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icomeanon6
September 3rd, 2009, 06:02 PM
Pokécommunity Get-Together 2009 Small Writing Contest. Click here (http://www.pokecommunity.com/showthread.php?p=5076354&postcount=3) to jump to the revised version


There’s Always Tomorrow



As the three trainers took a break during their hike down the mountain path, the stone buildings of Pewter City could be seen at the base of the hill. From where they were standing the sunset looked positively divine, but only one of them was paying any attention to it. His name was Jason, and he was the embodiment of an average trainer. He was fourteen years old, wore a baseball cap, had passed all the gyms, but had never gotten far in a tournament. As he stood captivated by the sharp hues in the western sky, he became slowly aware that someone was talking to him.

“…so at any rate, we’ve got to make a decision soon.” It was Travis, who had been Jason’s best friend since preschool. “Hey, are you even listening?”

Jason turned around to face Travis. “Of course I’m listening.”

Travis didn’t buy it for a second. “What was I saying, then?”

“You put it so well yourself that I don’t think I could do it justice.” Jason had used this line countless times before. By this point, it was just his way of saying ‘Okay, I wasn’t actually listening,’ without making himself look too bad.

The third trainer, Krissy, decided to speak up. She had been traveling with Jason and Travis since they all first became trainers at age ten. To this day she still felt like an outsider, as she hadn’t known the two of them as long as they had known each other. “We were talking about stopping in Pewter City and calling it a trip.”

Jason raised an eyebrow, not thinking that the idea made a bit of sense. “We won’t make it to the tournament if we stop now.”

Travis groaned. “We won’t make it to the tournament if we keep going, either. We’ve gone over the math on this before.”

Jason replied, “So?”

Travis threw his hands into the air and turned away. He muttered under his breath, “I give up. This is pointless.”

Krissy tried to be more patient. “Jason, we get that you really want to enter the tournament, but it just can’t be done. We have one more day after this one's over to get there, right?”

“Right.”

“Well, we can’t go that far in one day. We might get to Viridian if we hurry, but that’s it.”

“I don’t see how that’s relevant.” Jason made his answer with complete seriousness; there was not a trace of irony or jest in his voice.

Travis sighed, and entered a sarcastic rant. “Well, you’re the boss. This may be a freaking waste of time, but whatever. If you want to get to the tournament before an impossible deadline, I guess we’ll just have to walk a bit faster!”

“That’s the idea. If we don’t stop to do anything in Pewter, we should be able to reach the edge of Viridian Forest by nightfall.”

Travis, resigned to following Jason to his futile destination, slung his bag over his shoulder. “That’s exactly what we need: another night on the road.”

The three of them began walking down the path to Pewter City, all aware that the ticking clock was an unbeatable obstacle.

*****


There was no daylight left, and the trees allowed little moonlight to reach the trail. Krissy found herself nearly tripping over protruding roots and fallen trees. Unlike many other female trainers her age, she made a point to wear long pants in the woods, even during summer. On their first time through Viridian Forest, Jason and Travis had made fun of her immensely for stepping in large amounts of poison ivy while wearing a skirt. She could remember the ordeal with perfect clarity, especially Jason’s laugh, which seemed to hide his Johto accent. She then became aware that she could barely see Jason in front of her. “Jason? Don’t you think we should stop and camp? It’s too dark to keep walking.”

Jason kept walking for a few more yards before answering. “Alright. I guess we’ve gone far enough for today.”

They found it difficult to locate a clear enough spot to lay out sleeping bags. Even with a flashlight on, the forest was so dense that one could never see very far in front of himself. Eventually they found a suitable place, and made ready to go to sleep. Travis, who was still greatly irritated, made sure to set up his bag as far away from Jason’s as he could. Travis didn’t say goodnight to anyone. He just punched his backpack and muttered to himself about how stupid Jason was being. In ten minutes, they were all silent. An hour passed, and Travis fell into an uneasy sleep.

Krissy was still wide awake; staring up at the ceiling of the forest and looking to find a star in between the leaves. She couldn’t see any, and found herself thinking about Jason again. She needed to talk to him. It was a lousy time for it, but she felt it had to be done. “Jason? Are you awake?”

There was silence for a few seconds, and then she heard Jason’s voice coming from a few feet behind her. “Yeah, I’m still awake. What’s up?”

“We need to talk about something.”

Jason waited a few seconds to answer again. “Go ahead.”

“Well…When the doctor told you—”

This time, Jason cut her off. “I thought we agreed we weren’t going to talk about that.”

