1000+ / Story Treasury

Changed Forever — A short story


Okay, guys this story is for a competition. I would love it if you could find the time to read this and then review. Any helpful criticism, typos (spelling/ grammatical errors) pointed out would be really, really helpful. Please tell me how I can improve it and what you think. Don’t be afraid to tell me what you think!

Oooh, and I’m not happy with the title. What do you think it should be?

Thanks in advance! 😀


 

girl

A figure appeared in the distance, making her way through the fog towards me. She wore a cape entirely too big for her, black python boots and a haughty expression I had never seen before.  Her hair grown up to waist length, and she wore a belt (most probably charmed) which in my opinion just looked plain ridiculous on her slim figure. Her hand was adorned with rings and she looked determined. Slightly envious of her graceful composure, I realized she had matured.

Elizabeth Perry had actually matured.

It took a moment to sink in. When my slow mind actually processed this, I was on the verge of panicking. Next moment I would hear that dogs said moo. This could not be happening. The sister who had giggled with me on sleepless nights, filled the toothpaste with violet dye, been the horror of all parents, and hexed almost every teacher in the school was now this person standing in front of me.

Three years, and this much could change.

‘Good afternoon, Holly. How do you do?’ she said.

Now I really and truly panicked. Was my sister actually bothering with pleasantries? We were talking about my sister here. And she never called me Holly. From since I was a little tot, she had called me nothing but Olly.

How much more could she have changed? Would I no longer have anyone to confide in my biggest secrets? The temperature increased by ten degrees as I began to feel feverish. The blood roared in my ears. Had I really and truly lost my sister, the one person I loved the most in my life?

“Um, hi Liz” I managed in a faint voice.

The next two days were in spent in uncomfortable silence. At least my two days were. I could hardly speak a word from the shock I had gotten. And it seemed that Liz was in no mood to go back to her previous self. She was polite, well-mannered and even offered to help Mother do the chores, to my mother great joy and approval. Mother was even muttering to herself ‘At least that girl learned some manners while she went.’ And sometimes: ‘Why, she’s a proper lady!’

She was, in short, what Liz would have called a ‘goody- goody-two-shoes three years ago.

Three years ago, my sister had been apprenticed to a powerful sorceress. It was a one in a lifetime chance, and sorceresses were respected in our society. So obviously she was ushered into accepting the apprenticeship by our parents. She had to leave to learn the magical Way of the Arts.

Liz had been very quiet while leaving, not uttering a single word. I couldn’t tell if she was sad to go, or excited at the prospect of her new life. I never found out.

Everyone missed her lively and cheerful self. Even the Headteacher seemed slightly reproachful. But her departure affected me the most, someone who had spent her entire life in the shadow of her sister. I cried myself to sleep at nights, and missed her presence in every waking hour. She took care of me, was the one who made all the trips to parks fun. I did not know how to manage without her.

Finally, when our mother noticed the empty void growing between us, said that we better go to the beach for a day to ourselves. We did.

The sun pouring down upon us, the waves lapping at the sand, the beach was almost empty – save from an elderly couple, a small group wearing rainbow swim suits and a few kids. Again both of us sat on our beach chairs in uncomfortable silence. Finally Lizzy made a feeble attempt at conversation.

“So, um…Olly, what have you been doing in the past three years?”

Keeping calm became impossible for me. My face went red and the blood roared in my ears. Clenching my fist I tried to control myself. But like a bottle that has been shaken, my anger burst forth in a steady stream. Before I knew it I was shouting, my voice cracking.

“Three years Liz. Three darn whole years I was alone, and when you come back you just ask what happened. The question is what happened to you? And why are you acting like, like…this?

The lump in my throat did not leave. Before I knew it I was sobbing. “After you left, I cried myself to sleep each night. I stopped eating and became dangerously ill. I couldn’t even swallow rainbow dyed beef noodles. They reminded me too much of you.”

I saw saw Liz’s face had gone a deathly white. Her face was wrapped in an array of expressions. Was it guilt? Shock? Sadness at times long gone? I did not know. Maybe it was all of them. “ I didn’t know, Olly ” she said quietly. And then, barely in a whisper “ I’m so sorry ”

A tear slipped onto my cheek. I wasn’t sure how to forgive her. Three years was a very long time. “You left a void that could not be filled by anyone else; I waited and waited for you to come back. It’s too late now. I found someone else.”

I saw her break down. I saw her broken and guilty. I saw her trying to pull herself together. After a few minutes of hush, she managed a small watery smile. “Oh my god, Olly. You…actually have a boyfriend?” I knew she was just trying to lift our mood, but she hit the nail on the head.

