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Bus Bench

2 years ago
I'm experiment with writing styles. Specifically, I'm trying to be less formal. Here's a go. What do you think?



Pitter patter.

The air is heavy. The sky can hold only so much, so tiny tears fall to the ground and splash. The little dirt that isn’t blanketed by pavement is saturated. Rain drops slide across the pavement and seep into the sewers where it turns to a river.

Cars go by. Their windshield wipers move in some kind of unremarkable dance while rain sparkles from the headlights’ beam. The cars act as one beast going when a light shines green and stopping when it turns red. Like an unending theater show, the cars and rain move throughout the day using the same script. Yet, the tires squirt out water at the unfortunate pedestrians who are foolhardy enough to walk by the edge of the sidewalk.

“Damn it,” says one such fool.

James wipes the black water from his jeans though it has no point. The jeans are dripping like a rooftop shedding water. His legs quicken their pace to the jog to which they are accustomed. He ducks under a bus bench. Water seeps down as his umbrella closes. He buttons up his jacket while fog comes from his mouth.

Through the rain, he hears a squeak. It is not the squeak of an animal. No, it is the squeak that occurs when someone slides down a bench. James turns his neck to see the squeaker. A girl presses herself against the glass of the other side. She looks down when their looks meet. He does the same though it takes twice the time.

James’ foot bobbles up and down. His legs stick to his pants. He checks his watch, and the hands both point to twelve. He still can make it.

James hears feminine whispers. The words are lost to the rain, but the s stands out. He leans back acting as though he is readjusting his seating, yet he glances at her. She is reading from a book listing words. The pages are worn, and it is full of symbols. They are Asian characters, but James does not know they are Chinese symbols.

The young man closes his eyes. Images of computers flash before him. Too many plastic demons lay broken. His boss is now sitting among all of the misery wishing he had demanded less and paid more. He opens his eyes; the fantasy ended. He lets out a sigh that lasts too long, for another schmuck has already taken the job opening.

Lau Rou drags her backpack closer to her legs. She knows the bus back to her university should arrive in a moment. She flips a page in the book repeating the new words, but she closes her book. This is not good practice. She muses that these people are stranger than their language. Perhaps her mother was right. Studying here has many drawbacks for an Orchid among Sunflowers.

“Ta ma de,” she thinks.

Her body moves from the wall. Her legs swerve to face the man. She takes off her glasses and polishes them with her cloth. Rou puts the glasses back on and brushes her hair behind her ears. She gives a smile. It is a fake smile, but it looks real like the one a person makes to appear inviting and friendly.

“Hello,” she says. Her accent is still far more noticeable than she’d like.
The man looks up. His eyes are wider than they normally are. He straightens his posture and leans his arm against the glass. He scratches the beard on his chin. He replies, “Um, hey.”

James debates how surprised he should act. His eyelids close to their normal size, and he smiles back at her. She is very pretty, but they stare at each other. James does not want to lose this chance like he has many times before.

“Are you visiting, or are you just a student?” he asks through his grin.

James sees her move back to the glass, though her movement was graceful like a willow in the breeze. If his attention wasn’t all directed at her, he never would’ve noticed, but he did. His mind races through different possibilities for why she was turned off.

Rou sees his eyebrows furrow. He doesn’t understand what he said. She knows he is right of course, but that does nothing to alleviate the slight Rou felt.

“Lao mei,” she thinks to herself. James sees her head shake ever so slightly.

A car horn screams in the night.

“James,” the American says, “I’m James. And, well, I’m here looking for a better job, so I guess I’m a visitor.” His head turns back to Lou.
Lou nods. The smile returns to her lips.
James continues, “I went to college here. The community one, not that fancy assed private one. Those were some fun days. It feels longer than just, um, five years ago when I left.”

His hands waive around when he speaks, but not many of the movements make sense to Lou. She nods and smiles. No matter where she went, there are always people who loved to talk.

She puts her books back in her backpack. “I am Lau Rou. I am going to that, as you say, fancy assed university.” James eyes widen. This time she knows it is a true surprise. “I take no offence though.”

She leans towards him and braces herself up with her arms. She is finally close enough for James to see the light brown in her eyes.

