Yin and Yang

Yin and Yang

A Story by Deanna Maestas
"

This is my second writing piece for my creative writing class. The two main characters are supposed to be in conflict with each other.

"

Thunder reverberated in the grey sky above. Dark clouds loomed over the city of San Francisco and rain fell mercilessly; pedestrians ran for cover as they attempted to avoid being splashed by the passing cars.

“If we go out there we’ll be soaked,” complained Gillian. “I told you we should have waited but you don’t listen, do you?”

She was staring out the window from her seat at the little diner in the building next to their hotel. Thomas was sitting across from her. He was staring intently at his phone, willing it to ring.  The rest of the diner was deserted.

At her comment, Thomas glanced up and narrowed his eyes. “You’re the one who invited yourself. I never asked you to come.”

Gillian's forest green eyes flashed Thomas a disgusted glare, her pale white face illuminated under the fluorescent lights. Gillian’s auburn hair was loose around her shoulders; a few wisps of curls stuck to the sweat on her face.  Though she was anxious and scared, she wasn't going to give Thomas the satisfaction of knowing so. She didn’t like being mocked, so instead she chose to express her anger.

“Only because you can’t be trusted,” Gillian retorted. Her arms were crossed over her chest. Thomas is mendacious and cunning, so you cannot let him out of your sights. Her father’s words danced across her thoughts as she pierced Thomas with a hard look. “I bet if I hadn’t come tonight, you would have twisted the terms of the agreement with Niall.”

“Quit being so temperamental,” Thomas said, his voice impassive. He was staring at his phone again. Gillian was getting nervous and irritated with Thomas for fidgeting with his phone.

“Quit being so emotionally detached,” mirrored Gillian. “I’m just saying, you have a history of being a conniving jerk, so don’t blame me for not trusting you.” She placed her palms face down on the table and began tapping her fingers against the flat surface.

Thomas sighed and put his phone away. “And what are you? A flawless angel of complete equanimity? You’re easily provoked. The volume of your rage is unpredictable, but it leaves you vulnerable and erratic. You waste all your energy being choleric; you should probably get a hold on your anger.”

Gillian rolled her eyes and fixed her gaze out the window to the grim, empty streets. “I wouldn’t be so irritable if I didn’t have to work with you,” she mumbled under her breath. A lone figure appeared in the empty street across from the diner. Gillian glanced at Thomas. He had pulled out his phone again. Her temper flared once more. “Will you put your damn phone away and look!”

Thomas’s eyes gleamed from under his lashes. He seemed tense and annoyed as he looked at her, but Gillian wasn’t paying attention to him. She watched who she suspected was Niall taking his time striding over to the diner before he stopped across the street, looking right at her.

Thomas followed her gaze to the man coming towards them. It had stopped raining outside, but smog covered the ground. Gillian wasn’t entirely sure the man was Niall anymore. For one, he was too tall, almost as tall as Thomas, and bulkier than him. Thomas was lean and quick, not muscular and slow.

Out of the corner of her eye, Gillian saw Thomas rise from his seat. She ignored him, not of her own accord, but because she was transfixed. She couldn’t seem pull her gaze away from the man. Thomas detected her unusual behavior and yanked her out of the seat. He kept a strong grip on her arm as he pulled her towards the door. Gillian, who would have normally been repelled by Thomas’s touch, allowed him to guide her back towards the entrance of their hotel.

The man was closing in on them. Gillian, who was still in a trance-like state, attempted to pull away from Thomas to walk towards the man, but Thomas yanked her towards the lobby of their hotel.

Once the man was out of sight, Gillian snapped out of her reverie.

She glanced down to where Thomas held tightly onto her arm. “What are you doing? Let me go, you jerk!” She wrenched her arm out of his grip. Gillian brushed her right hand over her arm. There is going to be a bruise there, she thought.

The thought triggered her anger. The next thing she knew, Gillian was punching Thomas as hard as she could on his arm.

“Ouch! What the hell, Gillian? Why did you do that?” asked Thomas. One look at her face and he seemed to understand. He flashed a smile before saying, “Hey, you were the one all enthralled by that stranger. And before you can argue, no, it was not Niall. I don’t know who it was. Niall is expected to call me when he is near.”

Gillian’s forehead creased and she cocked her head to the side. Who could that be? she thought. Gillian narrowed her eyes and studied Thomas for a moment. He was thumbing his phone fervently and his expression was blank, but his eyes were angry. Does he know that man?

Gillian’s temper spiked up again. “You knew who that man was, didn't you? Were you planning on betraying us again? What is wrong with you?!”

Gillian was alarmed. When she saw the man approaching her and Thomas, it was like she no longer had a will of her own. She had felt compelled to go towards the man, even though her mind screamed at her not to.

“Will you liberate me of the past? I have transpired to be valiant  person than Iused to be,” snapped Thomas. “I’ve transformed myself into a better being.”

Gillian rolled her eyes. “Prove it. I am not going to believe you until I see proof.” She began walking towards the elevators. “You’ve screwed us over once, so I wouldn’t put it past you to do it again, especially if it will benefit you in some way. You are greedy, Thomas. You always have been.”

Thomas clenched his jaw before following Gillian to their hotel room.

***

 Niall was on his way to meet Thomas and Gillian when Drake appeared, stepping out from the dark alley and blocking Niall's path.

Niall tensed, clenching his fists. “What do you want, Drake?” He spoke carefully. Niall did not want to anger him.

“Can’t I drop in for a friendly visit?” Drake asked innocently. Niall knew better. The last time he had crossed paths with Drake, it had ended badly.

