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He had loved her since the day his father died. That is when he had seen her, glimpsed her beauty in as much as a six-year-old understands beauty and love. It took him ten years to realise that she was and always would be his first love.

The death of Brett Woods caused a bit of a shock around town. For a 36-year-old who was healthy and had no vices apart from a couple of glasses of his wife’s homemade wine to suddenly die of a heart attack, and at the supper table nevertheless; in front of his son, an impressionable six-year-old. The local doctors’ offices were flooded with men and women all coming to have their hearts looked over, and the death rate due to heart attacks actually went down that year due to all the checkups. Nevertheless, one fact remained – Brett Woods was dead. Had died facedown in a puddle of his wife’s homemade grape and raspberry wine; the highly addictive wine with the distinctive vinegar smell and sweet taste.

Therefore, the son witnessed her love for the first time. Impregnated upon his impressionable mind were her means and methods. The destruction she left in her wake appealed to the naughty child within and her command and authority appealed to that part of him that longed to please. This love created him; bore him the way no mother could ever hope. Sustaining love – and it sustained, and he lived in its highs until the day she finally turned and looked at him creeping among her coattails, and beckoned ‘come follow me’. ‘Be mine’.

Sarah Woods stood at the foot of their graves; a family plot bought by her careful husband for such a time, far into the future, when need would call upon it. Apparently, the future hadn’t been that far off, because only a year after purchasing the plot in the cemetery, a beautiful spot in a remote section where the sun would trail its golden wisps over the gravestones like a lover waking up her lover each day; and the stones would shine. The trees would weep their willow branches to tickle dead flowers, dying flowers and with the wind’s gentle swoosh sweep them away to preserve the sanctity of the dead they watched over. Only a year after he selected that plot with care for its peace and beauty Brett Woods occupied the first grave, Ten years later his son joined him – dead at 17.

“Will they ever forgive him?” Sarah Woods mumbled through the tears and matted hair that the cold had almost frosted to her face. “Will they ever forgive him?” The question seemed directed to the men standing beside her. She raised a gloved hand and wiped her light brown hair back to its position upon her shoulders.
“They will, with time.” The elder of the two men spoke, robe flapping in the wind that had suddenly picked up. “How much time, well, that my child is up to God.” He turned towards the church at the bottom of the cemetery. “Come inside with me Sarah, Stuart,” he addressed the other man, “come and have a nice warm cup of tea. Get out of this weather.”
“In a minute Father,” Sarah leaned into Stuart as he placed a protective arm around her. “I just want to be with my son a while longer.”
“The door will be open for you. It always will be. You remember that Sarah, my child you remember that.” Placing a hand upon her head and mumbling a quick blessing the priest made his way back to the church.

The only sound was the wind, for even Sarah cried in silence as if any sound would make this real; would break the fairy tale atmosphere that surrounded even something as horrendous as death. Soon a muffled sigh escaped her closed lips and her nose wrinkled into an audible snort.
“Nobody came.”
“I know love.” Stuart rubbed her ridged shoulders and dared bring her just a tiny bit towards himself in an attempt to hold her close. To get behind her barriers to where his love was just hiding behind grief.
“He died that...that way and nobody came.” Sniffles and sighs came from the face that had just dropped into gloved hands, brown hair falling forward to curtain the grief a mother feels in mourning her child.
“C’mon Seh. Let’s go inside. There is nothing more we can do here. Let the workers finish up. C’mon.” He tugged gently on her arm and she turned into his embrace, back to her son. It was this way that they walked into the church where elderly women were putting away cups and saucers.

“Knew nobody would come.”
“Why he asked us to put out the plates I don’t know.”
“Created so much work for nothing.”

The whispers stopped as Sarah and Stuart arrived at the door. Looking back, for the first time since she had begun the long walk back to the church, Sarah could make out her son’s grave. Looking forward she now faced three mute women.
“Can we get some tea perhaps?” Stuart was brave enough to face them, but then it hadn’t been his son. Water heated quickly, cups poured, and the three women bustled off to another section of the room to begin packing chairs, leaving the couple to themselves.

“That’s her. She’s the mother.”
“Of course it’s her. Who else would come...”
“What’s he doing with her?”