I turned away, not saying anything.

When she realized I had not retorted back, a playful smile crept across her lips. She swallowed her sobs and a giggle escaped her lips. Before I knew it, I had a smile too, and I was unable to wipe it off my face.

Then suddenly, both of us started laughing uncontrollably. The people in the rainbow swim suits looked at us strangely, but we didn’t care.

When my sister offered her hand, I was slightly hesitant. But when she gave a warm smile, my doubt disappeared.

“I really mean it. I am very sorry. I acted like jerk when I came back.” She looked at me, her eyes pleading. She was biting her lip.

For a moment it crossed my mind to snatch my hand back, and turn away. But her face was sincere, and would it be wise to push her away even after she came back? There was no need to prolong our Cold War.

“It’s okay, Liz. I forgive you. But couldn’t you have at least replied to my letters?”

“I did, Hol. I sent you loads of letters. But after a while when there came no reply, I began to think you did not have time for me anymore, and had gotten on with your life. I didn’t know you tried to contact me too” Liz dug her hands in her pockets.

My face hardened. “Well, obviously then there has been some outside interference. Probably the witch”

“Sorceress” She immediately corrected.

“Whatever” I said.

“Anyway, let’s forget the past. I missed you so. The sorceress was an old hag, and I hated her. I don’t want to spend one extra minute thinking about her, and nor do you.” She rubbed her hands thoughtfully. “Ah, but there is one advantage for the time I spent there.”

Liz clicked her fingers, and for a moment the space in front of us hazed over. Then an enormous picnic appeared in front of us, loaded with jellies, cakes, rolls, roast beef and enough food to last us a week.

I laughed in delight. “You are quite the young magician now then, huh?” As we sat down and stuffed ourselves, we talked continuously. After all, there was so much to catch up on. I noticed that though the haughty expression was gone, she spoke beautifully, as if given elocution lessons. She held herself with dignity, and for the first time I could actually call her beautiful. She had changed quite a lot.

Suddenly, a crab appeared, small and covered in seaweed. It scuttled toward us, snapping its pinchers. Liz screamed in horror and did not stop running until there was a ten meter distance between her and the crab.

I couldn’t help chuckle. I picked up the crab and started chasing her, with her screaming and me merrily behind her.

A lifetime may have passed, but some things never change.

A figure appeared in the distance, making her way through the fog towards me. She wore a cape entirely too big for her, black python boots and a haughty expression I had never seen before.  Her hair grown up to waist length, and she wore a belt (most probably charmed) which in my opinion just looked plain ridiculous on her slim figure. Her hand was adorned with rings and she looked determined. Slightly envious of her graceful composure, I realized she had matured.

Elizabeth Perry had actually matured.

It took a moment to sink in. When my slow mind actually processed this, I was on the verge of panicking. Next moment I would hear that dogs said moo. This could not be happening. The sister who had giggled with me on sleepless nights, filled the toothpaste with violet dye, been the horror of all parents, and hexed almost every teacher in the school was now this person standing in front of me.

Three years, and this much could change.

‘Good afternoon, Holly. How do you do?’ she said.

Now I really and truly panicked. Was my sister actually bothering with pleasantries? We were talking about my sister here. And she never called me Holly. From since I was a little tot, she had called me nothing but Olly.

How much more could she have changed? Would I no longer have anyone to confide in my biggest secrets? The temperature increased by ten degrees as I began to feel feverish. The blood roared in my ears. Had I really and truly lost my sister, the one person I loved the most in my life?

“Um, hi Liz” I managed in a faint voice.

The next two days were in spent in uncomfortable silence. At least my two days were. I could hardly speak a word from the shock I had gotten. And it seemed that Liz was in no mood to go back to her previous self. She was polite, well-mannered and even offered to help Mother do the chores, to my mother great joy and approval. Mother was even muttering to herself ‘At least that girl learned some manners while she went.’ And sometimes: ‘Why, she’s a proper lady!’

She was, in short, what Liz would have called a ‘goody- goody-two-shoes three years ago.

Three years ago, my sister had been apprenticed to a powerful sorceress. It was a one in a lifetime chance, and sorceresses were respected in our society. So obviously she was ushered into accepting the apprenticeship by our parents. She had to leave to learn the magical Way of the Arts.

Liz had been very quiet while leaving, not uttering a single word. I couldn’t tell if she was sad to go, or excited at the prospect of her new life. I never found out.