Niall glanced around him. The streets were empty. Good, he thought. I wouldn’t want anyone to witness anything if the conversation with Drake goes dry. Things will definitely get violent if Drake loses his temper.

“After all, you and I are friends.” Drake’s smile was mischievous. The evil glint in his eyes made Niall anxious.

“As I said, what do you want?” repeated Niall nicely. He even added his own smile just for good measure. “There is somewhere I must be. So make it quick.”

Drake rubbed his chin and leaned against the wall. “I want you to relay a message to Thomas from me.” Niall’s face remained neutral. “Tell him to come see me when he gets the chance. There is urgent business we must take care of.”

“What business do you have with Thomas?” inquired Niall in spite of himself.

Drake watched Niall intently before responding. A slow smile spread across his lips. “Nothing you need to be concerned with. Although,” Drake paused. “Come to think of it, it may be better for me to visit Thomas myself. Though that girl he is with may present a problem. I would rather converse with Thomas alone, for the time being.”

Niall’s eyes widened. He felt a sudden urge to rush to his meeting with Gillian and Thomas.

Drake pushed himself off of the wall and took a step away from Niall. “Until next time, Niall. I will visit again, soon.” With one last malicious smile in Niall’s direction, Drake left.

“I have to get to Thomas and Gillian before he does,” thought Niall nervously.

***

Thomas sat at the desk in the hotel room he shared with Gillian. She sat on the corner of the bed farthest away from him, watching a movie and fiddling with a thread on her shirt. He couldn't stop glancing between Gillian and his phone. For Gillian’s sake,  on the outside he remained poised and sensible,, on the inside he was apprehensive. Thomas had only engaged in this contract because he required the cash to repay Drake.

Drake had sent his cohort, Finn, to the diner which now inevitably meant Gillian was involved in his affair. Seeing as he had done business with him in the past, Thomas recognized how cruel Drake could be. He clenched his teeth and tightened his fingers around his phone. Drake and Finn were surreptitious men, both with the capacity of achieving whatever they pleased.

If only she could let go of the past, thought Thomas absently. Gillian even had it in her head that her father hated him, but Gillian’s father had warned him in person that Gillian was still angry about her grandfather.

Thomas understood why she was angry, but he had reason behind his betrayal which everyone but Gillian understood.

 Just the thought triggered his buried memory.

Two years ago, three armed robbers broke into Thomas's rural house and demanded money, but when his family could not give them anything of worth, they shot his mother in the side of the head. Thomas had just turned eighteen and was scared out of his mind, but once they killed his mother and when they threatened to kill his little sister, his first thoughts went to the Ryans, Gillian’s family, and all the money they owned and kept in a safe.

And so he spoke up. “I can get you the money. We don’t have as much as you want, but I know who does,” he told the robbers in desperation.

They all looked at one another then laughed and lifted him by his hair. “Take us to the money, or we’ll make sure this little runt has a slow and painful death! And if you don’t give us the money you promise, then we’ll make sure you watch us cut her up piece by piece.”

Thomas frantically nodded. “I’ll take you now! I’ll take you to the money, I promise. Just leave them alone! Please, just leave her alone.”

The robbers laughed again. “All right, pip-squeak, get walking!” They pushed him towards the door. “Rico, stay here and guard these little maggots. We’ll call if this little s**t doesn’t pull through.” The man, Rico, smiled crookedly and pointed the gun at his father’s head. “I’ll kill him the moment the phone rings.”

The robbers hid the guns once they were outside, but held on to Thomas’s arm in an iron grip. “Where is this place, kid?”

Thomas swallowed the knot in his throat and held back the tears, keeping his face blank. “About a mile south from here.”

The two robbers shared a look of suspicion. “Are you trying to pull a fast one on us, kid, because if you are �"”

“No, I’m not,” said Thomas sharply. “I’m taking you to my landlord’s. They own most the property around here and rent a lot of houses out to some rich folks who like to visit in the summer.”

The robbers smirked. “Alright, then lead the way, pip-squeak.” The robber behind Thomas shoved him, causing him to stumble and fall. “Get up!”

Thomas clenched his teeth and led the way.

 

At the Ryans’ house, Gillian’s grandfather had been sitting on the porch, smoking a cigarette. “Hello, Thomas. How are �"”When the old man saw the two robbers, he stopped and stared wide-eyed at Thomas.

Thomas lowered his eyes to the ground. “I’m sorry, Caleb, sir, but I need five thousand dollars right now.”

Caleb glanced between the two robbers with his old eyes and nodded. “I see,” he responded. To the robbers he spoke coldly, “You’ll have to wait out here while I go retrieve the money.”

At this point, the robbers had pulled out their guns again. One pointed their gun at Thomas’s head, the other at Caleb, who held his hands up. “How about I tag along just to make sure the transaction goes smoothly?” The robber walked up to Caleb and pointed his gun right at Caleb’s head.

“Yes, you wouldn’t want him calling the police now would you, pip-squeak?” The robber pressed his gun into the back of Thomas’s head. “Not when we have your dad and little sister at home just waiting to be shot.”

Despite his efforts not to show any more weakness in front of these two crooks, Thomas felt tears spilling from his eyes at the thought of another one of his family members dying. He lifted his tear-stained eyes up to Caleb, who seemed to unserstand.

Caleb closed his eyes and shook his head. “How sad that this is what the world has come to nowadays.” The first robber still had his gun pointed at Caleb’s head, but he looked him directly in the eyes, unafraid. “All right. Come in, you poor b*****d.”

