By Cookie Carla
I’m not one to read ghost stories very much, nor am I one to read much about kids in high school. Yes, this story has both of those themes, and I was a little hesitant to read it because of that. But, the story did keep me interested and had some good, gory details in it. There are good aspects of this story, like the description of the ghost and the inner-conflict of the narrator. But, there are also some not-so-good aspects to this story, too, namely the constant swapping of tenses. But, I’ll get more into those a little later on in the review!
Like I said, there are some good points to this story, which is not where I’ll start this review. I want to first get the not-so-good things out of the way. The main problem I had with this story was it constantly switched which tense it was in. The story itself seems to be told in past tense, but it frequently switches to present tense. One sentence will seem to start in the present tense, then the next be past tense. Like this one, “I briskly walk past her desk and almost head out of the door, aware that she’s staring at the side of my head, and I hear something.” This is all present tense, like the narrator is currently doing those things. Then the next sentence, “It’s so silent you wouldn’t hear it if you weren’t listening, but I was.” That is entirely in the past tense. That’s just one example. Maybe this doesn’t bother people so much, but it is a peeve of mine for sure. It’s a peeve of mine so much because I used to do it all the time in my writing, until I got called out on it and had to spend hours and hours correcting which tense to use in a manuscript.
Okay, that was the main problem with this story. Aside from that, this story does have some really good aspects to it. The description of the girl in the corner of the classroom is really, really good. By just describing the way the girl looks, it builds tension in the story. As we progress and get more into the narrator’s personal struggles, we can really see the intense guilt that the narrator feels. This leads to an excellent display of stress and tension! That dream scene where she feels like she’s drowning is vivid and feels just like a personal nightmare. The story itself is set at a rather slow pace, building up to the big reveal at the end. Which is why that scene in particular stands out so much. It’s like the words are thrown at you so fast that you feel stressed from just reading them. It was a perfect climax to a slow buildup of tension.
I’ll just say it. I would rate this story 2 out of 5 stars. It could be my personal bias against ghost stories and stories about kids in high school. Well, that and the plethora of tense changes throughout the story. That really broke up the flow for me. This story only uses about half of the allotted 3,000 words, and I think it could have really grown if the other half was used. In any case, the story itself is interesting and tension is built very well in the narrator.
Thank you for reading! Have you read this story yet? What did you think of it? Join in on this discussion in the comments below!
Interested in reading this story? Or more of Cookie’s work? Read it here.