Critique Corner – Saidi

CHAPTER TWO

Saidi’s Part:

What are my thoughts about Cat, you ask? I’ve questioned that myself many times too in my new job as this orchestra leader, seeing her multidimensional as I do. I don’t know her thoughts, but I can view her facial expressions. The ones she hides when others are around, except this Little Guy. I feel her frustrations like reading a book. I feel her joy too. Her kindness and aches remind me of a distant time—a distant place.

Earlier That Year

######

Caterly liked her life, in spite of her circumstances. Though to a certain point, she lived looking over her shoulders because of her Infinīte background. She yearned to know about her grandmother Gram and continued in her research holding this subject in a very private and respectful place in her heart.

One day, after Cat emerged on the shore from a quick dive, gathering more samples in a familiar private beach area, she dismantled her air tank. Setting it down in some high brush, she perched on a large rock herself. Looking over on the sandy shore, she spotted a whitish fish beached about twenty feet from where she sat.

She approached the fish with caution, only to find it wasn’t exactly a fish. This creature had two arms, comparable to a toddler, and two legs reaching down to slightly webbed feet.

Migrating back to the head that lifted some from the sand with much difficulty, Cat cringed at the sight of the struggling human. No, humans don’t have translucent skin, with see-through eyelids. The human-like, bald-head with a mouth sporting jagged looking teeth, appeared more like a monster than a human.

The creature lifted its head from a stout neck if you could call it a neck. It resembled a dog’s neckline only to find that the head proved too cumbersome, so laid it back down—delaying its cry for help. Whew. Intense.

But Caterly, in spite of that, heard the being’s cry for help and answered. “Did you find me, or did I find you? You poor thing,” she said, “You’re drying up. Let me get you some water.”

Cat always rescued animals and amphibians, even at the cost of delaying crucial meetings and getaways for a stray anything. She didn’t look for the urchins but certainly was a magnet for them.
Most people didn’t understand why she felt driven to help the needy ones and the more severe the case, the better. Her whole life she felt unsure of herself. So helping the destitute boosted her confidence. Not knowing how the whole thing would turn out became a thrill, a rush indeed.

She ran to the ocean and filled her goggles with water and shot back to cover the creature. Ran back again a couple more times and then observed the little guy that wasn’t that small, but about the size of a two-year-old child.

Going against her better judgment, she cooed to the amphibian and told it, “I’ll put you in the water so you can hydrate, little guy.”
She scooped her left hand under its neck reaching up with her fingers but trying to avoid the row of spikes trailing down its spine. The other side held the buttocks supporting the back.

“Here you go little guy.” It looked up at her. Ah, you’re breaking my heart. Now indelibly convinced of doing the right thing. She walked over to the ocean as carefully as she could until knee deep in water. Gently lowering the beast into the waves but still supporting all of its weight, probably about 25 to 30 pounds of it. She assumed it could take in sufficient oxygen through the skin. And soak in its fill of water the same way, while submerged. But just in case the creature couldn’t breathe underneath, she raised it outside of the water at a steady rhythm.

Cat knew this living thing was too sick to survive on its own. Though in a weakened state the water already began to revive it some. You can’t swim; that’s for sure. “What happened to you?” she asked, not expecting an answer.

“I’ll have to carry you to my house,” she said, “we have a ways to go.” Shish, it’s a killer hike even with my tank on my back. No using her arms for momentum and balance. At her house, she could properly care for him. Dang, I have to do it.

She began taking the path through a broad reach of the field, with her new project secured in her arms. His visible genitals made her pretty sure he was a male and a mystery at that. She didn’t recognize this species in all her training as a marine biologist and mostly as a researcher.

They continued through the grasses and weeds like coastal sage, as the wind slapped her wetsuit. Hmmm, I’ll be okay in the scratchy bushes and wind, but he doesn’t have any protection at all. His skin appeared so transparent, more than a newborn mouse. “Are you a baby?” she asked again not getting an answer. He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t tell her.