Krissy felt her throat getting tighter. “I know! It’s just that we haven’t really talked about it at all, and I don’t want the next day to go by without us having talked about it at least once! Can’t you understand that?”

Jason waited even longer before answering. When he did, his voice was drained of all emotion. “Okay. I understand. We can talk about it.”

Krissy took a moment to calm herself down before speaking. “I guess I can’t understand how you can be so calm. I mean, if I knew I wasn’t going to be around the day after tomorrow, I think I’d lose it.”

Krissy heard Jason sit up. She turned her head to try and see him, but she couldn’t. Jason began speaking, still in an understated, unemotional tone. “I spent enough time crying my eyes out at the hospital. I don’t want to spend my last days just feeling sorry for myself.”

Krissy looked back up at the sky, trying again to find a star. “But, now you’re spending your last days walking to a place you know we can’t reach. We don’t get why you’re throwing the days away like this, as if you can always have fun tomorrow. It’s like you’re ignoring the fact that pretty soon you won’t have any tomorrows left.”

Jason sighed. “Yeah, I can see why you and Travis are pissed about that. But, to be honest, I don’t think I’m really wasting my time at all.”

Krissy didn’t answer. She kept staring up, not knowing what to say. Jason continued speaking. “Sorry if this sounds corny, but I really don’t know how else to put it. I heard once that if you know you’re going to die, there’s nothing better to do than spend time with those you love. You and Travis are the best family I’ve ever had, and we always spent most of our time just walking around like this. That’s what always comes to mind of when I think of you guys, so I wanted to keep doing just that. If I decided to go anywhere that we could actually reach, then we’d have to stop, and I don’t want to stop walking around with you guys.

“I don’t think I could tell Travis that. He’d probably just laugh at me.”

Krissy still had no idea what to say. She kept looking at the sky for another minute, and she finally saw a star. In a few seconds, though, the star faded out. She then found it harder to see, and noticed that her eyes were filling up with water. She tried to breathe, but all she could manage was a small choke.

“Don’t start crying, Krissy. You know I can’t stand to see you cry.”


The End

Bay Alexison
September 3rd, 2009, 07:23 PM
Hopefully this review is of help to you. :)

Grammar:10/10
Don’t see any mistakes here, or at least nothing that distracted me from reading further. However, I think the other judges might find them, so yeah. ^^;

Literary Elements (plot, setting, characterization, etc.): 8/10
Before I go on:

“You put it so well yourself that I don’t think I could do it justice.” Jason had used this line countless times before. By this point, it was just his way of saying ‘Okay, I wasn’t actually listening,’ without making himself look too bad.
Nice. XD

Anyways, like how you have this story about a trainer enjoying his last days of his life. What I love about him the most is how instead of moping how he won’t ever live, he instead takes the intuitive to enjoy every last moment of his life. Also, nice of him stalling their journey for a while due to him wanting to spend more time with them, hehe. I know that is not supposed to be funny, but imagining the three bricking even though Jason still enjoy their company gives an amusing image to me. ^^;

Despite this being a very short story, I like the characters already. Mentioned why I like Jason, so I don’t need to repeat myself. :P Travis and Krissy and I distinguish them well enough. Both have more common sense than Jason, but Travis is more hotheaded while Krissy is more patient and caring (last scene with her crying).

I wish you expand on Jason’s condition though. True, Jason is getting over it and just wants to live his last days, but I felt when the two talked about it, it just came out of thin air. Maybe you could have referenced that he doesn’t have much to live here and there.

Prompt: 9/10
As I said before, I like how you have this time about Jason not wasting his time and just enjoying his last moments. Not the most creative idea ever considering there are stories like that, but you did it so well that it didn’t matter too much to me.

Overall score: 27/30

icomeanon6
September 4th, 2009, 03:21 PM
Thanks for the review, Bay!

Having closely examined the critical response I've received so far, I've revised my story to address the problems described above. It is now somewhat longer, and I think the plot is conveyed in a more cohesive manner.

There's Always Tomorrow
(Revised Version)

As the three trainers took a break during their hike down the mountain path, the stone buildings of Pewter City could be seen at the base of the hill. From where they were standing the sunset looked positively divine, but only one of them was paying any attention to it. His name was Jason, and he was the embodiment of an average trainer. He was fourteen years old, wore a baseball cap, had passed all the gyms, but had never gotten far in a tournament. As he stood captivated by the sharp hues in the western sky, he became slowly aware that someone was talking to him.

“…so at any rate, we’ve got to make a decision soon.” It was Travis, who had been Jason’s best friend since preschool. “Hey, are you even listening?”

