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    #1

    On the run, part one

    This is the first part of my short story. Would you please take a look it and correct my mistakes.

    I was nineteen years old when I got my call-up papers. The messenger rang our doorbell before eight in the morning, and my father opened the door telling him I was not at home. The man told him that someone had to sign the papers anyway, so my father had no choice but to sign for it. I listened in on their conversation and my heart pounded with anxiety. I had been waiting for this moment for months, but I could not have foreseen that it would cause me so much worry. I had already made my mind. I had promised myself I would not do military service. I would rather run away abroad and never come back than spend one year of my life in the army, which only helped the communists to stay in power.

    Months before, I sat together with my father and told him about my plan. His forehead creased, his bags under his eyes grew heavier, and his grey eyes looked wearily at me. “You are a grownup man. You have to think for yourself. But I have to warn you of consequences. Even if you manage to leave the country, you’ll never be able to come back. And if they catch you on the border they’ll break every bone in your body. They’ll give you a long prison sentence, after which you’ll never be healthy again. Can you imagine how I am going to feel when people start pointing their fingers at me on the street and calling me the father of the traitor?”
    I knew that some of our neighbours and other people would ostracize my father, but that could not change my mind. In our country, conscientious objectors were treated like political prisoners who opposed the Party and were not ready to sacrifice themselves for the great communist ideals. They were looked on as enemies of the state, unlike the members of Jehovah Witnesses, who were also conscientious objectors but were seen as a sect of harmless madmen.

    I had nothing against communism as a political system, but I hated its representatives. As a child, I could not stand our great leader Tito. He stared at me in every classroom, from every schoolbook, from parks, buildings, bridges and train stations. I opened my reading book and, lo and behold, a well-dressed and well-groomed Tito smiled at me. I opened my history book, and again, he frowned at me, this time sternly, clothed in his brown, simple partisan uniform and wearing his famous partisan cap with a red star badge. I opened my geography book, and here was he again, a man in a dazzling white suit and dark sunglasses. I opened my physics book, and to my relief, there was no picture of him, only a few of his quotations about the importance of science and knowledge for the defence of our beautiful country. When I became tired of him on the book pages and glanced to the right or left, I would be attacked again by his wise words and messages printed in large, red letters on the white posters. I came home and turned on TV, and there he was again driving his large Mercedes cabriolet around his private island in the Adriatic Sea. He was wearing a white summer hat and smoking his ubiquitous cigar. Beside him, on a passenger seat sat Sofia Loren, Elizabeth Tailor, Richard Burton, or some other Hollywood stars having a great fun with the Marshal, who was ready to pay them millions of dollars for their participations in numerous partisan films. A former locksmith who promised to fight bourgeoisie had become rich and powerful himself, and he killed, tortured and imprisoned anyone who did not agree with him. He died in1980, but years after his death millions behaved as if he had been still alive, and they promised loudly on every concert, football match or a conference to follow his path, although nobody knew where that path led. To spend one year together eating, sleeping and marching with such people filled me with dread.
    TO BE CONTINUED

  1. Eckaslike's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: On the run, part one

    I'm sure other members will have good ideas about which changes to make, and may disagree with some of mine, but here is my input.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    I was nineteen years old when I got my call-up papers. The messenger rang our doorbell before eight in the morning, and my father opened the door telling him I was not at home. The man told him that someone had to sign for the papers anyway, so my father had no choice but to sign for it them. I listened in on their conversation and my heart pounded with anxiety. I had been waiting for this moment for months, but I could not have foreseen that it would cause me so much worry. I had already made up my mind. I had promised myself I would not do military service. I would rather run away, go abroad and never come back, than spend one year of my life in the army, which only helped the communists to stay in power.

    Months before, I sat together with my father and told him about my plan. His forehead creased, his the bags under his eyes grew heavier appeared more pronounced, and his grey eyes looked wearily at me. “You are a grownup man. You have to think for yourself. But I have to warn you of the consequences. Even if you manage to leave the country, you’ll never be able to come back. And if they catch you on the border they’ll break every bone in your body. They’ll give you a long prison sentence, after which you’ll never be healthy again. Can you imagine how I am going to feel when people start pointing their fingers at me on in the street and calling me the father of the traitor?”
    I knew that some of our neighbours and other people would ostracize my father, but that could not change my mind. In our country, conscientious objectors were treated like political prisoners who opposed the Party and were not ready to sacrifice themselves for the great communist ideals. They were looked on as enemies of the state, unlike the members of Jehovah's Witnesses, who were also conscientious objectors but were seen as a sect of harmless madmen.

