Peer Review by Huba Huba (United States)

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Nothing Happens in Small Towns

By: Coeur

    Marina flattened her fingertips against concrete. Sunlight's reflection made her mulberry nails shine; one beam winked across the gem on her middle finger. It was nearly enough to blind someone. 
    Cal's nails were plain, chipped from being bitten, and tiny. She'd clenched the concrete lip of the pool so hard her knuckles turned as red as Marina's sunburned nose. Both girls hung off the pool. Unfinished stones bordering the edge bit into their underarms, which should have been noticeable. It wasn't. Other sensations- sensations like summer lilacs, chlorine, and hot-dogs waltzing into one's nose and brain, like sweat and water droplets clinging to burned skin, like humid air tickling the hairs at the nape of one's neck- those sensations blotted out the mild discomfort of concrete. 
    In the last forty-five minutes, Marina had spoken for twenty-seven seconds exactly. Earlier, she'd popped an earbud into one ear. Cal implied that listening to music while talking to other people was rude. Marina implied that she hated this remark by cussing Cal out. (That was the twenty-seven seconds.) Then: radio-silence.
    There was only so long someone could take it, this horrid quiet. So, Cal burst out-"My phone fell out of my backpack. I'm gonna put it back before somebody steps on it or something," 
    “Or steals it. This is a public pool.” Marina pulled one earbud out and dangled the cord away from the water. She refused to meet the other girls' eyes. 
   "No one steals here. Actually, I'll take that back. Maybe someone will steal your coffee table at Beans-For-Days or something,” Cal's blue eyes crinkled with giggles.
    “There could be deplorable thievery here. You have no proof there aren't.”
    “You’re just used to North NJ.” Cal pulled herself out of the pool and bent down to pick up her phone. Her bright orange tankini and white cover-up differed drastically from her friend's violet star-encrusted bikini. At the beginning of the summer the girls had fought over these differences, but by July that fight petered out. 
    Water flared up as Cal plunged back into the pool. It crashed down on the other girl and dripped off her bob onto her ears. Cal shook her straight, strawberry-blonde hair out of her face as if she was a strawberry-blonde labradoodle. Half of it fell from its customary pigtail and swirled around her like molten gold. The other pigtail still swung above her ear. Marina pointed out its lopsided appearance with a raise of her eyebrow.  
    “Oh! Did I splash you? I thought you were out of range.” As she babbled, Cal gathered her hair into a nondescript bun.
    “Sure, you did.” One of Marina's infamous eye rolls accompanied this line.  
    Her friend flinched. 
    "We're meeting with Davy today. Let's go." They clambered out of the pool, pulled jeans on over their suits, and strode to the road. Usually, the girls chilled at the pool on Tuesdays and visited Davy on Fridays. However, Cal couldn't make it on Tuesday, so they'd moved both hangouts to Fridays. It was a change in routine, which was always bad, and it was Cal's fault. Marina ground her teeth, then winced at the revolting grating sound this made. 
    As their flip-flops pounded on the sidewalk, Cal gazed up at the sky. Compared to the graying sky, the pure white clouds were vivid bursts of pure white. White like ivory, bones or... teeth. 
    Marina side-eyed the old-lady boutiques they passed and outright glared at the couples' canoodling in the cafes. She would've mimed gagging if anyone was paying attention to her. While passing petunias preening in bronze urns dotting the curb, Marina dealt them all a vicious backhand. She didn't care much for boutiques, canoodling, or even petunias. She didn't care much for anything-or that's what she wanted everyone to think. If you didn't care about anything, it was easier when nothing cared about you. 
    Just as Marina's toe grazed the crosswalk, a car coughing and sputtered towards the intersection. The smoke trailing from its exhaust clung around its sleek body like a cloak. Marina cocked her head. Why would a car need to go that quickly in South Jersey? Especially on a Wednesday at 3 pm? Nothing ever happened here. It was too small a town. No movie theatres, no good places to eat, no—Cal?  
     A scream and sickening thud resounded through the humid day. Then: radio silence. It -this horrid quiet- tore into Marina's heart like fingernails. 
     The car screeched to a halt. Cal's candle flame-colored hair fluttering was the only sign of life. Then, dazed, she pulled herself to her knees and turned to the road. Her tanned face paled to the same sickly pallor as the clouds. 
    Her friend flexed her fingers, marveling that these hands had shoved another human being out of death's jaws. They'd been clenched so tightly around Cal's left arm that her knuckles had turned as red as the flecks of blood dotting her perfectly manicured nails. Marina jutted up her chin to glower at the car stopped inches from her.
    She could stare into the eyes of this... Maniac. Or, she could've if he hadn't hidden his face behind sunglasses and a yanked down hat-brim. His hand hovered over a black object on his a gu- 
    Though the temperature had to be pushing 80, goosebumps erupted over her flesh. Either she was going insane or that guy looked like a hitman-
    Sweat-slick palms tugged Marina onto the sidewalk. Cal's sweat-slick palms, to be exact. "We need to call Davy... He has a car... he can drive you to the ER..." Maniac's car bolted away. Its noise and smoke tore a hole in the tranquility of the tiny town. Marina flattened her (slightly red-tinted) mulberry nails to her chest to muffle the ricocheting of her heart. The last of the sun's rays flashed over her hand and reflected off a cracked gem on her middle finger. It was blinding.   
  I imagined it. Must've.
nothing happens in small towns.    

Message to Readers

Anything would help! Tried to work on more sentence-by-sentence stuff, so if there's anything wrong there I'd love to know!

Peer Review

I like the imagery of this, how you expanded a small moment and made it larger.

The conversation is very well thought out and natural, and it says a lot about them. I could tell that Marina and Cal both were rather naive about the bad things that can happen to them.

The lengths are very good in this.

It's at a pool, and I know that one of the characters come from the North of New Jersey. I'd suggest for you to have a more specific place to further develop the story.

This is a very well-thought out story, and I like your writing style! Keep revising it, and it'll be even awesome-er than how it already is!

Reviewer Comments

Sorry for the late review, I've been a little busy lately!