“Shoot, sorry about that.” His hand rubs the back of his head. “I guess everything I’m saying is bad in some way.”
“I am very sure you don’t talk to Chinese much.” She giggles, but covers her mouth with her hand.
“No, not where I am from.” James curses his childhood. Both of their heads turn to the new sound, a high pitched rumbling. The bus comes towards the two. James’ shoulders droop. “Is this your bus?”
“Yes,” she says. Her face looses all of its emotion. In all other cases, people would only see this face if she was completing a math test.
James’ heartbeat skyrockets. Heat rushes to his face. “Can I have your phone number?” The bus stops and the doors open as Rou clutches her backpack to her chest.
“I do not remember it,” she confesses. James sees a trace of shame in her words.

She doesn’t stand. A few people exit the bus. Their umbrellas are open and their faces are plastic. Their cold eyes rush either direction from the bus stop. The bus drives away with a high pitched mumbling.

The two sit still. James glances at his watch. He has to leave now in order to arrive on time. James turns to Rou and asks, “Do you want to have lunch? I’m open for the rest of the day.”
While she hears the hope in his words, she tells the truth, “I just ate lunch.” She scolds herself for treating herself to a hamburger. Rou sees the hope in James’ eyes even after he hears her words. He stands and walks to her.

Clop. Clop.

The hard soles of the shoes tap the pavement. Rain pitter patters. Cars whir by. Water sloshes through the streets into drains. His jeans stick to his legs.

“Me too,” he says. “Let’s have a second one together.” He holds out his hand.
She grabs his hand and nods. James opens up his umbrella. They run through the rain together until their sloshing shoes and grinning faces reach a Mexican restaurant.

Bus Bench

2 years ago
I tend to read all of these entries. I also tend to avoid intentionally hurting people's feelings. If a review is not requested, I just read them. In this case, you kind of went with the middle ground, "What do you think?" Might I ask what you're asking? Do you want a full review? Do you want to know what people think about the story and not the grammar? Do you want grammar Nazis to let you know every mistake you've made? Do you just want to know, in general, how people felt after they read this?

I ask because I don't want to give you more than you want!

Bus Bench

2 years ago
I'm mostly wanting to know how "organic" my writing is for this one. I normally end up writing stupidly stiff characters. :)

Though, knowing your overall take is nice (which is still not defining much for you). I'm not overtly concerned with grammar though I know there probably mistakes in there still. This story was mostly an exercise/test on a different tone of writing that tries to paint clearer pictures... idk, it may have sucked. I have a hard time rating my own things.

Thanks! (I hope I was clear enough.)

Bus Bench

2 years ago

Wibbons, you're a really nice and cool guy, but I'm not gonna pussyfoot around this: this is a jumbled mess of words that isn't organic at all. There's so many things that you take two or three sentences to say that could be squeezed into one, IE 'Through the rain, he hears a squeak. It is not the squeak of an animal. No, it is the squeak that occurs when someone slides down a bench.'

Just keep working, and don't overthink shit when you write. Overthinking makes you burn yourself out and you end up writing absolute bollocks, or, worse, losing any enthusiasm you had.

Bus Bench

2 years ago
This was all posted 8 days ago tbf, he posted a sample in chat last night that was a big improvement.

Bus Bench

2 years ago

well I missed that so this is my only insight into his ability

Bus Bench

2 years ago
Commended by EndMaster on 3/16/2018 7:56:54 PM
Oh, hi. I had forgotten about this one. Well, I’ve found it again. I’m not completely sure what you’re saying in your response, so I’m going to just ignore that and give this bit the full treatment. Just so you know, that means: I write this while I’m reading it for the first time, giving you a glimpse into what I’m thinking as I read it. If you don’t like what I write, that’s fine, just ignore it. I don’t intend to attack you or offend you, this is just what I’m thinking as I read along. Realize that everyone has their own opinion, and this one is just mine. Odds are that everyone else will disagree with what I write here. Also, this review is likely worth exactly what you paid for it. Most of all, remember, you asked. That said, here we go:

“Pitter patter?” Oh geez. I’m not a big fan of reading sound words, but whatever. In this case, I’m already thinking of a small cat. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to, but that’s where my mind went. Reading on… What the hell? The sky is crying tears? Those are called “raindrops.” But where did the cat go? What is this? “The little dirt?” Is that as opposed to the “Big Dirt” standing over there in the corner with the pitter-pattering cat? Oh, no, it’s the dirt that isn’t taking a dirt nap all tucked in under the nice, comfy pavement blanket. What the hell is that? Is this some poetry crap thing that I’m supposed to be reading? Rain drops slide? No they don’t. And especially not on pavement! Pavement is blacktop, and that’s porous, so water goes into it, not across it, unless there are puddles. And if the rain drops are sliding, they can’t seep into the sewers! What is going on here, and where did that damn cat go?