The whispers started up again at the other end of the room. Sarah blushed as each new sentence added to the blame heaped upon her and to the hatred directed like an icy cone at her son and the family.
“Stu, you don’t have to be here. Your reputation, your job...”
“All of that is in tatters anyway love.”
“But without me there is hope of salvaging your life, your job...everything.”
“But what if I want a life with you Sarah? What if this is our only chance, as terrible as that may sound. What if this is Keegan’s way of saying ‘yes’ to us?” Sarah pondered that while she drank her tea and listened to the whispers of the ladies packing away the chairs. She closed her eyes and listened, as if waiting for a sign from God, or her own beloved son. None came and she lowered her head into her hands, nearly knocking the teacup to the ground.
“I don’t know what to believe in anymore Stu. My son is dead. My baby. Nobody came.” Her voice was like whispering through sandpaper. “Not his friends, his basketball team, his teachers. My friends, where are they Stuart? Where is my support?” she gently put down the cup before standing. “Take me home Stuart, please. I just. I just, I just want to try and sort something out . Make it right, well as right as it can be made.”
“I’ll take you but I’m staying. Uh uh,” he placed a hand on her shoulder as she attempted to interrupt. “I am staying. You are not alone Seh. You have Father Bruce and you have me. And even though everyone else has proved false this just goes to teach us the lesson that all a person can really depend upon in life is God and himself. So let’s go love. Ok?”

Sarah nodded and stood. Walking out the door she looked up at the cemetery and towards where her son was lying. “Nobody came love. I invited them but they didn’t come. I’m sorry if I ruined your funeral the way I ruined your birthday party when I forgot to send the invitations. Oh my baby boy I am sorry.” She dissolved like a tissue in water and Stuart hugged her to him as they walked towards her car. The last sound heard was a sighing whisper of ‘I’m sorry my baby” before Sarah got into the passenger seat and allowed Stuart to drive her home.

The willows swept the grave in rakey tendrils, leaving their patterned print upon the fresh soil turned over on the Woods’ plot. And when the sun rose the next day it had a new friend to meet. It extended wisps of golden misty light over the words:
“Keegan Brett Woods. October 31 1994 – December 1 2011. Beloved son.
Changed the prologue to Chapter One. What do you think?
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Hey Jo, it’s Ed. Critiquing through #SuperWritersHelp!

This seems familiar… but hey, I haven’t gone through it in detail before. I did get slightly confused with all the names of different people the first time I read it. You’ve got Stuart, Keegan and Brett who are similar. Keegan and Brett are only mentioned once. I know it’s hard to say who they are without begin horribly expositional, but it might be a good idea. To be honest, do you need to mention them at all? Father Harvey and Sarah are fine, though.

There’s very little description. It could be hard to justify, since it’s Sarah’s narrative at the moment. That said, she’s just buried her son, and thinks the whole town is looking at her. My favourite bit is when there’s laughter and she thinks it’s at her. You could build in more of her paranoia through a creative semantic field (about being watched, being alone etc). Could the weather be cold, because that’s how she feels? Could there be an angel guarding a graveside, could it stare at her? What would she think if it did? It could bring another element to the story. It would help to bring more techniques to the narrative, too.

Specific notes:
-I think ‘tombstone’ is one word.
-“So do we all Seh, so do we all.” – I’m not sure what it is about this that means it doesn’t sound right to me. It might just be odd wording. I expect it to be: ‘We all do, Seh. We all do.’
-I don’t think you need to capitalize ‘WAS’. I think the repetition is enough.
-I think there should be a period, not a comma here (the tag doesn’t quite relate enough to be in the same sentence): “Maybe he placed his faith in the wrong things Sarah(period)” Father Harvey was trying to be kind.
-“Each and everyone stared at me…” – ‘everyone’ needs a space. It’s like saying ‘Each and everyperson stared at me…’
-“The only friends I had at the moment.” – ‘in the moment’ is present tense. It’s a strange one where ‘the’ becomes the present form of ‘that’. It jars with ‘had’ which is definitely past. I suggest: ‘At that moment (or At the time), they were the only friends I had.’
-I don’t think you need ‘it seems’ because, from her point of view, she definitely did. She could be certain with her words. ‘I buried my son that day. But I’d lost him long before.’

Stuart could be more direct. He doesn’t really achieve much in this scene. It would be good to see more of his character than just agreeing or stating the obvious. What does he want out of this? To get closer to Sarah? How could he do that? “Come back to my place for a while. You’re freezing.”

What does Father Harvey want? To keep Sarah and Stuart apart maybe (I’ve slightly forgotten the plot, doesn’t Father H want to bring Sarah back to God?) How could be do that? I know he wants to bring her back to the church, but he doesn’t try very hard.

By working through the wants of the character, it’s much easier to get their purpose across to the audience.

