Peer Review by seaomelette (United Arab Emirates)

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I Am Alone (My Attempt at a Halloween story)

By: madeline3.14159


FREE WRITING

    I tread carefully, but my legacy still creaks underneath my invisible feet. Haunting music wafts through the air, disturbing my alone time. I am drawn to the dancing like a moth is drawn to a light. It is my light in the darkness, my friend in the loneliness. And so, I have no choice but to follow the music. I climb the grand flight of stairs leading from the tunnels to the first floor. Ancient footprints disturb the dust that has been settling for nearly one hundred fifty years. I climb up the marble staircase, worn to the point that their surface caves inwards towards the center. Here, the dust has been swept away to be replaced by mud and water and snow from the many children that climb the two flights every day. Next, I climb ever upwards towards the third level, my level. Air from the age-old furnace fills my nostrils as I push open the door into the ballroom, my ballroom. The door squeals noisily as I enter. My eyes finally catch sight of the dancers preforming their art, my art. But my entrance seems to have cause a disturbance. 
    "The door just opened by itself..." One girl hisses to another, grabbing her arm with nervous excitement. 
    "It's probably just Mr. Allen." The other girl rolls her eyes and pushes her friend away. Then they both break into giggles and spread back apart to dance.     
    I spend several minutes wandering the room, my room, to just survey it. The cracked and peeling walls. The folding chairs placed at awkward angles. The dusty wooden stage. The painted dome that makes each noise echo a million fold. And the dancers. These are not my dancers. But I still watch them. 
    I watch as they dance to music portraying me. Or maybe not truly. 
    A girl stands alone, surrounded by a group of the people that used to be her friends. They cast her aside because she sees. But I do not understand. She sees the three figments that loom around her, taunting her with their gestures. Momentarily, I wonder if I have finally found someone like me. This idea is enough to bring me out of my chair and towards them. 
    I join them and for a moment, four figures loom around the girl. I turn to my side and smile at the figment who stands beside me. A little wave, a passing wink, a grin. That's all I need. Confirmation that I am not going insane. But no, the music stops. The friends I thought I knew laugh, and mingle with the dancers they were haunting. It was an act. A play on what I an going through now. And once again I am invisible. 
    My invisibility never stops me from being with them though. I want to hear a sliver of the human mind, and in some ways, my invisibility makes me invincible. Time has passed, but humans don't change. They speak of the same drama only altered. They speak of the same problems only warped. They could be my dancers if they tried hard enough, couldn't they?
    Or maybe it's me that isn't trying hard enough... 
    "Hello?" I walk to the middle of their circle and speak. It is a strange feeling in my rusty vocal chords. Years of silence broken. "Please, I have a request for you..." I turn to the girl nearest me. Her red face is smiling from a joke made by a friend sitting near by. "Please, young miss. It won't take but a second..." But the girl has already left through the door. This time, I turn to one who is quiet. I whisper to her, hoping her loneliness will bridge the space between our dimensions. "Can you hear me?" She turns her face down and scratches her foot. The stream of dancers leaving becomes heavier and I know I will soon be left alone again. This cannot happen. I need... 
    "STOP IT!" I scream. I cannot stay alone. I need...
    "PLEASE! I need you to talk to me..." I want to be acknowledged. I need... 
    But they continue flowing through the stream, ignoring my pleas. My invisibility no longer makes me invincible. In fact, quite the opposite. My invisibility makes it so that my heart is exposed to the raw heat of the ancient furnaces. I crumple to the ground in a heap. Screaming. Crying.
    But I am alone. 
    Again.
    I am only the ghost of my conscience haunting the ghost of the legacy I built. The Allen School of Dance. The place where I taught and loved and grew to be loved. Even one hundred years later dancers the dancers remember even if they do not remember what they remember. 
     I know because they called me Mr. Allen. My name was Mr. Allen, but now I am more commonly known as the ghost of Mr. Allen.    
    I am Mr. Allen, and I am alone. 

SOOO... This is my take on a creepy story... I'm not sure how creepy it really is, but it is based on the ghost that haunts the place I dance. Mr. Allen truly created Allen school of dance in 1913 on the top floor of a cracker factory that was built in 1892. The building fell into disrepair and was bought by my dance teacher around 1990 or so. Allegedly, Mr. Allen haunts the building and is the reason why doors frequently open and close. Let me know what you think...  (Also, around this time last year, my dance company took a tour from my dance teacher's husband around the lower floors of the building... It was SOOO creepy. It was also like 2:00 AM and we only had a flashlight so that might be partly why XD) 

Message to Readers

I don't know if I like this or not...


Peer Review

This was such an interesting concept! I really loved the idea of a ghost dance teacher visiting the halls of his academy, and I loved how you describe his invisible passage and his inner agony at having to pace unseen. It all gets even better when you mention in the footnotes that your piece is based on a true ghost story. Ooo...creepy.


Honestly, there isn't much I would comment on--the organization flows really nicely, and I felt a good connection with Mr. Allen, even though he's a ghost! However, I think this piece could be made even better if you considered introducing more variety in your sentence structure, connecting your sentences a little more, and expanding your descriptions of scenery and characters. For instance, in your first paragraph, you introduce Mr. Allen ascending the stairs from the basement. Each sentence is well-written and uses super vivid imagery, but to improve and enliven this paragraph's flow, I would suggest varying your sentence length and structure. Rather than writing uniform sentences, I suggest trying different shapes and sizes (i.e. short...long...long...short...long...long...long). Of course, you don't have to keep a fixed formula of sentence length in mind. The key thing to remember is to introduce variety. I find that the best way to determine whether a paragraph needs more variation is to read your piece aloud. When you write your first draft, don't bother with grammar pretensions and ponderings (or GPP, as I like to call it), but just go ahead and get all your awesome ideas on the page. Then, try reading your finished draft aloud. You don't have to be Morgan Freeman or some person on Audible, but just read slowly and naturally. Reading aloud, you'll be able to catch any awkward-sounding sentences or blocky paragraphs, and even minor typos and grammatical errors you might have missed while scanning quickly. Besides sentence variety, I would suggest connecting some of the separate phrases you've sprinkled throughout this piece (i.e. The cracked and peeling walls. The folding chairs placed at awkward angles. etc.) Don't take me wrong, short phrases as these can be very powerful, but I'd advise not to overuse them, as this can make a paragraph sound a little choppy. And lastly, I feel that this piece would be even more impactful if you expanded your descriptions a little more. For instance, when Mr. Allen opens the ballroom door, it would be awesome if you described the girls' reaction in more detail--their dancing, their initial reaction of fright, relieved smiles on their faces, their laughter, their returning to dance. This is just a suggestion though, so if you think this isn't applicable, feel free to ignore it!


Reviewer Comments

Keep up the fantastic writing! I found this story super interesting, and I absolutely loved the concept. If you do choose to revise this piece again, I'm down to re-read it. <3