Peer Review by ALangford (United Kingdom)

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The Quiet

By: kingthezeke


            The trees had long since melted into dormancy, and the nerves in my earthly body were scattered stars on the surface of an ocean. My hipbones ached, the air reeked of glossy garnet nails peeling tangerines, garnet nails on green-tinted tan skin. The crisp air crackled ginger and firewood. I watched the silver moon through half-lidded eyes, the breeze carrying the scent over my cheek, through loosely wind-tossed hair. The clouds hung heavy in the air; her eyes held a physical force within them, one of lightning striking between the Heavens and Earth, stars lambent over the hefty trees. The dirt was moist, black, under my palm—the quiet night was doused in her tainted grin—godly and bacchanalian.
            Sweet and graceful flurries of snowflakes drifted over my nose, tempting and ethereal. The sky stretched from the horizon, beyond the trees, shimmering with elusive, drunken stars teetering on tip-toes, daring to shatter into mist, and rain stardust into wildflower fields and volcanoes. They'd burst over our heads in a shower of diamond encrusted space rocks, and I would wrap them in the reddest, empyrean satin ribbons I could find. Those lovely orbs of light had imbibed the galaxy’s ambrosia, nursed on empty space and foreign nightlight. The crickets were the sound of the stars in the distance, static chirping, and restless singing of antimony.
            It was too soon to doze off. My chest rose and fell as we talked of absolute truth and her rich, honey laughter drifted on lazy clouds over our heads. Evergreen trees framed the sky handsomely, swirls of dusted bloom green spines atop the branches wove into each other the way a mother held her child. Poinsettias were her favorite. The way the snow blanketed the pure trees, the night had blanketed our pure bond. It was our sweet little secret, but that night we could wear it on our ever-beating hearts, for all the wind to rattle upon. It would not break for even the strongest gust. We wore it in the silent company of the moon and his scintillating stars.
            Red and white stripes twirled up the hooked peppermint sticks and I knew it would snow the next day. Words abandoned me on dry, cracked lips when ink-stained frozen, faint fingertips cradled my jaw. Garnet nails on green-tinted tan skin. Tangerine peelings, cheap, glossy red ornaments and fallen Popsicle-stick-snowflakes extinguished in silver glitter scattered the grass around us. Modest, bulb ornaments hung on the trees; whispered conversations were passed between us, and breathy giggles were shared. 11pm shadows were ignored as streetlights bedimmed the roads and buildings beyond the trees. 
            When she spoke of Thales and Socrates and St. Augustine and Nicholas of Cusa, hushed and serene, her daedal words were slathered with rose gold curlicues. Nimble, thought-evading. She took my breath away; hurricane-fueled heart palpitations wracked my fragile chest when her pursed lips quoted Nietzsche, "Whatever is done for love always occurs beyond good and evil." I suppose I believed her, but I hadn't cared about a dead German philosopher. In that moment, I only cared for the elegiac golds and greens of the streetlamps and the way they softly glistened on her locks. I could only focus on the way they pushed luminescent Caravaggio waves of tangled curls. The way the frigid pine needles and the dimmed light made her dark hair glow viridescent, streaming strikingly, glittering with glints of angels' giggles, I could never forget. Dreamy, star-gazing eyes fluttered with glazed content, ripe with ease and composed competence. A practice.
            In that moment, it could have been Christmas Eve for eternity, if a God out there had permitted it. I'd never felt more at ease, more in love, more complete. And when she pulled me beside her by my wrist to admire the scarce clouds in the acme midnight sky, I did not complain about her gelid hands twisted into mine, despite the way I shivered at her touch. Garnet nails on green-tinted tan skin. I followed her gentle lead, pulling her close, brushing her curls out of her eyes. I wanted to speak, to fill that empty space with reminders of her lioness, sensitive soul. However, I dared not disturb the ever-shifting universe with the inconsistencies of the uncertain human voice. Thoughts were the blooming roses of cosmic symphonies. She was the maestro and I was in the midst of an orchestra pit, overgrown with a thousand roses.
     The way the Christmas orbs bounced on the trees in the gentle sway of the crisp breeze soothed me. I never quite minded the shifty weather in Virginia, because it always ended up snowing in February, anyway. And even laying there, staring up at the trees we'd decorated in the backyard, I didn't care very much about Christmas Eve, or snow, or ornaments, or Nietzsche. I cared about the stars, her eyes, her roses, her words, the way the light played on her hair. I cared about December. December meant closure, and peace. December itself was a holiday, because when something ends, something new must begin. Wilson Kanadi said that. December was a reflection and it was compassion and loved ones and escapades to be completed before the clock ran out. 
            We thought the world would end in 2012, and that year, I sat outside in the midst of the soporific world. I was a wax candle slowly deliquescing in the face of the searing universe as she lay beside me, but the chill that surged through me when the wind picked up was enough to ground me to reality again. Sleep deprived and madly in love, December was laying right beside me when the sun peaked timidly over the horizon. Garnet nails on green-tinted tan skin.


Message to Readers

I'd like what you enjoyed and what I could improve on! A critique, if you will.


Peer Review

I admired the poetic use of language and the choice of thorough, sensory description over straight-out plot. December opens itself up, I think, to this style of writing, which picks up on shared yet still deeply personal detail, allowing the reader to really relate to the piece. The writer has clearly made a conscious decision to endow the reader with reams of clever description using the medium of language to great effect, and the fact that this decision has been made in relation to the subject matter shows how conscientious the writer is.


I think the month of December, to them, means love and life, and also personal growth, as well as a connection with nature. I assume that the reference to Thales is deliberate in its play on his theories of nature and life based on water - it would fit in with your appreciation of nature throughout. Altogether, though, the reference to philosophy is very useful in guiding the reader as to the purpose of the piece, which can sometimes be unclear - the piece is, in itself, philosophical - this is why the reflective conclusion is so effective.


I felt as though this was the flaw of the piece, or certainly what I quibbled with the most, although obviously it's subjective. The writer is clearly in love with language but does tend to get increasingly carried away in description which is sometimes inexplicable and can be irrelevant. This can serve to sacrifice structure and fluidity throughout, unfortunately. I love how you craft language, but I think you need to try to create much more clarity whilst using your large range of vocabulary and sentence forms. Large passages of contradictory description can appear dense to the reader and they may struggle to get through it all. Some of my favourite times in this piece were when you broke up a charming paragraph with short, reflective, conversational sentences.


I think the ending was very charming - firstly you used reflection, which was a wonderful way to conclude, then came the sentence 'we thought the world would end in 2012', which was a marvellous and very cunning way of contrasting the life you've described throughout with death and loss, and then you finally create clarity on the extended metaphor of December before finishing with that lovely repeated sentence which binds the piece together. Brilliant ending.


Your use of language is very impressive, although you need sometimes to check your use of vocabulary in context. You have a lovely habit of placing rhythmically interesting phrases together as well as making your writing very sensory and beautiful. Your piece achieved something of a glow of feeling and emotion, which is how you can completely tell it's written from the heart.


Reviewer Comments

Sorry if my highlights come across as harsh at times - I did genuinely like this a lot and I think if you perhaps thought about my suggestions it could be further improved. Well done and keep writing!