Which story is better?
I have to write a short story for my AP English 11 class and I want your guys's opinions on which one is better!
I really like how this one turned out, but the idea behind it is just ehhh...
Iíve been here for two long months. Doing something I never thought I would be. You see, most of us who join the army figure we wonít be shipped off anywhere. I knew my score on the ASVAB was high enough to let me do whatever and go wherever I wanted, I thought I could stay away from the war. But I was wrong.
My first month here was filled with training, day in and day out. We woke up promptly at 5:30AM, went to the showers, and were served breakfast at 5:45. If someone woke up late, they didnít get breakfast that day. We had 15 minutes to eat. At 6 we were to make up our beds and get in uniform. At 6:15, hell began. We ran miles, climbed mountains, and acted as if we were shooting at some enemy for hours.
There was a half hour break for lunch. It was always the same meal, PB&J sandwiches with some apple slices and a glass of water. No seconds.
After lunch, it was back to training. This was more for performances, although we were never expected to preform, we were always expected to look professional. And for a lot of the men here, that took some practice.
We finished up approximately at 6:30PM which could be considered our ďdown-timeĒ. We were expected to eat our dinner by 7PM so they could close up the dining hall on time and the workers could have some time to prepare the next dayís meals before returning to their campsites.
After dinner, many of us played cards or waited in the lines to speak to our loved ones on the telephones or the computers. I always played cards.
This second month started just like the first. However, the war also started this month. Sure, the war has been going on for years, but it picked up and became serious. Those of us who believed we would never see a battlefield were equipped with weapons and thrown out on one. All of our so called training was forgotten. We were surrounded by the enemy and all we could do was sit and wait for the attack. We didnít know what to do. A lot of the men panicked, tried to back out, and ended up dead. Our enemies were killers and we were their prey.
Some days it felt as if they were playing with us. Sending out a man to kill one of ours or be killed by one of ours. Needless to say, we lost a lot of men.
Losing soldiers has not gotten easier with each occurrence, if anything, each loss frightens each and every one of us, and we all know we could be next. After realizing that, a million questions begin buzzing around. Who would care if I died? Is tomorrow an okay day to die? If I died tomorrow, will my life have been meaningful? Did I complete my lifeís purpose? Where will I end up?
But today, June 15th 2013, those questions have stopped. The war has stopped. We can stop. We can go home. And according to my men, itís all thanks to me. But itís not.
You see, two days ago I was on patrol with my fellow bunkmate, Jim Croggs. While surveying the East side of the building we heard a rustling of leaves, this was not the wind. Because we are located in Brazil and everyone can hide behind anything in the jungle, we are instructed to shoot at any sign of life. Donít search around for the source, that would take too long and give them a chance to make you the dead one. You just have to shoot.
I first noticed the noise and began contemplating whether or not I should begin shooting. During instruction, everyone believes that they will shoot; they figure their personal safety is enough of a reason to shoot into the air. And I believed, just like everyone else, that at the first sign of some other living thing, I would shoot until it ceased to move. Hopefully killing whatever it was.
But I couldnít. I was a chicken. I thought too much about what could be making the noise. Not wanting to shoot anyone, even an enemy. Mainly because I would feel too guilty.
It wasnít long before the noise came again, this time louder and closer to my right side, the side Jim was on. He heard it and reached for his gun.
It was a matter of seconds before he was in position. He shot off a few bullets and there was return fire. He and the unknown behind the curtain of leaves kept shooting when I snuck off. I couldnít die. Not today. I had to hide. I had to live. I found a good spot and hid for half an hour.
After the firing was done and I heard no outside movements, I slowly crept out of my hiding place. When I approached my previous position, I saw something I will never forget.
Surrounding Jimís bullet-filled body was a group of seven men. Men that were easily recognized as the enemy. One, surprisingly, seemed like someone I had seen before. I donít know how or where I recognized him from, but I knew I had seen him before.
While standing there for about five minutes, watching these strange men poke and prod Jimís corpse, the manís identity came to me. As soon as I realized who was a mere four meters from me, I gasped. Luckily, the enemies were too focused on Jim to notice me. It was him. The leader. The reason we have been at war. This man is responsible for everything. But why is he out on the battlefield? Why is he near our base? He must know we patrol this area which would make it very unsafe for him. Yet, here he is.
Iím still sitting on the sidelines when I hear more rustling of bushes, a man from camp walked onto the scene, saw Jim, saw the enemy, and grabbed for his gun. He shot the leader down in a matter of seconds, but the leaderís sidekickís also squeezed off a few rounds at the same time.
Now the leader, the new man, and Jim all lay dead. In the same area I was just at an hour previously. The enemies had run off and I worked up the courage to go out and assess the damages. All three men were dead. Jim looked like he had a shot that killed him instantly. The leader, Andreas Gauti had just one wound, right to the center of his head, an instant kill shot. And the last man, who I soon recognized as Wally Hill from boot camp back in the states, had a large wound in his thigh and some scratches throughout his body. His blood was in a large puddle near his leg wound. He obviously died by bleeding out.
