Dear Miss Snark,
TITLE: "He Looked for his Mother"
GENRE: Family Drama Survival
WORD COUNT: 80,000 words
A series of everyday random events collapse Harris Elliot’s world when he loses his wife and two of his children in an auto accident. Left to take care of himself and an infant Son, Harris slips between harsh reality and visions of a psychiatric hospital. A forgotten past which holds the secret of survival for the future. ( A Sentence Fragment which holds the key to my response)
“He looked for his Mother”
Despite all we are told, life is not dynamic and ever-changing. Life is in fact a series of snapshots. Millions and millions of instamatic portraits of a given time in space. The pictures are pressed into our memory or at least version of a memory, until we pull them out, dust them off, and look back and wonder if we really knew the people in the pictures, including ourselves.
Zap. We can talk about Instamatic as a brand name, thus a proper noun. We can talk about omniscent narrator who sounds like a voice over in a high school hygiene film when they made the boys leave the room. We can talk about the value of telling me the name of the character early on.
Snap. Snap. Blurry images. Confusing pictures. He looked for his mother. Small, sad, blue eyes scanning the blurry, unfamiliar faces. Confusion, people swirled around him. Finding no sight or smell he knew among the faces pressing close, he cried and cried and cried. His father walked with him in his arms, in ever tightening circles, the room of people closing in on him, offering help, suffocating.
They walked out the front door, the damp, sticky March air chilling. He pulled the baby closer. His footsteps hard and hollow on the gray concrete. Their only solace from inside. They wanted to help, needed to help. He understood, but he could not let go. For his 3 month old son was all he had. He tried to breathe, his chest hurt, pushing air out instead of in.
The crying slowed to broken, stuttering sobs, his father crying with him, until he could not see. Walking instinctively, an imaginary groove worn in the sidewalks they walked endlessly in the last two days and nights.
He knew too soon, the family, the friends, neighbors would be gone. Slowly drifting back to the living and their lives. They would be missed when the house was dark and empty.
The voices of the baby’s sister and brother missing, only a distant echo swallowed by the walls and by . . . No broken staccato laughter when he tickled them. No screaming at each other in one breath and laughing in a darkened room the next.
The family, designed somehow to fill the bottomless void, would be missed, but now, now he needed to breath. To breath (is this you being all artistic and shit? cause it works better if you spell the words right) in the smell of his baby. To feel his fuzzy hair and warm skin next to his. They only way they could sleep now, in short fitful frames, pressed to one another, crying, wearing themselves into broken, empty dreams of exhaustion.
They were in front of the house, again 5 minutes. An hour. He had no way of knowing. The baby had given in, crying himself to a fitful sleep. His arms asleep, numb from carrying him. . His house. Ironic. His house filled with people who wanted to help, but he did not know how to let them.
Shadows and voices and lights filled the house. He hoped, prayed for a moment of quiet, empty house, but he knew they would be there. Everyone parted, then pressed in against them. “No. No.,” he pleaded.
They collapsed into the bed. The bed he and his wife bought. The baby slept, for now. Soon, he would stir again, looking for his mother. He could not sleep. Only listen to the voices. Slowly, very slowly, the voices faded and the house settled to sleep, creaking, popping, sighing.
The crying scared him. Disoriented him. The crying was next to him. Reflexes came to without the benefit of full consciousness. He swept the baby into his arms. “Shh,” he whispered over the piercing cry.
They staggered into the kitchen, lights, voices, family emerging in their wake. They were in his house.
He quickly mashed together cereal and bananas and forced it at the still crying mouth, now propped in a high chair. Finally, after much negotiation and the rapid dissection of the cabinets, refrigerator and kitchen, the baby agreed to some juice. They fell into the big chair; the first piece of new furniture he and his wife bought.
Another picture. Smells. Horrible, retched smells. Urine, vomit, sweat, blood. The pungent odors seared his nostrils and permeated the room. Lifeless, bland, sickening colors.
This is a mess.
Get some help.
Critique groups are a good start.