Critique Group – Snow Day

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Snow Day – by Shana

The snow was white – whiter than anything Rae could have imagined. She pressed her nose against the cold glass, straining to see further, to bury herself in the sky of flakes, forever falling, forever white, forever –

 

“Rae!”

 

Dr. Seegar’s voice was sharp, and Rae jumped as it stung her skin. She spun to face her, drawing herself up until she was as tall as she could be as she did so. “Yes?” she asked, knowing full well the answer. The way Dr. Seegar frowned at her made her suspect she knew that as well.

 

“This is a time for testing, not daydreaming,” Dr. Seegar told her, her voice tight with barely restrained anger. “Get your head out of the clouds, your feet on the ground, and start running.

 

“Yes!” Rae squeaked out, saluting after the fashion of the characters in the cartoons their first Director had shown them on Saturday mornings. Setting her sights on the opposite wall, she flung herself forward, feeling her feet leave the ground for one dizzying moment, then hit, vibrations travelling up her legs and spine as she sprinted across the room as fast as she could make herself go. Her hands slapped the wall, she rebounded off the cold stones, and used the momentum to spin and sprint back the way she had come. She skidded to halt in front of Dr. Seegar, her chest heaving as she gasped in air. “How’s that for -” she gulped a lungful of air – “running?”

 

Dr. Seegar’s face merely sunk into the lines of one who has just unknowingly bit into a lemon.

 

———

 

Alone at last, Rae curled into the cold confines of the window in her room, scowling into the glass. She could just barely make out her reflection superimposed over the falling snow, and the sight of her face, curled into cross lines and wrinkles, only made her scowl harder. She grabbed at her shoulder for her hair, and only caught a few loose strands in her fist. Oh yeah. She still hadn’t adjusted to the haircut Dr. Seegar had given her after she’d caught her chewing her hair. “Stupid doctors,” she muttered crossly. “I did exactly what she told me to! She should have mentioned how she wanted me to run, and when, if she expected me to follow it.” Her breath caught in her throat, and she rubbed furiously at her eyes. “I just wanted to go outside,” she whispered. “And now no one can!” She leaned against the glass again and stared dismally out at the wonderful white world outside – now off limits.

 

Sudden movement caught her eye, and she squinted through the cloudy glass. “Huh?” Breathing on the frost, she rubbed herself a peephole and peered through. A small girl was running through the white drifts, leaping and sinking until only her pale head remained vaguely visible, then pulling herself up and running again. Behind her, a troop of doctors had poured out of the  building, combing the drifts, their hands coming up to cup their mouths as they called back and forth.

 

Rae pressed herself flat against the glass, her eyes lighting up as she face was stretched with a delighted grin. “Gala!”

 

As if her name caught her attention, the girl leaned around the tree she was hiding behind, and looked straight up at Rae’s window. Rae pounded on the glass with her palms. “Gala!” she shouted futility. “Gala, how’d you get out?” She fell back on her seat, grinning broadly. “Gala, you genius,” she whispered. She lifted up one hand and pressed it flat on the glass.

 

Far below, Gala nodded suddenly. She ducked back behind her tree and disappeared back into the drifts. Rae pulled her hand away from the glass and sat up, leaving behind a perfect hand print. She leaned towards the window and frowned out, staring down at the dark blots that were searching the drifts below. “Where’d you go?” she muttered, brow knit in confusion.

 

Right on cue, a sharp click! echoed around the room, and there was a squealing of hinges as the door swung open. Rae spun around to face the door, swinging her legs out over the edge of the windowsill as she turned. A young girl stood there, barely out of the toddler stage. Her head would barely reach Rae’s chest, and her tiny feet seemed far too small to have moved with such speed.

 

“Do you want to go build a snowman?” she asked solemnly.

 

Rae laughed and leapt off the windowsill, landing in a crouch on the floor. “Gala, you brilliant genius,” she said. “I would love to! You should have asked me sooner.”

 

——-

 

Somewhere else, far away, a small boy with dark reddish hair was throwing snowballs with his friend in his front yard. A sudden tingle run through him, and he turned his head, staring into the northern sky, where a dark line was creeping through the grey, snow-filled clouds. A snowball smacked into his cheek, and he spun with his hand over the reddening skin. “Hey!” he protested.