Cars go by. Ok, I’m bored now. The wipers are dancing? How do you figure? What kind of dance goes just back and forth forever without any variation whatsoever? But hey, the sliding raindrops that defy the laws of physics are sparkly or something. And hey, the cars are beasts. And there are Christmas lights around, too, so that’s fun. And hey, now the cars are dancing with the rain, during the day. Wait, it’s daytime? I didn’t know that. The emphasis on the headlights and sparkling made me think it was night. I have no idea why there is a comma after “Yet.”

Ok, I’m going to be honest. I’m having trouble reading this. I’m not sure I’m going to make it to the end, but I’m going to keep trying. Hopefully something is going to happen because at this point I just feel like you used lots of words because you just read a dictionary or something. Or maybe you had to complete an exercise in English class where you were required to describe something using a specific list of words. This really doesn’t flow and seems to just be describing things to describe things. I guess you’re trying to effectively describe a scene, but to me it just feels like you’re trying too hard.

Hey look, dialogue! This might start moving forward. The “one such fool” refers back to the silliness of the previous paragraph. Again, just feels like trying too hard. Ok, the “James” sentence: who the hell is James? I mean I assume he’s this guy that just spoke, but with that person being “one such fool” and “James” appearing at literally the next word, then maybe he’s not. I guess he is, but I actually just read those two lines three times trying to tell. I’m not sure you need to be so discrete. Maybe James needs to be introduced somehow, or if James actually isn’t the fool, that needs to be much clearer. Why is the water black? At the moment, I’m still confused as to whether it is day or night, but now the water is black, and I don’t know why. Is the street that filthy? With the reference to dirt earlier, I would have expected the water to be dirty, but not black. Also, the “it” in that sentence is confusing. Because of the placement, it looks like “it” means “his jeans.” I don’t think his jeans have no point, but hey, maybe we’re actually in a nudist colony and they don’t really have any point. I’m just not quite sure here.

Now about those jeans and the water. Have you ever actually seen a rooftop shedding water? That often occurs in sheets with massive amounts of water flowing over the edge or down a gutter. This is because the roof has a large surface area that can collect water from that large area, then collect all that water into one location, creating that sheeting effect. Can jeans do that? The only way I can picture jeans doing that is if they have been seriously coated with some kind of water repellent (in which case James, if that is his real name, wouldn’t even need to be wiping them) AND James would have to be a size 1,256 long or something. Normal jeans that I picture here soak up water. Once they are absolutely drenched to the point where your sock and underwear are also soaked, I picture them dripping a bit. I really can’t imagine jeans and “shedding water” in the same sentence.

Is James controlling his own legs? I was almost with that sentence, but again, it feels forced. No one says that. Who talks about their legs quickening when they are starting to jog? No one, that’s who. Holy crap! James isn’t size 1,256 long after all! In fact, he’s likely about one and a half feet tall. Why? Because that’s how tall you have to be to duck under a damn bus bench! Those things are for sitting on, not ducking under. I’m an average size guy, and for me to get under a bus bench, I’d have to dive, roll, and crawl. And I don’t know about James, but I’m not doing that when it’s already raining out black acid water, anyway. But hey, James is special because apparently he did that dive and crawl with an OPEN umbrella while smoking. I guess if you’re only one and a half feet tall chasing a cat, you can do that.

He hears a squeak. I’m going to guess that’s the mouse the cat from the start of the story is chasing. I’m just going to ignore that James closed his tiny drink umbrella while still standing in the rain, apparently. Oh wait, it’s not an animal squeak. Guess I got that one wrong. Have I said, “What the hell?” yet? Because that’s what I’m thinking, and I’m getting the feeling that’s not the first time I’ve thought that in the past few minutes. Apparently there’s a bus bench. I’m guessing this is the one that James dove and rolled under with his open umbrella. And in my mind it is still raining the black rain that’s absolutely drenched James’ pants – so it’s raining hard. Yet someone just sat on the bench (maybe aghast that James dove under it), then slid down the soaking wet bench…and squeaked. What the hell?

