Peer Review by Cosmogyral (United States)

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In Which Les the Possum, Timothy Legonawy, and Trini Abasolo Abel are Caught in an Attic

By: In Which Yaya Writes

On the first of January 2019, I, Timothy Legonawy was sitting in an attic on Meadowlark Lane in a small town in Northern Tennessee. It was a large house with multiple rooms, beautiful furniture, wonderful décor, and two stories, not including the attic. The Mrs.’s favorite item was- and still is- a large family portrait that hangs above the fireplace.

   Mr. Farrington was a broad man with deep brown skin, a black suit and blue tie, a shining, bald head like a bowling ball, and who rarely smiled, unless his granddaughter, Patricia, had come to visit in her pink dresses with lace. Mrs. Farrington was a short, slim woman with light brown skin, a tight, dark bun like a schoolteacher’s, and floral blouses which matched her garden, the prize of her yard. Mr. Farrington was a prestigious prosecution lawyer, and Mrs. Farrington was a journalist at one time, but had eventually retired from her work and hosted a Garden Club for the other wives on Meadowlark Lane. The middle-aged couple happened to be celebrating the New Year with a party, complete with wine and a 5-course meal and were talking cheerfully with Mr. And Mrs. Wells, Dandridge, Anworth, and Winfield.  
   I was reading Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery to my dear friend, Les the Possum, although Les the Opossum is his full title. He is a lazy marsupial with a thick coat, and a rather large middle, who prefers classic books over modern novels. I had brought him a large piece of fruit to nibble on as I read the sixth chapter of the novel, in which Marilla Cuthbert attempts to return dear Anne. Les did not seem interested in this chapter, although I found it quite enjoyable. The most enjoyable thing he seemed to find up until this point in our evening was the fruit he was eating. It was rare that he seemed interested in a book, although in particularly emotional or intense chapters I could swear I see him emote, although it is hard to tell with possums. 
   Eventually, I got distracted and began listening to the conversation happening below. Mrs. Farrington was chatting with Mrs. Dandridge, a blonde woman with a large hat with a feather on top, about her garden, and how her roses were flourishing, from a dose of Frank Sinatra every morning.  Mr. Farrington was talking about a particularly complicated case he was working, which involved the murder of Mrs. Jones and her pet boa constrictor. The details were gruesome, and so I continued reading the cheerier book of Anne of Green Gables.  

   But as one tends to do when sitting in an attic with a possum with no manners, I became distracted again. I began thinking about the first time I met Les. I climbed into the attic of Mr. And Mrs. Farrington after a dinner of meatloaf with my grandmother before her favorite soap opera came on the television and she ordered me to do my homework. My grandmother was a short, round woman with thin, frizzy white hair that revealed a pink scalp, had pale skin, and usually wore a pink robe and slippers with worn down soles. I, on the other hand, was lanky with long limbs like an orangutan’s, had tan skin and straight, thick brown hair that I wore in the same style every day, and my wardrobe consisted of freshly ironed khakis, polo shirts which I tucked in, and a leather belt, complete with leather loafers.  

   I brought with me leftover watermelon from the fridge, knowing an opossum lived in the attic and wanted to make a good first impression after I had Googled, “What do opossums eat?” Les pretended to die, which I have heard is normal behavior for possums, but was incredibly impolite, since I had brought him some fruit to eat. I knew, of course, that he was not dead, but all the same, it was frightening. 

   I knelt next to him, praying he would not bite me, and began saying “Wake up, little possum,” in a high-pitched whisper, knowing full well he was not sleeping, nor was he little. He decided I was trustworthy enough to sit up after I had repeated the lie for the hundredth time. He stared skeptically at the plate of watermelon before taking a bite, and deciding it was better than the food he would have scavenged that night, he began to eat it, gorge it, I would say, as I pulled out my eleventh-grade math homework.  

   Now that I was deep in thought and thoroughly cut off from the outside world, I did not hear a figure climbing up the ivy of the house into the attic. 