    I had nothing against communism as a political system, but I hated its representatives main heroes. As a child, I could not stand our great leader Tito. He stared at me in every classroom, from every schoolbook, from parks, buildings, bridges and train stations. I opened my reading book and, lo and behold, a well-dressed and well-groomed Tito smiled at me. I opened my history book, and again, he frowned at me, this time sternly, clothed in his brown, simple partisan uniform and wearing his famous partisan cap with a red star badge. I opened my geography book, and here was he again, a man in a dazzling white suit and dark sunglasses. I opened my physics book, and to my relief, there was no picture of him, only a few of his quotations about the importance of science and knowledge for the defence of our beautiful country. When I became tired of him on the book pages and glanced to the right or left, I would be attacked again by his wise words and messages printed in large, red letters on the white posters. I came home and turned on TV, and there he was again driving his large Mercedes cabriolet around his private island in the Adriatic Sea. He was wearing a white summer hat and smoking his ubiquitous cigar. Beside him, on a passenger seat sat Sofia Loren, Elizabeth Tailor Taylor, Richard Burton, or some other Hollywood stars having a great fun with the Marshal, who was ready to pay them millions of dollars for their participations in numerous partisan films. A former locksmith who promised to fight the bourgeoisie, he had become rich and powerful himself, and he had killed, tortured and imprisoned anyone who did not agree with him. He died in 1980, but years after his death millions behaved as if he had been was still alive, and they promised loudly on at every concert, football match or a conference to follow his path, although nobody knew where that path led. To spend one year together eating, sleeping and marching with such people filled me with dread.
    TO BE CONTINUED
    Notes:
    1. "The man told him that someone had to sign the papers anyway, so my father had no choice but to sign for it."
    This sentence wasn't clear. Did the father have to sign the papers themselves, or was he just signing something for the postman to acknowledge their receipt. The context here will change how the sentence should be written.

    2. "You are a grownup man."
    This isn't a phrase I'd use in BrE. You have a variety of choices: "You are a grown man [now].", "You are an adult [now].", or just simply "You are a man [now]. I'm sure people will think of others they might use instead.

    3. "..on the street and calling me...": I have changed on to in, because that is how I would say it in my regional variation of English (BrE). I'm not sure if on would work in AmE, and so our AmE speaking members can comment about whether that works for them.

    4. "...but I hated its representatives.": This didn't work for me, because to me a representative conjures up the image of a company "rep" going round selling things. I struggled to find the wright words and finally chose "main heroes", simply because I couldn't just use heroes, as I know in Communism a worker can be a hero as well as a leader and so that word on its own wouldn't work in that context. I couldn't use leader without having to change the sentence that follows this one, and leader works perfectly there.
    Last edited by Eckaslike; 05-Sep-2015 at 16:03. Reason: Typo correction.

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    #3

    Re: On the run, part one

    Eckaslike,
    Thank you so much. I understand that correcting this kind of texts takes a lot of time, and I would like to tell you how much I appreciate your help.

    Regarding the sentence "The man told him that someone had to sign for the papers anyway, so my father had no choice but to sign for them.", I can say that it was not an ordinary postman who had delivered them but a messenger from the draft board. However, it was delivered in a form of a letter and the recipient had to sign for it. I was not sure if my sentence was correctly describing the fact, but I could not think of a better expression. Do you have any better idea how to rephrase my sentence so that it would be clearer?

    Regarding my sentence "I had nothing against communism as a political system, but I hated its representatives" I can say that with the word "representatives" I meant to say political representatives. Would my sentence be better if I added "political" to representatives. Or maybe I should simply say,"I hated politicians." ?

  2. Eckaslike's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: On the run, part one

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    Eckaslike,
    Thank you so much. I understand that correcting this kind of texts takes a lot of time, and I would like to tell you how much I appreciate your help.
    You're welcome. I enjoyed reading your story.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    Regarding the sentence "The man told him that someone had to sign for the papers anyway, so my father had no choice but to sign for them.", I can say that it was not an ordinary postman who had delivered them but a messenger from the draft board. However, it was delivered in a form of a letter and the recipient had to sign for it. I was not sure if my sentence was correctly describing the fact, but I could not think of a better expression. Do you have any better idea how to rephrase my sentence so that it would be clearer?
    What I have written works for your context. That is what I had in mind. Ignore the fact I wrote "postman", I had in my mind the concept of something that had to be signed for in some form. The papers had to be issued and signed for, and so the sentence works.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    Or maybe I should simply say,"I hated politicians." ?
    Your original phrase and that above combined have given me the answer: "I hated its politicians".

    "I had nothing against communism as a political system, but I hated its politicians."

    I like that sentence because the ending mirrors the first clause. I think it works well and sounds natural.

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