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  1. #1
    alpacinoutd is offline Key Member
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    Phillip had to drive back home

    Is this correct and natural?

    Phillip had to drive back home one last time to gather his belongings. Home, he thought, looking at a faint scar on his left wrist, the mark of his failed suicide attempt three weeks before. He gripped the steering wheel tight as he turned into a steep downhill street. To his left, the city, wrapped in a pall of dust, stretched to the foot of low mountains on the eastern horizon. A faint sunlight bled through dark clouds, enveloping the mountains in a hazy orange glow.

    He slowed down as he neared a junction and stopped behind a long line of cars stuck in the afternoon traffic. There was a narrow street that joined the wider one Philip was on. Cars from the narrower street were trying cram into the already congested main street. Philip sat motionless and listened to the horns blaring. His mind was completely still. Two drivers slid out of their cars and got into a verbal fight. They ranted and raved waving their hands angrily and and throwing out just about every racial and sexual insult there was but Philip was too withdrawn to pay attention to them.

    The traffic started crawling forward and a few minutes later Philip arrived, parking in front of the building, their home. He dragged himself up the stairs. His heartbeat quickened as he entered the apartment. Grief, when he felt it, came in waves, sweeping him and then leaving him numb. He saw a picture of Patricia hanging on the wall and his stomach twisted. Philip sprawled on the wooden floor and broke into tears. A part of him was hoping she would still be alive, sleep in their bedroom. He crawled there. It was empty and quiet except for the patter of the rain.

    Her death had left a gaping hole inside him that he knew eventually would eat him from inside out. He could delay his fall, but it would come. He stepped onto the balcony. A spring rain was hammering down now, lighting flashing among dark clouds. Big drops were falling almost diagonally in the howling wind. Philip gazed at them wash the dust-covered sky. He remembered the last time they sat together in the balcony and listened to rain. He chuckled but the images of a scrawny Patricia on the hospital bed, struggling to drink milk and vomiting flashed through his mind, turning his chuckle to a low cry.

    "You will be fine when I come back," he said the last time he saw her, before leaving for his mission. Now his mind was forming a whole of picture what he wasn't there to see. Pats twitching in pain and dying alone.

    It was as if the mess of dust and rain outside blended with the mess inside him. His stomach clenched again. "Goddamn you Patricia. You could've put up a fight but didn't," he yelled, his voice drowning out in the noises from the city.

  2. #2
    Tarheel's Avatar
    Tarheel is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Phillip had to drive back home

    Quote Originally Posted by alpacinoutd View Post
    Is this correct and natural?

    Phillip had to drive back home one last time to gather his belongings. Home, he thought, looking at a faint scar on his left wrist, the mark of his failed suicide attempt three weeks before. He gripped the steering wheel tight as he turned into a steep downhill street. To his left, the city, wrapped in a pall of dust, stretched to the foot of low mountains on the eastern horizon. A faint sunlight bled through dark clouds, enveloping the mountains in a hazy orange glow.

    You need an adverb there. Say he gripped the wheel tightly. Also, I would say he drove onto the street.

    He slowed down as he neared a junction and stopped behind a long line of cars stuck in the afternoon traffic. There was a narrow street that joined the wider one Philip was on. Cars from the narrower street were trying to cram onto the already congested main street. Philip sat motionless and listened to the horns blaring. His mind was completely still. Two drivers slid out of their cars and got into a verbal fight. They ranted and raved waving their hands angrily and and throwing out just about every racial and sexual insult there was, but Philip was too preoccupied to pay attention to them.

    The traffic crawled forward, and a few minutes later Philip arrived, parking in front of the building, their home. He dragged himself up the stairs. His heartbeat quickened as he entered the apartment. Grief, when he felt it, came in waves, sweeping over him and then leaving him numb. He saw a picture of Patricia hanging on the wall and his stomach twisted. Philip sprawled on the wooden floor and broke into tears. A part of him was hoping she would still be alive, asleep in their bedroom. He crawled in there. It was empty and quiet except for the patter of the rain.

    Her death had left a gaping hole inside him that he knew eventually would eat him from inside out. He could delay his fall, but it would come. He stepped onto the balcony. A spring rain was hammering down now, lightning flashing among dark clouds. Big drops were falling almost diagonally in the howling wind. Philip gazed at them wash the dust-covered sky. He remembered the last time they sat together on the balcony and listened to rain. He chuckled, but the images of a scrawny Patricia on the hospital bed, struggling to drink milk and vomiting flashed through his mind, turning his chuckle to a low cry.