   “Hello!” She announced as she stuck her green-eyed head inside the attic. “I’m Trini Abasolo Abel.” She startled Les and he pretended to die again, watermelon juice trickling down his chin, and she startled me, causing me to shriek.  

   “What was that?” Mr. Harrington said from downstairs. After a few months of peacefully sitting up in this attic, above the Harrington’s, without ever alerting them of my presence, Trini Abasolo Abel had caused me to shriek and startle the guests below.  

   “It could be a rat,” Mrs. Harrington gasped as Trini continued talking. She said she was gloomy because her classmates had made fun of her hand-me-down clothes, two black pigtails, and large glasses, but she thought I would not, since I spent most of my evenings in an attic of a house which I did not live in. Oh, and what was my possum's name? 

   “I’ll see what it is,” Mr. Harrington announced.  

   “Shoot.” I grabbed my book, Les, still lying belly-up on the floor, and the arm of Trini, trying to drag her out of the attic. 

    But before I could, Mr. Harrington opened the hatch to the attic and called for someone to dial the police.  

   There were two robbers and a dead possum in his attic. 

Draft #: 1
Word Count: 994 

This is based on my November Grab Bag entry "A Bag of Stories Involving a Possum and an Inter Dimensional Letter, Among Other Things" where Les the Possum and the interdimensional letter from Dimension 2 Yaya were the most popular. But I really had no idea what I could write that was (semi) realistic until I thought of this and I was like "YES!" I introduced a few new characters and went in more depth on who the characters were, hopefully. I didn't answer all the questions on the paper, but I probably will. I was playing around with a different style when I originally wrote this; I was trying a Roald Dahl style. Now I added some style from I book I read called Lake Wobegon Days (although I wouldn't recommend reading it unless you're cautious, because there were cussing and inappropriate scenes), which parts of were really funny. Hopefully, this is too. Thank you for reading!

Message to Readers

Hi, welcome to the place in which I ask questions for reviewers XD.
Grammarly says my tone is "Worried" and "Formal." Do you agree?
What time period do you think this is? Different than 2019?
Are there any parts that are wordy or confusing? I'd rather you not have to read a sentence twice to understand.
Are there any places I should expand? Perhaps on characters?
Are there any places that could be swapped with something more interesting?
Is it a nice ending?
Any other feedback (including likes and comments) are greatly appreciated! Please bear with me as I struggle through this XD.
Oh, also, does anyone do research for their fiction? I looked up classic books, how many chapters were in Anne of Green Gables (and an overview of each chapter was included) and who wrote it, if possums were marsupials, what they ate, fancy names, common last names, common Hispanic names with meaning, and common Hispanic last names. I just don't know if other people do, too XD.

Peer Review

The title feels so engaging, haha. The writing style is crisp and well clear.

I feel Tim's sense of wonder through the screen, it's so lovely to read him.

I'm more curious about the portrayal of the time period, it's listed as 2019, or is that a typo? I'd actually like to be able to tell from language that this is the American south. Maybe some slang or twang?

I'm told Tennesee, but the time period is all over the place. Was the attic stuffy? It's pretty unclear whose house he's in. I don't think Ivy is strong enough to climb, how about she climbed those wooden things berry fruits are planted with so they can grow around?

Keep writing! You are a novelist here!

Reviewer Comments

A quick word of advice, never publish the "First Draft", the two words together insist that not a single word of editing went into it. It makes it seem novice, and you want readers to know that you aren't any ol' novice, you're a tactful novice.

I agree with Grammarly (sadly), the overall tone is formal, way too much for a kid in an attic in 2019, even in the south, it doesn't connect well enough to the readers. If you don't want to change the tone, you could change the time, I think the late 1880s suits this pretty okay, but that's just me, it was a good read. If you do, you could replace Anne with Huck Finn or Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, the mid-1910s would also be perfect if you want to keep Anne, but then you might need to add the international tension and conflict.

I apologize for nitpicking, I don't like sugar-coating my opinion too much. I hope you see this as constructive criticism because that's what I intended (but I'm told I'm rather daft at sparing feelings, lmao). Stay cool!