Caleb led the man into the house. Thomas remained outside with the second robber. “Too bad you didn’t bring us here before I killed your mother, eh, pip-squeak?” Thomas clenched his teeth and remained silent. “If your pal in there is tricking us, we’ll kill him, and then we’ll drag you back to your house so you can watch the rest of your family die. And when we finish with them, we’ll beat the crap out of you until you wish you were dead.”

A gun shot sounded from inside. Thomas jumped and tears began to fall mercilessly. His body trembled in fear of what was to come. The robber was about to push him toward the house, but before he took a step the first robber came rushing out laughing. He was holding a sack of money.

“Rob, call Rico and tell him to meet us at the rendezvous,” shouted the first robber.

 “Do we shoot the kid and his family?” asked the second robber.

The first robber stared at Thomas for a bit. He grinned. “Have Rico shoot his father and beat his sister,” said the man before running away. The second robber pulled Thomas by the hair and put the gun under his chin. “You rat on us, pip-squeak, and I’ll make sure you regret it.” He let go and ran off after the first robber.

Thomas ran inside to find Caleb.  He was laying on the floor of the in front of an empty safe. Blood was gushing from the bullet wound in his head.  Thomas wanted to vomit. He ran to the phone and called the police. Then he curled up in the kitchen and cried until the police arrived. Though he told the police what had happened and he found he couldn't reveal the thieves identities for fear of his sister’s safety. Gillian’s family understood, the police understood, but Gillian never forgave Thomas for getting her grandfather killed.

 

“Thomas!” yelled Gillian. She was waving her hands in front of his face. Thomas blinked away from the memory, and held back the unshed tears. “Your stupid phone is ringing!” She receded  from him as if he had some sort of disease and assembled herself on the far edge of her bed to glare at him. “Well? Answer it, you nitwit!”

Thomas rolled his eyes at her before he picked up his phone. “Hello?” asked Thomas once he answered the call. “Niall, where are you?”

“I’m outside the diner,” replied Niall. “Come out, but make sure Gillian stays inside. Drake is on the loose, and if he shows up, it’ll be better if she isn’t around to see him. He already sees her as a problem, and he is determined to see you.”

“Damn,” cursed Thomas. He glanced at Gillian, who had narrowed her eyes. He pulled the phone away from his face and spoke to Gillian. “Remain here. I’llreturn shortly.” Thomas saw her jaw tense before she opened her mouth to protest. He cut her off before she could speak. “I am serious, Gillian. It may become dangerous out there, so stay put.”

He heard her curse as he walked out the door. After the door shut behind him, Thomas heard a thud and sighed. She’s not going to listen to me, he thought. On his way down the stairs, Thomas noticed an eerily familiar man about a couple of years older than he was. He tossed the thought to the back of his head, thinking it was just deja-vu.

***

Gillian cursed and threw her shoe at the door as Thomas left. “Who the hell do you think you are telling me what to do? I can handle myself, you�"you conniving, untrustworthy jerk!” Gillian was fuming. She began to pace back and forth, trying to decide whether she should follow him or not, when she heard a knock on the door.

She stopped pacing and stared at the door curiously. Thomas had a key, so if he brought Niall up here, he’d just open the door. Gillian took a deep breath and ignored the knock, assuming it was a lost customer of the hotel venturing upon the wrong room. But once she continued to pace, the knock sounded again, harder this time

Then a voice, deep and unnerving, said, “Open the door, little girl. I know you are in there, considering I just saw Thomas walk out alone.” She heard a quiet chuckle. “What silly thing for him to do, don’t you think? He sensed danger, yet he left you all alone.”

Gillian froze. How did this man know she was here with Thomas? She reached for her jacket on the chair by the desk and hurriedly texted Thomas.

THOMAS!!!! Who the hell did you tell we were here? There is a man outside the hotel door, and he seems to know you! OMG, I knew you were going to betray us again!

She hit send and waited for the reply. She checked to make sure her phone was on vibrate. An instant later her phone was buzzing. She heard the man outside humming and tapping his foot impatiently. The text read:

DO NOT LET HIM IN! I’ll be right there!

Gillian felt ice pierce her heart and she went cold with the fear, fear of the unknown man outside the door. She still didn’t trust Thomas, but his response left her shaken. She jumped when she heard the man speak again.

Gillian had been so consumed by her thoughts that she hadn’t realized when the man had opened the door. “So, you signaled for Thomas, did you?” Her back was to the door, but the voice sounded so close, not as muffled as it had when he was standing behind the door.. She turned around to face the strange man. “Bad idea. I wasn’t ready to speak with him yet.  I wanted you out of the way first, but you just ruined my surprise.”

Gillian looked past him to the closed door then back to him “How did you get in?” she asked hesitantly. Instead of answering, the man quickly grabbed her by the hair and spun her around so they were nothing facing the door. They heard the sound of running feet from below. He held a knife to her throat.

***

Thomas and Niall dashed up the steps. When Thomas saw that the hall was empty, panic set in. He ran faster and when he reached the hotel room, he hurriedly slid the key into the lock until the green light signified it was okay to open the door.

What he saw made him stagger back into Niall who pushed him forward. Both of them froze in terror. Drake held a knife to Gillian’s throat. A tiny trickle of blood slid down her neck from a tiny cut made from the knife being pressed into her soft skin.

Thomas clenched his teeth. He kept his face placid and unemotional, so Drake wouldn’t be able to get a thrill out of seeing the panic in his expression. He elbowed Niall to do the same. Both knew how Drake functioned. He enjoyed watching negative emotions take over a person’s face.

