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By mirleid in Fiction
Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 12:00:00 PM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)

Her father was not a kind person. That did not mean that he was a cruel person. He was just somebody that seemed to live at the house, not bothering to relate to anybody. The only person that merited more than a barely whispered order (he always spoke softly, as if he could not be bothered to raise his voice) was her mother. And even then, all their conversations were clinical and about daily management of the household, a lot like two accountants meeting to discuss the current situation of some company they did the books for.

One day, he did not come home. His absence went unnoticed to her until her mother explained, in a slightly sad tone, that she shouldn't expect her father to return.

Since she did not know how to feel about that, she decided to reserve judgement.

She was five.

She was left with strange, contradictory feelings. The absence of her father did not really impact her day-to-day life: his intervention in it had always been non-existent. But at dinner...she was used to having him sitting silently at the head of the table, eating with an economy of motion that always felt to her like he was silently pointing out that nothing around him was worth any effort. When she pointed this out to her mother, she told her that she would get used to it.

She didn't. She missed the silence and indifference that her father exuded. Or maybe, it was the physical presence. She couldn't really tell, but kept mentioning it to her mother. One day, as she was sitting down for dinner, her mother did something completely alien: she broke the dinner routine. She had set another plate on the table, and, in front of it, she placed a tiny lead soldier, saying: "Pretend that is your father".

"That it is not father", she responded.

"Well, did your father ever speak to your during dinner, or in any way noticed you were there?", her mother asked.


"Neither will this."

At first, she thought that the whole thing was just plain silly. But, as the meal progressed, she found herself stealing glances at the toy. As she had done when it was her father at the head of the table. In an indefinite, gradual way, she found herself settling in her old habits. Pretty soon, she was unable to have dinner without the little soldier presiding.

When she turned 8, her mother's birthday present was the toy soldier. "Take care of it", she said. That night, she cried silently in bed for a long time, the little lump of lead blindly watching over by her bedside.

She never actually got her mother to tell her where the toy had come from. Every time she'd ask, Mother would ignore the question. Only once she whispered something like "That is all that's left of him". At the time, she couldn't make any sense of that, although in her later years, she became of the opinion that it was all that her father had left behind when he left. She always wondered whether it had been on purpose.

A relationship of sorts developed between her and the toy: each would ignore the other (not that the little soldier was capable of much interaction, a lot like her father), but she could not function without it. It had other uses, though: once, fed up with being bullied at school (like her father, she would not interact with others in any meaningful level), she used it as a street thug would use a roll of coins, to give her hand the firmness required to punch a boy in her class (one that she did not particularly dislike) until his face was bloody. Why she did not punch the bully instead of that boy was a question that never occurred to her.

She was left alone after that. She and the toy soldier, alone together.


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Avatar | 77 comments (41 topical, 36 editorial, 0 hidden)
Too short (2.50 / 2) (#1)
by mfeltman on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 11:50:41 AM EST

Also, be more consistent in your line breaks.  Either double space all of your paragraphs, or don't.

Don't begin sentences with "But".

'each would ignore each other' should be 'each would ignore the other'

Too much repetition.  Especially in so short a piece.  I know why you're using repetition, but I don't feel that it works well here.

If you use 'mother' as a proper name, as you do in the third-to-last paragraph, it should be capitalized.


Thanks for the feedback... (none / 1) (#2)
by mirleid on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 12:01:49 PM EST

...I fixed what could be fixed. I am afraid that there's nothing that I can do about the repetition. Regarding the length of the piece, have a look at this, if you can spare the time and haven't done so already, it might explain why...

Chickens don't give milk
[ Parent ]
it doesn't (none / 0) (#3)
by mfeltman on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 12:30:47 PM EST

Is your argument that your other piece was short, and people liked it, so short is valid?

That's a poor one.  :)  Your other post was in English, too.

Your paragraph spacing is still odd.  You're clustering dialogue for some reason.


[ Parent ]

Nope... (none / 0) (#7)
by mirleid on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 12:56:29 PM EST

...my point was that this is part of something larger of which the other one is also part...

Chickens don't give milk
[ Parent ]
aah (none / 0) (#8)
by mfeltman on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 01:01:28 PM EST

that argument has never worked for me on this site but good luck with it.



[ Parent ]

Hmmm (none / 0) (#57)
by tdillo on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 11:39:52 AM EST

I was also of the mind that this is too short, then I read what you linked to and I kinda like where this may be going but I dunno if it's going to work on k5. Maybe when you get it all together we'll see.  In the meantime I guess I'll abstain. There's not enough here right now for it to even make section. Nut I'll keep my eye out for more.

[ Parent ]
Not too short at all (none / 0) (#18)
by nebbish on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 07:37:27 AM EST

most fiction online is too long: if you're an unproven author you can't expect people to invest much time reading you. You need to be concise.

Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

But I do that all the frigging time! (none / 0) (#74)
by gavri on Mon Nov 14, 2005 at 03:14:09 PM EST

Don't begin sentences with "But".

No, seriously. That's a silly rule.