I radioed for help, reporting the three dead but saying that there had been more of Gautiís disciples earlier. Many men came out to the post, men who wouldnít normally have come. They all wanted to see, to know that Gauti was dead. At least thatís what most had wanted to do. Some were from the medical team and came to assess the damages to the three men. The remaining men were there because they were friends with Wally or Jim and wanted to see if their friend was really dead.
The whole day was pretty unbelievable. But what was more unbelievable was that I earned all the credit. I was known as ďthe soldier who ended the warĒ. Everyone believed I was the man who had shot Gauti, that I was brave and stood up against him, even after watching him mercilessly kill my two fellow soldiers. And I wasnít about to correct them.
Today I am meeting the president. I am getting awards and money for ending the war. For catching and killing the bad guy. For being loyal to America. As far as everyone else knows, that is exactly what I did. But between you and me, I was a coward, a coward who watched three men die, a coward who let two men die and was lucky that the third one was killed before I myself was killed.
All I am is a coward. But no one needs to know that.
ďIím proud to announce our next guest, the man who ended the war. The man who saved our country and its future. I present to you, Paul Aarons.Ē
Well, thatís my cue.
Story 2 is the other way around. I really liked the idea but dont think it came out how I wanted it to.
Iíve always known there was something different about me, something special. But I didnít know what it was until I lost it.
You see, I grew up in a small Louisiana town with my dad. I donít have any memories of my mother, Dad didnít like talking about her and Iíve never really been interested in knowing why she left us. So, it was just us two men. We got along fairly well, sometimes we would fight but thatís only natural.
My dad was the type of man who would walk right up another person and tell them he didnít like them. I think it was because he was always looking for something interesting. I never understood why he would do that, why his life would be so boring in his mind that he would go around intentionally starting drama, but he did.
According to him, I always had my own source of entertainment.
Ever since I can remember, Iíve always had a sort of background music playing in my mind. It got distracting every so often, but I never knew what a quiet mind was like, so I didnít have anything to compare it to. My dad would sometimes try and explain what it was like to have a mind that didnít sing. But after every explanation, after every complaint, he always told me the same thing, ďNow Mitch, donít go losing your rhythm.Ē
When I was younger, it was fun to have my music. I felt like a character from a movie, you know, with the background music that always perfectly matched my moods and what was going on in life. But it started getting distracting around the time I was in high school; it made it harder for me to focus on my studies, harder for me to remember things. Every time I got frustrated, the music would play louder, as if it were matching the intensity of my annoyance with its volume. It was always a constant struggle and ended up making me drop out of college. I just couldnít deal.
The day I arrived home from college was different. My dad didnít look the same as he did when I left for college. His skin had gone pale, his eyes had taken on a yellowish hue, and his gait had slowed tremendously. He was sick.
I yelled at him. ďWhy would you have told me you were fine!? Why didnít you have me come home!? Why didnít you ask me to take care of you!? Why are you being so selfish!?Ē Then I walked out.
I donít know why I did that. Why I felt so betrayed. But I did. And I canít take it back. No matter how hard I try.
After leaving the house, I decided to take a walk to cool off. To calm my nerves. I was trying to figure things out, trying to understand what was happening.
I didnít even notice that my music was soft, quieter than ever before. Probably because I was sobbing.
After half an hour, I ended up on the driveway, looking in at the old, rickety front porch I spent countless summers on back in the day. I probably stood there for half an hour, just remembering things about that little porch, that old home, the yard. Everything. I was enjoying the silence of it all when I realized something. My mind was silent.
I didnít know how to react. I was a mixed bag of excitement, and joy, but also loss, and confusion. I was glad to finally have a clear mind but so unsure of how I had gotten it to finally to go away. How I had gotten rid of my biggest aggravation.
I ran inside to tell Dad the news, but instead of feeling accomplished, I felt as if I had ran right smack into a brick wall. Thatís because Dad wasnít moving. He wasnít breathing. He had no pulse. I was pretty sure he was dead, I called 911, tried to stay calm, told them that I had found him that way, and then I waited. I sat down on the couch next to him. Telling him of my discovery and asking him if he had any idea of how I had gotten the music to stop. But he didnít respond. He didnít wake up.
The fire truck arrived quickly, about five minutes after I had made the call. The ambulance came two minutes later. The firefighters told me he was gone, the medics in the ambulance said the same thing.
They took his body to the hospital; I wanted to know what happened. I wanted to get closure.
He had a kidney problem. Something he supposedly was diagnosed with years ago. When I still lived at home. He was sick when I was at home. How did I not notice? How did I not know about his illness? How did he hide it from me? Why did he hide it from me?
