Afterlife.

Crisp rays of sun blanketed my small town in North America, chilled winds fluttered by me and left a cold mark on my ragged jacket as I walked on a crumbling uneven sidewalk next to narrow dirt infested road.

Quite frankly town I lived in was poor, most of its people were too. Everything was rusting, crumbling and struggling to keep itself up. Every time you stepped on the sidewalk it creaked and it felt as if it was complaining.

I never had much, overall I felt my life was worthless, I mean – I was smart and clever I guess but personally I just felt I was put on the worst end of the world, my parents were dead, I was poor and all I had consistently – was an unclear future.

Sometimes I imagined I was more than what I thought I was, that I was more than just a waste of oxygen. I would flood my mind with imaginations of me being important, or famous or having some amazing talent but then as always, I would have to open my eyes and let reality consume me and rip me apart.

While these thoughts played in my head a black blur made its way to the far corner of my eye, I turned my head to see a large yet beautiful jet black owl with luring golden brown eyes that were like shimmering perfectly cut diamonds in a trash ridden landfill. The owl stood motionless glaring its stunning eyes directly at me, I didn’t actually feel frighten or even tense at this.

For some reason I felt the owl was examining me, looking at my every thought and exploring my entire past. I didn’t actually know why I thought this, perhaps it was the random flashbacks of past memories or the fact it was becoming increasingly hard to pay attention to my surroundings which were now oblivious to me.

I was still walking on the increasingly uneven cracked sidewalk. Something extremely odd was happening to, It felt as if time changed somehow – something was happening to me, It was becoming harder to focus on anything but the owl.

I was still looking at the owl, then suddenly like a bullet in the dark I hit my head on something, blistering pain ran rampant in my head, black rained across my vision as I felled onto the road, more pain hit my entire body. Every part, edge, and nerve of my body was flooding in knife sharp pain, I heard cars honking endlessly after that.

Suddenly vivid colors filled my eye’s again, I could see people hovering over my head, I tried to speak – I wanted desperately to screech and release everything I was feeling but no words came, only unclear moans.

I felt as if I was falling now, I felt like I was falling into a large black void. My eyesight began to dim. I felt time slow down and almost change. My senses began to retreat, I slowly started to lose the inability to feel while my breathing became heavier yet more desperate. It felt like my body was separating itself from me. My fingers began to lose its already weak grip on my life, I could not hold on anymore – I let go.

I felt like I was moving incredibly fast now while my life on earth slipped away from me and was growing ever farther away. Suddenly an incredible – almost unimaginable shade of black filled my vision. The last thing I saw was a sharp vision of those owls golden brown eyes.

I felt myself hit a smooth floor, I could feel again. I was afraid to open my eyes, afraid to see what I hoped I would not see, I thought I just died, No – I knew I just died. I mustered the courage to slowly open my eyes and reveal to myself where I was.

Instead of seeing the glowing gates of heaven or the fiery blaze of hell I saw nothing but a white void. I swallowed and took a deep breath.
“Is anybody there..?” I whispered. I gathered more courage and spoke a little louder “Is anybody there?”.

“Excuse me?” a voice said.
“Who are you, where am I? I responded in a muffled tone

“This place, The white void your eyes see is an intersection between worlds I suppose,” the voice said.
“Am I dead..?” I said in a nervous voice.
“For now,” The voice said.
“Wha-What do you mean for now?”
“Stand up Adam”
I gathered my energy and stood up shaking. I began to look around the white void,
I saw nothing, I saw no one. “Wait, How do you know my name..?” I said.
The voice did not respond. Suddenly someone in long white clothing with his face
covered by a dark shadow appeared. “Hello, Adam.” the figure said.

“Er, Hello.” I responded tensely then took a deep breath “Are you.. God?”.
“No”
“Are you the devil?”
“No Adam”

Before I could respond the figure lifted his hand and pointed it at me, he lowered his head slightly and looked directly at me, he then said something in a hushed yet deep voice

I fell to the floor and knife sharp pain re-entered my body. My vision once again began to dim, the feeling in my body began to drift again. A black shade flooded my vision and I once again felt I was floating and drifting in nothingness. Suddenly the owl’s golden brown eyes flickered in my vision and I fell on a wooden floor.

My body ached and complained after the hard fall. My whole body was tense with fear. I was in a dark bedroom that would be the type of room you would find in a mansion.

I just silently sat on a bed and stared at the floor with my empty blue eyes. Somehow I felt as if the pain of death still lingered in me.

4 thoughts on “Afterlife.

