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Writ_Rev by slashaholic-666

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August 26, 2011
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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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