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LewisR 11-29-2005 03:52 PM

Untitled Book Help
I've been working on this story for a while, but I've only just started to write it down, and I would love to hear some feedback. Thank You.


Chapter One

James awoke, as he always did, to the smell of his wife’s blueberry pancakes. James disliked blueberries, but being the kind who didn’t like to make a fuss, he never protested. James rubbed his eyes, allowing the pale blue walls of the bedroom to come into focus. The afterlife sunlight filtered through the white curtains, illuminating the pale grey carpet, the faded yellow bedspread, and the blanched brown armchair. Everything in the afterlife seemed to be pale and faded, a vague reminder to others of their past lives. To people native to the afterlife, like James Mort and his family, it was no big deal; it always was and always will be. After letting loose a large yawn, James crawled out of bed, slipping on his fluffy pink slippers, a Father’s Day present. He shuffled over to the dresser, where Beth Ellen, his wife, had laid out his clothes for the day. Today it was a white button-up, grey pants, an ash-colored suit jacket and a stone-colored tie, the usual. James began, as usual to change for breakfast. What he did next was unusual; he looked at himself in the mirror, something which he never did in the morning. Staring back at him from the mirror was his father, or at least it looked like James Cornelius Mort Sr. Upon further investigation, James discovered, to his horror, that the old man was in fact, himself. “Oh my goodness…” James whispered to himself as he ran his fingers through his graying hair, the black hair of his youth gone. His thin face was now wrinkled around the eyes, something he hadn’t noticed before. James didn’t know what to do with the sudden revelation that he had reached middle age, all he knew was that he had to look younger, seem more “hip” if he wanted any chance of staying away from middle age. James had unknowingly reached his midlife crisis.

James was not wearing the clothes Beth Ellen has laid out in the way she expected as he entered the kitchen. He had abandoned the suit jacket all together, along with the tie. He wore the grey pant with the white-button up and he had the sleeves rolled up past his elbows. He hoped to be able to eat breakfast and leave to the Afterlife Immigration Offices without his wife noticing the change in attire. “Good morning, dear,” Beth Ellen greeted when she heard him enter. Luckily for James her back was to him, as she was washing dishes. “Greetings Father,” said Abigail over the newspaper she was reading. Abigail was James’ and Beth Ellen’s first child, she was 17. “Hi Dad,” said the couple’s second child, Duncan, over his breakfast cereal. “Morning all,” James announced as he sat down to his plate of blueberry pancakes. “You know dear, I used a different brand of blueberries in those pancakes, they are much cheaper at the store. So if you like those, then I can use them from now on. It would be so nice to save a little bit of money, you know, what with the prices being as high as they are. Gladys next-door you know, the poor woman with the lazy eye, she spent over $100 just shopping for a post roast, I tell you, things are just ridiculous the way they are.” Beth Ellen took a breath and went back to her dishes. “Well, I like this blueberries just fine,” James lied. “You’re not just saying that are you? It’s perfectly fine if you prefer the others; we all need to indulge now and then, so it’s perfectly alright”
“No, I mean it, I like these blueberries,” James insisted, even though he was lying.
“Oh good,” spoke Beth Ellen as she turned around. Upon seeing James she let out an anguished cry and dropped the glass platter she had been washing. It hit the ground and shattered, sending pieces flying everywhere. “James, did I lay out the wrong clothes?” Beth Ellen inquired through gritted teeth. James, who was shaking with fear, stammered “No dear, I just figured- it would be fun to mix things up a little, you know.” James looked to his children for support, but Duncan just stared at his mother, his spoon poised just in front of his mouth. Abigail continued to read the paper as if nothing had happened. “So who is it? Some tramp of a secretary that you’re trying to look nice for?” Beth Ellen hissed.
“No dear, I have a desk job; you know that, I don’t get a secretary.”
“Oh, so it’s a co-worker, some horrible home wrecking hussy who is out to steal my husband?”
“Horrible home wrecking hussy?” muttered Abigail from behind the newspaper.
“Mom, Dad, are you going to get a divorce?” Duncan inquired.
“NO ONE IN THIS HOUSE IS GOING TO GET A DIVORCE!” screamed Beth Ellen, glaring at James. “Honey, I think you’re blowing this way out of proportion” whispered James. “Blowing what out of proportion? That my marriage is falling apart around my ears? That my husband has some dirty mistress out there? I bet she has horrible teeth, doesn’t she James? And tangled, ratty hair, right James?” “Beth Ellen, dearest, do you have to talk about such things in front of the children?” “Fine,” Beth Ellen put her hands on her hips and turned to face her children. “GO TO SCHOOL!” she bellowed, her usual tight red bun coming undone. Duncan stood up from the table and fled the kitchen. Abigail slowly folded up the newspaper and turned to face her parents, she looked like a parent ready to scold a child. “Do act sensible, I couldn’t bear my parents acting like children,” she instructed before turning on her heel and marching out of the room.
“See, what you’ve done, James? The children are practically full of suicidal thoughts and depression now”
“What? I thought they looked quite cheerful.”
“They are only putting on a brave face, James; they want to be brave for me, little dears.”
“Darling, I think you may be wrong.”
“What’s wrong is you having some scarlet woman on the side, James, so don’t tell me that I’m wrong.”
“What scarlet woman? I just figured to change things up a bit; I thought it would be nice”
Beth Ellen promptly burst into tears and ran sobbing from the room. James sighed, he hated when Beth Ellen blew things out of proportion.