“Release the girl, Drake,” said Thomas evenly. He forced himself to appear nonchalant. “She has nothing to do with us. I’ll send her home with Niall so we can converse as you wish.” He met Gillian’s eyes, which burned with hatred. Appears I just gave her another motive to abhor me. But that aside, I must to ensure she makes it home safely, or her father would never exonerate me.  Thomas gave her a pleading look and willed her to understand

Niall spoke too slowly. “She isn’t a problem. I’ll reason with her, I’ll make sure she never mentions you to anyone. Especially not her father, you know him, don’t you? Arnold Ryans? I’m sure the two of you used to be acquainted. And I don’t think he’d like to hear that his only daughter was hurt by your hands.”

Drake’s smile was venomous. “Ah, so this is sweet, sweet young Gillian? Ryans’ only daughter?” His head tilted back as he laughed, the knife pressed harder into Gillian’s throat, prompting another trickle of blood to spill down her neck. Then he bent close to Gillian’s ear. “Our fathers despise each other, yet these two boys right here still do business with me.” Drake loosened the knife enough for her to speak.

 “I wonder why that is, don’t you, Thomas?” Gillian’s glare never faltered. “I knew you were a conniving jerk, I knew it! Yet father never believed me!”

Despite the situation, Thomas sighed in frustration with Gillian. “I am not obligated to remain faithful to either of your families Gillian, so excuse me if I do not comprehend how that marks me as a conniving jerk.”

Just as Thomas predicted, Gillian’s anger got the best of her and she elbowed Drake hard in the gut. He wasn’t expecting it, and the knife was far enough away from her throat not to slice it open. Then she shoved him out of the way, and ran over to Thomas and slapped him across the face as hard as she could.

He stumbled backwards. Niall was already blocking Drake from reaching for Gillian again. “You want to know how you are a conniving jerk. Well, it was because of you that my grandfather was killed! I know what happened to your family, and I do feel sorry for you, but after that day you acted as if you didn’t owe our family! You owe my grandfather for trying to save your family’s life! You owe my family for getting him killed!”

Instead of yelling back like he so wanted to do, Thomas grabbed Gillian’s arm and pulled her out of the room, out of the hotel, and to their car where he pushed her in and slammed the door. He was shocked to find that Finn was nowhere to be found.

He stomped over to the driver’s side and started the car. As he drove off, he lost his temper. “Shut up, Gillian. You cannot even begin to fathom what it is like existing after nearly your entire family was murdered. I attempted to save them from those burglars, but they swindled me into thinking that once I allotted them with the money they would leave my family alone, but they didn’t. They assassinated my father and put my sister in a coma. Your grandfather abided  by their rules, he did what they asked, but they still killed him and they absconded me to suffer alone. You have no idea what it felt like to be in that situation!”

 Thomas knew that Gillian wanted to argue, and call him names, but instead she began sobbing. Sobbing for her loss, and sobbing at the thought of what it would feel like to lose her entire family in one day. Thomas ignored her and kept driving into the next city until finally he pulled up into her driveway. He reached over and opened the car door, and all but pushed her out of the car. Once she was out, he pressed his foot on the gas and deserted her as she remained standing on the curb, still weeping.

© 2013 Deanna Maestas


Author's Note

Deanna Maestas
Can you tell the characters have conflicting personality traits?

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Featured Review

Hi nice to meet you. Your piece caught my eye so I thought I would review it! Be warned: I may come off as a little harsh as I am very thorough, but I try to be as constructive as possible, and my comments are for those who wish to know someone else’s true opinion and hopefully learn what they can do to improve their work and grow. It is what I look for in reviewers and I expect nothing less. You don’t have to take my word as gospel. I always start with the so-called negative comments. I hope this helps, truly. All my comments will be in brackets.

I’ll start sentence by sentence.

'Thunder reverberated in the dark grey sky above. Dark clouds loomed over the city of San Francisco. Rain fell mercilessly; pedestrians ran for cover as they attempted to avoid being splashed from cars as they passed.'
(Change to: "Thunder reverberated in the grey sky above. Dark clouds loomed over the city of San Francisco and rain fell mercilessly; pedestrians ran for cover as they attempted to avoid being splashed by the passing cars.")

"They were the only ones in the diner."
(Instead of putting more emphasis on your characters, put emphasis on the setting like so: "The rest of the diner was deserted.")

"At her comment, Thomas glanced up and narrowed his eyes. “You’re the one who invited yourself. I never asked you to come,” replied Thomas. Gillian turned to glare at him.
Her forest greens eyes flashed, illuminating her pale white face."
(This part doesn't need "replied Thomas" because in the sentence before you established that the focus is already on him, however if you want to keep it, change it too "he replied" Also when it says "Gillian turned to glare at him." and then "Her forest greens eyes flashed, illuminating her pale white face." maybe either combine both these thoughts into one since they are similar like so: "Gillian's forest green eyes flashed Thomas a disgusted (or some other adjective) glare, her pale white face illuminated under the fluorescent lights" or some thing along those lines or get rid of one)

"a few wisps of curls were sticking to her face from sweat. She was anxious and scared, but she wasn’t going to give Thomas the chance to sense it. Instead she chose to express her anger at being mocked."
(change to "A few wisps of curls stuck to the sweat on her face." change to "Though she was anxious and scared, she wasn't going to give Thomas the satisfaction of knowing so." also I suggest you drop the " at being mocked" so that it will look like so: "Instead she chose to express her anger."and place that piece of information somewhere else, maybe up above. Or you could add another sentence and say "She didn't like being mocked.")

"Her father’s words danced across her thoughts as she stared hard at Thomas."
(change to "…danced across her thoughts as she pierced Thomas with a hard look.")

