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

    This is the tenth and the last part of my short story, Two Women. Please would you take a look at it and correct my mistakes.

    When we passed through the city centre I told the driver to pull over. I went outside and asked some passersby where I could find a shop which sells artists’ materials and equipment. Four did not know, but the fifth gave me the direction. We drove there and I purchased watercolours, paper and two paintbrushes. It cost me a fortune, but I wanted to surprise Jelena and make her happy.
    The streets of the capital were busy with traffic, but as soon as we left the outer suburbs behind us, the road was almost empty. Beside a few military vehicles we saw only tractors and other agriculture machines, driven by exhausted drivers. I was thinking about the coming operation and how to prepare my soldiers mentally. There would be casualties. Some of them were going to be killed. Some would lose their limbs, become blind or paralysed. They would tell themselves it was bad luck. They needed just one step to reach the goal, but they had failed. They would console themselves that at least they were alive. But I knew what was awaiting them. They would receive attention in the first post-war years, and then they would become invisible, a burden for society and politicians, who would rather see them dead. And many would be dead, killed by their own hand. The sweaty general had said that within 48 hours a breeze would turn into a hurricane. I would keep my soldiers in ignorance until tomorrow morning. Let them enjoy fully these few hours of peace before mayhem starts.

    We arrived in the village at sunset. Compared with the greyness of the capital it appeared like a paradise, with all those flowers and fruit trees heavily laden with ripe fruit. The rays of the sinking sun fell over greenery like a painter’s brush, making them glitter and flicker against the shadows. The soldiers in the orchard seemed to be in a party mood. Pop music was blasting from the radio, while some soldiers danced around it. A group of them was playing football with a deflated ball, using plum trees as goal posts. Barbecue was in progress also, as well as card games. There was no doubt that while I was away, they had bought moonshine from the villagers. But I had decided to turn a blind eye, at least today.
    I walked into the house, my heart beating of excitement. This was my second home. I knew that I would return one day when the war was over to meet these brave women again, and tell them how much their home meant to me during this time of madness. The house was completely silent. I opened the kitchen door but there was nobody there. I walked up the stairs, but after four steps I noticed traces of blood on them and on the wooden handrail. My body shook with fear. It seemed to me that my own blood in my veins had evaporated. I hardly could move my legs and did not want to continue, but I forced myself to walk on. There was more blood on the landing and the wall. I carefully opened the door of Jelena’s room and a gruesome crime scene hit my eyes. Walls, floor, bedclothes, furniture and the door were splashed with blood. Tufts of human hair lay on the pillow, crusted with dried blood. Broken vases and trampled flowers littered the floor. There were no bodies, but all those marks of meaningless violence made me howl like a wounded animal. I bounded down the stairs, then through the house and stopped in front of the soldiers. If I had a weapon in my hand I would have probably shot them all. They had not deserved to live.
    “Bastards!” I yelled. “How could you have done such thing to me? You are worse than animals. You bloody murderers!”

    I was yelling at them, insulting them and threatening them. But they sat impassively, not looking at me, but through me as if I were a ghost - a casual visitor in their cruel world in which humanity did not exist anymore. Their wicked behaviour had become a natural state of mind in this irrational world in which almost everything was permitted, even the most disgusting, perverted acts. In their minds, I was not a figure of authority and their commander, but a spoiled little boy who was too sensitive to be a soldier. I was completely broken. I bent my head and walked away to the edge of the woods. I sat down on a beech log and started to cry. The red ball of the sun was sinking slowly making the village and surrounding hills even more beautiful. If my two angels were still alive, I would have praised God and its creation, but now, I hated him. As I reeled in my rage I tore the gold chain with a cross from my neck and threw it into the thicket. I pulled out the picture of the Virgin Mary and ripped it to shreds. I could not delude myself anymore. I could not believe in lies and expect salvation which would never come.

    The End

  2. #2
    EnglishFix is offline Member
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    Re: Two Women, part ten

    When we passed through the city centre, I told the driver to pull over. I went outside and asked some passersby where I could find a shop that sells artists’ materials and equipment. Four did not know, but the fifth gave me the directions. We drove there and I purchased watercolours, paper and two paintbrushes. It cost me a fortune, but I wanted to surprise Jelena and make her happy.

    The streets of the capital were busy with traffic, but as soon as we left the outer suburbs behind us, the road was almost empty. Beside a few military vehicles we saw only tractors and other agriculture machines, driven by exhausted drivers. I was thinking about the coming operation and how to prepare my soldiers mentally. There would be casualties. Some of them were going to be killed. Some would lose their limbs, become blind or paralysed. They would tell themselves it was bad luck. They needed just one step to reach the goal, but they had failed. They would console themselves that at least they were alive. But I knew what was awaiting them. They would receive attention in the beginning of the post-war years, and then they would become invisible, a burden for society and politicians, who would rather see them dead. And many would be dead, killed by their own hand. The sweaty general had said that within 48 hours a breeze would turn into a hurricane. I would keep my soldiers in ignorance until tomorrow morning. Let them enjoy fully these few hours of peace before mayhem starts.