Let’s go on…and let’s watch quadruple-jointed James turn his neck without turning his head or his body. I’m quite impressed, do go on James. Oh, there’s a girl mashing her boobs up against glass by James. Well, I think I got his height right based on the idea that she’s looking down at him from wherever the hell she is. I don’t know at this point, my guess is that she’s either in a phone booth getting it from behind or she’s in a front window of a joint likely with a red light shining from behind. Either way I’ve now got a good idea what section of town we’re in – though I am a little confused at how she looked down at him, yet he also looked down at her, and somehow when he looked, it took longer time. I had always thought of “looking” at rather instantaneous, so in this case I suppose her brain could have processed the sight she saw in 0.000000001 milliseconds and his brain took 0.000000002 milliseconds. And that’s ignoring trying to figure out how “looks meet.”

Is James drunk at this point? That would actually explain quite a bit to me. It would also explain why his foot suddenly started to “bobble.” That’s not a normal action for a foot to take – at least not mine. Well, unless I’m pretty drunk, of course. It would also explain the leg sticking to the pants. In most of the English-speaking world, pants stick to legs. But clearly not here with tiny drunk James. He looked at his watch. Okay, so he’s given up on the streetwalker, I guess.

Wait, nope, not yet. He hears her whispering, apparently to him, through the glass. And now James is sitting down. I thought he was standing, after just closing up his drink umbrella, after sliding under the bus bench in the rain. Nope, he is sitting on something, maybe a La-Z-Boy recliner on the sidewalk, I’m not sure. He sounds like he is trying to play it cool after staring into her eyes. Oh look, she’s reading a book. I wonder where she’s holding the book since last I checked, she was smooshed up against the glass. Maybe it was her ass? No, she looked at him, so unless she’s really put together wrong, that would have been her boobs on the glass.

What the hell? She is reading from a book with words. Now I’m not sure how many books you have without words, but I guess it could be a picture book. Oh look, it is! It is symbols. But wait, you JUST said she was reading words. Is this one of those beginner reading books where it is mostly pictures on one side and a few words on the other to help the kids learn the picture and the word go together? Maybe it’s a baby encyclopedia because this girl is reading the “S” volume. But look, it’s an Asian book. No, wait, it’s a Chinese book! Why would you write that? Why would you name it one thing, then the other? If you really wanted to identify that James could tell that the symbols were Asian, why do they need to be Chinese? Why do we need to know that? Is it important? If not, putting that in there does nothing but confuse me (more than I already am).

Wow. I’m not even halfway through this. I really don’t think I’m going to make it. I’m going to have to take a poop break or something. And yeah, I’m not sure what it means when the review is actually longer than the thing being reviewed. Well, unless it’s poetry, but I’m not reviewing that crap because I don’t like it (and don’t get it).

Oh hey, there’s another person here, apparently. Now, I think, our cast is up to five. There’s the cat from the start, the fool, James, the whispering streetwalker with the encyclopedia picture book, and now this new guy, “The young man.” I wonder what his name is. He’s a weirdo, though, dreaming of computer and toy demon figurines. Oh look, another cast member, “His boss.” He’s sitting down, too. I wonder if he’s seated on the squeaky bus bench or another recliner on the sidewalk in front of the brothel. I don’t know where “his boss” is, but apparently his boss had his eyes closed and just opened them – because when “His boss” is the subject of one sentence and the next sentence starts with “He,” one can only assume that the “He” is talking about “His boss.”

How does a sigh last “too long?” Is there an appropriate length for a sigh? No really, I have no idea, but that sounds like something I should know so I don’t commit a faux-paus and sigh for too long myself. I wonder what tiny James is doing now. I wonder if he’s still standing out in the rain avoiding eye contact with the prostitute.