"“Quit being so emotionally detached,” mimicked Gillian."
(is mimicked the right word for this, ask yourself what she is mimicking and make a decision as to whether you should keep that word or change it)

"For one, he was too tall. Almost as tall as Thomas, but the man was bulkier than he was."
(Combine: "For one, he was too tall, almost as tall as Thomas, and bulkier than he was.")

"Out of the corner of her eye, Gillian spotted Thomas rise from his seat. She ignored him, not out of her on accord but because she was transfixed."
(Maybe instead of "spotted" you could say "saw" it seems to fit better. And I'm pretty sure the next sentence should say "not out on her own accord…")

"She glanced down to where Thomas held on to her arm in a death grip."
(Change to "…where Thomas had death gripped her arm.")

"“Ouch! What the hell, Gillian? Why did you do that?” asked Thomas."
(maybe say "Thomas exclaimed." asked seems too calm, unless you want it that way)

"Gillian’s temper flared."
(You have repeated this, find a new way to describe her anger)

"“You know who that man was, don’t you?"
(You are switching between tenses here, present = "know" and "didn't" and past = "was" change to: "You knew who that man was, didn't you." or "You know who that man is, don't you.")

***

"Niall was on his way to meet Thomas and Gillian when Drake appeared. Drake stepped out from the dark alley, blocking Niall."
(Change to: "Niall was on his way to meet Thomas and Gillian when Drake appeared, stepping out from the dark alley and blocking Niall's path")

"Niall tensed, getting ready for a fight."
(Drop "getting ready for a fight" maybe say "clenching his fists" or something along those lines)

"“As I said, what do you want?” said Niall nicely."
(change to: "repeated Niall nicely.")

"Drake rubbed his chin and leaned against the wall. “I want you to relay a message for me to Thomas.”"
(I'm pretty sure it is supposed to be: "I want you to relay a message to Thomas from* me.")

"Damnit, I shouldn’t be getting involved, but Thomas may be in danger."
(These thoughts are unnecessary, you are already showing your readers Nialls concern for Thomas when you say "inquired Niall in spite of himself.")

"“I have to get to Thomas and Gillian before he does.”"
(Add something else here, explaining Niall's fear for Gillian and Thomas, and maybe make this a thought since he is alone.)

***

"Thomas sat at the desk in the hotel room he shared with Gillian. He couldn’t stop glancing between her and his phone. He put on a façade for Gillian, but inside he was apprehensive. Thomas took this deal because he needed the money to pay back Drake. He had done business with him before, so Thomas knows how cruel Drake can be."
(I suggest heavily revising this paragraph, you are doing too much telling and not enough showing. Cut out excess information such as "… he shared with Gillian." and in the next sentence say "He couldn't stop glancing between Gillian and his phone." This shows the readers that Gillian is in the hotel room with him. I also don't think the word façade is working to your benefit here, even though you are using it correctly. Maybe instead say "While on the outside he was cool and collected, for Gillians sake, on the inside he was apprehensive." With the sentence after that put in past tense and keep it that way since you sort of jump between past and present tense, like so: "Thomas had taken this deal because he need the money to pay back Drake. Since he had done business with him in the past, Thomas knew how cruel Drake could be.")

"Not because her fathered ordered her to, but because she can’t let go of the past."
(Again: past and present tense in the same sentence! Change to: "Not because her father ordered her to, but because she couldn't let go of the past.")

"Thomas understood why she was angry, but he had a reason to betray her family as she so often accuses him of. Perhaps he had, but everyone else understands why except for her."
(Combine and change too: "Thomas understood why she was angry, but he had reason behind his betrayal which everyone but Gillian understood.")

"Thomas wasn’t sure why her father hasn’t just told her the truth."
(present tense again "hasn't" change to "hadn't")

"Just that thought triggered his buried memory."
(Change to "Just the* thought…")

"Two years ago, three armed robbers broke into Thomas’s rural house looking for money, but when his family could not give them anything of worth they began killing members of his family until someone gave them what they wanted. His mother was the first to be shot. Thomas had just turned eighteen and was scared out of his mind, but once they killed his mother and threatened to kill his little sister, his first thoughts went to the Ryans, Gillian’s family, and all the money they owned and kept in a safe."
(This paragraph needs revising. The sentence "Two years ago, three armed robbers broke into Thomas’s rural house looking for money, but when his family could not give them anything of worth they began killing members of his family until someone gave them what they wanted." is a run-on, and needs to be fixed. Again you are doing too much telling and not enough showing. Say something like "Two years ago three armed robbers broke into Thomas's rural house and demanded money, but when his family could not give them anything of worth, they shot his mother in the side of the head." Thats all that needs to be said. Also "…but when his family could not give them anything of worth they began killing members of his family until someone gave them what they wanted." is too wordy and if you read it aloud I'm sure you can hear the repetition. In the next sentence say "When they threatened to kill his little sister his first thoughts went to the Ryans….")


"Thomas swallowed the knot in his throat and made his face go blank so he wouldn’t shed any tears. “A mile south from here.”"
("and made his face go blank so he wouldn't shed any tears" sounds weird. Maybe try, "and held the tears back, keeping his face blank.")


"“Please let him go inside with you. Please? They’ve already killed my mother because we couldn’t give them the amount of money they wanted.”"
(Personally, this isn't necessary, it makes the scene seem less believable, and plus your readers already know that the mother was killed.)

