Peer Review by The Bubbling Pen (Australia)

Below, you'll see any text that was highlighted with comments from the reviewer.

Tap on comment to view. Using a mouse?

Hover over comments to view. On a touch device?


Chimneysweep Bird #HWDYKT #leefudgecontest

By: Anha


FREE WRITING

It's 1796, but from all the smoke in the air, I wouldn't be surprised if it was before the birth of Christ, in the prelude to the eruption of an active volcano.

    I'm not supposed to know things like that - history and such - because of this stupid idea ringing around in people's heads, the heads of old white men, that women don't need to read, shouldn't read. "Knowledge is power." Ironically it was another old white man who apparently said this. Believe he was a pirate, he was. Must've been awfully exciting, pillaging ships and all that. All for a woman. Imagine that. Queen Elizabeth sounds like a damn right noble, ordering men and drinking wine while doing it. I think I'd hate her all the same if she were still alive though. Those in power never do anything worth doing. It's my opinion, and the opinion of thousands of others in London.

    I take another drag of the cigarette between my lips and watch the wisps rise and dissipate. I prefer to use the proper term even though it makes me sound precocious. 'Fag' just sounds so vulgar. Britain's a right dump sometimes, what with their language and tossing shit out of windows or into the river. Actually, no. Britain's a right dump all the times, in the streets smelling of sewage, in the fur of the mangy cat that likes to hang around Adrian's mam's place, and behind closed doors of Parliament.

    My overalls are beginning to get too small, but I don't even have to think to be reminded that I haven't the shilling to pay for tailoring. Not that any self-respecting bloke of a businessman would ever mend the trousers of a chimney sweep kid, much less one who's a bloody bird. So I tuck my fingers - that's all that'll fit - into the shallow pockets and amble down the damp and uneven cobbles. They say the smoke clouds your head, but I've never seen anything clearer without it.

    A smirk graces my ashen lips and I swing down the alleyway that leads to where I always meet the girls. It's just us around these parts, we've got to stick together you know? It's not like the boys will let us hang out with them. Adrian's the only lad I know who'll treat me like the other blokes, like a person. He passed me the cigarettes free of charge. God knows I never would've bought them on me own, not with the money I need for food for me and the girls. I'm the oldest out of them, even though I'm only twelve years out the womb, so I gotta be careful about where the money goes. I tug on my suspenders at the thought, laughing a little inside.

    A rat runs out from under the broken wooden door on my left side, chipped and stained (the door not the rat, you idiot) from the rain and the nails still hanging out from past eviction notices or late bills gone unpaid. Adrian's mam busts the door open, screeching like an awful lark after the rat. God, she looks like a mess. Adrian's mam was never a plump woman, you can't afford to be out here, but now she's only skin and bones. I'ven't got the slightest idea on how she stays standing, that woman, and I almost cringe when she sees that I'm there. I'm considering whether or not to talk to her. It's obvious that Adrian's death hit her hard, what with the fact that she couldn't even see his body. He was already a stick of a boy when he went up, I'll never understand how he got stuck up there, but I heard that his bones were so brittle after he gave up the ghost that they just had to poke him real hard with the pole end of the brush and he came tumbling down like a ragdoll. I shan't tell Adrian's mam that.

    "Mornin' Mrs Fletcher," I say, pivoting to face her. Her face is sunken and she clutches her stained cotton dress like she wants to say something but the words won't come out. "Morning Allison," she manages to choke out, but I can already see the tears gathering at the sharp of her eye, amongst the wrinkles, "you look dashing today." It's obvious that even my overalls remind her of her boy. Frightful thing, a mother's loss.

    "Would you like some tea?"

    "No thank you, Mrs Fletcher, I'm going to meet the girls. I've been so busy I haven't seen em all week," I reply. It's an easy lie, I saw the gang two days ago, but both of us just want this conversation to end.

    "Well then," she manages, "good day to you." She's back inside her ramshackle home before I can utter the reply.

This one's based off a friend, more on their morals and ideals than way of speech. It's set in London, obviously, so a lot of it's altered by the way of the times.

Find The Dreamer's contest here

Find Lee Fudge's contest here

Message to Readers

No energy left to write two historical pieces in one day, hope Lee Fudge accepts this entry!


Peer Review

I really liked how you continued the character's resentment for "old white" men and "those in power". Your descriptions are also amazing and I can really see your character in her setting. I also really enjoyed reading her colloquial thoughts, eg. "Britain's a right dump all the time" and "Not that any self-respecting bloke of a businessman would ever mend the trousers of a chimney sweep kid, much less one who's a bloody bird." < I really loved that sentence - it was so in character!


I wonder why Allison is a chimney sweep - more likely because she was orphaned, but why? Were her parents taken by disease? Had she been kidnapped and forced into work? She also seems to have quite a bank of knowledge, knowing the origins of the quote "knowledge is power" and having heart about Queen Elizabeth's ordering of men. Had she been to school at some point or is there a wise old man/woman in her life who tells her these stories? Maybe it was Mrs Fletcher?


Reviewer Comments

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I loved your story
Good job to you!

You have used imagery
That shows me so clear
The smoke that poor Allison
And her friends fear

Amazing work on this piece! I wish you all the best in the two competitions you've entered this piece for :) Keep up the fantastic work <3