Hello Everyone! It’s me, Lesmotsique.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the short story, Lisa and Lia: the Doublemint Twins. As I, again, read it, I’m reminded of the fairy tale ring to it. I’m aware of its shortness; the message it carries. The protagonists are two 14-year-old twin girls. The story commences with the good things they shared: vanilla ice cream with chocolate chip cookies; wearing the same clothes; singing in their high-school choir.
As I continued in this vein, I spoke on their personalities, which was rather pleasant. They were full of laughter and jokes, possessing a happiness that conjures up something like butterflies and sugar cookies—all things light and sweet. But to know that such thoughts might lead one to conclude that the story is unbelievable, unrealistic, or not one’s cup of tea did not deter me from writing it. That’s because the story was a fun exploration for me. It was among my first baby steps toward the goal of becoming truly skilled in the writing craft.
Yes, I know certain story elements must be present to garner attention for a possible reading, much less to receive high marks once it’s read. There’ll always be those who’ll read a few lines or glimpse for pictures, determining on the spot whether to continue reading. Included with them are those holding to the wisdom that says it’s a hopeless pursuit to write something that lacks the requisite sex, drugs and violence read about in most modern day stories that can launch many an author’s name and book title on the best-seller’s list. Certainly my short story, with its limited breadth, fails miserably in that regard. In it, there’s no drugs, no "real" violence, and sex is only alluded to. There’s nothing to get all hot and bothered about. I wasn’t aiming for inclusion into anyone’s anthology or for a shot at the pinnacle when I was barely getting into the genre.
Now that my intentions and skill level at the writing of the story are now out on the table, hopefully you'll be better able to understand why I didn’t concern myself with infusing this twin story with these “surefire” ingredients, believing it’s the only way to achieve good storytelling. I’d like to think that good stories can be told either way, with or without sex, drugs, and violence, and certainly without gratuitousness for its own sake. I did not—at least seriously— say to myself I’ll throw in some sizzling sex scenes, recount the most horrific acts of violence I can think of, and top it off with intriguing details concerning drug deals that went bad. Not to discredit the importance, need, and legitimacy of these types of stories, it’s just that this was not my story, at least not at that stage. First off, to make such a story really compelling or worthwhile, I’d feel the need to switch the genre to that of a novel, and then hope and pray that everyone will love it for all that good stuff I put into it. Heck, who cares if the story is still bad or poorly written? ... As long as it is commercially successful. That’s what counts. Right? … Don’t answer. Let me just say that I chose, instead, to be a non-comformist, even “weird,” if you care to use that word, because I chose just out of the blue to write a story such as the one in my last post, in a style that seems on some level like a fairy tale.
Lisa and Lia: the Doubemint Twins is my story with a different road. It was written when my adult children were young and still in school, which was a long time ago, and I was going through my ups and downs in life, as a mother and single parent. It was probably my frame of mind at the time to write something uplifting to match my positive spirits just as I have been known to write more on the negative side when I’m feeling sad, angry or pessimistic. Anyway, it’s done. I leave it to you, the reader, to draw your own conclusions. … Now about the protagonists experiencing a happiness gone awry, as you have seen, is this: it’s expressed as childlike and powerful to the point that “Everyone who came into contact with them could not help but smile back at them for their joy was so contagious.” We read also that when the two sisters smiled, “there seemed not a cloud in the sky.” You might have noticed that there is no other reference to the weather mentioned in the story other than this line. But given the happy and bright nature of the story, at the beginning, one can conclude that the weather actually was as sunny and bright and cloudless, as were the pleasant or happy personalities of the two sisters.
As for the story’s location and time, let me just also say that I hope there is enough to surmise that the setting is in the city, during the daytime, on a weekend. Of course, I would now put more into developing this, make things clearer now as I know more and wouldn’t want anything to diminish the effectiveness of my writing. With that said, we do know that there is a garden, plenty of sun, and colorful flowers—things of beauty. And then, of course, there is the ice cream, normally indicating that it isn’t a cold day. The attempt was to create happy characters and place them against a backdrop that’s wholesome and beautiful, then contrast that later on against the ugliness that takes its place. I can imagine an inauspicious beginning (in which the twins are abused by a parent); have it placed against a backdrop that matches the ugliness of that abuse; and as the story progresses to the end, have something beautifully surprising come out of it. There’re many variations to a story. But this is the story that was told.
Another point I’d like to share is this: since the story was written for my own liking, I didn’t worry about winning anyone else over. That being the case, the importance of audience consideration was not a huge issue. If someone else reads it and likes it, I’d be pleased; if not, I’d be okay, still. Part of progress in writing successfully involves a consciousness of self-growth. When it happens, you’ll know it. When it doesn’t, you’ll know that as well. As I penned the words to my story, I was keenly aware of Paul’s language. Had I been concerned with language that’s believable, I would’ve used language that’s age appropriate for my characters. With age inappropriate language, a concern would’ve led me to explain it or account for the circumstances that would allow for believability. Here, I was having fun with words, recounting my story with an air of fairytale-ness to it, and giving myself the “literary” license to do my own thing. But if I’m truly serious about my stories, I’m going to approach them with a dogged determination to make sure everything makes sense (I hope I’m doing okay). I’m honest enough to say that I’m still learning, believing it should never cease; humble and smart enough to know I don’t’ and can’t know everything (I’m only human); and with a large vocabulary, I can wear different outfits and hairstyles without having to spend a dime. Basically, I know that all of these things have helped me in forming my brand, my standards and a reasonable amount of confidence to call myself “the Artist of Words,” or “Lesmotsique.”
