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brigits_flame: Dinnertime

Jun. 14th, 2009 | 07:40 am

Title: Dinnertime
Word Count: 525
Warnings: The topic was thought of while watching MTV and singing The Beatles. Warning enough? I think so.
Notes: This was written for the June contest atbrigits_flame; the topic is "Oil and Vinegar."

Every dinnertime, I sit at the table, wondering if they can tell. Fear courses through me, and I think resentfully that this should be a time of family and togetherness. But all I can do is sit and sulk in anger, wishing that they would just love me as I am instead of who they think I am.
 
I look to my mother, my father, my sister, and all I can see is their happy suburban lives: each hair is perfectly placed; each piece of meatloaf is eaten with the perfect amount of relish; each conversation topic flows perfectly to the next. I sit apart from it all, glaring sullenly at plate, which is laid with the perfect amount of food to satisfy the rest of my food-pyramid-required servings for the day.
 
I angrily stuff half a slice of beef into my mouth and get up from the table. My chair squeals across the floor and my mother looks at me, alarmed. I say nothing as I walk away.
 
I hear my dad whisper with humor in his voice, "It's just teenage angst," and I want to scream that it's not just teenage angst! It's what they've done to me! But I know it doesn't matter, because that's all they see, and it's really my fault.
 
__________
 
It's dinnertime again. Reheated food is eaten in morbid silence as my sister looks uninterested, my father displeased, and my mother in pain. Guilt washes over me, and I'm the first to leave the table again, as I do most nights now.
 
__________
 
The time for dinner approaches inevitably, and my mother asks me for help in the kitchen. I sigh, wondering how long this charade would last until she broke down, but get up and walk over. She asks me to help her mix oil and vinegar for the salad. I laugh in derision at the irony. She just looks at me curiously, but silently hands me the fork to mix with while starting to pour the oil.
 
"I wanted to tell you something, sweetheart," she says. I knew she would.
 
"What?" I cringe at my own rudeness, but defiantly look at the dressing instead of at my mother.
 
"I just wanted you to know that we'll always be your family, your dad, your sister, and me." I bite my lip and stare hard at the fork. I contemplate the oil and vinegar and watch as they emulsify into not-quite one, but as close as they could be, given the circumstances.
 
I furrow my brow and glare at the oil, as if it's the source of all of my problems. I know it's not, but blaming something is better than blaming myself. Then I think that maybe it's time to let things go.
 
"I'm gay," I admit, voice just above a whisper. My hand starts shaking and I stir faster to cover it up. Some of the mixture spills out onto my shirt. I frown, but see that they're melded together now, bonded by threads stronger than the repulsion between them, and eternally stained.
 
I realize then that this is the first time I've smiled in forever.

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Comments {17}

amused4ever

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from: amused4ever
date: Jun. 15th, 2009 08:49 pm (UTC)
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Ahahahaha. MTV. ;P

I liked it! Especially the last line. And the paragraph describing the dressing mixing and the stain. And this comment font is so small that I can barely read what I'm typing. :v

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ephemeralbreath

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from: ephemeralbreath
date: Jun. 15th, 2009 10:58 pm (UTC)
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xD Yeah... It was one of those "coming out" things... And it was late at night! Yes. Blame the sleeplessness!

:D Yayyyy I'm glad you did. Haha yey metaphor. Didja notice, the oil is the family and the vinegar the protagonist? I started it that way, but thought that saying it outright would make it feel too much like I was holding your hand. =X

I know! I wish I could change it, but it's an LJ premade layout, and I don't think you can mess with those...

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amused4ever

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from: amused4ever
date: Jun. 18th, 2009 04:38 am (UTC)
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HEY LOOK KELLY I'M FINALLY REPLYING LOOKIT 8DDD

...YES, I DID NOTICE THAT. :DDD The whole oil=family, vinegar=protagonist, I was mainly complimenting that when I mentioned "describing mixing the dressing and the stain", because while your adjectives and transitive verbs were lovely, I picked up on the symbolism/metaphor. You introduced it just enough to make the reader aware it was there, but they had to work and deciding what was what--so I'm glad you didn't say it outright, that would've sounded stupid. xP

And I'm getting used to it, so don't sweat it. I was just REEEAAALLLYYY tired when I first commented, because that was one of the days I'd stayed up and hadn't gotten a wink of sleep. D:

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ephemeralbreath

(no subject)

from: ephemeralbreath
date: Jun. 18th, 2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
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! I THOUGHT YOU READING IT LAST NIGHT AT MY HOUSE WAS YOU REPLYING! xD

:D I'm glad you did! I was way too excited about that haha. Yeah, I know... I have a bad tendency to want to hold readers' hands, but I'm getting better!

