Peer Review by In Which Yaya Writes (United States)

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Stomach it.

By: Cosmogyral


FREE WRITING

Novel Writing Competition, 2020

  The sky was a weird blue, the kind where it's midday and your closed eyes are blinded by the sunlight through a window. A boy lay with his head half off the mattress, noting the stark change in temperature of the skin of his upper face as the clouds moved by swiftly. But back to the sky, it was the blue only achieved by mixing with a gray that would've been mixed with daffodil yellow and smoky white(ish) purple beforehand. 
  When his eyelids lifted once more, everything Anson saw was tinted blue, it'd faded as did the throbbing of his eyes would too. He lifted his head up, suddenly overcome by vertigo and headache. Standing up led to falling back onto the mattress, waiting to regain his composure. There was nothing particularly special about that day; it was hot, too hot for November, yet the only master of Sedona remained the sun.
  Anson looked around the bedroom, felt flags of prospective colleges were strung in the corner above the wooden desk. The bed set was stripped of its sheets, the vanity and dresser were also barren of any personal items save for a few toiletries. Then he faced the ceiling and rolled his neck before contemplating whether or not to move.
  He decided to try and get up again, sustaining his composure this time, he changed into day clothes, pulling on boots caked in dried clay and mud to spite his stepmother, and walked out into the kitchen for the landline. The air had been overtaken by a lemon-scented cleaner, and Fleetwood Mac played through a Sony Walkman by the sink window. A number was dialed and plans to meet with a friend were made. 
  Anson could hear Northern Exposure blaring from the t.v. so he opted not to flick on the hall lights as he walked by the den which contained his father, passed out in the La-Z-Boy after a three-day shift, and the drive from Yavapai afterward. Light from the television cast his shadow over the wall. The young man slowed down as he passed the den, stopping at the doorway, before walking in to lay a throw over his legs and stomach and pulling the plug on the extension. Then Anson turned and crept out of the house, careful not to let the door slam as it closed behind him. His stepmother was conversing with a neighbor in the left corner of her garden yard, so he turned and walked down to the right. 
  The sun heated the skin of his exposed arms unbearably. The destination in mind was the yellow cafe on March street, on his way, he passed empty shops and playgrounds, people of all ages streamed out of the movie house. He passed the bustling mall which caused half the shops on the east side of town to go bankrupt or force close as it drew employees away. The town was idle at best, not sleepy, yet its roads weren't as bustling as its mall. To a young man like Anson, it never changed, and there was always a longing to leave. it was lackluster at its' finest, and the same at its' worst. It never changed.
  Anson walked off the main road before turning onto March, and eventually up the steps of the yellow cafe, which real name was peeled and faded to oblivion. The interior was decked out in blue and yellow while the outside remained in various states of yellow panic. What Anson was looking for sat at the window booth third from the left front. 
  Juniper moved down from Alaska with his family to Tempe a few years ago, his mother fell in love with the Grand Canyon and red hills so much that she convinced her husband to stay. Commonly called 'Jun' at his own request, he was eighteen and the first thing you noticed was his accent, not Bush Alaskan, Native Alaskan. He'd be straight forward in correcting anyone who argued the difference. He was a boy of 5'9'' and his dark hair stood out from Anson's own light brown, as did his hereditarily tan skin, while Anson's was 'sun-kissed', as Jun would comment about his seeming millions of freckles. 
  "And he arrives," Jun announces as Anson sat down before promptly letting his head fall on the table. Jun was silent for a moment, "I'll buy today." He said, before leaving for the counter.  
  Anson took the denim jacket hung on the back of Jun's chair and balled it up before shoving it under his head. Jun came back a few moments later and made no remark upon the sight. "So what's up?" He asked while setting a malt by Anson's head.
  "Wanna go on a road trip?" Anson asked, not so impromptu. They'd discussed a trip before leaving for college many times, but it was never settled. Then, Anson's voice dropped to a whisper, "I've been thinking more about running away."
  "Is this a conversation we should be having in public?" Jun tried to joke, but his tone dropped as he continued. "I'd like to leave, but I can't really stomach it. Running away, as you put it, makes everything suddenly seem real."
  "It is real, Jun, we both know it. The moment I leave for college Stephanie isn't letting me back into the house, and when you come back, you'll be whisked away back to Alaska to work a family legacy you don't even like. There's nothing for us here except physical incapabilities, I've got a job waiting in New York and a degree if it turns out to be just a fever dream. Our first adventure." Anson emphasized
  "And a grand adventure it'll be, at least bring me a better-detailed plan next time." Jun laughs. 
  "The Red rock, tomorrow at two," Anson says after a moment, "I... can't quite stomach leaving either. It's the excitement of leaving that makes it so, any place that's far away, Jun. I promise."
   Jun smiled softly, "Okay."

Word Count: 998
Intended to be a sort of Coming of Age novel

They might end up heading west.
I almost named Juniper 'Llesh', but I wasn't confident enough in my knowledge of Indigenous American names.
'Juniper' is a male name, too. I like names from nature. Apparently, they're too feminine, though. I can't really tell, I don't really care either, a good name is a good name, why assign gender?
No, it's not Lgbt, I just wanted two characters with a common future in mind.

Message to Readers

If you've got time, I'd love feedback :)


Peer Review

As I said in my comment, I love how you describe every detail, add background to the town, subtle clues as to what Anson’s life is like, and make the story seem real rather than a sequence of actions on a page.


Hmm, I think you hit the details really well. Maybe you could describe more of the landscape, or further details into Anson’s or Jun’s life. Is there a specific reason Jun is going to Alaska; his parents, for example? It doesn’t have to be large chunks of backstory, just subtle clues and descriptions.


Reviewer Comments

You have a great piece here! I really love every thing about it. You make us want to know more about Anson and Jun, both their backstory and their future. You should continue it! Good luck in the competition!