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    #1

    Father , part two

    Would you please correct the mistakes in the second part of my short story?

    We fell into silence again. Our eyes turned to the window and the endless lines of trees moving along. The train was running smoothly, the steel wheels clattering monotonously on the rails. I almost drifted into sleep when I heard my companion’s voice, “Did you fight in the war?”
    “I wished I did. But I never got a chance. The Serb military rounded up all Bosniak and Croat men in my town and held us imprisoned for months. Ever heard of Omarska prison camp? You can find about it on the Internet if you are interested to know.”
    “Have you been tortured?”
    “No. I lost about 25 kilograms in 90 days. But you should have seen my friend I was visiting today. He was so badly beaten I believed he would never pull through, but somehow he did. I could tell you for hours what the guards did to the prisoners, but it is probably better not to know. After my stories, you’d get nightmares.”

    He winced, took off his spectacles, massaged his eyebrows, stared at me, and asked, “How do you cope with life after such dreadful experiences?”
    “You pretend nothing had happened, you find a job, start a family, and then you wake up bathing in your own sweat after bad dreams.”
    “What happened to your family in Bosnia?”
    “My father died during the war, and as for my mother, I really don’t know. She left me when I was a six years old, and she never bothered to come back.”
    “Oh, I am sorry.” he said and we lapsed into silence.
    After a while, I asked him if he was Swedish.

    “Half,” he answered, and his face grew sad. “My father was American, came to Sweden during the Vietnam War. He did not want to fight and kill innocent people. And then he met my mother and married her, and nine months later they got me. When I was still a child, he ran away and married another woman. After that, I met him only once. He showed me a picture of my half-sister. I wanted to punch him in the face. I hated him for what he had done to us. I will never forget my mother’s tears after he had abandoned us. She is the kindest woman you can imagine. She adored him, called him my American boy, and pampered him like a child. She bought expensive clothes for him, took him to see her friends and family, and drove him in her car to show him how beautiful Sweden is. And what he had done as a token of appreciation? He abandoned her and left me without Father, when I mostly needed him. Later, he sent me a few letters, which I never bothered to answer. And suddenly, when I have almost forgotten him, three days ago, I got this book written and published by him and a letter telling me he is suffering from lung cancer. His days are numbered; he wishes to see me one last time. When I got a parcel, I wanted to throw it into rubbish and forget about it, but Mother told me I had to go. I had to look him in the eye and ask questions, which I was unable to ask all these years. His second wife had run away from him; he has no friends or family. He his sitting in his small cottage somewhere in Lapland, like a stray dog, waiting for his doom. His autobiography tells me not much. He believed the US government was after him, which is an absurd claim. He was rather running from himself.”

    The man’s voice faltered and his face contorted into a sombre masque. I felt I had to leave him alone, and I walked to the buffet and ordered beer. I sat by the window thinking about the story I just heard. It echoed with my own life. At least, my companion was going to have a chat with his father and probably get the answers on his questions – a chance which I would never have. I wished I could also ask my mother a few questions, and understand why she was so uncaring. What were her goals in life? Did she find happiness after she had run away? But I was not sad. My mind was giddy with anticipation. In a few hours, I would be meeting my good friend Salih, his wife Amira, and his two children. We would have a wonderful time together. We were going to crack jokes, revive old memories, exchange gossip and taste Amira’s excellent pies and soups. Tomorrow I would be replacing some rotten fence posts, and broken tiles on the roof. I was eager to help my friend even if had to travel hundreds of kilometres. More than two decades after he was released from the prison camp, Salih still had pain in his body. If I close my eyes, I can see him being beaten by his former colleague Milos in front of hundreds of us. Milos, with his dilated, bloodshot eyes, sweaty and shouting, swinging a metal bar like in a frenzy, hitting the screaming Salih all over his body, and turning him into a lifeless heap on the dirty concrete floor.
    THE END

  1. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Father , part two

    I like the first sentence. It's a good line. Let's look at the second one. I would make a minor change here, adding a parenthetical remark. Perhaps:

    Our eyes turned to the window and the endless line of trees moving past us. (It seemed as if we were standing still and the trees were moving.)

  2. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Father , part two

    Say:

    I had almost drifted off to sleep when I heard my companion's voice. "Did you fight in the war?" I heard him say. "I wish I had," I replied.

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    #4

    Re: Father , part two

    Tarheel,
    I think that the problem with your parenthetical remark is that it does not give an important information to the story. I think that you should put a sentence in a parenthesis if there is something a reader should know, which he does not find in the previous sentences. If I delete your parenthetical remark, it will not affect my text whatsoever.

  3. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Father , part two

    Perhaps:

    "Were you tortured while you were held prisoner?"

    (I was starting to get confused at this point about who said what to whom.)

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    #6

    Re: Father , part two

    Tarheel,
    You do not need to write twice "I heard him "
    "I had almost drifted off to sleep when I heard my companion's voice, "Did you fight in the war?" I heard him say. "I heard him say" is redundant. Likewise, "I replied. The reader can understand who is talking, so there is no need to tell him who is talking.

  4. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Father , part two

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    Tarheel,
    I think that the problem with your parenthetical remark is that it does not give an important information to the story. I think that you should put a sentence in a parenthesis if there is something a reader should know, which he does not find in the previous sentences. If I delete your parenthetical remark, it will not affect my text whatsoever.
    Yes, but the trees weren't really moving. The train was moving, and the trees only seemed to be moving.