Aside from the two of them they continued entirely alone, involving only the company of untamed vegetation rising in fat strands that led through the marine terrain. She remembered laying down her tank in the tall grasses. “I’ll have to hike back later and pick it up. It’ll be okay,” she told him. “Nobody but me ever goes there.”
They walked in silence for a bit then she said enthusiastically, “I’m going to name you Little Guy, I hope you like that?” Clearly marking him, as hers just like a new puppy.

Her ears felt like enormous shells, and inside of them an orchestra played. She wanted to stop and rest but walked on knowing Little Guy needed help right away. Her house with the natural seawater pond out front had plenty of privacy for his kind. Now she approached the tricky area of the trail. Crap, I can’t see my footing.

Her new project lay limp and heavy in her arms. She shifted that weight. There was about another quarter mile left through rough terrain. Can I make it home without falling? He could easily become a casualty out here. What if I stumble and knock myself out. What then?

With particular care, she began descending a hill, glad for having her diving booties so she could use her feet as feelers. There were bushes she could grab to assist her as she’d done in the past only now she had no free hands.

At one point, she slipped a couple of times. She finally sat down and scooted balancing Little Guy in the middle so he wouldn’t have further problems like getting gouged by a branch.

Upon reaching the bottom, she picked herself up holding on and readjusting his weight again. She could now see her house and feel the familiar mist on her face. She sniffed her drippy itchy nose.
Now she wanted to run for joy, quite a feat considering how tired she was. Her sweat now air-dried on her face and neck. “We have to go up the stairs Little Guy,” she said. “We’re almost there.” Why am I so driven to do such things? I’m nuts.

2 responses to “Critique Corner – Saidi

  1. You’ve got the beginnings of an interesting story here but there’s still a lot of passive voice that needs to get excised. For instance:
    “Setting it down in some high brush, she perched on a large rock herself. Looking over on the sandy shore, she spotted a whitish fish beached about twenty feet from where she sat.”
    -She set the tank down and perched herself on a large rock. Beyond the sandy shore, about twenty feet from her, a whitish breached.
    I’d do more to establish Cat’s character early on, she’s got some kind of mysterious thing going on, but there’s a human side to her, too. Later in the text we find that she’s a marine biologist, but that could come earlier. You might want to explain why she’s swimming, what she was she looking for, things like that.
    Good job with describing the creature, but I’d like to see more of its reaction to Cat; things that are in danger usually don’t let themselves be picked up and carried. There should be some element of the story that lets us see – if not why – at least the moment when it decides she’s okay.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am resubmitting with suggested changes from Eric, which I believe make the story so much stronger. Thanks!

    ######
    Caterly liked her life, in spite of her circumstances. Though to a certain point, she lived looking over her shoulders because of her Infinīte background. She yearned to know the whereabouts of her grandmother and continued searching, holding this subject in a very private and respectful place in her heart.

    Now in her life and as a Marine Biologist, she should be writing her proposals to get funding for all the things she wanted to do for the year. But she felt like scuba diving instead. Today, I’ll gather sea urchins and shellfish for study.

    So after Cat found more samples from the sea floor and emerged on the shore at a familiar private beach area, she dismantled her air tank. She set the tank down and perched herself on a large rock. Beyond the sandy shore, about twenty feet from her, a white fish caught her attention.

    She approached the beached fish with caution, to find it wasn’t a fish. This creature had two arms, comparable to a toddler, and two legs reaching down to somewhat webbed feet.

    The creature lifted its head from a stout neck if you could call it a neck. It resembled a dog’s neckline only to find that the head proved too cumbersome, so laid it back down—delaying its cry for help.

    Whew. Intense.

    The creature lifted its head from a stout neck, its eyes frozen on Cat in a glassy stare of horror. Then its head and thick neck proved too cumbersome, so laid it back down—in spite its fear.

    Do you even want my help?