As Jason turned to face Travis, he felt a sharp pain in his side. He winced for a second, but quickly wiped the hurt expression from his face. “Of course I’m listening.”

Travis ignored Jason’s fleeting display of discomfort. “What was I saying, then?”

“You put it so well yourself that I don’t think I could do it justice.” Jason had used this line countless times before. By this point, it was just his way of saying ‘Okay, I wasn’t actually listening,’ without making himself look too bad.

The third trainer, Krissy, decided to speak up. She had been traveling with Jason and Travis since they all first became trainers at age ten. To this day she still felt like an outsider, as she hadn’t known the two of them as long as they had known each other. “We were talking about stopping in Pewter City and calling it a trip.”

Jason raised an eyebrow, not thinking that the idea made a bit of sense. “We won’t make it to the tournament if we stop now.”

Travis groaned. “We won’t make it to the tournament if we keep going, either. We’ve gone over the math on this before.”

“So?”

Travis threw his hands into the air and turned away. He muttered under his breath, “I give up. This is pointless.”

Krissy tried to be more patient. “Jason, we get that you really want to enter the tournament, but it just can’t be done. We have one more day after this one's over to get there, right?”

Once again, Jason felt as if a pin had been jammed into his ribs. His eyebrows tightened, but he made sure that his voice remained unchanged. “Right.”


Krissy broke eye contact with Jason. She found the sight of him hiding his obvious pain to be unnerving. “Well, we can’t go that far in one day. We might get to Viridian if we hurry, but that’s it.”

“I don’t see how that’s relevant.” Jason made his answer with complete seriousness; there was not a trace of irony or jest in his voice.

Travis sighed, and entered a sarcastic rant. “Well, you’re the boss. This may be a freaking waste of time, but whatever. If you want to get to the tournament before an impossible deadline, I guess we’ll just have to walk a bit faster!”

“That’s the idea. If we don’t stop to do anything in Pewter, we should be able to reach the edge of Viridian Forest by nightfall.”

Travis, resigned to following Jason to his futile destination, slung his bag over his shoulder. “That’s exactly what we need: another night on the road.”

The three of them began walking down the path to Pewter City. Each time one of Jason’s feet touched the ground, a brief spurt of pain radiated from his chest to the rest of his body. He put all his effort into appearing normal, paying more attention to his breathing pattern than to the trail in front of him. He paid even less attention to the ticking clock, which he and his companions were aware was an absolutely unbeatable obstacle.



*****


There was no daylight left, and the trees allowed little moonlight to reach the trail. Krissy found herself nearly tripping over protruding roots and fallen trees. Unlike many other female trainers her age, she made a point to wear long pants in the woods, even during summer. On their first time through Viridian Forest, Jason and Travis had made fun of her immensely for stepping in large amounts of poison ivy while wearing a skirt. She could remember the ordeal with perfect clarity, especially Jason’s laugh, which seemed to hide his Ecruteakan accent. She then became aware that she could barely see Jason in front of her. “Jason? Don’t you think we should stop and camp? It’s too dark to keep walking.”

Jason kept walking for a few more yards before answering. “Alright. I guess we’ve gone far enough for today.”

They found it difficult to locate a clear enough spot to lay out sleeping bags. Even with a flashlight on, the forest was so dense that one could never see very far in front of himself. Eventually they found a suitable place, and made ready to go to sleep. Travis, who was still greatly irritated, made sure to set up his bag as far away from Jason’s as he could. Travis didn’t say goodnight to anyone. He just punched his backpack and muttered to himself about how stupid Jason was being. In ten minutes, they were all silent. An hour passed, and Travis fell into an uneasy sleep.

Krissy was still wide awake; staring up at the ceiling of the forest and looking to find a star in between the leaves. She couldn’t see any, and found herself thinking about Jason again. She wanted to think about how happy they were when they first became trainers, but all that came to mind were the worst of memories. She could only picture the sight of Jason falling to the hospital floor. His back was arched, and tears rolled down his face as he convulsed. Hearing the scream curdled her blood. His white shirt was stained red, and when the doctors removed it she could see that the stitches which ran down his side had burst wide open. Then the screaming stopped, and the silence was even worse to listen to. That had been five days ago, but the image stayed with her as if it had been five minutes.



She needed to talk to him. It was a lousy time for it, but she felt it had to be done. “Jason? Are you awake?”

There was silence for a few seconds, and then she heard Jason’s voice coming from a few feet behind her. “Yeah, I’m still awake. What’s up?”

“We need to talk about something.”

Jason waited a few seconds to answer again. “Go ahead.”

“Well…When the doctor told you—”

This time, Jason cut her off. “I thought we agreed we weren’t going to talk about that.”