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    #8

    Re: Father , part two

    What about this sentence?

    Our eyes turned to the window and the endless line of trees passing by.

  5. teechar's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Father , part two

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    We fell into silence again. Our eyes turned to the window and the endless lines of trees moving along. The train was running smoothly, the steel wheels clattering monotonously on the rails. I almost drifted into sleep when I heard my companion’s voice, “Did you fight in the war?”
    I wish ed I did. But I never got a chance. The Serb military rounded up all Bosniak and Croat men in my town and held us imprisoned for months. Ever heard of Omarska prison camp? You can find out about it on the Internet if you are interested to know.”
    Have were you been tortured?”
    “No. I lost about 25 kilograms in 90 days. But you should have seen my friend I was visiting today. He was so badly beaten I believed he would never pull through, but somehow he did. I could go on tell you for hours telling you what the guards did to the prisoners, but it is probably better not to know. After my stories, you’d get nightmares.”

    He winced, took off his spectacles, massaged his eyebrows, stared at me, and asked, “How do you cope with life after such dreadful experiences?”
    “You pretend nothing had happened; you find a job, start a family, and then you wake up bathing in your own sweat after bad dreams.”
    “What happened to your family in Bosnia?”
    “My father died during the war, and as for my mother, I really don’t know. She left me when I was a six years old, and she never bothered to come back.”
    “Oh, I am sorry.” he said and we lapsed into silence.
    After a while, I asked him if he was Swedish.

    “Half,” he answered, and his face grew sad. “My father was American, came to Sweden during the Vietnam War. He did not want to fight and kill innocent people. And then he met my mother and married her, and nine months later they got me. When I was still a child, he ran away and married another woman. After that, I met him only once. He showed me a picture of my half-sister. I wanted to punch him in the face. I hated him for what he had done to us. I will never forget my mother’s tears after he had abandoned us. She is the kindest woman you can imagine. She adored him, called him my American boy, and pampered him like a child. She bought expensive clothes for him, took him to see her friends and family, and drove him in her car to show him how beautiful Sweden is. And what did he had done as a token of do to show his appreciation? He abandoned her and left me fatherless without Father, when I most ly needed him. Later, he sent me a few letters, which I never bothered to answer. And suddenly, when I have almost forgotten him, three days ago, I got this book written and published by him and a letter telling me he is suffering from lung cancer. His days are numbered; he wishes to see me one last time. When I got the parcel, I wanted to throw it into the rubbish and forget about it, but Mother told me I had to go. I had to look him in the eye and ask questions, which I was unable to ask all these years. His second wife had run away from him; he has no friends or family. He is sitting in his small cottage somewhere in Lapland, like a stray dog, waiting for his doom. His autobiography doesn't tell me not much about him. He believed the US government was after him, which is an absurd claim. He was rather running from himself.”

    The man’s voice faltered and his face contorted into a sombre masque. I felt I had to leave him alone, and I walked to the buffet and ordered a beer. I sat by the window thinking about the story I had just heard. It echoed with my own life. At least, my companion was going to have a chat with his father and probably get the answers on to his questions – a chance which I would never have. I wished I could also ask my mother a few questions , and to understand why she was so uncaring. What were her goals in life? Did she find happiness after she had run away? But I was not sad. My mind was giddy with anticipation. In a few hours, I would be meeting my good friend Salih, his wife Amira, and his their two children. We would have a wonderful time together. We were going to crack jokes, revive old memories, exchange gossip and taste Amira’s excellent pies and soups. Tomorrow, I would be replacing some rotten fence posts, and broken tiles on the roof of their house. I was eager to help my friend even if had to travel hundreds of kilometres. More than two decades after he was released from the prison camp, Salih still had pain in his body. If I close my eyes, I can see him being beaten by his former colleague Milos in front of hundreds of us. Milos, with his dilated, bloodshot eyes, sweaty and loud, shouting, swinging a metal bar like in a frenzy, hitting the screaming Salih all over his body, and turning him into a lifeless heap on the dirty concrete floor.
    THE END
    - Consider "clattering monotonously and rhythmically."
    - If it's a past wish, use "I wished I had."
    - If the children are not Amira's, use "his children."
    - I'm sorry to see the story end abruptly. It was developing along quite nicely.

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    #10

    Re: Father , part two

    Dear teechar,
    The problem is that my vocabulary is not as rich as I wished. For example, when I wanted to describe the moving of the train wheels, I could not remember the word "clattering." I had to stop writing, and I had to look up in my dictionary and search for the proper words and sometimes for the synonyms. And so many times I had to stop and look up in my dictionary, which make me frustrated. But I know I am still learning, and with the language it is a long process, although I ask myself what I am doing and if I have not put in front of myself a high goal, which is difficult to reach. It is interesting to observe yourself and this struggle, which is happening in your mind. It is like climbing a steep mountain and you cannot even see the peak, but you still go on.
    Regarding this story, I see it more like an exercise then a real story, I have not planned to write it long. I wanted to see if I can describe a human being and create a dialogue without going to deep into the characters.
    Thank you again for helping me on my long and difficult path.

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