"He was lying on the floor of the living room in front of an empty safe."
("He was laying on the floor of the …")

"Thomas wanted to vomit, but instead he ran to the phone and called the police. Then he curled up in the kitchen and cried until the police arrived. He never revealed the identity of the thieves, but he told the story of what had happened. Gillian’s family understood, the police understood, but Gillian never forgave Thomas for getting her grandfather killed."
(Instead of saying "but instead" change to something else. Maybe end the sentence at "Thomas wanted to vomit. He ran to the phone…" Also the fact that he never revealed the identity of the thieves seems odd as I'm pretty sure police wouldn't let that fly. To make it more believable put more emphasis on it. Like for example "Though he told the police what had happened and he found he couldn't reveal the thieves identities for fear of his families safety.")

"Thomas, startled (blinked) away from his memory, had to blink away unshed tears."
(You can't "startled away" from something. Try something like this: "Thomas blinked away from the memory, and held back the unshed tears.")

"Thomas noted her jaw tense before she opened her mouth to protest. "
(Instead of saying "noted" say "saw")

***

"She stopped pacing and began wondering who it could be."
(change to: "She stopped pacing and stared at the door curiously.")

"But once she continued to pace, the knock sounded again. Harder this time."
(combine: "But once she continued to pace, the knock sounded again, harder this time.")

"She hit send and waited for the reply; hoped for a reply."
(No repetition needed, change to either "She hit send and waited, hoping and praying for a reply." or " She hit send and waited for a reply, hoping and praying.")

"Gillian felt ice pierce her heart. She went cold with fear, fear of the unknown man outside."
(combine and drop ending like so "Gillian felt ice pierce her heart and she went cold with the fear.")

“So, you signaled for Thomas, did you?” Her back was to the door, but the voice sounded so close, noy as muffled as it had when he was standing outside the door."
(it's not* not noy)

" Instead of answering, the man quickly grabbed her by the hair and spun her around so they both faced the door and the sound of running feet. He held a knife to her throat."
(change to: "… so they were nothing facing the door. They heard the sound of running feet from below. He held…")

***

"Thomas and Niall rushed up the steps in order to get to Gillian as fast as they could."
(drop ending: "Thomas and Niall rushed up the steps.")

"In the hall, panic rushed over Thomas when he saw it was empty."
(Change to: "When Thomas saw that the hall was empty, panic set in.")

"He wiped out any emotion on his face, so Drake wouldn’t be able to get a thrill out of seeing the panic on his face.
He elbowed Niall to do the same. Both knew how Drake functioned. He enjoyed watching negative emotions take over a person’s face."
(The first sentence has repetition "on his face" and sounds awkward when you read it aloud. By saying "he wiped out any emotion on his face" try rewriting to make it better. Like "He kept his face placid and unemotional." or something along those lines.)

"He forced himself to appear calm."
(You have repeated this sentence or something deadly close to it, earlier in your piece. Find a different way to say this.)

"Thomas tried to plead with Gillian through his eyes to understand."
(Change to: Thomas gave her a pleading look and willed her to understand.")

"Niall spoke to slowly."
(it's too* not to)

"Drake’s smile was vicious."
(You have used vicious already in describing Drake, find a more colourful way to describe his smile.)

"You owe my grandfather for trying saving your family’s life! You owe us for getting my grandfather killed!”"
(Change to: "You owe my grandfather for trying to save your families life! You owe us(who is us, isn't it only Gillian? If not say "You owe my family") for getting my grandfather (we already know who you are talking about so change to "for getting him") killed.")

"Thomas felt that Gillian wanted to argue, and call him names, but she began sobbing."
(Its odd that someone feels* that someone else wants to argue. Instead say: "Thomas knew that Gillian wanted to argue, and call him names, but instead she began sobbing.")

Thats all I have for the negative! I know it may seem like a little much, but now for my positive comments.
You have a gift with dialogue. The dialogue parts were the best in my opinion. I however would go through the beginning scene and make Gillian a little more kid like because I didn't get that sense through her words until later. Some scenes were crafted well particularly the one where Gillian is memorized by (Drake?) the man. My only question is why is she memorized by him? I would read this piece aloud and listen for any awkward sounding sentences. I apologize for any grammar mistakes I may have made in this. I hope you are not heavily offended by my comments. I only wish to help! Also I think you should continue this story so we readers can figure out what deal Thomas had made and why Drake had the knife to Gillian's throat. There are a lot of answered questions. I feel you should wrap them all up.
With love
Sarah

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Deanna Maestas

7 Years Ago

Thank you so much! I've been dying for someone to give me a review like this. It helps a lot to know.. read more



Reviews

Hi nice to meet you. Your piece caught my eye so I thought I would review it! Be warned: I may come off as a little harsh as I am very thorough, but I try to be as constructive as possible, and my comments are for those who wish to know someone else’s true opinion and hopefully learn what they can do to improve their work and grow. It is what I look for in reviewers and I expect nothing less. You don’t have to take my word as gospel. I always start with the so-called negative comments. I hope this helps, truly. All my comments will be in brackets.

I’ll start sentence by sentence.

'Thunder reverberated in the dark grey sky above. Dark clouds loomed over the city of San Francisco. Rain fell mercilessly; pedestrians ran for cover as they attempted to avoid being splashed from cars as they passed.'
(Change to: "Thunder reverberated in the grey sky above. Dark clouds loomed over the city of San Francisco and rain fell mercilessly; pedestrians ran for cover as they attempted to avoid being splashed by the passing cars.")

"They were the only ones in the diner."
(Instead of putting more emphasis on your characters, put emphasis on the setting like so: "The rest of the diner was deserted.")