    "You will be fine when I come back," he said the last time he saw her, before leaving for his mission. Now his mind was forming a whole of picture what he wasn't there to see. Pats twitching in pain and dying alone.

    It was as if the mess of dust and rain outside blended with the mess inside him. His stomach clenched again. "Goddamn you Patricia! You could've put up a fight but didn't," he yelled, his voice drowning out in the noises from the city.
    Commas!
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  3. #3
    teechar's Avatar
    teechar is online now Moderator
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    Re: Phillip had to drive back home

    A couple of corrections:

    Quote Originally Posted by alpacinoutd View Post
    Now his mind was forming a whole of picture of what he wasn't there to see. Pat's twitching in pain and dying alone.
    See above.

    Quote Originally Posted by alpacinoutd View Post
    ... his voice drowning out in the noises from the city.
    You're mixing two expressions "to drown out something" and "to drown in something". Here, you need the latter.

  4. #4
    alpacinoutd is offline Key Member
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    Re: Phillip had to drive back home

    Quote Originally Posted by teechar View Post
    A couple of corrections:


    See above.


    You're mixing two expressions "to drown out something" and "to drown in something". Here, you need the latter.
    Do you mean it should be like this?

    You could've put up a fight but didn't," he yelled, his voice drowning in the noises from the city.

    You could've put up a fight but didn't," he yelled, the noises from the city drowning his voice.

    Which one is better?

  5. #5
    Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
    Charlie Bernstein is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Phillip had to drive back home

    Quote Originally Posted by alpacinoutd View Post
    Do you mean it should be like this?

    You could've put up a fight but didn't," he yelled, his voice drowning in the noises from the city.

    You could've put up a fight but didn't," he yelled, the noises from the city drowning his voice.

    Which one is better?
    Both are fine. Other choices include:

    - . . . his voice drowned out by the noise of the city.

    - . . . the noise of the city drowning out his voice.

    We usually say drowned out when talking about sound, but it's still natural without now.

    Also notice that in this context, noise can be uncountable. Again, it's your choice. Uncountable is more likely, but the plural noises is also natural.

    Since all of the above are natural and mean the same thing, just use whichever you like best.

    More notes:

    Verbal fight isn't natural. Say argument.

    Put a comma after "ranted and raved."

    You'd be amazed how many Americans can't spell lightning.

    The image of rain and dust doesn't really work. Dust is dry.

    It's good!
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; 08-May-2021 at 14:53.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  6. #6
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Re: Phillip had to drive back home

    You turn "into" a street in BrE, especially if you turn a clear corner (roughly a 90-degree angle).
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  7. #7
    Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
    Charlie Bernstein is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Phillip had to drive back home

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    You turn "into" a street in BrE, especially if you turn a clear corner (roughly a 90-degree angle).
    In the US, it's into ior onto, depending on context.

    We turn into driveways, parking lots, alleys, and sometimes smaller streets or lanes. Otherwise, we usually turn onto streets.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  8. #8
    alpacinoutd is offline Key Member
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    Re: Phillip had to drive back home

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post

    The image of rain and dust doesn't really work. Dust is dry.

    It's good!
    Which one are you talking about Charlie?

    Philip gazed at them wash the dust-covered sky.

    It was as if the mess of dust and rain outside blended with the mess inside him.


    Is there a way it could be fixed?

  9. #9
    Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
    Charlie Bernstein is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Phillip had to drive back home

    Quote Originally Posted by alpacinoutd View Post
    Which one are you talking about Charlie?

    Philip gazed at them wash the dust-covered sky.

    There, it sounds like the rain is removing the dust from the sky. That makes some sense.


    It was as if the mess of dust and rain outside blended with the mess inside him.

    That's the one I was talking about.


    Is there a way it could be fixed?

    Always.
    If something doesn't work one way, try another!
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  10. #10
    alpacinoutd is offline Key Member
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    Re: Phillip had to drive back home

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    If something doesn't work one way, try another!
    It was as if the mess created by dust floating in the air and rain falling down blended with the mess inside him.

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