Krissy felt her throat getting tighter. “I know! It’s just that we haven’t really talked about it at all, and I don’t want the next day to go by without us having talked about it at least once! Can’t you understand that?”

Jason waited even longer before answering. When he did, his voice was drained of all emotion. “Okay. I understand. We can talk about it.”

Krissy took a moment to calm herself down before speaking. “I guess I can’t understand how you can be so calm. I mean, if I knew that my heart was going to stop the day after tomorrow, I think I’d lose it.”

Krissy heard Jason sit up. She turned her head to try and see him, but she couldn’t. Jason began speaking, still in an understated, unemotional tone. “I spent enough time crying my eyes out at the hospital. I don’t want to spend my last days just feeling sorry for myself.”

Krissy looked back up at the sky, trying again to find a star. “But, now you’re spending your last days walking to a place you know we can’t reach. We don’t get why you’re throwing the days away like this, as if you can always have fun tomorrow. It’s like you’re ignoring the fact that pretty soon you won’t have any tomorrows left.”

Jason sighed. “Yeah, I can see why you and Travis are pissed about that. But, to be honest, I don’t think I’m really wasting my time at all.”

Krissy didn’t answer. She kept staring up, not knowing what to say. Jason continued speaking. “Sorry if this sounds corny, but I really don’t know how else to put it. I heard once that if you know you’re going to die, there’s nothing better to do than spend time with those you love. You and Travis are the best family I’ve ever had, and we always spent most of our time just walking around like this. That’s what always comes to mind of when I think of you guys, so I wanted to keep doing just that. If I decided to go anywhere that we could actually reach, then we’d have to stop, and I don’t want to stop walking around with you guys.

“I don’t think I could tell Travis that. He’d probably just laugh at me.”

Krissy still had no idea what to say. She kept looking at the sky for another minute, and she finally saw a star. In a few seconds, though, the star faded out. She found it harder to see, and noticed that her eyes were filling up with water. She tried to breathe, but all she could manage was a small choke.

“Don’t start crying, Krissy. You know I can’t stand to see you cry.”

The End

Citrinin
September 4th, 2009, 11:02 PM
I read the revised version, and wow. You kept me compelled throughout the entire piece - even at the beginning where it seemed like a rather mundane missing of a deadline, your writing style kept me hooked. And you finished it so beautifully as well. ^_^

Redstar
September 5th, 2009, 05:28 AM
My initial impression is that it's awfully short. You kinda made it hard on yourself by doing so, and forcing yourself to try to fit a relationship between not just two people, but three, in that length. Good thing you did a good job despite it.

I felt that the interactions between the three were real enough and could picture Jason and Travis, at least, having actually been friends for so long. Krissy, however, seems to have gotten very little attention in the first scene. You basically said "She felt left out", when you probably could have shown that through their interactions a little more effectively.

The only things that really stood out to me as flaws are the "Johto accent" and that his heart is going to stop in two days. For the first, Johto is a whole region. In Japanese terms, that's basically an American state. There are cultural differences between cities within those states. A "Johto" accent is far too general for me to treat seriously, so something like a "Rage Lake drawl" would have been more accurate as well as more character-defining.

As for Jason's condition, I must call logical fail. Despite the advances in modern medicine, doctor prognoses are never entirely accurate and those given a month may live for years longer. A condition set for "two days" seems unlikely. If it was that bad they'd probably forcefully keep him there. I realize it works for the story and I'm willing to suspend disbelief for the emotional weight at the end, but you probably could have at least set up his disease as being a prior condition... And him leaving the hospital? His friends busted him out to finish his journey. As his wish. That removes the logical flaw, and doesn't undermine that his friends would still be sad.

Overall, I liked it. I just wish we could have seen the characters a bit more before they winked out into the night. (I can provide a more technical review if you like, but I generally don't like to do so unless it's specifically asked)

icomeanon6
September 5th, 2009, 08:34 AM
Thank you Citrinin and Redstar for your reviews! As seems to be fashionable these days, I'm going to respond to some of the points that Redstar raised.

My initial impression is that it's awfully short. You kinda made it hard on yourself by doing so, and forcing yourself to try to fit a relationship between not just two people, but three, in that length. Good thing you did a good job despite it.
Yes, it's admittedly short, as is almost everything else I write. I do that because it's easier to control the quality of a short story than a long one. Especially with the three day deadline, I wanted to make sure that I didn't overwrite to the point where editing wouldn't get done in time.

