and you might have not capitalized "Mother" in one place...

The angst was lovely. :)
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:iconindigoskyes:
IndigoSkyes Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for the critique! :hug:

Ah yes, formatting on dA especially is so annoying. :/ I'll go back and look at it.
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:iconpuppetspoisonink:
PuppetsPoisonInk Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2011  Student Writer
:hug: You're very welcome!
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:iconstevecook23:
stevecook23 Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2011
I can't partake in official critiques, as I'm not a subscribed member, but I'd like to comment anyway;

Is the voice done well? Yes, I think the voice is done remarkably well, in fact. She doesn't seem too old or young; this is not the voice of wisdom looking back and it takes into account how naive we all are at a young age.

Do you sympathise with the narrator? Sort of; it's easy, as an onlooker, to be sympathetic to her unrequited love situation, though I think it conveys well the tangle of emotions she must be feeling.

What time period/geographical location would you say this was? In my head, it was America's deep south, maybe fifty years ago.

Would you have liked a surprise ending? No. I think the ending would have been tarnished by the 'obvious' surprise ending, that being that she sleeps with him, or that he turns out to be a lech. Congrats for avoiding the temptation, I suppose!

Would you have liked a dirtier ending? This is what I get for not reading the questions ahead of time :D

Any technicalities I missed? No, actually. It read like silk, flowing neatly from one section to the next. No quarrels with grammar, spelling, sentence structure. It was very enjoyable, actually.

Did you feel it was well-expressed angst? Yes, I did. It didn't actually ping the word 'angst' into my head, I had to stop and think when I read this question. That's how well-written I think it was, that it wasn't stereotypically angsty.

All-in-all, a nice, well-balanced piece that stands alone, rather than feeling like part of a longer piece.
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:iconindigoskyes:
IndigoSkyes Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Goodness, thank you so much for the critique. :faint: Much appreciated!
I'm glad you enjoyed it!
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:iconstevecook23:
stevecook23 Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2011
Not at all :D t'was a pleasure to read.
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:iconzelptheking:
zelptheking Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
even though i'm not exactly a religious person that almost made a tear come to my eye by how beautifully it was written
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:iconindigoskyes:
IndigoSkyes Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you. :blush:

It's not necessarily a religious piece. At least, I didn't mean it to be. It did have elements of religion in it, what with the preacher and church and mentions of Jesus, but I wrote that for the time period/location, where the whole community is like that. Did you think it was?
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:iconzelptheking:
zelptheking Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
i didn't think it was a religious piece it just was full of elements
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:iconindigoskyes:
IndigoSkyes Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Oh, I see. :nod:
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:iconzelptheking:
zelptheking Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
yes
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:iconrandom-phobia-attack:
Random-Phobia-Attack Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
First I'd like to go for a more general observation of how much I loved it! Now then.. Your questions...
I think your voice was done very well.
I couldn't guess as to the geographical location, but I want to say America, perhaps as that's where I am. But I think the time would be the 1700's or perhaps even the 1800's...
As for a surprise ending, I think that truly depends on what you yourself are comfortable with writing and how you feel satisfied with your work.
Personally I was expecting a more... dirty... ending... And so I did actually find myself a little surprised by it, but I think a dirtier ending might have been better... I'm nore sure. Once again, this is something only an author can truly decide on.
I think the angst was very well expressed though.
One other comment. In the second to last paragraph you have her saying "Yes, Father, perhaps there are." Only you didn't have that in quotes. I think, as this seemed more of a direct quote than a general idea of what she said, the quotes would be propper.

But totally loved it!!! :D
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:iconindigoskyes:
IndigoSkyes Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for your feedback!

Yeah, I wasn't sure whether to put quotes there or not, so I may just take them out completely. :shrug:
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:icon420writer:
420Writer Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2011
Is the voice done well? I love that the girl is described as young and that the voice feels like a mature woman. I think every woman has felt something like this; feeling she is older than she is.

Do you sympathize with the narrator? Absolutely. I know it's wrong, but you almost feel yourself hoping that she doesn't get turned down. lol

What time period/geographical location would you say this was?Well it definitely doesn't feel current, because of the lack of air conditioning/heating. I couldn't guess an exact time frame. I would love to know though, if you have a specific time frame that this took place in.

Would you have liked a surprise ending?I was hoping for it, but the ending you chose didn't disappoint me, which I thought was interesting.

As I said before, this is terribly angsty, but did you feel that it was well-expressed angst, or just "my heart bleeds black roses and we were all born to die and why aren't i pretty gawd" kind of angst? haha I don't think it was too gothic feeling, no. I think every person has gone through something like this, where they loved someone much older than themselves and felt feelings much too mature for their age.
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:iconindigoskyes:
IndigoSkyes Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for your feedback! It's very much appreciated. (:

I wasn't quite sure of the time period/location, actually, which is why I asked. :giggle: I was thinking Puritan New England or somewhere in England, in Mary Shelley's time. (I'm really bad with dates, as you can see. :p)
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:icon420writer:
420Writer Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2011
That's the vibe I got from the piece too. (I'm bad with dates too, hence why I didn't actually answer the question lol)
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:iconswiftstar10123:
Swiftstar10123 Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2011
This is beautiful. Not only do I love your word choices, but I love the plotline you chose. it's unique and fun but horrifically sad at the same time. Fantastic job! <3
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:iconindigoskyes:
IndigoSkyes Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for your kind comment. I'm so glad you liked it! :hug:
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:iconservina:
Servina Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2011
all is can say is wow. this is a brilliant piece and i too understand your pain as this has happened to me.
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:iconindigoskyes:
IndigoSkyes Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you, dear.

Oh, I hope it wasn't too bad. ): Mine was pretty fleeting, y'know, being twelve and all. :XD:
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:iconservina:
Servina Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2011
i was in high school when this happened. long story short, i have NEVER been able to look at him the same way again. especially when i say hi to him and his kids are around.
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:iconindigoskyes:
IndigoSkyes Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Oh, that sounds dreadful. ):
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:iconservina:
Servina Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2011
it ain't that all that bad. when this was happening i was also having counseling because i was suffering from severe depression and he, being a kind and caring teacher, told my counselor (as he was concerned about my welfare also). after that, we politely said our hellos, but that's about it these days. i've matured alot since then and yeah.
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:iconindigoskyes:
IndigoSkyes Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Well I'm glad things are better now. :hug:
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:iconservina:
Servina Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2011
thanks. and what about you?
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:iconindigoskyes:
IndigoSkyes Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Oh, I was like twelve or something and he was my English/social studies teacher. I was having angsty little self-esteem issues and thought he cared and whatever. He didn't, durr, but I was whiny and dumb. All that really happened was I made a huge fool of myself and made things really awkward for him. That's all, really. :shrug:
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