Awww. Yeah, I don't think it's THAT bad, but I guess I'm kind of used to reading funkay font.

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(Deleted comment)

ephemeralbreath

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from: ephemeralbreath
date: Jun. 15th, 2009 11:29 pm (UTC)
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:D I'm glad you liked it! I wish I knew how to change it, or even if it's possible to. D:

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cedarwolfsinger

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from: cedarwolfsinger
date: Jun. 15th, 2009 11:18 pm (UTC)
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Good work. The tension is very real...interesting that the oil is the family and the vinegar the main character.

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ephemeralbreath

(no subject)

from: ephemeralbreath
date: Jun. 15th, 2009 11:30 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for reading!

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merthin

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from: merthin
date: Jun. 16th, 2009 05:05 am (UTC)
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That was really touching. The stain and the admission so wonderfully linked, both immutable, both irreversible. This was really nicely done. :-)

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ephemeralbreath

(no subject)

from: ephemeralbreath
date: Jun. 16th, 2009 09:31 pm (UTC)
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Thank you; I'm glad you liked it!

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(no subject)

from: libra_dragon
date: Jun. 18th, 2009 12:04 am (UTC)
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This was really good. I enjoyed reading it.

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ephemeralbreath

(no subject)

from: ephemeralbreath
date: Jun. 18th, 2009 03:01 am (UTC)
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Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.

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Jacques

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from: lacombe
date: Jun. 20th, 2009 11:08 pm (UTC)
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Hey there!

I hope you don't mind- I've been hosting my Flame Edits on the community web site. I find it's a lot easier to do the edits in PHP instead of these tiny commmennt boxes.

I had a great time reading your piece! Thanks for writing!

Your edit: http://brigits-flame.com/edits/ephemeralbreath-june-14-2009.php

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ephemeralbreath

(no subject)

from: ephemeralbreath
date: Jun. 21st, 2009 01:04 am (UTC)
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Thank you for your edit.

I don't mind at all! I actually really like it, since you can change the color of your comments instead of having me struggle through italics and strikethroughs and general LJ formats.

I can see what you mean about the introduction. I was debating making it a little more dramatic, but feel that too much drama lends itself to seeming like a caricature of life rather than a depiction of it. I do think that the beginning needs work, though.

I agree with your suggestion to use a semicolon after "suburban lives," however, I felt that it was more grammatically correct to use semicolons when listing phrases rather than commas, and therefore used a period so the paragraph wouldn't feel overly cluttered with complicated semicolons. I do see where you're coming from with the comma suggestion, especially because I personally feel like semicolons are kind of "uppity."

Yeah! I have this problem where I always enjoy writing one part of the story much more than the others (usually the end), and the rest of the writing suffers because I get tired of the story and I guess it just feels uninspired and comes across so. I'm having the same problem this week! Any ideas on how I can stop this bad bad habit?

Yes. I felt that the mother's reaction was unnecessary here. I'll admit, the first version of this did include her reaction, but upon closer reading and a rewrite, I liked this one better. I felt that ultimately, the story was about how the character feels about himself, not how his family feels about him. It is portrayed not through his relationship with the family, but by how he feels about this relationship. The main character felt that the big division between them was his inability to reveal that he is gay, and when he does, it's a breaking down of this barrier. This also explains why the rest of the family has so little personality.

I get this same type of review sometimes, that I need more detail in what I write. I really think it's something I need to work on; when I do, I feel like it's all just very awkward-sounding. I guess that's just what it's like when you try new things! I'll definitely try a "meatier" take on coming pieces.

Thank you. I will keep your comments in mind.

