Peer Review by Riley Noel (United States)

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8 AM, June 25...Please Review!

By: lizbadiz


    I step out of my apartment, coffee in hand, and close the door behind me. Then, realizing I had forgotten my purse, I turn around again. And scream. And drop my coffee all over my (new!) white blouse.
    There is. A dead cat. Nailed. To my door. 
    I glance down the hallway. Empty. No, wait, there's a door opening down towards the end. A man in a dark suit steps out.
    "Please-" I call, and he turns, stares at me. Sighing, I take a step towards him. "Could you-"
    But he whips around, turns the corner, and is gone.
    Okay, so no help from him. I brace myself and look at the cat. How am I going to get it off my door? Part of me wants to leave for work and let someone else deal with it while I’m gone. For a moment, I imagine calling my landlady, Mrs. Smythe. This thought sends me into a brief bout of hysterical giggles.
    Finally, I swallow my laughter and reach for my phone, thinking of the one person who I could call for help, only to realize that my phone is still back at my apartment. 
    I rub my eyes and try to remember-is there a pay phone I could use somewhere close? Maybe, I think, Lee’s Grocery downstairs has one. I begin to walk to the stairs. Halfway down, on a landing, something shiny glints at me. I reach down and pick it up.
    Cheddar, it reads, Lea Rossi, 954 Quantico St...Please Return Me!
    I continue to walk, fingering the collar. Was this the collar of the cat on my door?
    Mr. Lee points me in the direction of a pay phone in the back of the store, near the fish display. I dig in my wallet to find a quarter before putting in a number. Holding the phone to my ear, I stare out through Aisle 10 as people wander in and out of the store.
    “Hello? Who is this?”
    I clutch the phone. “Pauline, it’s me.” Pauline and I had been friends in college, and now that we lived in the same city, we had reached nearly best-friend status.
    “Esther? Why’re you calling from this number?”
    “I left my phone in my apartment.”
    “Ok.” Pause. “Then why are you calling?”
    “Someone nailed a cat to my door.”
    There is a coughing noise on the other end. It goes on for so long that I say, “Are you okay over there?”
    One more cough, and Pauline whispers, “You said that just as I took a drink of water. What do you mean, there’s a cat nailed to your door?”
    “I don’t know!” Catching a glare from Mr. Lee’s wife as she emerged from the back room, I lower my voice. “It was there when I went out this morning.”
    I can sense Pauline pacing. “How is that even possible? Wouldn’t you have heard them hammering it in?”
    “I don’t know,” I repeat. “I mean, my door is really heavy, so maybe it blocked the noise?”
    “And you do sleep through anything."
    “But that’s not the problem.” I tap my foot against the cracked tile floor. “Why would anyone do that?”
    “Maybe it’s the Mafia.”
    “Be serious.” I frown. “Can you get over here and help me take it off?”
    “Can I send Jeffrey instead?” This is Pauline's boyfriend.
    “Sure, but I need you there too." A groan from the other end of the line. "Please? For moral support?”
    “All right. Be there in ten.”
    “Thanks. Bye.” I hang the phone up and head back down Aisle 10. The front door swings open as I walk towards it, and the dark-suited man steps inside. I find myself staring at him at the same moment he glances up, and we lock into awkward eye contact before I glance down quickly. Up front, I pass him by as he examines a display of out-of-date Valentine’s chocolates. 
    “Will you be buying one of those, sir?” Mr. Lee asks hopefully.
    As I step out the door, I hear the man say, “I’ll just have a pack of cigarettes.”
    In ten minutes, Pauline and Jeffrey appear, armed with plastic gloves and bags. 
    “We came prepared,” announces Pauline, swinging a plastic bag, and we all troop upstairs. 
    Upon viewing of the cat, Pauline turns a pale shade of green and Jeffrey swears loudly and colorfully.
    “Are you sure we shouldn’t call Animal Control instead?” 
    “It’s fine,” I say. “We can do it ourselves.” They don’t look convinced.

Message to Readers

1. Is the dialogue realistic? Or is it awkward and clunky?
2. Does the piece flow well?
3. At what point did you get bored?

Peer Review

The opening lines immediately drew me into your story. I left some notes on how to improve it just a little, but it is a great start. I also was intrigued by your characters and there situation they have found themselves in.

There are a few places I left notes on expanding certain ideas, or motives, but I think overall you have a pretty great piece. I do just have one question, couldn't she just go back into her apartment to get her phone? Unless she locked the door behind her? I just was confused as to why she had to use the pay phone if she didn't lock her apartment, and thus could go back in to get her phone/purse.

Reviewer Comments

I think your dialogue was very well written and human. There are a few places I pointed out in may notes that felt a little rushed or unfinished as far as flow wise, but other then that your piece flowed wonderfully. I didn't really get bored so much as wanted to know more. I felt the ending could be expanded, or if this is only part one I look forward to reading the rest. Excellent work!