  1. Wilmar Luna (@WilmarLuna) says:

    Okay, this is a bit difficult to critique because I am unsure if English is the author’s native language.

    There are a few typos and awkward phrasings in here that I normally see from writers who are not native English speakers.

    Example: “black rained across my vision as I felled onto the road”

    Your first sentence for this story is unfortunately, a dud. “Crisp rays of sun blanketed my small town in North America, chilled winds fluttered by me and left a cold mark on my ragged jacket as I walked on a crumbling uneven sidewalk next to narrow dirt infested road.”

    This reeks of purple prose to me. Words arranged in a pretty way without saying much. Though I do like the visual of crumbling uneven sidewalk and dirt infested road, the line “my small town in North America,” is a total cop out. Small town in North America? What small town? There are a lot of small towns and not all of them are the same. A small town by the shore is much different than a small town in Michigan or a small town in the middle of nowhere Montana.

    If you don’t know a specific small town in America, you need to do research so you can either create your own fictional small town or have an accurate depiction of whatever place you choose.

    For the rest of this story I’m sad to say that I didn’t understand it at all. The protagonist is walking down an impoverished neighborhood. He sees an owl, hits his head, then is suddenly seeing images of the after life?

    The point is, this entire beginning is ambiguous and not in a good way. Good ambiguity encourages the reader to want to learn more about the story, about the protagonist, they want to discover the mystery of this after life.

    But the ambiguity written here reads like a rough draft where you were simply writing whatever came to mind without having a clear idea of where you’re going with it.

    Basically I find myself asking, “What’s the point?” I feel like this beginning could be better served as a flashback. I’d rather see the main character having agency and doing something than throwing a pity party for himself.

    I think this draft is too rough for a fair critique. When you do your next edit answer these questions.

    1.) What’s the point?
    2.) What do you want the reader to know about this character and your story?
    3.) Where is the setting specifically?
    4.) What does Adam want?
    5.) Is there a different point in the story I can start from that is more active?

  2. Joyce says:

    Your story does not have an opening hook: Small town, cold wind, uneven sidewalk…did not draw me in. While reading, I got lost excessive descriptions. The opening, I could not imagine a cold mark on a jacket, and infested should be omitted. Narrow dirt road is clearer to the reader.

    The description for the intensity of the eyes does not read well. Jet black owl, luring golden brown eyes, cut diamonds in a land fill. To much info for the reader.

    A second mention of the cracked sidewalk should be removed. The first mention of it lays out the journey for the reader.

    Describing your fall and your altered vision is repeated to many times. It made me not want to read further because there wasn’t any new information to hold my interest. I dont get a sense of what the story is really about. I dont where it is taking place. I did not connect with it.

    There are some typos, and I agree with Wilmer, it doesn’t read like English is your first language.

  3. Liene says:

    I can certainly tell that you have a very clear idea of your story and what you want to be told. That’s good! And the atmosphere is felt for sure.
    However, I do think you’re explaining the story more than showing it. Not even telling the story, but explaining it.
    There doesn’t need to be so much description. I can see you’ve found lots of unique ways of describing things, but if the description is what the reader is focused on, the story won’t pull you in.
    The wording for a few things is a bit odd, like this:

    “Every time you stepped on the sidewalk it creaked and it felt as if it was complaining.”

    It makes it seem as though the sidewalk was feeling as though it was complaining, and a sidewalk feels nothing, it’s inanimate. Maybe switch around the wording to make it a bit more clear. And not that I’m some pro, but I’ve heard writing advice to not use the word “feel” unnecessarily. That same sentence could be:

    “Every time you stepped on the sidewalk it creaked as though complaining.”

    Simple things like that could make the scene much easier to understand and not distract from what is going on. 🙂

  4. Anna Orridge (@orridge_anna) says:

    I do like the idea of a voice coming out of nowhere and calling to this boy. It’s very intriguing.

    I think, for MG, your writing is very dense. You need to pare it down a little in order to maintain the attention of an 8 to 12-year-old. Have a good look at the number of -ing verbs you’re using in just this one passage. It weighs the writing down.

    One piece of advice I see frequently given to MG writers is to keep the introspective angst to a minimum for this age group. You can do this more with YA, but kids this age tend to be more appreciative of action. I think you need to do a bit less telling and some more showing when it comes to this character’s mental state. Just a flash of a detail would be infinitely more powerful on this first page.

    Having said that, I did like a lot of the evocative aspects of your writing, such as the description of physical sensations and the owl’s eyes. Don’t ditch those, by any means. Just make things a little simpler and starker. Best of luck 🙂

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