Peer Review by Suri Purefoy (United States)

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By: Maryam Gamar

            The street lamps formed yellow pools of light on the sidewalk, illuminating the cracks, and filling them with equal shadow and light. A group of crickets camped out in a bush chirped together in unison, their music sounding like a throbbing heart. Suddenly they stopped, as if afraid. The silence that followed was quickly broken by the sound of rhythmic thumping on the concrete as a girl jogged into view. Her hair was rumpled into a loose ponytail, and the tip swayed back and forth to the beat of her gray sneakers. A cool breeze started to blow, and the girl slowed to a walk, taking full advantage of the refreshing gust of wind.
            She paused and looked around, as if she were lost but not very concerned about it. When she ran, the girl didn’t pay attention to where she was or where she was going, only to the rhythmic repetition of her feet landing and then pushing her up and forward; arms pumping; breath even and rationed in her chest; leg muscles warm and humming.
            The girl stretched, raising both her arms straight up over her head, and half closing her eyes. Suddenly she stiffened, eyes wide, and peered into the dark. She seemed to have heard something, and as she lowered her arms, she strained her eyes to stare in the direction of the cul-de-sac down the street. There were two houses down there, and in the valley between their roofs, the girl could see the ocean, black and silent and calm.
            The girl tilted her head slightly, as if trying to hear the unknown sound again. Then, the wind shifted, carrying the briny smell of the ocean, and with it a wisp of a song. Strangely, it sounded as if the ocean itself was singing, but her initial shock was lost in the complexity of the song, and it seemed as if the music was holding a gentle finger to her lips, telling her that everything would be fine.
            Wildly beautiful, the song came straight from the waves, and was almost haunting in its uniqueness; like no instrument ever invented. But at the same time, the girl heard something familiar echo in the song, as if she had heard it once in a dream. It sounded the way she expected sirens would when they sang, but without the dark eyes or plump lips or wet skin. It had the sad twisty mood of a song that calls for help as if no answer is coming, when it knows the listener will be drawn in with no choice but to comply. The song sounded like all of this, tangled up with the howl of the wind in an abandoned lighthouse, and the clear, ringing chorus of newborn stars.
            The wind changed again, unexpectedly, and the song went with it. The girl stayed where she was though, listening for anything that would prove to her that the song had been real. She felt a shiver between her shoulder blades that trailed gooseflesh down her arms and into her fingertips, and a strange empty feeling curdled in her stomach. It was as if the song had become part of her while it serenaded her and had then taken that part of her with it when it faded. The wind hushed, with no sign of anything except the night growing cooler. The girl turned slowly, confusion and a touch of uneasiness written on her forehead, and then bounded off down the sidewalk, her movements similar to a deer’s.
            Behind her, the crickets chirped in unison, as if they hadn’t stopped.

Message to Readers

This is a piece I've been working on for a bit, and I would love to hear what you guys have to say about it!

Peer Review

The way you so casually started, then smoothly, yet suddenly, wound down into the beautiful strangeness of it all.

The way you explained how the character's "breath even and rationed...leg muscles warm and humming." I think that was the part where I felt like the character.

A dark starry night. In a neighborhood near a lake or ocean. Nightly silence(except for the crickets). What helps bring the setting to life? The way you didn't exactly explain everything around her, but you did in a way that lets your imagination take a twist on what you think the setting is like.

None—it's fantastic!

I can say many things(all good!), but if I had to pick one that explains my excitement in your writing this piece and sharing, it would be: "Keep writing! You are amazing!"

Reviewer Comments

This, overall, is a beautiful(yeah, I know I've said that a lot, but it's true!)piece. I want to know more, and can't wait to see how the story turns out!