Overall, it’s a nice opening. We don’t quite get enough of character through, or a wider sense of where they are. But you use speech creatively, and don’t ramble. Economic speech is far more interesting to read, because it does several things at once (and it’s more real!) Plot is good though, we know Keegan is dead, but we’re not sure how yet. Lots of intrigue as why she feels like she’s being judged (with disgust) by the rest of the town.

If you’ve got any questions, just give me a shout =D
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DailyBreadCafe Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2013   Writer
I really like this piece, it draws the reader in and keeps us intrigued throughout. I feel that some parts could do with development and that there could be more characterisation to let us know more about the other characters but since this is a prologue you could build on that throughout the novel.

The story line seems interesting. The line "What could I say about him that would redeem him?" immediately has us asking what the son has done. We get hints throughout that engage us and propels us further - this makes the prologue effective since it leaves us wanting to read on.
I particularly like how you have Father Harvey note that "I think that’s why so many death row prisoners convert to Christianity". This makes us wonder if her son has committed some kind of crime, especially when she mentions how everyone is celebrating rather than mourning.

I think the dialogue is very good and realistic throughout, although I wasn't sure of it in some places. One of which is when you write "but in whatever caused him to do what he did." This feels a bit too long and unnatural, maybe it should have been "whatever cause him to do it".
Also, you write that Farther Harvey "murmered" when he says “God is not to blame either Sarah," but is this really some thing that a Vicar/Priest would murmer under his breath, or something he would say affirmatively?

The piece could also be improved and developed upon by using more description and small observed details of the characters. There's very little in the way of imagery or sensory stimulus but these could let us further into the mind/feelings of the main character. Her son has just died but we don't really know how she feels about it. Obviously she's anxious for his soul but I don't get a feeling of devastation that normally comes with the loss of a child - not to mention an only child. You could pull in bits of the world to show us how she feels, is the sky to bright for her? Is it too dim? Is it a warm day but she feels cold? I don't mean to say you should write "I thought it was cold even though everyone else was hot" but it could be interesting to try and tie it in a little.

I would like to know more about the other characters. You could add more description of what they're doing and what they're wearing. This could also shed more light on the protagonist's character as well by letting us know whether her internal response to them matches her actions. Since this is a prologue though, this could probably be done in future chapters.

I think you could lose "for comfort" from the line "I leaned into him for comfort" - I mean, why else do people lean on other people? I think that if you left "for comfort" out, the reader can gather that she needs comforting but also maybe that she's in such a state of devastation that she needs someone else to steady her and hold onto her.

I'm being super picky here, but I think "Where did I go wrong Father?" should have a comma before "Father", just because when you read it out loud it's a bit too quick. Also, you could put an exclamation mark after "WAS" rather than capatalising it.

Towards the end, I think the tense starts to get a bit tricky. You write "I know that seeing me here would turn them away" but I think it should've been "I knew that seeing me there" unless when she's writing/telling the story she was doing it from the church.

I find the following quote quite problematic:
"The only ones who had any pity for me were Stuart and Father Harvey. The only friends I had at the moment."
The first sentence just feels a bit awkward. I feel like the important bit is that they're the only people who feel sorry for her, so perhaps that should come at the end of the sentence: "Stuart and Father Harvey were the only ones who had any pity for me," I think that the next clause should be hyphened so that it's something along the lines of "Stuart and Father Harvey were the only ones who had any pity for me - my only friends". I don't think you need "at the moment" especially as it doesn't correspond with the tense (at the moment is present tense but the rest is written in past tense).

You also write "everyone" when I think it should be "every one" - probs just a typo.

At the end, you write "today" which is confusing because that would mean she's writing the story on the same day, in which case there would probably be some raw emotion going on. I'd avoid "Today" altogether and just end with "I had buried my son, but it seems that I had lost him long before" or "I buried my son...I lost him" to add my immediacy to it. (By ... I'm just shortening the quote, not meaning you should chop out the middle)

The ending is very effective, since we know she felt that she had lost him but we don't know why - did he fall in with the wrong crowd? Did he go missing? These questions make us want to read on, thus making the prologue very effective.

Well done, keep it up.
PS, i have a pdf highlighting exactly where the things I've highlighted are and also any minor slips that I can send if you note me.
Diluculi Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
This is a really interesting beginning :)
It took me a while to understand the first paragraph, but after reading teh second it all made sense ^^
MagicalJoey Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012   Writer
Is the first paragraph 'hooky' enough or is it too confusing?
Diluculi Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I think it's hooky :)
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