Peer Review by Starlitskies (Sri Lanka)

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Too Young

By: Ava Marie


Eight-year-old Aliza Cellier was approaching the border with the woman they told her would be her mother for the next while. She felt the grip from the woman’s hand around her palm tighten. Perhaps the woman was just as nervous as she was. A cold breeze pushed against her thin jacket, she shivered. 
“I want my maman,” Aliza whispered to the woman beside her.
“I am your maman, remember Marie.”
Right, Marie, the name she had been given before they had departed into the frigid air of an early January night. 
“Will I ever see her again?” asked the young girl, her voice shaky and barely audible.
But before her false mother could answer her, they heard footsteps crunching through the snow towards them. They had been spotted. The soldier was an Aryan with his dirty blond hair, blue eyes, and spotless Nazi uniform. 
“Papers,” demanded the Nazi officer that stood before them. The woman let go of her hand and reached into her jacket pocket and scavenged around trying to find them. While she did this, Aliza decided to talk to the stiff man in front of her. 
“What’s your name?” she inquired. Her fake mother shot her a slight glare. She had been instructed to not ask questions, but Aliza didn’t care. She had been separated from her maman, papa and older brother Gatian. She had been taken away from her home in France, and now she was supposed to just stand there shivering and silent on this bitter night? No, she would talk if she wanted to. 
“My name is Lio Tisch,” he replied shooting a look behind him where an older man was standing. “But to you it’s Zollinspektor Tisch.”
“Okay,” Aliza chimed, glad to hear a new voice. “I’m Marie, Marie Gachet.” She looked over at the woman with a proud face that said: See, I remember.
“Here you go,” the woman said sternly, handing over the papers. The guard took them with a slight nod and began looking them over. After a moment he stopped and called over the man who was standing a few meters back, surveying the procedures. This man was older, scarier. 
“Yes?” The man sneered. 
“The files seem to be printed on the wrong type of paper,” explained the young soldier. “But I want a second opinion.”
“I do believe that you are right Tisch, these two are indeed traveling on false documents. I’m not sure about the mother, but the young one sure looks like a Jew with her brown hair, brown eyes, and big nose.”
“That’s absurd!” the woman exclaimed grabbing onto Aliza’s hand. “My daughter and I are French; how dare you accuse us of being Jewish!”
“Marie?” questioned the young blond soldier. “Was that the name you were born with?”
“Yes,” Aliza answered without hesitation. “And this is my mother. My papa and brother are fighting in the war.”
“Well, I don’t believe you,” he snarled at the girl.
“And neither do I, you sound rehearsed.” interrupted the scary man, and he was right. The woman had been preparing her with fake information for if she were to be asked any questions. This was because Aliza was indeed Jewish.
Without another word the Nazis grabbed the refugees and, with guns to their heads, Aliza and her fake mother were marched towards the internment camp, Drancy. After a few steps, Aliza had had enough. She didn’t want to leave her home. France was where her friends were, and her house. It was where she grew up, where all her memories were. It wasn’t fair! How come the scary uniformed men just get to barge in and control everything anyone does. Aliza wrestles against her captor and ends up releasing herself form his grip. She starts to run. 
“Stop or I shoot,” the blond soldier shouted, aiming his gun. The young girl didn’t stop, but she looked back. When Aliza looked at the gun, she realised that his hands were shaking slightly. She lifter her gaze and their eyes locked, brown to blue, teary to unfeeling. Then a shot rang out, loud and sharp against the silent bitterness of a late January evening.

Message to Readers

Historical fiction short story. I tried to make it as historically accurate as possible while still including all of the aspects I wanted. Please review!

Peer Review

This piece is melancholic but beautifully written. The little girl's character has been brought out well in the first part of the story. This naturally leads the reader to make a connection with the character and it stings when the gunshot rings out.

I've highlighted several places where I thought you could make certain adjustments and edits. I suggest that you work more on the older officer's character because his voice seems a bit off. The dialogue too could use a few edits. Also, make sure to maintain consistency with tenses throughout the piece.

Reviewer Comments

I enjoyed reviewing this story. It was a wonderful read. It's evident that you've done your research, I applaud that. I love that you chose to narrate the story from the POV of Aliza. It added much poignance and sincerity to the story.
I've been quite critical in my review. Please keep in mind that these are just my opinions. You should make changes and edits at your own discretion.
Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. And if you do publish a second draft, please let me know. I'd love to read it. This is an amazing piece and you're a brilliant writer, so keep on writing! <3