BAM! New person! Lau Rou. And she’s got a backpack on the ground. Oh look, she’s a university student. I wonder if James could get her a job at the brothel where he is (Yeah, I know, my mind is wandering at this point because there is so much confusion over what is going on that my mind is just starting to fill in all the blanks with something). Now I feel like Lau has three hands or something. First she dragged her backpack closer to her legs. When I picture that, I picture the backpack on the ground, with her standing next to it. When you drag something like that, you bend over, and likely use both hands. But later, she flips a page in a book. I don’t know how she flips a page after just dragging a backpack. And I think her book is broken – she flipped the page and the words on the page are apparently repeated. But hey, at least she’s thinking in a strange language.

At this point, I’m going to guess that this is the woman who earlier I thought was getting nailed in the phone booth. I can’t see how, though. There has been nothing to suggest that this is the same person. That person was behind some glass somewhere. This one is waiting for a bus. There was also someone sitting (and squeaking) on a bench or something earlier. But now Lau is moving her body from a wall. Yeah, I’ve got no idea what the hell is going on.

But hey, Lau moves her body from the wall, so naturally it sounds like she is standing up. After all, if you were seated, you couldn’t really move from the wall unless you slid your chair (or recliner) away from the wall. And yes Lau’s legs swerve to face the man. Is she plastic man in disguise? I really don’t know how legs face anyone, period, but in this case, while she is standing and physically moving away from the wall, her legs are also swiveling independently so they can face some guy.

What the hell? How many hands does this damn woman have? Not only do her legs swivel independently of her body, she has enough hands to push a bag, hold a book, and now hold glasses and a cloth. Note: she never put the book away, so in my mind it is still in her hands because not magic.

The man’s eyes? How does she know they are wider than normal? And where did this glass come from for his arm? I have no idea what is going on. A minute ago there was a guy standing. I think that was James. Then there was this young guy. Was he in the recliner? There was a prostitute pressing her boobs up against some glass. Now there is some guy sitting down in or on something, and there’s glass where he can rest his arm. What place is this? Are we still on the street in the rain? I am so damn lost.

Okay, I give up.

When I read a book, I draw a picture in my mind of the scene. As the words advance, I change the scene. When there are things missing in the words, I fill them in in my mind. But when things conflict, I just get lost, as you might be able to tell from my descriptions here. I’m not really sure I’ve been helpful here, but I really feel like the descriptions at the start are just too much and feel very unnatural. Then as the action progresses, it gets odd. I don’t mind gaps, because I can fill them in. But when there are conflicting thoughts – like not being able to even tell how many characters there are in the scene – it gets harder and harder for my mind to keep up. If that isn’t making sense, I could take a part of this and attempt to rewrite it a bit to show how I would have written it. Of course, more likely is that I wrote too damn much here and few will read all the way to this point, anyway! I do hope this helped you in some way and that it doesn’t make you mad or disappointed or anything like that.

Bus Bench

2 years ago
I made it as far as the 'cars go by' paragraph just now on my phone. You did a brave thing here.

WIBN! be less boring, I mean it.

Bus Bench

2 years ago
Holy crap! I JUST got it! It wasn't supposed to be a bus bench, it's one of those shelter things! Wow.

No, that doesn't explain everything, but it does help a little.

Bus Bench

2 years ago
First, thank you. I truly appreciate the time you put into this. There is no way I'd be unhappy with any (non-retarded) review.

I laughed so much. This review was amazing. Not only was it the funniest thing I saw in a very long time, but it was helpful. As you can see, I tried to change my writing voice, but the result is crap (which I have a very hard time seeing until it is pointed out to me). There were only two characters "there" in the story, so I even managed to screw that up.

Fortunately, I have been able to straighten myself out (due to Bucky and Mizal a day or two ago). I think my writing is better now, or at least good enough so my character don't grow five arms. I can see my errors very clearly now thanks to all of your help, and I honestly don't know how I missed all of my errors when I posted it. Hopefully, such horrible writing won't come from me again. Truly, thank you so much! Perhaps my favorite things on CYS is truthful reviews. :)

Bus Bench

2 years ago
Glad you liked it! I did have fun writing it with my brain filling in all the blanks.

As for the errors, I have that problem too: I KNOW what I meant to write, so when I re-read it, I see what I want to see, no matter what I actually wrote. The ones I miss the most are typos because my eyes simply insist it is correct.

Keep working at it, I do believe writing is something that does get better with practice.

Bus Bench

2 years ago
Anyway I am probably obligated to get Ebon's review up before I eviscerate this. But, WIBN, we're going to have an intervention.