"At her comment, Thomas glanced up and narrowed his eyes. “You’re the one who invited yourself. I never asked you to come,” replied Thomas. Gillian turned to glare at him.
Her forest greens eyes flashed, illuminating her pale white face."
(This part doesn't need "replied Thomas" because in the sentence before you established that the focus is already on him, however if you want to keep it, change it too "he replied" Also when it says "Gillian turned to glare at him." and then "Her forest greens eyes flashed, illuminating her pale white face." maybe either combine both these thoughts into one since they are similar like so: "Gillian's forest green eyes flashed Thomas a disgusted (or some other adjective) glare, her pale white face illuminated under the fluorescent lights" or some thing along those lines or get rid of one)

"a few wisps of curls were sticking to her face from sweat. She was anxious and scared, but she wasn’t going to give Thomas the chance to sense it. Instead she chose to express her anger at being mocked."
(change to "A few wisps of curls stuck to the sweat on her face." change to "Though she was anxious and scared, she wasn't going to give Thomas the satisfaction of knowing so." also I suggest you drop the " at being mocked" so that it will look like so: "Instead she chose to express her anger."and place that piece of information somewhere else, maybe up above. Or you could add another sentence and say "She didn't like being mocked.")

"Her father’s words danced across her thoughts as she stared hard at Thomas."
(change to "…danced across her thoughts as she pierced Thomas with a hard look.")

"“Quit being so emotionally detached,” mimicked Gillian."
(is mimicked the right word for this, ask yourself what she is mimicking and make a decision as to whether you should keep that word or change it)

"For one, he was too tall. Almost as tall as Thomas, but the man was bulkier than he was."
(Combine: "For one, he was too tall, almost as tall as Thomas, and bulkier than he was.")

"Out of the corner of her eye, Gillian spotted Thomas rise from his seat. She ignored him, not out of her on accord but because she was transfixed."
(Maybe instead of "spotted" you could say "saw" it seems to fit better. And I'm pretty sure the next sentence should say "not out on her own accord…")

"She glanced down to where Thomas held on to her arm in a death grip."
(Change to "…where Thomas had death gripped her arm.")

"“Ouch! What the hell, Gillian? Why did you do that?” asked Thomas."
(maybe say "Thomas exclaimed." asked seems too calm, unless you want it that way)

"Gillian’s temper flared."
(You have repeated this, find a new way to describe her anger)

"“You know who that man was, don’t you?"
(You are switching between tenses here, present = "know" and "didn't" and past = "was" change to: "You knew who that man was, didn't you." or "You know who that man is, don't you.")

***

"Niall was on his way to meet Thomas and Gillian when Drake appeared. Drake stepped out from the dark alley, blocking Niall."
(Change to: "Niall was on his way to meet Thomas and Gillian when Drake appeared, stepping out from the dark alley and blocking Niall's path")

"Niall tensed, getting ready for a fight."
(Drop "getting ready for a fight" maybe say "clenching his fists" or something along those lines)

"“As I said, what do you want?” said Niall nicely."
(change to: "repeated Niall nicely.")

"Drake rubbed his chin and leaned against the wall. “I want you to relay a message for me to Thomas.”"
(I'm pretty sure it is supposed to be: "I want you to relay a message to Thomas from* me.")

"Damnit, I shouldn’t be getting involved, but Thomas may be in danger."
(These thoughts are unnecessary, you are already showing your readers Nialls concern for Thomas when you say "inquired Niall in spite of himself.")

"“I have to get to Thomas and Gillian before he does.”"
(Add something else here, explaining Niall's fear for Gillian and Thomas, and maybe make this a thought since he is alone.)

***

"Thomas sat at the desk in the hotel room he shared with Gillian. He couldn’t stop glancing between her and his phone. He put on a façade for Gillian, but inside he was apprehensive. Thomas took this deal because he needed the money to pay back Drake. He had done business with him before, so Thomas knows how cruel Drake can be."
(I suggest heavily revising this paragraph, you are doing too much telling and not enough showing. Cut out excess information such as "… he shared with Gillian." and in the next sentence say "He couldn't stop glancing between Gillian and his phone." This shows the readers that Gillian is in the hotel room with him. I also don't think the word façade is working to your benefit here, even though you are using it correctly. Maybe instead say "While on the outside he was cool and collected, for Gillians sake, on the inside he was apprehensive." With the sentence after that put in past tense and keep it that way since you sort of jump between past and present tense, like so: "Thomas had taken this deal because he need the money to pay back Drake. Since he had done business with him in the past, Thomas knew how cruel Drake could be.")

"Not because her fathered ordered her to, but because she can’t let go of the past."
(Again: past and present tense in the same sentence! Change to: "Not because her father ordered her to, but because she couldn't let go of the past.")

"Thomas understood why she was angry, but he had a reason to betray her family as she so often accuses him of. Perhaps he had, but everyone else understands why except for her."
(Combine and change too: "Thomas understood why she was angry, but he had reason behind his betrayal which everyone but Gillian understood.")

"Thomas wasn’t sure why her father hasn’t just told her the truth."
(present tense again "hasn't" change to "hadn't")

"Just that thought triggered his buried memory."
(Change to "Just the* thought…")

"Two years ago, three armed robbers broke into Thomas’s rural house looking for money, but when his family could not give them anything of worth they began killing members of his family until someone gave them what they wanted. His mother was the first to be shot. Thomas had just turned eighteen and was scared out of his mind, but once they killed his mother and threatened to kill his little sister, his first thoughts went to the Ryans, Gillian’s family, and all the money they owned and kept in a safe."
(This paragraph needs revising. The sentence "Two years ago, three armed robbers broke into Thomas’s rural house looking for money, but when his family could not give them anything of worth they began killing members of his family until someone gave them what they wanted." is a run-on, and needs to be fixed. Again you are doing too much telling and not enough showing. Say something like "Two years ago three armed robbers broke into Thomas's rural house and demanded money, but when his family could not give them anything of worth, they shot his mother in the side of the head." Thats all that needs to be said. Also "…but when his family could not give them anything of worth they began killing members of his family until someone gave them what they wanted." is too wordy and if you read it aloud I'm sure you can hear the repetition. In the next sentence say "When they threatened to kill his little sister his first thoughts went to the Ryans….")