    But Caterly knew it needed her assistance, so persisted, “Did you find me, or did I find you?” She stared at the creature with a grim and shuddered fascination, “You’re drying up. Let me get you some water.”

    Most people didn’t understand why she felt driven to help the needy ones and the more severe the case, the better. Her whole life she felt unsure of herself. So helping the destitute boosted her confidence. Not knowing how the whole thing would turn out became a thrill, a rush indeed.

    She ran to the ocean and filled her goggles with water and shot back to cover the creature. Ran back again a couple more times and then observed the little guy that wasn’t that small, but about the size of a two-year-old child.

    Going against her better judgment, she cooed to the amphibian and told it, “I’ll put you in the water so you can hydrate, little guy.”

    She scooped her left hand under its neck reaching up with her fingers but trying to avoid the row of spikes trailing down its spine. The other side held the buttocks supporting the back.

    “Here you go little guy.” It looked up at her, eyes now calmer. Ah, you’re breaking my heart. Now convinced of doing the right thing. With care, she walked over to the ocean until knee deep in water. Her gentle hands lowered the beast into the waves but still supported all of its weight, perhaps 25 to 30 pounds of it. She assumed it could take in sufficient oxygen through the skin. And soak in its fill of water the same way,  even while submerged. But just in case, if the creature couldn’t breathe underneath, she raised it outside of the water at a steady rhythm.

    Cat knew this living thing was too sick to survive on its own. Though in a weakened state the water already began to revive it some. You can’t swim; that’s for sure. “What happened to you?” she asked, not expecting an answer.

    “I’ll have to carry you to my house, and we have a ways to go.” Shish, it’s a killer hike even with my tank on my back. No using her arms for momentum and balance. At her house, she could take care of him. Dang, I have to do it.

    She began taking the path through a broad reach of the field, with her new project secured in her arms. His visible genitals made her pretty sure he was a male and a mystery at that. She didn’t recognize this species in all her training as a marine biologist and above all as a researcher.

    They continued through the grasses and weeds like coastal sage, as the wind slapped her wetsuit. Hmmm, I’ll be okay in the scratchy bushes and wind, but he doesn’t have any protection at all. His skin appeared so transparent, more than a newborn mouse. “Are you a baby?” she asked again not getting an answer. He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t tell her.

    Aside from the two of them they continued altogether alone, except involving the company of untamed vegetation rising in fat strands that led through the marine terrain. She remembered laying down her tank in the tall grasses. “I’ll have to hike back later and pick it up. It’ll be okay,” she told him. “Nobody but me ever goes there.”

    They walked in silence for a bit then in high spirits, “I’m going to name you Little Guy, I hope you like that?” In simple terms, marking him as hers, just like a new puppy.

    Her ears felt like enormous shells, and inside of them an orchestra played. She wanted to stop and rest but walked on knowing Little Guy needed help right away. Her house with the natural seawater pond out front had plenty of privacy for his kind. Now she approached the tricky area of the trail. Crap, I can’t see my footing.

    Cat’s new project lay limp and heavy in her arms. She shifted that weight. There was about another quarter mile left through rough terrain. Can I make it home without falling? He could well become a casualty out here. What if I stumble and knock myself out. What then?

    With particular care, she began descending a hill, glad for having her diving booties so she could use her feet as feelers. There were bushes she could grab to assist her as she’d done in the past only now she had no free hands.

    At one point, she slipped a couple of times. Toward the end she sat down and scooted balancing Little Guy in the middle so he wouldn’t have further problems like getting gouged by a branch.

    Upon reaching the bottom, she picked herself up holding on and readjusting his weight again. She could now see her house and feel the familiar mist on her face, and sniffed her drippy itchy nose.

    She wanted to run for joy, quite a feat considering how tired she was. Her sweat now air-dried on her face and neck. “We have to go up the stairs Little Guy,” he was still stricken in silence. “We’re almost there.” Why am I so driven to do such things? I’m nuts.

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