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  1. #1
    Bassim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Two Women, part three

    Please, would you take a look at the third part of my short story, Two Women, and correct my mistakes.

    The village was calm, but for the dogs barking in the yards. Hens cackled and roamed near the road, scratching and pecking in the dust, while the drowsy cats lying on the porches hardly looked at us. Groups of old men playing dominoes, and women knitting and embroidering sat on the wooden benches under the shades of old oak trees. Almost all women were dressed in black, wearing black scarves on their heads. Black was usually a sign of mourning, but for the females of their age it had become a fashion style which they would not abandon until their eternal rest. Their wizened men were also faithful to their style wearing warm clothes like jumpers, jackets and woolen berets, which they would not take off even on the hottest days.

    The arrival of the military seemed not to disturb their peace. After all, they had survived the Second World War when they were young, and now as old, they were of not much interest to anyone. I greeted them and they greeted me back; their eyes examined my uniform as if they wanted to know whose turn had now come to invade their village. I asked them if the mayor was here, and they answered that he had gone, and not only he but the majority of the inhabitants of the village. But the village priest was still here and they told me where to find him. I ordered my soldiers to take a rest on the main square and went to see him. When the old man opened the door of his house, I could see worry in his eyes. He was probably thinking that I had come to cut off his bushy beard, put his cassock on fire and finish him off with a knife. When I told him my name and my rank he relaxed, shook hands with me and invited me inside. His short, chubby wife stood at the worktop in the large kitchen, chopping some vegetables. She greeted me in a low voice, uncertain of the fate which awaited them after this visit. The priest and I took our seats at the table beside the window which looked at the small church, its white facade dazzling in the sun.

    “You need some refreshment on such a hot day, young man” the priest said and opened the refrigerator from which he fetched two bottles of beer and set them on the table. He also brought a smoked sausage which he sliced on a wooden chopping board in front of me and placed it on the plate. I watched the cold liquid pouring into the glass, creating a nice thick foam, and my mouth watered. “Cheers!” we said to each other and I gulped the beer down my thirsty mouth. It was the best tasted drink I ever drunk and at least for a while made me forget that I was in the madness called war.
    “You see, many have left our village for fear of revenge, but I’m going nowhere. If I have to die I want to die in my own home like a human being. I don’t want to run away like a miserable rat and then wither away in a dirty, overcrowded, refugee camp. I’ll tell you what had happened to me in 1941. I was a teenager then, and my family lived in a beautiful village on the river. It felt like a paradise on earth until one day we saw distended corpses floating downstream. In the past, once in a while, you could see dead animals drifting in the river, a cow or a pig, but these were people like us. Some bodies were completely naked and others had still their clothes on. Some were without their heads or limbs, or with large holes in their upper parts. We did not know who these people were, but their cruel fate shook our lives. They were a portent of what was going to happen to our paradise even if we did not want to see it. Parents strictly forbade their children to go near the river, telling them that the water was poisoned, but even if we stayed away, from the distance we still could see bodies floating in the water.

    It was a time of an anxious wait. We could only pray and hope for the best. But our hopes were crushed one afternoon when we heard the shots the wind was carrying from the nearby village. At first, we did not know what to do. People stared at each other as if expecting that the other knew what was going on. The whole village seemed to be paralysed. Even dogs and cattle remained silent. And then, we saw the two men running like madmen from the direction of the gunfire. It was Stojan and Milan, two brothers from the neighbouring village. They were beside themselves, waving hands and shouting, “People, save yourself! The soldiers are in our village, killing everybody, cutting throats of men and raping women. They’ll be here any minute!”
    The brothers told us that they were in the woods, gathering some branches to use them as firewood. They had their old horse with them, harnessed to a cart. Just when they wanted to return home, they heard people scream horribly and shots being fired. From their shelter in the shrubs, they watched soldiers in black uniforms committing indescribable crimes.
    They were not only killing adults, but they snatched the babies from their mothers and smashed their skulls by hitting them against the walls or threw them in the blazing fires. Stojan and Milan were so shaken by the scene that they threw away their axes and ran as fast as they could taking a short-cut known only by the locals. They did not need to convince their listeners that there were telling the truth. Just a look at their wide, frightened eyes was enough for the villagers to understand that the same fate awaited them also, if they did not flee there and then."
    To be continued

  2. #2
    Gillnetter is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Two Women, part three

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    Please, would you take a look at the third part of my short story, Two Women, and correct my mistakes.

    The village was calm, but for the dogs barking in the yards. Hens cackled and roamed near the road, scratching and pecking in the dust, while the drowsy cats, lying on the porches, hardly looked at us. Groups of old men playing dominoes, and women knitting and embroidering sat on the wooden benches under the shades of old oak trees. Almost all ("of the women", or, "the women") women were dressed in black, wearing black scarves on their heads. Black was usually a sign of mourning, but for the females of their age it had become a fashion style which they would not abandon until their eternal rest. Their wizened men were also faithful to their style, wearing warm clothes like jumpers, jackets and woolen berets, which they would not take off even on the hottest days.

