Peer Review by Juliana (United States of America)()

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dante's inferno

By: Anha

he flourished on a signature capability, the ease of his smile and the twinkle in his eye.

his abuela would pinch his cheeks when he came to visit, strong arms cradling peaches from the gringo's tree; he'd never tell her where he had plucked them, but she savoured the flavour with such open ecstasy that he never considered it a crime. besides, the gringo was old, and the peach tree was hidden from view. how it produced fruit, he had no idea; he barely saw the man leave the house, and never saw him watering the tree however often he peered through his second-story shutters, open newspaper lying abandoned on the fading wooden table.

his nephew delivered the newspaper to his doorstep every day, with his dirt-encrusted fingernails and gap-toothed grin. his eyes creased like a summer breeze, and as soon as he was given his coin and orange juice, he would hop back on his rusting bicycle to continue his rounds. the man would retreat inside his home, with its flaking plaster and creaking beams, and read. his nephew carried less papers in the basket of his bicycle now. less people needed to read to know who had died, who had visited foreign countries, who the next official delegate was. they saw it all on their flickering boxes. crackling waves becoming coherent as the country's new presenters babbled about taxes and the economy and the state of america and--

the doorbell rings and he is flung from his thoughts. he had been staring at the print without seeing it, but the doorbell rang again, insistent, paired with a loud rap of knuckles on his splintering door. he answers it, reading glasses tucked into the front pocket of his shirt.

it's a gringo.

not the one from next door. younger. he speaks spanish as if it were his mother tongue. perhaps it is. the man nods as the young gringo introduces himself as "antonio". they shake hands and he says, "dante."

antonio is the gringo's nephew, he is told. here to help him since he took a fall in january.

dante didn't know the gringo had a fall.

he didn't know that the gringo's name was carlos.

looking more closely at antonio, he doesn't look like such a gringo after all. he's pale, yes, but not american or scandinavian. maybe a long time ago, but not now. sun-kissed is a cliche term, but the spots tracing his arms and up his neck tell dante that the sun loves him. maybe a little too much.

dante invites him in for coffee. antonio agrees.

they drink and talk and laugh, and a week later, dante realises antonio has a twinkle in his eye too.

the stars always shine above dante's crumbling abode.

the title's a play on words; no, this isn't secretly purgatory. i wouldn't do that to my boys.

Message to Readers

thinking of writing a follow-up piece for this one; i don't think i'm quite done with dante and antonio yet.

if you enjoyed this piece, comment!! likes tell writers nothing without feedback
reviews very much appreciated

Peer Review

I love that you weaved the smile and twinkle back into the story, especially when you expressed they smile with words other than "smile." In fact, you might consider saying "twinkle" differently near the end i.e. "dante realises antonio has a twinkle in his eye too."
I love your balance of simple sentence structure with interesting descriptions. Your speech comes across as "simple/plain" but when you actually look at the vocab, it's not. I think that's a sign that you know how to use your sophisticated style to communicate a the tone you want. Bravo!

I'd just like to say, most of my highlights are super nitpicky (which I think is the wrong word...). You did a great job and I loved the challenge of getting to review this. Here are some suggestions and concerns:
Careful with your present/past tense. Sometimes you switch back and forth; it throws the reader off a little and disrupts the flow.
I like your subtlety, but there were several spots where I wasn't sure which character you were talking about. I would suggest having like 3 people read the story aloud and ask them if anything is confusing. That way, 1, you'll know if I'm right or just dumb, 2, you'll hear how they are reading it, like what words they stress, and 3, they may come across other spots that I missed.
One more thing to think about. You don't give the character's defined personalities. Now, I'm not going to say you need to (for all I know, you could have done that on purpose), but it's something to think about.

Reviewer Comments

I made sure to read this like 7 times--sometimes highlighting, sometimes just taking it in--to make sure I really did the work and understood the story. I know a lot of my highlights were compliments, but I did that partially to point out what worked and why. I think understanding what we're doing right and why can teach us almost as much as understanding what we're doing wrong.