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major pip

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from: pipisafoat
date: Jun. 21st, 2009 08:12 pm (UTC)
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Hi, I'm Pip, and I'm your late editor! I hope you can forgive my lateness (if it helps, I was doing charity work all week and was way too tired when I got home to even think about edits). I've read over lacombe's edit, so I don't think I'm repeating anything he said. I also saw that you like colorful edits, so I've put my changes and comments in red here. I hope this works for you and is easy enough to read!

Overall:
Most of what I would have said, Jacques already threw out there, so just one quick suggestion: I thought the middle section was too short, too bare-bones for the rest of the story. Maybe make it a little more detailed, give it more scene. Why is the father displeased, why is the mother in pain? What are they eating?
Oh, and in the first section, they're eating meatloaf and beef? Maybe it's just me, but I think that's a strange combination for one meal.

Specific:
Every dinnertime, I sit at the table, wondering if they can tell. - Every night at dinner
I sit apart from it all, glaring sullenly at my plate, which is laid with the perfect amount of food to satisfy the rest of my food-pyramid-required servings for the day.
My chair squeals across the floor, and my mother looks at me, alarmed.
I hear my dad whisper with humor in his voice - (awkward wording)
"It's just teenage angst," and I want to scream that it's not just teenage angst! - Despite what Jacques said (and sure, he's grammatically right), I really like the way you did the comma-plus-and there. It's extremely effective with your style. I do the same thing a lot, too. :)
I sigh, wondering how long this charade would last until she broke down, but get up and walk over. - I'd throw a subject in the second part of this; it's a bit awkward without it, what with the comma before the but. Also, you might want to reconsider 'walk over' - it's kind of boring. You could use something more descriptive than 'walk' or something along the lines of 'join her in the kitchen' or 'join her at the counter'.
I laugh in derision at the irony. - Whoa, that's a little blunt.
She just looks at me curiously, but silently hands me the fork to mix with while starting to pour the oil. - If you have a comma (before the but), you're supposed to have a subject (after the but). Also, I'm against that 'just', but I sure couldn't give you a good reason for it.
I cringe at my own rudeness, but defiantly look at the dressing instead of at my mother. - Same on the comma/subject. Also, loving this sentence.
My hand starts shaking, and I stir faster to cover it up.
I frown, but see that they're melded together now - More comma/subject - here, I would definitely remove the comma.
but see that they're melded together now, bonded by threads stronger than the repulsion between them, and eternally stained. - Personally, I found that to be more than a little cliché or cheesy. I mean, there's nothing wrong with it; I just thought I'd throw that out there.

At any rate, I enjoyed it. Nicely done, and sorry your edit is a bit late!

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ephemeralbreath

(no subject)

from: ephemeralbreath
date: Jun. 22nd, 2009 03:16 am (UTC)
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It's no problem; I'm happy to get your edit anytime!

I actually meant beef as in what the meatloaf was made of... I didn't want to repeat the word, as it kind of sticks out and wasn't all that important.

Thank you for your comments! I want to say that I meant for the character to be blunt -- he's angry at the world and is striking out at it. I can definitely see the comma-but problems. I never knew that grammar rule, but now I get why it sounded so weird! I'll definitely keep this in mind anytime I'm writing now.

I can see what you mean by it being cheesy. I wanted it to replace the scene of "Oh, I love you for who you are," which I didn't want to write. I felt that it left this too-easily-made acceptance for an indefinite but inevitable amount of time.

Thank you, and again, it's no problem at all! I'm glad to know that you put your time to good use. :D

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major pip

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from: pipisafoat
date: Jun. 22nd, 2009 03:20 am (UTC)
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I actually meant beef as in what the meatloaf was made of
Ohhhhhh. (See, I grew up on meatloaf made of ground turkey or venison. *shrugs* Flew right over my head that normal people apparently eat beef meatloaf. Oops. Anyway, I don't think it's really that big a deal.)

I am glad you didn't do an "I love you for who you are" scene, because there really is no way to make that go over easy.

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ephemeralbreath

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from: ephemeralbreath
date: Jun. 22nd, 2009 03:28 am (UTC)
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Haha. I don't really have meatloaf at home, so I had to think for a while about what was in it... Maybe turkey or venison is what people normally have.. I wouldn't know. xD

I know! It's always either way too easy or way too dramatic, and though that's how it is most of the time in real life, it comes across, almost always (imo), as fake in writing.

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