Peer Review by seaomelette (United Arab Emirates)

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Final Breath

By: poems_of_souls


PROMPT: Cli-Fi

We watched in unison as the timer stopped. The complex machine released the gas. At first, nothing changed. But it wasn't long before the people around us started gasping for air. I thought it was just a toxic gas, but I would soon find out that it was so much more.
    "Come on, we have to go!" He looked at me with scared eyes.
    I just continued to stare at him, completely oblivious to this whole situation. He grabbed me by the arm and started running.
    "Where are we going?" I had to yell to be loud enough for him to hear me with all the screaming and choking all around us. "We have no where to go." His steps faltered for a fraction of a second, but he quickly recovered.
    "I don't know yet. We will find out."
    "This is our home. If we wait it out then the gas will slowly go away." This time he completely stopped, so that he could look at me.
    "That wasn't just any gas, Lana. It was a gas that changes the entire structure of air. It turns it into poison. All the oxygen in the world will soon be deadly, and we will all perish over time. So we must go now. Get as far away from here so we can live more days.
    "If we are going to die anyway, why not stay home. Die in our home. Together." I tried to give him the safest smile I had. If I was going to die it would be here in my home.
    "What about our life together?" His eyes were pleading.
    "We shall live together among the Heavens."
    He walked over and embraced me.
    "I love you." He said.
    "See you in the Heavens." I reached up and kissed him.


Message to Readers

I usually write poems, but I really enjoyed writing this piece. Hope you enjoyed!


Peer Review

I loved the title of this piece - it piqued my curiosity, and the first sentence grabbed my attention right away. I love the idea of a lethal, oxygen-poisoning gas slowly diffusing through the air, and killing everyone who inhales it. It's morbid, thrilling, and frightening, and your ending with the couple's last encounter alive was especially poignant. If I'm correct, this piece relates to serious air pollution in cities throughout the world, and while such pollution may not be so extreme, it still decreases quality of life and health for citizens, which is even more worrying.


The beginning of this piece was eye-catching, and I'd love to know a little more back-story. I understand the 300-word limit, but it would be great if you could squeeze in a few lines of context. For instance, what is the "complex machine" described here? Why are people gathering to watch its timer stop? What does the gas look like? Is it visible? Does it have any color? Any perceptible odor? That's up to you to explore!

This might be what you intended to write, but I found the transition from the couple running to them reaching their house a little abrupt. Until the dialogue explained "this is our home", I wasn't quite sure where the couple had run to. If possible, I think it would be awesome if you could pan the verbal camera up from the dialogue and add in a little description of the characters' surroundings. Did the gas change the color or appearance or texture of the atmosphere yet? Are there any dead people lying around, having succumbed to the gas? How do the buildings/houses around look like? You don't have to go in super magnified detail, but I would suggest adding just a few lines to clarify.


Reviewer Comments

Keep writing! I think it's awesome that you enjoyed writing this piece, even if it's not something you'd usually write. That's the fun of writing! I'd love to read more from you, and if you choose to revise this piece again, I'm down to re-read it! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me in the Comments section below. I'll be happy to help!