    We arrived in the village at sunset. Compared with the greyness of the capital it appeared like a paradise, with all those flowers and fruit trees heavily laden with ripe fruit. The rays of the sinking sun fell over the greenery like a painter’s brush, making them glitter and flicker against the shadows. The soldiers in the orchard seemed to be in a party mood. Pop music was blasting from the radio, while some soldiers danced around it. A group of them was playing football with a deflated ball, using plum trees as goal posts. A barbecue was in progress also, as well as card games. There was no doubt that while I was away, they had bought moonshine from the villagers. But I had decided to turn a blind eye, at least today.
    I walked into the house, my heart beating from excitement. This was my second home. I knew that I would return one day when the war was over to meet these brave women again, and tell them how much their home meant to me during this time of madness. The house was completely silent. I opened the kitchen door but there was nobody there. I walked up the stairs, but after four steps I noticed traces of blood on them and on the wooden handrail. My body shook with fear. It seemed to me that my own blood in my veins had evaporated. I hardly could move my legs and did not want to continue, but I forced myself to walk on. There was more blood on the landing and the wall. I carefully opened the door of Jelena’s room and a gruesome crime scene hit my eyes. Walls, floor, bedclothes, furniture and the door were splashed with blood. Tufts of human hair lay on the pillow, crusted with dried blood. Broken vases and trampled flowers littered the floor. There were no bodies, but all those marks of meaningless violence made me howl like a wounded animal. I bounded down the stairs, then through the house and stopped in front of the soldiers. If I had a weapon in my hand I would have probably shot them all. They had not deserved to live.
    “Bastards!” I yelled. “How could you have done such a thing to me? You are worse than animals. You bloody murderers!”

    I was yelling at them, insulting them and threatening them. But they sat impassively, not looking at me, but through me as if I were a ghost - a casual visitor in their cruel world in which humanity did not exist anymore. Their wicked behaviour had become a natural state of mind in this irrational world in which almost everything was permitted, even the most disgusting, perverted acts. In their minds, I was not a figure of authority and their commander, but a spoiled little boy who was too sensitive to be a soldier. I was completely broken. I bent my head and walked away to the edge of the woods. I sat down on a beech log and started to cry. The red ball of the sun was sinking slowly making the village and surrounding hills even more beautiful. If my two angels were still alive, I would have praised God and its creation, but now, I hated him. As I reeled in my rage I tore the gold chain with a cross from my neck and threw it into the thicket. I pulled out the picture of the Virgin Mary and ripped it to shreds. I could not delude myself anymore. I could not believe in lies and expect salvation which would never come.

    The End

  3. #3
    Gillnetter is offline Key Member
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    Re: Two Women, part ten

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

    When we passed through the city centre I told the driver to pull over. I went outside ("went outside" is normally used in terms of leaving a building. "I got out" is more normal) and asked some passersby where I could find a shop which sells sold artists’ materials and equipment. Four did not know, but the fifth gave me the direction ("directions to one", or, "some directions") . We drove there and I purchased watercolours, paper and two paintbrushes. It cost me a fortune, but I wanted to surprise Jelena and make her happy.
    The streets of the capital were busy with traffic, but as soon as we left the outer suburbs behind us, the road was almost empty. Beside a few military vehicles we saw only tractors and other agriculture agricultural machines, driven by exhausted drivers. I was thinking about the coming operation and how to prepare my soldiers mentally. There would be casualties. Some of them were going to be killed. Some would lose their limbs, become blind or paralysed. They would tell themselves it was bad luck. They needed just one step to reach the goal (What goal?), but they had failed. They would console themselves that at least they were alive. But I knew what was awaiting them. They would receive attention in the first post-war years, and then they would become invisible, a burden for society and politicians, who would rather see them dead. And many would be dead, killed by their own hand. The sweaty general had said that within 48 hours a breeze would turn into a hurricane. I would keep my soldiers in ignorance until tomorrow morning. Let them enjoy fully these few hours of peace before the mayhem starts.

