Peer Review by efflorescence (United States)

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A Place with Crosses

By: theinvisiblehumanbeing

PROMPT: Child Narrator

Mommy brought me to a place with crosses. A maze, I thought as I ran along the rows, all lined with flowers. There were other people, all weeping. They glared at me. I didn't know what they were so upset about. The flowers were beautiful.

Names, names, names. Upon every cross. Mommy took me by the hand and led me to one at the far end of this place, inscribed with Daddy's name. She bent down and placed flowers in front of the cross, whispering ‘sorry’ over and over again. I didn't know why she should've been sorry. The weather was perfect.

I asked her where Daddy was. She told me earlier he'd be there, but I didn't see him anywhere. Down there, she told me, pointing to the ground. I didn't believe her.

Before she left, a bird took off into the bright blue sky. It left a few feathers behind. They were very pretty. I picked up the feathers and left them with the flowers. Mommy saw me and told me that the feathers were dirty.

When Mommy and I arrived home, I found a letter on the table. It was from the Army. I picked it up and read it over. There were many big words in the letter. Too many. Duty, death, circumstances, sympathy. Too hard for me to understand.

I asked Mommy what they meant. She told me to go to bed.

Grown-ups always tell me that I should be proud that my Daddy helped our country win a war. I don't care about the war. I want my Daddy back.

I can only think of one thing:

Daddy wasn't there the day the soldiers returned.

Inspired from the loss of a relative when I was 5.

Peer Review

You present the contrast between the child's outlook and the reality of the situation very well. I think a large part of why your piece is so successful in accomplishing this is your use of syntax. The descriptions are often longer sentences, whereas the child's thoughts are short, reflecting the simplicity of childhood. Whether or not this was intentional, it really contributes to the overall effect of your piece.

Honestly, my favorite lines were the very first two, when you say, "Mommy brought me to a place with crosses. A maze, I thought as I ran along the rows, all lined with flowers." From the very first sentence, it's pretty clear to us readers that the child and their mother are at a graveyard of some sort. Even so, the narrator remains blissfully aware, and the comparison of the rows of crosses to a maze really drives home their childish innocence.

I think the first three-quarters of your piece was beautiful, but the ending felt just a bit rushed. I feel like there wasn't enough of a transition between, "She told me to go to bed" and "Grown-ups always tell me that..." Otherwise, I think your piece was amazing, and I don't think there were any other aspects that require improvement.

Reviewer Comments

Even though this was written awhile ago, I'm so glad I was able to read it! It's terrible that you experienced something similar to the loss described in the piece, but I think you managed to capture the mother's grief and the child's confusion very well. Even though the sentences are shorter and simpler to reflect the child's perspective, there is still a lot of poignant description. Plus, I think you showed the child's gradual change throughout the piece in a skillful manner. In the beginning, they are completely naive, but by the end, they start to realize there's something off about their father's continued absence.