Peer Review by parachutes (Canada)

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Just A Step

By: otaku_steve


On the stroke of midnight, Ab'nagel took his first breath, or rather, his first cry. This was followed by a complicated mixture of oink, oinks. His parents stood outside the delivery room, extremely delighted to see their first-born. He was washed of the spurts of blood that decorated his forehead, tummy and joints. Then he was deposited amongst the dozen other piglings that shared his birthday.
    After a fortnight, Ab'nagel was released from his temporary home in the Hospital Of the Co-operative Society Of Pigs. He was awaited eagerly by scores of aunts and uncles at what was soon going to be his ancestral home. He lay on his cot with his little piggy eyes gazing up at all the apparently huge pigs who planted big wet kisses on his forehead until he was entirely doused by pig saliva. Little Ab'nagel enjoyed the attention. He blinked every few seconds flashing his empty gums which had just begun to grow teeth
Like all piglings, Ab'nagel grew apace. When he first went to school he was welcomed with open arms. Unfortunately, Ab'nagel rejected the invitations. You see, Ab'nagel preferred his person to be neat and tidy but that meant staying away from all the other pigs, who were covered with all sorts of slime and dirt. That also meant staying away from the playground and sitting alone during breaks. Once a pretty little pig had offered him a handshake. Ab'nagel had stared at the hand torn between accepting the offer of friendship and dirtying himself. He chose the latter and ran away. Thus, primary school was entirely uneventful for Ab'nagel who became quite used to his isolated lifestyle.
High school, on the other hand, was an entirely different matter. As he entered the class, in his spick and span attire, from his ironed shirt and pant to his polished shoes, he was as different as one could be from the other students who wore century old rags and muddy footwear. The entire class took a mute uncomprehending two minutes of silence to seek to understand this marvel in front of them. This was followed by a burst of laughter as the piggies snickered and chuckled, pointing at Ab'nagel who was now beginning to feel extremely self-conscious. The teacher gave a flourish of 'shushes’ to quieten the class but even she couldn't help smiling at this funny spectacle. She wondered just how exactly would this little pig survive the tortures of his schooling life.
    Young children have the habit of ostracizing people different from them and St. Pigleon’s School was no different. Ab’nagel faced all forms of exploitation at the hands of his classmates from handfuls of slime being thrown at him while he calmly ate during recess to dirt and mud being deposited in his locker. Little Ab’nagel solved this issue with a battalion of wet tissues. Unfortunately, he couldn’t control himself one day when the student behind him kept on splashing mud on his bench when he got up to answer any question. The offender was greeted with one of the greatest bites in pig history with the two-front enlarged teeth that co-incidentally Ab’nagel flossed every day. However this situation couldn’t be ignored and parents of both parties were called upon. Ab’nagel’s tormentor was left off the hook with a thorough scolding and two distinct bite marks. But Ab’nagel’s family was ushered inside the principal’s office. He explained to them the difficulty that was posed due to Ab’nagel’s neatness which even the teachers found unnerving. Having heard this, Ab’nagel stormed out of the office, the second time in his life he had disobeyed school authorities.
Ab’nagel cycled all the way to the Waterside Cliff. Although it was described as a waterfall, in retrospect it could hardly be called one as it only stood 10m tall. At its bottom was a constantly shifting slurry made up of slime and soil. Ab’nagel looked down. Although it wasn’t quite high, Ab’nagel found his legs shivering. The slurry seemed to be moving treacherously waiting to drag someone down into its deep depths. As he stared at it, Ab’nagel thought of the futility of trying to be neat. His life had always been marked with isolation and sadness due to his obsession. All he needed to do was dip himself into the slurry and all would be over. His heartbeat raced like wild horses as he thought what would happen after his christening. He gulped and then held his breath. He began a slow and deliberate count from 1 to 10. At the say of 9, his eyes closed and his body, as if moving on its own, stepped closer to the edge. At 10, a tear slid across Ab’nagel cheek as he took a step forward.
                     
            
 


Peer Review

I found a lot of the components in this story to be very unique and captureative. I think it’s really good how you created an alternate reality where pigs are the dominant species. I feel like this is a really good concept, and well executed.


I want to know more about Ab’negal! I feel like you were restricted in what you could write due to the word limit. I would absolutely love to read more about this universe, and Ab’negals life. Some dialogue would aid in that , and do you maybe want to expand this into a miniseries? I feel like that would be awesome, and I definitely would read it :)


There are a few things in this piece that don’t seem to fit, but I feel like they all can and will be fixed in your next editing phase.

The first was, how exactly do pigs handshake? They don’t have hands, so calling it a handshake seems almost wrong. Try to find a new phrase for it (what about a “stump bump”?)

The second was similar to the first; you say that Ab’nagel was “welcomed with open arms” when he joined school, but pigs don’t quite have arms. Try to come up with a less “human” phrase if possible.

And lastly, was when you wrote “young children have the habit of ostracizing people different from them”. This sentence needs some reworking for the same reasons as I stated above.

The reason why I suggest you change these things is because I found it hard to picture Ab’nagel as a pig, and this being a pig world.


Hi otuko! I love your story, and can’t wait to see what you do with it! It is such a heartbreaking tale. Thank you for writing this and sharing it with me!


Reviewer Comments

Where did this concept come from? It’s really cool. Also, where’d Ab’negals name originate from. It’s a super groovy name. Best of luck with the contest!