Blog Of A Socially Well Adjusted Human Being

[ Parent ]
what is this fetish you have (none / 1) (#12)
by trane on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 04:56:47 PM EST

with toy soldiers?

what is your fetish with underage girls, pedo? % (2.00 / 3) (#13)
by creativedissonance on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 06:58:15 PM EST

ay yo i run linux and word on the street
is that this is where i need to be to get my butt stuffed like a turkey - br14n
[ Parent ]
i want to have sex with them (none / 0) (#14)
by trane on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 07:23:53 PM EST

but i'm too much of a coward to do anything but think of it :(

as raquel once said to me (in disgust), "you're a mental musician". i'm also a mental hustler, mental whore, mental pedophile, mental basketball player...

[ Parent ]

wow, you're a loser at being a loser! (1.50 / 2) (#15)
by creativedissonance on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 09:14:40 PM EST

although I can empathise with the basketball part. I'm much more of a 'baller in my head than on the court. sigh.

ay yo i run linux and word on the street
is that this is where i need to be to get my butt stuffed like a turkey - br14n
[ Parent ]
tell me about it (none / 0) (#16)
by trane on Wed Nov 09, 2005 at 11:21:47 PM EST

why do you think i like drugs so much?

AI will give me the ability to be God in my very own  customized virtual environment though!

It's like this piece i heard on bbc radio about geek rappers, "nerdcore". One line from a tune went something like, "Nerdcore could become elevated/Oh wouldn't all those tough rappers hate us".

[ Parent ]

How I Thought it Would Turn Out (3.00 / 2) (#17)
by MichaelCrawford on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 12:02:26 AM EST

I said "Oh, No" to myself partway through when I began to wonder if the soldier was somehow fashioned out of her father's ashed.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

Nice to see the return of the toy soldier +1 (none / 0) (#20)
by clokey on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 09:56:08 AM EST

I enjoyed the length of the piece and enjoyed the content. I will look forward to the next installment

I think I get it- (3.00 / 4) (#27)
by BottleRocket on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 12:50:15 PM EST

The toy soldier means something. Right?

mirleid and Henrik Ibsen were right. People need to be beaten over the head with symbolic imagery until it sinks in.

$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $
. ₩ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . *
$ . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $
Yes I do download [child pornography], but I don't keep it any longer than I need to, so it can yield insight as to how to find more. --MDC
$ . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $
. . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . * . . . . . *
. ₩ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
$ . . . . . $ . . . . . $ . . . . . $

pass the macroons please (none / 1) (#31)
by The Diary Section on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 01:16:46 PM EST

....he said with a raised eyebrow.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]
I actually prefer the likes of... (none / 0) (#32)
by mirleid on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 02:07:58 PM EST

...Ionesco, Arrabal and Peter Handke...

Chickens don't give milk
[ Parent ]
Rhinoceros! (none / 1) (#42)
by trane on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 08:43:48 PM EST

almost bought that the other day at a book sale then i remembered i had it.

[ Parent ]
It's political, you see (none / 0) (#75)
by Eccles on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 05:32:54 PM EST

"Father" is the U.S. of the '50s.
The toy soldier is an idealized image of the 50's.
The child is Dubya.
The bully is North Korea and Iran.
The boy she beats up is Iraq.

Sheesh, you Bush haters are everywhere...

[ Parent ]

On the voting... (3.00 / 3) (#29)
by mirleid on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 01:11:54 PM EST

...I'd really be interested to know why the people that abstained did so (minus Ignore Amos, I think that he did so because of my grammar fuck up in the last sentence, but if that's not the case, please join the fray). There might be some interesting insight there that I might be able to use going forward...

Chickens don't give milk
fix grammar & resubmit, FAQ recommends it % (none / 0) (#33)
by creativedissonance on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 02:38:29 PM EST

ay yo i run linux and word on the street
is that this is where i need to be to get my butt stuffed like a turkey - br14n
[ Parent ]
i didn't vote at all (none / 0) (#43)
by trane on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 08:48:02 PM EST

since abstain is counted as a slightly negative vote, according to some weird metrics of rusty's where he assumes that if you abstain you are really voting against it in a small way, and i want my abstain to really mean abstain.

i didn't vote on it because it just seems fake to me. it doesn't call up any associations that i can use to make sense of the story, except to the toy soldier in the other piece you wrote, which i didn't like because the character in that was just wholly playing the female game, letting himself feel upset because the chick appeared to be blowing him off before he had a chance to blow her off.

In conclusion, my opinion is meaningless.

[ Parent ]

No, I appreciate your feedback... (none / 0) (#47)
by mirleid on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 05:18:04 AM EST

...and you did say something that helps: my understanding of what you wrote was that you abstained because you couldn't really relate to the story (no associations, which leads to not being able to make sense of the piece).

Let me mull on that for a while...

Chickens don't give milk
[ Parent ]
yeah (none / 0) (#61)
by trane on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 05:47:17 PM EST

not that i think there's no sense in the piece though, just that i wasn't motivated enough to look for any - and none presented itself to me unaided...