Everyone missed her lively and cheerful self. Even the Headteacher seemed slightly reproachful. But her departure affected me the most, someone who had spent her entire life in the shadow of her sister. I cried myself to sleep at nights, and missed her presence in every waking hour. She took care of me, was the one who made all the trips to parks fun. I did not know how to manage without her.

Finally, when our mother noticed the empty void growing between us, said that we better go to the beach for a day to ourselves. We did.

The sun pouring down upon us, the waves lapping at the sand, the beach was almost empty – save from an elderly couple, a small group wearing rainbow swim suits and a few kids. Again both of us sat on our beach chairs in uncomfortable silence. Finally Lizzy made a feeble attempt at conversation.

“So, um…Olly, what have you been doing in the past three years?”

Keeping calm became impossible for me. My face went red and the blood roared in my ears. Clenching my fist I tried to control myself. But like a bottle that has been shaken, my anger burst forth in a steady stream. Before I knew it I was shouting, my voice cracking.

“Three years Liz. Three darn whole years I was alone, and when you come back you just ask what happened. The question is what happened to you? And why are you acting like, like…this?

The lump in my throat did not leave. Before I knew it I was sobbing. “After you left, I cried myself to sleep each night. I stopped eating and became dangerously ill. I couldn’t even swallow rainbow dyed beef noodles. They reminded me too much of you.”

I saw saw Liz’s face had gone a deathly white. Her face was wrapped in an array of expressions. Was it guilt? Shock? Sadness at times long gone? I did not know. Maybe it was all of them. “ I didn’t know, Olly ” she said quietly. And then, barely in a whisper “ I’m so sorry ”

A tear slipped onto my cheek. I wasn’t sure how to forgive her. Three years was a very long time. “You left a void that could not be filled by anyone else; I waited and waited for you to come back. It’s too late now. I found someone else.”

I saw her break down. I saw her broken and guilty. I saw her trying to pull herself together. After a few minutes of hush, she managed a small watery smile. “Oh my god, Olly. You…actually have a boyfriend?” I knew she was just trying to lift our mood, but she hit the nail on the head.

I turned away, not saying anything.

When she realized I had not retorted back, a playful smile crept across her lips. She swallowed her sobs and a giggle escaped her lips. Before I knew it, I had a smile too, and I was unable to wipe it off my face.

Then suddenly, both of us started laughing uncontrollably. The people in the rainbow swim suits looked at us strangely, but we didn’t care.

When my sister offered her hand, I was slightly hesitant. But when she gave a warm smile, my doubt disappeared.

“I really mean it. I am very sorry. I acted like jerk when I came back.” She looked at me, her eyes pleading. She was biting her lip.

For a moment it crossed my mind to snatch my hand back, and turn away. But her face was sincere, and would it be wise to push her away even after she came back? There was no need to prolong our Cold War.

“It’s okay, Liz. I forgive you. But couldn’t you have at least replied to my letters?”

“I did, Hol. I sent you loads of letters. But after a while when there came no reply, I began to think you did not have time for me anymore, and had gotten on with your life. I didn’t know you tried to contact me too” Liz dug her hands in her pockets.

My face hardened. “Well, obviously then there has been some outside interference. Probably the witch”

“Sorceress” She immediately corrected.

“Whatever” I said.

“Anyway, let’s forget the past. I missed you so. The sorceress was an old hag, and I hated her. I don’t want to spend one extra minute thinking about her, and nor do you.” She rubbed her hands thoughtfully. “Ah, but there is one advantage for the time I spent there.”

Liz clicked her fingers, and for a moment the space in front of us hazed over. Then an enormous picnic appeared in front of us, loaded with jellies, cakes, rolls, roast beef and enough food to last us a week.

I laughed in delight. “You are quite the young magician now then, huh?” As we sat down and stuffed ourselves, we talked continuously. After all, there was so much to catch up on. I noticed that though the haughty expression was gone, she spoke beautifully, as if given elocution lessons. She held herself with dignity, and for the first time I could actually call her beautiful. She had changed quite a lot.

Suddenly, a crab appeared, small and covered in seaweed. It scuttled toward us, snapping its pinchers. Liz screamed in horror and did not stop running until there was a ten meter distance between her and the crab.

I couldn’t help chuckle. I picked up the crab and started chasing her, with her screaming and me merrily behind her.

A lifetime may have passed, but some things never change.