 

“Pay attention, sleepyhead!” His friend smacked his arm lightly in play. “What’re you staring at?”

 

The boy turned again to gaze out over the distance. “I think there’s a thunderstorm coming in,” he said. “The clouds are all dark.”

 

His friend laughed. “A thunder-snow-storm? Don’t be silly. C’mon, let’s build a fort! I bet I’ll win if I had a snow fort.”

 

The boy regarded the distant sky for a moment longer. For an instant, the wind blew through his hair, revealing the bright roots. Then he sighed, and turned to face his friend. “You’re on,” he said with a grin.

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6 replies

  1. Shana,
    As I read this in sunny Florida, while drinking hot coffee, somehow you made me feel the cold chill of a snow day. Good job!

    I really like the simple names you choose, and how they each start with a different letter: R – Rae, G – Gala, S – Dr. Seegar. This helped me keep them straight in my head.

    I had a hard time “seeing” Dr. Seegar. In fact, in my speed-read, I glossed over the female pronouns in the first few paragraphs and didn’t realize that she was a woman until after the “lemon” sentence. Would you be able to describe her briefly when you introduce her, maybe even with just one sentence? She seems like such an important character that I’d like to know something about what she looks like.

    As I finished reading the second scene (boys outside in the freak storm coming up), my sci-fi brain is wondering, “Cool! Is this like a rift in spacetime between the two scenes?” Or, maybe is there some magical connection between the two scenes? I do wonder what the boys’ names are, and how they are related to Rae, Gala and the doctors.

    You’ve raised a lot of interesting questions. I’d like to know what happens next. 🙂

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  2. I didn’t find anything story related to critique – it’s all great!

    If you were going to continue the story, though, you’d want to clarify details such as, why Rae is in an institution like place, what her connection is to Gala, and whatever else you can fill in without spoiling future revelations, before you got too far along. Then the reader isn’t left asking so many questions that it distracts from enjoying the story.

    Otherwise, I only spotted errors such as the sentence “Rae squeaked out, saluting after the fashion of the characters in the cartoons their first Director had shown them on Saturday mornings.” It’s cool imagery but its too wordy for such a short action. Maybe you could break it up into different sentences or mention the cartoons at a different point.

    Otherwise, this is really good. Your prose, as always, is beautiful to read, the story is engaging and your characters and settings are intriguing (Hence why I want to know more about them!)

    ““Do you want to go build a snowman?” she asked solemnly.” Was that a Frozen reference? Speaking of, maybe the snow here is finally sticky enough that we could do that sometime!

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  3. Your excerpt raised enough questions to make it intriguing.

    I would like to see you do the following:

    Begin with a better hook. “The snow was white” did not hook me, and the snow scene provided no foresight into how it would affect the story later. The scene with Rae running also gave me no hint about where the story was going. What was the purpose of the running? Was there any purpose at all? You need to give the scene a sense of purpose, something the character has to do.

    Avoid unnecessary words. “until she was as tall as she could be as she did so.” The last four words are unnecessary. The words “at her” later in the paragraph are also unnecessary. In another sentence “make herself go” is also unnecessary. Search for such words and delete them.

    Write with a consistent, intimate point of view. With that kind of POV, you would report what Rae saw (the girl) before she reacted to it. Also, you wouldn’t mention her eyes lighting up, and you would word the grin as if she intentionally caused the grinning action instead of writing it as one who is viewing the action. Look for other instances to make the POV more consistent and intimate.

    I doubt that Rae would have spoken out loud with such a long complaint. Most people, when alone, will complain silently. Also, why did Rae think Gala was a genius?

    Back to POV, if you want to write more intimately, then the small boy scene wouldn’t be far away or somewhere else. It would be wherever the boy is, and he would probably give his friend a name. He probably wouldn’t consider the color of his hair, and he wouldn’t know that his skin was turning red, and he certainly wouldn’t take note of the color of his hair roots.

    By the way, there are thunder snowstorms.

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