"Thomas swallowed the knot in his throat and made his face go blank so he wouldn’t shed any tears. “A mile south from here.”"
("and made his face go blank so he wouldn't shed any tears" sounds weird. Maybe try, "and held the tears back, keeping his face blank.")


"“Please let him go inside with you. Please? They’ve already killed my mother because we couldn’t give them the amount of money they wanted.”"
(Personally, this isn't necessary, it makes the scene seem less believable, and plus your readers already know that the mother was killed.)

"He was lying on the floor of the living room in front of an empty safe."
("He was laying on the floor of the …")

"Thomas wanted to vomit, but instead he ran to the phone and called the police. Then he curled up in the kitchen and cried until the police arrived. He never revealed the identity of the thieves, but he told the story of what had happened. Gillian’s family understood, the police understood, but Gillian never forgave Thomas for getting her grandfather killed."
(Instead of saying "but instead" change to something else. Maybe end the sentence at "Thomas wanted to vomit. He ran to the phone…" Also the fact that he never revealed the identity of the thieves seems odd as I'm pretty sure police wouldn't let that fly. To make it more believable put more emphasis on it. Like for example "Though he told the police what had happened and he found he couldn't reveal the thieves identities for fear of his families safety.")

"Thomas, startled (blinked) away from his memory, had to blink away unshed tears."
(You can't "startled away" from something. Try something like this: "Thomas blinked away from the memory, and held back the unshed tears.")

"Thomas noted her jaw tense before she opened her mouth to protest. "
(Instead of saying "noted" say "saw")

***

"She stopped pacing and began wondering who it could be."
(change to: "She stopped pacing and stared at the door curiously.")

"But once she continued to pace, the knock sounded again. Harder this time."
(combine: "But once she continued to pace, the knock sounded again, harder this time.")

"She hit send and waited for the reply; hoped for a reply."
(No repetition needed, change to either "She hit send and waited, hoping and praying for a reply." or " She hit send and waited for a reply, hoping and praying.")

"Gillian felt ice pierce her heart. She went cold with fear, fear of the unknown man outside."
(combine and drop ending like so "Gillian felt ice pierce her heart and she went cold with the fear.")

“So, you signaled for Thomas, did you?” Her back was to the door, but the voice sounded so close, noy as muffled as it had when he was standing outside the door."
(it's not* not noy)

" Instead of answering, the man quickly grabbed her by the hair and spun her around so they both faced the door and the sound of running feet. He held a knife to her throat."
(change to: "… so they were nothing facing the door. They heard the sound of running feet from below. He held…")

***

"Thomas and Niall rushed up the steps in order to get to Gillian as fast as they could."
(drop ending: "Thomas and Niall rushed up the steps.")

"In the hall, panic rushed over Thomas when he saw it was empty."
(Change to: "When Thomas saw that the hall was empty, panic set in.")

"He wiped out any emotion on his face, so Drake wouldn’t be able to get a thrill out of seeing the panic on his face.
He elbowed Niall to do the same. Both knew how Drake functioned. He enjoyed watching negative emotions take over a person’s face."
(The first sentence has repetition "on his face" and sounds awkward when you read it aloud. By saying "he wiped out any emotion on his face" try rewriting to make it better. Like "He kept his face placid and unemotional." or something along those lines.)

"He forced himself to appear calm."
(You have repeated this sentence or something deadly close to it, earlier in your piece. Find a different way to say this.)

"Thomas tried to plead with Gillian through his eyes to understand."
(Change to: Thomas gave her a pleading look and willed her to understand.")

"Niall spoke to slowly."
(it's too* not to)

"Drake’s smile was vicious."
(You have used vicious already in describing Drake, find a more colourful way to describe his smile.)

"You owe my grandfather for trying saving your family’s life! You owe us for getting my grandfather killed!”"
(Change to: "You owe my grandfather for trying to save your families life! You owe us(who is us, isn't it only Gillian? If not say "You owe my family") for getting my grandfather (we already know who you are talking about so change to "for getting him") killed.")

"Thomas felt that Gillian wanted to argue, and call him names, but she began sobbing."
(Its odd that someone feels* that someone else wants to argue. Instead say: "Thomas knew that Gillian wanted to argue, and call him names, but instead she began sobbing.")

Thats all I have for the negative! I know it may seem like a little much, but now for my positive comments.
You have a gift with dialogue. The dialogue parts were the best in my opinion. I however would go through the beginning scene and make Gillian a little more kid like because I didn't get that sense through her words until later. Some scenes were crafted well particularly the one where Gillian is memorized by (Drake?) the man. My only question is why is she memorized by him? I would read this piece aloud and listen for any awkward sounding sentences. I apologize for any grammar mistakes I may have made in this. I hope you are not heavily offended by my comments. I only wish to help! Also I think you should continue this story so we readers can figure out what deal Thomas had made and why Drake had the knife to Gillian's throat. There are a lot of answered questions. I feel you should wrap them all up.
With love
Sarah

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Deanna Maestas

7 Years Ago

Thank you so much! I've been dying for someone to give me a review like this. It helps a lot to know.. read more

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