    The arrival of the military seemed not to disturb their peace. After all, they had survived the Second World War when they were young, and now as old (An interesting way to use "old". I would have phrased it this way, "...and now that they were old...", or, "now, they being old".), they were of not much interest to anyone. I greeted them and they greeted me back; their eyes examined my uniform as if they wanted to know whose turn had now come to invade their village. I asked them if the mayor was here, and they answered that he had gone, and not only he but the majority of the inhabitants of the village. But the village priest was still here and they told me where to find him. I ordered my soldiers to take a rest on the main square and went to see him. When the old man opened the door of his house, I could see worry in his eyes. He was probably thinking that I had come to cut off his bushy beard, put his cassock on fire and finish him off with a knife. When I told him my name and my rank he relaxed, shook hands with me and invited me inside. His short, chubby wife stood at the worktop in the large kitchen, chopping some vegetables. She greeted me in a low voice, uncertain of the fate which awaited them after this visit. The priest and I took our seats at the table beside the window which looked at the small church, its white facade dazzling in the sun.

    “You need some refreshment ("refreshments" is better since more than one item is being offered) on such a hot day, young man” the priest said and opened the refrigerator from which he fetched two bottles of beer and set them on the table. He also brought out a smoked sausage which he sliced on a wooden chopping board in front of me and placed it on the plate. I watched the cold liquid pouring into the glass, creating a nice thick foam, and my mouth watered. “Cheers!” we said to each other and I gulped the beer down my thirsty mouth. It was the best tasted drink I ever drunk and, at least for a while, made me forget that I was in the madness called War (Capitalize "War" since you have named it).
    “You see, many have left our village for fear of revenge, but I’m going nowhere. If I have to die I want to die in my own home like a human being. I don’t want to run away like a miserable rat and then wither away in a dirty, overcrowded, refugee camp. I’ll tell you what had happened to me in 1941. I was a teenager then, and my family lived in a beautiful village on the river. It felt like a paradise on earth until one day we saw distended corpses floating downstream. In the past, once in a while, you could see dead animals drifting in the river, a cow or a pig, but these were people like us. Some bodies were completely naked and others had still their clothes on. Some were without their heads or limbs, or with large holes in their upper parts. We did not know who these people were, but their cruel fate shook our lives. They were a portent of what was going to happen to our paradise even if we did not want to see it. Parents strictly forbade their children to go near the river, telling them that the water was poisoned, but even if we stayed away, from the distance we still could see bodies floating in the water.

    It was a time of an anxious wait. We could only pray and hope for the best. But our hopes were crushed one afternoon when we heard the shots the wind was carrying from the nearby village. At first, we did not know what to do. People stared at each other as if expecting that the other knew what was going on. The whole village seemed to be paralysed. Even dogs and cattle remained silent. And then, we saw the two men running like madmen from the direction of the gunfire. It was Stojan and Milan, two brothers from the neighbouring village. They were beside themselves, waving hands and shouting, “People, save yourself! The soldiers are in our village, killing everybody, cutting throats of men and raping women. They’ll be here any minute!”
    The brothers told us that they were in the woods, gathering some branches to use them as firewood. They had their old horse with them, harnessed to a cart (In a short story, every word has to work to make the story better. The reference to the horse doesn't help your story - there is no other mention of the horse. Unless you are going show that the horse, an important animal to the brothers, was killed, showing the indifference of the enemy to the needs of the people, I would delete the entire sentence.). Just when they wanted to return home, they heard people scream horribly and shots being fired. From their shelter in the shrubs, they watched soldiers in black uniforms committing indescribable crimes.
    They were not only killing adults, but they snatched the babies from their mothers and smashed their skulls by hitting them against the walls or threw them in the blazing fires. Stojan and Milan were so shaken by the scene that they threw away their axes and ran as fast as they could taking a short-cut known only by the locals. They did not need to convince their listeners that there were telling the truth. Just a look at their wide, frightened eyes was enough for the villagers to understand that the same fate awaited them also, if they did not flee there and then ("then and there" is the more common phrase)."
    To be continued
    The story is getting interesting, if a bit gruesome. I liked the part about, "as old" but I keep getting stuck on trying to finish the sentence - as old as what? I would keep it in. Let's see what some other members have to say about this usage. In regards to my notes about the horse; you could have included the reference in a longer novel. It doesn't work here because it doesn't contribute anything to the story.

  3. #3
    Bassim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Two Women, part three

    Dear Gil,

    Thank you again for helping me with this text. "Now that they were old or now being old" are the phrases which I should have written, but I did not remember that phrase at the moment when I was writing. A native English speaker has almost an intuitive feeling for the structure of the sentence, while I must learn it from scratch.

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