The year after that happened; all I could think about was how much I regretted ending on that note. His dying memory of me was me calling him selfish for being sick. Selfish for not telling me. Funny how I was calling him selfish when really, I was more concerned about my ignorance to the situation than I was to the situation itself.
After that year had passed, I realized these constant regrets were not going to bring him back and they werenít going to go away on their own.
I began therapy with a nice man who was very good at listening. He didnít judge me for my mistakes or criticize my faults. He just listened. The only thing he brought up was my music, or lack thereof.
I had actually forgotten that it was gone. I guess I got used to the silence.
He kept asking where it went, what sent it away, why wasnít I looking for it? But he and I both knew I didnít know those answers. And frankly, I didnít care for them.
That was up until three years ago. Eight years after my fatherís death. Eight years after my brain stopped singing.
I finally decided to find my voice. To regain my rhythm. I knew my fatherís death was what caused it to leave, but I had no idea what would call it back to me.
I searched everywhere, the places my dad and I used to eat, used to visit, places he talked about, places he wanted to go, and even ended up digging through history and finding my mother.
Ends up she was a singer in a band, my dad and her dated for a few months, she got pregnant, my dad rose up to the occasion but she wasnít quite ready to settle down yet. After she had me, she stuck around long enough to get me onto formula and then took off. 28 years later sheís still a struggling musician who isnít ready to settle down. I guess I got lucky with my dad being the parent who kept me. Who knows what I would have ended up as if she kept me instead.
I started my search two years ago and, to this day, the music still has yet to return. I have traveled the world, seen sights my dad wished to see, met people from across the globe, heard stories and seen things that I never would have believed had I not gone on my adventure. Maybe that was what my dad wanted. For me to travel. For me to gain new experiences. Maybe he gave me my rhythm when he was living and caused me to find my own after he died. Maybe I should stop searching. Just give up. Accept the fact that my music is gone. That it isnít coming back.
Iím going to accept this. Iím going to move on. Now, what would a person who is moving on do? Get a drink? Sure.
I walk the four blocks to the bar. Neither my dad nor I was a big drinker. Not sure why, it just wasnít appealing to us. But I could really use a drink right about now.
I sit down on a softly worn down wooden stool, tap on the counter to get the bartenderís attention and order a scotch.
While he gets my drink I scan the room. I guess it could be considered people watching. Thereís two old men hustling a few college students at a game of pool, some couples dancing near the jukebox and a few groups of people chatting at tables spread throughout this little tavern.
I begin turning back to face the bar, my drink is sitting there, waiting for me. But then I see it. I see her. I donít know who she is; I donít know where she came from. I know nothing about her, yet something seems so... familiar. I canít take my eyes away from her and slowly, she turns towards me. We make eye contact and at that exact moment, something amazing happens.
The music begins.
So, which one is better? And keep in mind I will be adding details and taking away uunneeded pieces after I figure out which one I'm sticking with.
Come on, I need some input! Bumpin' it up...
I enjoyed the first one, coming from a military background myself.
A note: keep in mind your tenses - sometimes your character slips into present tense, which may be permissable since it is a type of monologue, but be careful.
Also, I would call Jim by his last name, and call him his "battle buddy" for accuracy, as well as perhaps considering replacing your selected lunch with MRE's ;)
Also, in the United States Army, "boot camp" is called "basic training" or just "basic". I am nitpicking now ;)
The first one was really hard to follow and keep my interest. It's very to the point and a lot of detail but it's missing.. something.
The second one is very cool, a really neat idea. Much easier to keep interest and it's an interesting perspective. Just refine some of the sentences so they flow together a little easier.
Hope that helps.
So one vote first story and one vote second.? Haha
Thanks for the advice! I've never been in the military (then again I don't know many 16 year old girls who have) so I wasnt sure on a lot of the lingo.
And I understand what you're saying Sky, and I'm on a similar boat, I just didn't know if the idea conveyed in the second story was what I wanted.
I'l fix the tenses, add more details, remove uneeded bits and all after I decide what story to do. I just don't wanna waste a bunch of time on a story I'm not going to be presenting. Ya know?
I liked both stories and I think they both can be great with a little polishing. I really liked the concept in the first story but almost didn't continue reading it because the beginning part seemed a bit boring. Maybe start it out in the middle of doing something in their day rather than just describing it with the times? If you changed the beginning to pull the reader in right away I think that one would end up being the better story.
And I also noticed the tense change.
I'm wondering if the reason I struggled with th tenses was because I was trying to have a person in present time go back and relay a story and then go back to the present to finish it off. You know?
And I get what you mean by the begining being boring. If I choose that one I'll switch that part up.
And that means its army story- 2
I prefer the second one. Unless you have some close experience with battle or army life, it won't come off as authentic. A very skilled writer can write about things that they have no first hand experience of, but it's always better if you yourself have personal experience. Maybe you do, I don't know.
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