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Overall, I like it. ...I had to wonder - did they 'sink' into tall grass? how did the kids actually manage to disappear from the mother's sight?) ...My only questions (I hate giving criticism, so I ask questions instead ) are -- how can you remind the readers of the scene? Especially when the mother is firing off the facts about Hitler - what is she doing? what does she look like as she's speaking?
Likewise, when the kids are in the submarine - how are they standing? one next to another, one in front of another? Where are they in relation to the rest of the party? (Do any of the other guests notice their game and make comment/gestures?)
"They took small differences and made them big. They manipulated every tiny disagreement into conflict. And every conflict into war!" She's jabbing and stabbing the ice cream for punctuation, blanketing the tabletop with cake crumb flak.
"The Nazis made LIFE a war!"
"Every charge was a conviction. Every verdict was 'Guilty!' Every sentence was death!" Her voice comes loud and fierce, fighting, then soft, in a whisper, hiding. Her face gleams white, damp. Her hands shake.
"How would YOU like to be told you aren't good enough to be human? That you aren't smart enough or strong enough to stay alive?" she asks passionately.
As far as the submarine description ... One could very easily show the kids playing in, say, a field of tall grass (as seen from the other guests), and describe the grass as one would water... Thus, accomplishing both the fantasy and the reality, but giving ample sight of both.
She's jabbing and stabbing the ice cream for punctuation, blanketing the tabletop with cake crumb flak.
This section *really* popped out.. I *saw* the mother standing at the counter.. (assuming it was a counter? maybe a table? ... profile? or directly facing her son?)
About it being the 50's -- to be honest, I write 'sans timeframe'... so I didn't even consider what year/decade it could have been. ... However, to heighten this particular aspect (if it's indeed important to the story),
The moment when the mother hears the boots... How might it work if someone was actually walking up the porch wearing boots (so that the boy/reader could hear it too), and how could you show her reaction to this sound? (beyond her internal feeling of fear: How can you show it so we & the boy can see it? ...the look in her eye, her stance, her composure, the way she grips the ice cream scoop...?)
Knowing by the end that she, herself, experienced this horror, how can you show this while she's giving her speech?
... I feel like there's more going on in her head than she's letting on.. even more than what we're given privvy to by the end of the story, when the boy's obviously older.
(Is that ending section even necessary -- if these details can be shown in the actual scene itself?)
This story had a very personal impact on me ... the reaction of Jody to the children playing Hitler could well be a page from my own history. My parents were horribly affected by the atrocities which they had seen and told me about. ...Their hearts were hardened to such a degree that the story you wrote actually brought tears to my eyes ...I think it was that emotional time bomb which eventually took both their lives while they were still in their 40's
She had that invisible plague no one talks about. The one that gives you cold sores inside your body. It screws you up in a hundred different ways even before it mutates. It ate up my mother's body from the inside, cell by cell. Took out her organs one at a time, slowly, so slowly, she got to savor every hurt and pain and loss.
And it got to her brain. She really couldn't help going crazy every so often.
The Germans were interested in non-perishable food preparations which could be used on the battlefield and tested their viability on those prisoners who had to do labour, ... some nazi genius thought nutrients locked into plastic cubes might be efficient. The chewing would eventually release whatever nourishment was imbued within and the remnants could then be spit out.
The down side was the amount of plastic which was inadvertantly swallowed. To his dying day, my step father blamed his stomach cancer on those plastic cubes. It took him 7 years to succumb.