Okay, back to the girls. …Initially, we see in them a naivety, a lack of worldliness or sophistication that set the stage for their getting them into harm’s way. Two babes venturing out into the woods with only the map of their strict upbringing to guide them. When they happened upon Paul, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, he asked them if it were possible to see them again. Lia took it as a date and was prepared with the appropriate response: Said Lia: “We are not allowed to date boys. We are only fourteen.” … Now, let me interject here with what I had mentioned earlier when I said these girls have a childlike happiness. Well, notice how Lia recovered with a dose of optimism after her sad admission to their being only 14 years old. She changed from her tone of sadness to a tone of gladness when she started her next sentence with a happy use of the word “but”: “But just the same, I’m Lia, and this is my sister Lisa.” It was her perfect distraction from the subject of age to focus instead on their individuality. Unfortunately, Paul didn't let go. He pulled one of those stunts, like the serpent did with Eve in the Garden of Eden, where the serpent attempts to cast doubt on God’s character. Paul in this story whipped out his false incredulity when he said “You are not allowed to date? … “Why you are practically grown women. Don’t your parents trust you?”
Then Lisa, the seemingly less gullible twin, rushed to their parent’s defense, disputing any suggestion that their parents didn’t trust them. She made it clear that forbidding them to date was not a matter of trust, but rather one of concern that they get an education and go on to college. … I think it’s wonderful that Lisa realized this, and that she did not allow Paul to drive a wedge between them and their parents. Anyway, Paul, despite his exaggerated claims about himself and the girls or “women” he claims to meet, obviously knew enough about getting want he wanted from young, bashful, and impressionable girls like Lisa and Lia, who fall under the spell of the smooth-talking Paul… Add to that the fact that he was physically attractive in their eyes. No, the story doesn’t say this, but it’s a good guess that he was. Well, anyway, what does this older person do next? First, he cleverly readjusted his position with them by turning the table away from a possibly perceived insult related to parental trust to where he wouldn’t appear disrespectful or as one maliciously casting doubts about the parents of the ones he sought to impress. He wanted them to see him as the good guy, one who is concerned, who has good intensions, and one who offers sound advice. He said: “Well what better way to go to college than to model?”And then comes the bait: associating them with the possibility of being “Doublemint Twins.” That was the approach he used. It is the seed that creates tension later on as the story progresses. It’s the bait that gets the ball rolling, causing the sunny backdrop of their lives to darken with impending danger and sadness. It’s like a foreboding, where a cloud starts to appear, conflict starts to brew, and the sun slowly starts to descend. Will the sun still shine remains to be seen---later.
Not now. The the story says: "the girls were ecstatic." Remember, Paul offered them something they had always wanted: to be Doublemint Twins. How can they possibly turn that down? Now, as I read this story again, I’m thinking who was Paul to be able to offer them a job? How old was this Paul character? In the third paragraph of the story, there seems some ambiguity. The first sentence says “As they walked home, laughing and joking, they came upon a boy who was a little older than the boys they were used to." Then the sentence following that is: "They had seen him around the school with books in his hand a few times, so they figured he was not quite a man yet."
Okay, which one? Boy or man? I suppose one’s definition of a man figures into the answer. … What was the age or ages of the boys they were used to? And the girls reasoned that because they had seen him with books in his hand a few times at school, "he was not quite a man yet." When I read that, I’m thinking just because he was seen with books, doesn’t necessarily mean much. He could be a man taking daytime remedial courses or something. He could be anyone from a drop-out to a potentially dangerous intruder. It could be that the girls want to believe that he was a boy so that he would not be totally off limits to them. Whatever or who cares, some of you may be thinking. And right about now, I think I’m there with you. But to bring some resolution to this craziness, I’ll just say that Paul could be anywhere in the teens starting from age 17 and not going beyond 19 and definitely not beyond 20. I would say that with the girls being 14, they are likelier to hang around boys the same age as they are or who are a year or two older. I don’t think the concern should be so great that we miss out on the importance of the girls disobeying their parents and putting themselves in jeopardy. A boy their own age killing them doesn’t make the grief any less than if it had been a man killing them, does it not? How about rape?
I want to quickly bring this to a conclusion, so let me speeds thing up a bit.
Moving along, Lia went to Paul’s house and found herself having to fight off his advances. She begged, screamed. And just as he approached her, the doorbell rang. When Lia went to unlock the door, she saw her twin, Lisa. Thank God.
Toward the end of the story, we learn some things about the two sisters that we did not know from the beginning. For one thing, all was not peaches and cream with them. We learn that Paul was more than a smooth operator. He was also a two-timing creep. Remember that sly move of his? The note he underhandedly gave to Lia and Lisa? That alone is fodder for damaging good relations. With respect to their differences of opinion concerning going to Paul's house, no details were given in the story. We don't know, for example, the intensity of their disagreement. But whatever it was, it didn't stop Lia from going there, even though it meant going alone. That decision put her in a position to be raped or even killed.
Well, I’m ending it all right here. Forgive me, if this is verbose for you. That's why I do monthly posts: to give you more time to get into the reading and to give me more time to get it out. But even still, please know that I have considered putting the lid on my posts sooner, if necessary, or devise a different plan. Right now, I'm feeling my way through. Just remember that if you are an aspiring writer, or you just love to read, or do both, you must constantly work on it to be good at it. Work on it constantly and more diligently, and you’ll be great. That’s what I’ve always heard; always been taught. Take care. Till next time.