James yawned while staring down the long stretch of highway that he had to navigate every day on his way to work. The 45 minute drive from Sunsborrow to Providence City had now become habit. James pulled into the Afterlife Immigration Office parking lot and parked in the spot that he had been pulling into every day for the last twenty years; the asphalt that had been brand new when James had first pulled in was now cracked and had many small plants sprouting up. James walked toward the large brick building in which he worked and made his way to the employee entrance, which was the employee entrance in name only, as the letters had peeled off long ago.

Isis 11-29-2005 04:31 PM

Native to the afterlife? That got me interested fast. This was enjoyable to read, and I'm both intrigued by that...and the characters. I got a laugh out of Beth Ellen, and I'm looking forward to some more of this.

My only suggestion for the moment: break up the "no one is going to get a divorce" paragraph, starting a new line every time another person speaks; or at least break that up into a few smaller paragraphs.

LewisR 11-29-2005 08:02 PM

Thanks for the feedback, this is actually the 3rd incarnation of the story, I've always start rewriting it in a notebook, but since I finally got a new computer, I'm able to use that to write the story with. I'm glad I have the forum to post in, because I'm WAY too critical of myself.

Oblivion 11-30-2005 09:57 PM

hahahhhhahhha the Beth person is funny, and the James person just lets it slide over him, nice one, it rox

LewisR 12-01-2005 04:20 PM


Originally Posted by Oblivion
hahahhhhahhha the Beth person is funny, and the James person just lets it slide over him, nice one, it rox

Yeah, James backstory will eventually explain why he lets people walk all over him.

EDIT: If anyone has an idea for a title, please let me know, since I'm unable to come up with one.

JEM 12-01-2005 09:54 PM

A title? Maybe A Day in the Afterlife? No that wouldn't really be good. I like Beth. The characterazation is very well done. I am interested to see how the rest of the story turns out.

LewisR 12-07-2005 05:47 PM

I wrote a little bit more and I need some input.

James was unable to shake the feeling of guilt from his mind as he walked down the long ill-lit hallway toward the employee lounge. After all, he though, he didn’t really need to try and make things different, did he? As he started to reprimand himself, he remembered the image he had seen in the mirror, realizing that Beth Ellen had picked out his clothes for work for 20 years. He decided that it was far time that he had a chance to at least have one day of wearing what he wanted, and if he wanted to try and change things a bit, Beth Ellen needed to just accept it.
“Hey James, why are you just standing in the hallway?” shouted the emerging figure of Jonas Flint, James’s supervisor.
“Oh, Mr. Flint, I’m sorry” apologized James, bowing his head a bit.
“How many times do I have to tell you to stop calling me Mr. Flint? We’ve known each other for long enough time that we can at least use first names.”
“Yes Mr. Flint” James’ eyes looked toward Mr. Flint, but his head remained bowed.
“James, you just never change, do you? But anyway, you better sign in, or I’ll count you as being late for work.”
“Sorry Mr. Flint, sir.”
“Honestly, James.”
Mr. Flint walked away, his short form becoming smaller, and smaller, and smaller until he was out of sight, his footsteps still echoing in the hall. James sighed as he pushed open the employee lounge door. In a severe stretch, the lounge could actually be a lounge, but the broken TV, the lumpy and molded couch, the vending machine offering decade-old snacks and the room’s odd odor of burnt hair suggested anything but comfort. James punched his card, beginning his 10 hour shift of work.

runnerkgirl 12-08-2005 07:09 PM

I like it a lot. It had my attention already in the 1st paragraph. I have a couple of suggestions and ?'s which i hope could help.
“James, you just never change, do you? But anyway, you better sign in, or I’ll count you as being late for work.”
Whith this line i don't think you should use the words but anyway. It dosn't sound quite right whith the way he's talking.
Also (and i don't know if you will do this later in the story) you may want to describe the living area a little more. is the afterlife futuristic. or modern. what is the house like?
I think the characters though are very well developed and they make me laugh.

can't wait to hear more!

i love green!!!!:bigsmile:

Oblivion 12-09-2005 04:47 PM

ooooh thats right i barely thought of the time period, i just asumed that because of your avatar the time period was like old england

LewisR 12-11-2005 03:23 PM


Originally Posted by Oblivion
ooooh thats right i barely thought of the time period, i just asumed that because of your avatar the time period was like old england

Actually, the Afterlife is a lot like our current world it's like that so the newely deceased can "adjust" easily.

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