[ Parent ]
Don't read to much into my abstention (none / 0) (#68)
by DopeyPanda on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 11:53:43 PM EST

I tend to abstain on most submissions unless I feel strongly one way or another.

[ Parent ]
A big clumsy in places (none / 1) (#41)
by stuaart on Thu Nov 10, 2005 at 08:05:43 PM EST

I can't decide so I abstain. It is a bit clumsy in places, such as:

``And even then, all their conversations were clinical and about daily management of the household, a lot like two accountants meeting to discuss the current situation of some company they did the books for.''

might be better as:

``And even then, all their conversations were clinical and about daily management of the household, like two accountants doing the books.''

Linkwhore: [Hidden stories.] Baldrtainment: Corporate concubines and Baldrson: An Introspective

I kind of think all the stories around here are (3.00 / 3) (#46)
by Benway on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 01:23:49 AM EST

Titled "Avatar." Doesn't it seem like that?

lol yes (none / 0) (#50)
by bml on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 06:48:46 AM EST

At first sight I also thought it was a resubmission of sorts. I think the reason is there were "avatars" in localroger's story about happiness dealers. Or something.

The Internet is vast, and contains many people. This is the way of things. -- Russell Dovey
[ Parent ]
avatar (none / 1) (#67)
by tzanger on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 11:15:50 PM EST

You didn't happen to write that story about the skin-stealer, did you?  I really really enjoyed that one but it died in here and I would love to ask the author for a copy, and beg him/her to please keep going with it.

[ Parent ]
No, sorry (none / 0) (#71)
by bml on Sat Nov 12, 2005 at 09:05:47 AM EST

I don't even know what you're talking about.

The Internet is vast, and contains many people. This is the way of things. -- Russell Dovey
[ Parent ]
My preferred story type. (1.75 / 4) (#49)
by Gerhard on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 05:57:40 AM EST

After reading this story was left wondering about the characters and details. It is difficult to write a story that can stimulate a reader's mind even after reading the end of a story. From the comments on the story it is obvious that some people object to have their thoughts stimulated and prefer being spoon fed all the details to prevent their brains from being taxed.

Intelligent first drafts are still first drafts. (none / 0) (#66)
by Pirengle on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 10:16:22 PM EST


A sure-fire way to make friends and influence people: transform the letters "l" and "i" into "-1"s whenever posting. Instant wit!
[ Parent ]
It's weird enough for Fictions. (none / 0) (#60)
by k31 on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 04:48:30 PM EST

So I voted it up; but it is a bit short by k5 standards and could use some more development. It reminds me of another tin man story recently; perhaps they could be serialized similar to that tv show "Dead Man's Gun"... except this is about tin toy soldier type thingies.

Or something.

Its really freaking weird and would probally give lesser personalities weird dreams.

Your dollar is you only Word, the wrath of it your only fear. He who has an EAR to hear....

I really like this (none / 0) (#62)
by livus on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 07:11:15 PM EST

it's interesting, short, and it resonates with everything from myth to clinical theories about the creation of APD. I don't see why people are calling for realism, like it's the only way to write.

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

Retroactive -1 (none / 0) (#69)
by Kasreyn on Sat Nov 12, 2005 at 12:27:23 AM EST

Sadly didn't check the queue while this was in it.

Failed to grab my interest in the first paragraph, and the main body continued the trend. Thinks it's subtle and deep, but only manages to be whimsical and one-dimensional. Too short and has repetetive sentence structure.

On the other hand, I liked the basic concept. It just needed more than a half-hour's work, is all.

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
You just described my own father (none / 0) (#70)
by frijolito on Sat Nov 12, 2005 at 03:19:47 AM EST

You can barely make out what he says. "Whispering orders"... wow. That struck a chord.

I think it's because not only does he (my dad) hates the world and the people in it, but he's also afraid of them. Well, but who isn't? Still, that's not an excuse to turn inwardly and ignore your own family.

Shit, I'm rambling like this is therapy or something.

Sad but true. (none / 0) (#72)
by Russell Dovey on Sun Nov 13, 2005 at 03:03:17 PM EST

no time

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan

Daddy issues are pathetic [n/t] (none / 0) (#76)
by der on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 07:53:38 AM EST

Oh god. (none / 0) (#77)
by vera on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 11:18:08 PM EST

So bad. So awful!

It's as though every paragraph were filled with the same sentences made up of the same word!


No, really!




English is not your language.. (none / 0) (#78)
by RandomAction on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 08:35:37 PM EST

..which gives this grade school stuff a sort of charm. Having got over the stilted language, I found the story rather affecting. I had a small foolscap of improvements that are probably irrelevant. Nevertheless this: "she decided to reserve judgement" is unforgivable. A five year old girl would never decide to reserve judgement. The narrative must follow the point of view. In this case the POV of a five year old. I have about 12 other criticisms, but those are equal to nothing when compared this one.

You very short story leaves me wanting more detail, history, etc. which is essential.

I have finished; you may carry on.

Avatar | 77 comments (41 topical, 36 editorial, 0 hidden)
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