I felt that the interactions between the three were real enough and could picture Jason and Travis, at least, having actually been friends for so long. Krissy, however, seems to have gotten very little attention in the first scene. You basically said "She felt left out", when you probably could have shown that through their interactions a little more effectively.
That's true, but I think she got enough attention in the second half to balance things out. Also, the fact that she doesn't get to talk as much in the first half is how I try to illustrate that she's not as involved. I could try to incorporate that into the dialogue itself, but it'd probably end up looking like this:

"Hey guys, can I get a word in?"

"Sorry, Krissy, but we haven't known you for as long as we've known each other, so no."

The only things that really stood out to me as flaws are the "Johto accent" and that his heart is going to stop in two days. For the first, Johto is a whole region. In Japanese terms, that's basically an American state. There are cultural differences between cities within those states. A "Johto" accent is far too general for me to treat seriously, so something like a "Rage Lake drawl" would have been more accurate as well as more character-defining.
No argument there. I think I'll change it to "Ecruteakan."

As for Jason's condition, I must call logical fail. Despite the advances in modern medicine, doctor prognoses are never entirely accurate and those given a month may live for years longer. A condition set for "two days" seems unlikely. If it was that bad they'd probably forcefully keep him there. I realize it works for the story and I'm willing to suspend disbelief for the emotional weight at the end, but you probably could have at least set up his disease as being a prior condition... And him leaving the hospital? His friends busted him out to finish his journey. As his wish. That removes the logical flaw, and doesn't undermine that his friends would still be sad.
One thing that I disagree on is the claim involving modern medicine. This is Pokemon, so I tend to assume that technology is more advanced. I mean, just look at Pokeballs and Bill's machine. If it sounds like I'm trying to make things more convenient for myself as a writer, then bingo.

I don't know if you read the submitted version or the revised version, but in the revision I implied that the news could have come up to a week before his estimated demise. I think that's enough time for his friends to get to a point where they can hide how sad they are about it. Basically, they're trying to pretend that things are normal, so they do their best to avoid the issue entirely. I try to illustrate through Jason and Travis' interactions that they're close but not very open with each other, which is how guys work. In other words, the reason why none of them seem all too sad until the very end where Krissy starts crying is because they're intentionally bottling it up.

Overall, I liked it. I just wish we could have seen the characters a bit more before they winked out into the night. (I can provide a more technical review if you like, but I generally don't like to do so unless it's specifically asked)
Glad to hear that you liked it. Don't hold your breath for a significant addition to the story, though. Go ahead and do a technical review if you want. Pointing out poor grammar and the like is always welcome with me.

txteclipse
September 6th, 2009, 12:39 AM
I read this yesterday, slept on it, and now must say that I'm still conflicted as to how I feel about this story. Part of me thinks more development would have been beneficial, while another part of me feels that the relative lack of development adds to the weight of what's happening.

Honestly, I get the impression that I've been duped out of a story, one that doesn't even exist except possibly in your head. What's Jason's condition? What was his life like before now? What have he and his friends been through, and how will it all end? There are so many unanswered questions. It's like the ultimate cliffhanger.

However, I don't think that's necessarily bad. The frustration I feel towards the lack of information matches the frustration I sometimes experience with life: I don't always have all the answers, and things don't always go my way. It's disappointing, and I'm now beginning to understand that your story draws its strength from a combination of the subject material and the aura of dissatisfaction surrounding it. Because really, these kind of events are the ones which create that emotion in the first place. The fact that you noticed this and managed to tie the two elements together in such a unique but decidedly natural way is intriguing. It's simply life, pure and unbiased.

So I guess I'm not conflicted after all. Well done, sir.

Redstar
September 7th, 2009, 10:06 PM
That's true, but I think she got enough attention in the second half to balance things out. Also, the fact that she doesn't get to talk as much in the first half is how I try to illustrate that she's not as involved. I could try to incorporate that into the dialogue itself, but it'd probably end up looking like this:

"Hey guys, can I get a word in?"

"Sorry, Krissy, but we haven't known you for as long as we've known each other, so no."
"Interaction" also implies lack of interaction, so you went the right way in trying to show her being a sort of third-wheel, but I felt you stated she hadn't known them as long as the reason too bluntly.

Glad to hear that you liked it. Don't hold your breath for a significant addition to the story, though. Go ahead and do a technical review if you want. Pointing out poor grammar and the like is always welcome with me.
I don't expect an "ending" (that would ruin the theme of the piece), though a final revision per our reviews would be nice. I really enjoyed it so something more final would be nice to look back on from time to time.

And I don't think I'll do a technical review. I'm not up for it, and thinking back whatever issues I had weren't major. They only extended to the first few paragraphs, really.