    We arrived in the village at sunset. Compared with the greyness of the capital it appeared like a paradise, with all those flowers and fruit trees heavily laden with ripe fruit. The rays of the sinking sun fell over greenery like a painter’s brush, making them glitter and flicker against the shadows. The soldiers in the orchard seemed to be in a party mood. Pop music was blasting from the radio, while some soldiers danced around it. A group of them was were playing football with a deflated ball, using plum trees as goal posts. A barbecue was in progress also, as well as card games. There was no doubt that while I was away, they had bought moonshine from the villagers. But I had decided to turn a blind eye, at least today. (One usually turns a blind eye to something - "I turned a blind eye to it")
    I walked into the house, my heart beating of with excitement. This was my second home. I knew that I would return one day when the war was over to meet these brave women again, and tell them how much their home meant to me during this time of madness. The house was completely silent. I opened the kitchen door but there was nobody there. I walked up the stairs, but after four steps I noticed traces of blood on them and on the wooden handrail. My body shook with fear. It seemed to me that my own blood in my veins had evaporated. I hardly could move my legs and did not want to continue, but I forced myself to walk on. There was more blood on the landing and the wall. I carefully opened the door of Jelena’s room and a gruesome crime scene hit my eyes. Walls, floor, bedclothes, furniture and the door were splashed with blood. Tufts of human hair lay on the pillow, crusted with dried blood. Broken vases and trampled flowers littered the floor. There were no bodies, but all those marks of meaningless violence made me howl like a wounded animal. I bounded down the stairs, then through the house and stopped in front of the soldiers. If I had a weapon in my hand I would have probably shot them all. They had not deserved to live.
    “Bastards!” I yelled. “How could you have done such thing to me? You are worse than animals. You bloody murderers!”

    I was yelling at them, insulting them and threatening them. But they sat impassively, not looking at me, but through me as if I were a ghost - a casual visitor in their cruel world in which humanity did not exist anymore. Their wicked behaviour had become a natural state of mind in this irrational world in which almost everything was permitted, even the most disgusting, perverted acts. In their minds, I was not a figure of authority and their commander, but a spoiled little boy who was too sensitive to be a soldier. I was completely broken. I bent my head and walked away to the edge of the woods. I sat down on a beech log and started to cry. The red ball of the sun was sinking slowly making the village and surrounding hills even more beautiful. If my two angels were still alive, I would have praised God and its creation, but now, I hated him. As I reeled in my rage I tore the gold chain with a cross from my neck and threw it into the thicket. I pulled out the picture of the Virgin Mary and ripped it to shreds. I could not delude myself anymore. I could not believe in lies and expect salvation which would never come.

    The End
    With a little polishing this story could be sold. There are a few mistakes but nothing serious. It might have been better if you set up the death of the women earlier in the story. In an earlier part of the story you talked about how the soldiers had happily worked on the property of the women. While the dehumanizing effects of war was the reason for the murders, something should have been written to alert the reader that all was not well with the soldiers. You could insert one line - Though they were happy to work on the farm, some mumbled that the women had a better life than their families did in the more war torn parts of the country. This is called foreshadowing. In a story you could write something like this, "He casually noted that the wind was getting stronger and wondered if his small sailboat was up to the task of sailing across the sea". In a later chapter, sure enough, the wind has reached tornado strength and his boat was in danger of breaking apart. To add more force to the scene where the officer is yelling at the soldiers, and to show the senselessness of war, you could add some lines - "Why are you mad now? You taught us how to kill. We just did what we do all the time. These women or women in the next village, what difference does it make?".

    Also, I would suggest that the time be moved from the end of summer (ripe fruit and all) to spring. Spring is a time of birth, or, rebirth (It is not by happenstance that Easter is in the spring). Jelena represents youth and hope. Even during the war there was hope. It could be set up this way - when you first came to the farm you found a flowering tree and liked it so much that you spent time there. When you returned to the farm from the city you saw that the soldiers had cut the tree down for fire wood (The death of a symbol which represents spring and hope). A flowering tree is hope of a sort since a flower turns into fruit. It would be apparent to the reader that the death of the tree is similar to the death of Jalena.

  4. #4
    Bassim is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Two Women, part ten

    Dear Gil,

    Thank you so much your help. This was like a Christmas, or a birthday gift for me. I am glad that at least someone can point out the mistakes in my text, so that I know how to avoid them the next time when I use similar phrases and sentences. Otherwise, without help from a teacher, it feels like fumbling in the darkness.
    Regarding the season when this story happened, I have chosen the late summer, because it was at that season in 1995 when the Croatian military offensive against the Serbs happened. However, the worst atrocities occurred before that military action when an ordinary soldier could kill, rape or rob innocent people and nobody would stop him. I did not use any foreshadowing because the main character of this story had believed that his soldiers were different from the others. They were like his children, and this was one of the reasons why he had given them so much freedom. He believed that they would remain protected from the madness around them. They had let him down and in that way stabbed him in the heart. He had lost faith in human beings and God, and he would never be the same man again. This is the story in which the real drama happens inside and demands from the reader to scratch the surface to fully understand the horror of the war. For an outsider, the Balkan has always been difficult to understand. I remember that at one occasion the president Clinton admitted that he did not understand much the Balkan and its nations. He often carried with him a book written by an American professor about the history of the Balkan. Then, later he blamed the same professor and his book for giving him a false picture of that part of the Europe. The absurd is that people who had the same roots and who had lived together for hundreds of years start killing each other almost for nothing. And this repeats for every new generation, and people still have not learnt anything.

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