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Nice Stories

by JohnnyA 

Posted: 20 June 2007
Word Count: 1268
Summary: What happens after the story's finished? Even those that are there at the end, can't always give an answer. This is a work in progress and hasn't been submitted for publication anywhere. All feedback is appreciated.

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She doesn’t see me at first. No one sees me until it’s too late. I watch her lying on the ground, a circle of red slowly growing behind her hair, like a dark halo.

I tried to talk the guy out of it. He didn’t listen. No one listens, unless they choose to. Shoot first and ask questions later. Seems to be people’s motto these days. He shot first. Maybe he’ll ask himself why later on. Maybe not.

Money. It makes the world go round doesn’t it? All the guy wanted was money. She was going to give it to him. I saw her open the till, take out the notes and pass them across the counter. He yelled at her for moving too slow. She wasn’t moving too slow. She was scared. Who wouldn’t be scared? A gun pointed at you. Hell, even I’d be scared, and I shouldn’t be.

I kneel down beside her. The halo of blood frames her head vividly. She doesn’t have long now. I can see it in her eyes. They look like nice eyes. Blue, with a splash of green thrown in for good measure. I make up a story for her. I always make up stories when this happens. It makes me feel connected.

She was born in 1984, a middle girl of five brothers. They bullied her whilst she was growing up, but she didn’t mind. She loved them. She was the one they always went to when they wanted to talk. They treated her like an open diary. Someone they could share all their secrets with. One of her brothers was called Jack, (I think Jack’s a nice name). Jack acted like the Dad of the family, as their real Dad had left them. So Jack looked out for everyone.

Growing up she did really well at school. Straight A’s and everything. Her favourite subject was Science. She loved learning about how things work. When she was eight, she collected frogs. Her Mum came home one evening to find frogs all round the house. Somehow they’d managed to escape from the cage. It took five hours to catch all the frogs. One got itself stuck behind the television. It electrocuted itself when it hopped between the wires, pulling them out.

Her first crush was a boy in her class. He was really popular. Chiselled jaw, handsome, perfect skin. He pretended not to notice her. He was always surrounded by the ditsy girls, the girls who didn’t get good grades, but were popular via spot cover up and trendy hairstyles. She didn’t need make up or trendy hair. Her hair was free. Long flowing locks of auburn that framed her half smile and bright eyes. It was enough to have lots of boys fall in love with her. The ditsy girls were jealous.

Handsome boy asked her to the year end dance when she was sixteen. All the ditsy girls were seething. They made up stories behind her back. Called her lots of names. She didn’t care. Handsome boy took her to the dance, but it wasn’t what she’d expected.
When it was getting late, handsome boy took her outside and started kissing her. It wasn’t the first time she’d kissed a boy, and he wasn’t a very good kisser. He slobbered all over her face. She pushed him away. He got angry when she did. He moved forward kissing her again. She pushed him, but he kept licking her face with his tongue. She kicked him. She screamed. Another boy heard her scream. He came to help and pushed handsome boy away. It was her friend Nigel. She’d known him since they were small. He used to be bullied by other boys for being clever. He was the boy no one picked to be on their team in P.E.

She stayed with Nigel for the rest of the night, crying onto his shoulder. Nigel made sure she got home safe and promised to call her in the morning. As he left, she watched him go. He looked different to her. Taller, better looking than handsome boy.

She started going out with Nigel after that night. Two years passed, and they were both set to go to University. They were young, happy and looking forward to life as students, but decided to take a year out together. Save some money. Go travelling. Do all the things you’re supposed to do when you have your whole life ahead of you. After their A-Levels she got a job working as a shop assistant at the local grocery store. She planned to do it for six months. Earn enough money to go travelling with Nigel. They could see the Coliseum in Rome, the Pyramids of Egypt, and the opera house in Sydney. Maybe she would even earn enough to put towards tuition fees when they came back.

First she would have to work. She didn’t mind the grocery store. Nigel picked her up when she worked late and they’d spend the nights together, young and in love, making plans for the future.

Then one night, Nigel was late in picking her up. She was by herself in the store. The manager had left to have a quick smoke out the back. That was when the man came in. He wanted money. He had a gun. She gave him the money. She gave him the money quickly, but he wanted it faster. He shot her. He ran out. I saw it all.