Nirvana Amjad © 7/18/2014

 

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25 thoughts on “Changed Forever — A short story

  1. Hey there, thanks for the invite to read your work 🙂 Well I wouldn’t qualify as a critic but here are some items I notice as a fellow blogger:

    1. You used repeated phrases e.g. “blood roared in my ears”, it is a personal preference actually but I tend to avoid repeating exactly the same words in phrases to reduce repetition. Perhaps “blood pounding in my ears” for the second instance? 😛
    2. You have very good and detailed descriptions of the place and characters; how about giving readers a fixed setting e.g. which town/ place is the story set in? Where did the character’s sister go to be an understudy? What could she attain?

    3. That being said, what is the focus of your story? Is it about the drifting apart of the characters? The accepting of changes and reunion? As I read, there is a lot of information in the story but where shall readers root the focus of the story in? Perhaps decide on the focus and emphasize that via vivid details for that area and perhaps blur the rest of the details a bit?

    Just my two cents. 🙂 But these are just my thoughts so don’t feel pressured to edit if you have other plans for your story or if the competition requires certain styles of writing that you need to adhere to. 🙂

    PS: I tend to like to build up my short stories to the main idea (the climatic point?) then fad out from there – some of my stuff 😛 hopefully they don’t bore you:

    Male POV short story:
    http://awlscribe.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/when-im-with-you/
    Female POV part of a longer text I am still writing:
    http://awlscribe.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/i-hate-this-love-song-part-two/

    Cheers!

    Like

  2. Hi Nirvana, I found the story was quite good, maybe detail the older sister a little more? I found the story quite stop start. I think you use the word mother too many times very close together… Maybe re structure that sentence and one paragraph begins with.. ‘I saw saw’ maybe an idea for a title ‘the sorcerer sister’ overall though a very warming story 🙂
    I loved reading it, and you wrote the details quite beautifully! You are quite a talented writer 🙂

    Like

  3. I really liked our story! Well written and you had such great detail in some sentences. There are only some changes I would make

    1. You wrote blood roaring through my ear twice, I like to change up my descriptions as much as I can. It would be different if it was a long story, but I realized you used that phrase twice right away.
    2. This again is a recommendation, but you may want to put in some backstory about the whole sorcerer thing. It sounds very plain and non exciting. Almost like she got an apprenticeship with a blacksmith.
    3. The relationship between the sisters I found a little extreme I could be wrong, but I found her not eating and becoming dangerously odd. You may want to add something tragic happened in their childhood that caused your character to rely greatly on her sister or play into the whole magic thing and explain how dangerous it is to be a sorcerer.

    You have such a great plot line, you should really take advantage of it.

    Don’t feel obliged to edit anything! ☺ This is your story.

    Like

  4. What a sweet story 🙂 You wrote so beautifully, and described the details perfectly! I can’t believe you’re only thirteen!

    Like

  5. Hey, I liked the story 🙂 It was beautifully written, and your talent shows. However, please do add some back story as it will bring out the details fantastically 🙂

    Great job, let me know how it goes xoxo

    Like

  6. This was such a lovely story to read! Personally I admire those who can start a story and stick to it. I’m no good at short stories at all!
    Well done; I was looking through the comments and a few of my thoughts have already been mentioned. My main would be the need for a little more background information. But I’m no critic!
    It was excellent; thank you for dropping me a comment to come read it. 🙂

    Like

  7. I’ve never had a sister, but I loved the way you told the story. The emotions between the two and the confusion was really palpable, even through such a short story. I can never write short stories without them getting overly long, so just the fact that you managed to contain all that in it seems a great feat to me.

    Holly refusing to eat and getting dangerously ill doesn’t sound odd to me at all. Seeing as Liz is older than Holly and the two were close during their childhood, it would only make sense that Holly would miss her to that extent. Older siblings are almost like caregivers, especially if you’re close to them. When my mom left for six weeks over the summer last year I hardly ate at all, which is what I imagined Holly doing here. It was relatable and made a lot of sense to me.

    The ending was quite adorable, I must admit. The idea that some things stay the same, even after everything else changes, is actually something I’m playing with for my Camp NaNoWriMo novel. It was interesting to read a story that focussed on the same concept 🙂

    I look forward to reading more of your writing soon!

    Like

    • As I am an older sister myself, I wanted to explore how it is to be the younger one, missing someone and seeing how much they have changed.
      Your comment made my day 🙂 I’m running into the same problem myself here, planning to write a short story, but it turning into something around 15,000 words when I only wanted it to be 5k, so I can totally understand what you mean. 😀
      Thank you so much for commenting,
      Nirvana ^.^

      Like

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