I wonder if the story I made up, is true. I look at the girl lying on the floor. Everything I imagined about her could be true. I imagine it’s true. It makes me feel connected. Makes me feel she’s not alone, even though she is.

She’ll see me in a minute, but I can’t help her. Her breathing lessens. The floor is wet with blood. Her eyes go out. She sees me.

She asks me who I am. I say what I always say. I tell her not to worry. I tell her not to be scared. I tell her she’s going to a better place.

I don’t tell her the truth. I don’t tell her that I don’t know what happens to her now. Instead I tell stories. Nice stories of how she’ll never be in pain again. Nice stories about how much her family loves her and how they’ll be okay. Nice stories about how wonderful things will be. I tell nice stories like the one I made up about her. They keep me connected.

She asks me who I am. For the first time I tell the truth. I tell her I’m a friend. I tell her I’m just someone trying to help. I tell her that I’ve been helping people for years. I tell her I tried to stop that guy from shooting her. I tell her I tried to make him listen. I tell her that sometimes people don’t listen.

Just before she fades, I smile. I always smile. I don’t know what else to do. It seems a bit cheesy to wave or give her thumbs up. So I smile. Her face looks frightened as she disappears. I might have to work on my smile.

I get up from the floor and walk out of the shop. It’s just like every other night outside. People living. People dying. The world continues.

A young girl is dead. I think of the story I made up about her. I wonder if it’s true. I think of the nice stories I told her. I hope they’re true.

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Comments by other Members

Becca at 11:11 on 23 June 2007  Report this post
Hi Johnny,
I'm intrigued by who the MC is, a rather human-like angel, or something of the sort? I'd be interested to see where you go with this. It's written in a very plain style and I think because of that it's would be hard to get around the business of the repeated words easily. It has the sense of being aimed at very young people. I do think I'm more interested in the MC than the story he tells of a young girl with everything to live for, who then dies. The random quality of the event could perhaps be something worth exploring, especially if the MC is used to things like that.

Becca at 11:12 on 23 June 2007  Report this post
Random nature, I meant to say.

JohnnyA at 18:02 on 04 July 2007  Report this post
Thanks. I've decided to come back to this in a few days. I still can't decide how I want to continue it. But I, like you am more interested in the MC, which has come out in the writing.

Forbes at 18:19 on 05 July 2007  Report this post
I vote more interest in the MC than the poor dying girl. I'd like to read the next installment.



Buzzard at 18:16 on 06 July 2007  Report this post
Hi, Johnny.

I'd agree with Becca & Forbes in that the narrator is far more interesting than the girl — inevitable, I guesss, given that the girl's story is made up by him, anyway.

I have to admit, I'm not sure if this was your intention, but if not you might want to bear it in mind: despite his own good intentions, the creepiness of the narrator . . . Anyone who makes a habit of doing what he does with such equanimity is hugely complicated, and the simplicity of his voice captures that perfectly. God, but just imagine dying a death like this poor girl does and having someone look into your eyes while they fabricate your life-story in order that they might feel connected!

Given that, I wonder if it would serve the story better to cut some of the embedded story (since it isn't true anyway and, as such, doesn't advance the story proper)and concentrate more on the nartrator's motivations.

Just a suggestion. All the best

Account Closed at 17:13 on 29 August 2007  Report this post
Interesting to read other comments, because I just assumed the MC was some sort of angel, and so it’s his job to be there between people dying and moving on to wherever’s next (and I thought he was a nice, kind angel!!). As such, I thought this worked really well. The premise is great, and particularly disturbing is the fact that he doesn’t actually know what happens to them next – that feels quite sinister.

I’d perhaps trim down the girl’s ‘story’ a fair bit – maybe get rid of some of the detail. I think some of the beginning stuff could be tightened as well. The first paragraph was great, then maybe you could prune some of the repetition in the 2nd. I thought,
Money. It makes the world go round doesn’t it?
– was a bit of a cliché (although, in a way, it feels right that an angel might talk in cliches. Erm, not that I’ve ever met one).

Just before she fades, I smile. I always smile. I don’t know what else to do. It seems a bit cheesy to wave or give her thumbs up. So I smile. Her face looks frightened as she disappears. I might have to work on my smile.
– really liked this bit.

Maybe a way of introducing more about the MC would be to develop the exchange between him and the girl.

Anyway, like this a lot,

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