To be honest, when I saw this was a one-shot with only about 1000 words, I was a little nervous I would have trouble offering a thoughtful review. I find one-shots are often the hardest to comment on, especially if they are short, just because there isn't always that much to work with. But I'm very happy to admit I was wrong. This is a really great piece that packs a lot of punch in such a short amount of time.
This story reads almost like a poem. It is very atmospheric, almost surreal in a way, with the personification of the candles and the passage of time. Throughout though, the emotion is still very grounded. Not over the top - more melancholy than desperate, which is far more effective IMHO. I also think the use of the present tense is very effective here. I don't see it used a lot in stories, but with this piece, it seemed like a great fit.
I'm not sure if you're the type of writer who can crank a story out in a single afternoon or not, but this at least reads like you've put a lot of time and thought into it. Not just the plot, but the actual crafting of each sentence. It doesn't feel like you just sat down, wrote the first thing that popped into your head and threw it up on the web. Maybe you did (and you're just naturally talented that way), but it sure reads like something you really put some care into making as good as it could be...but without OVER writing it either. It didn't feel like you were trying to force the reader to feel something that just wasn't there.
If I can be so bold as to offer a small bit of CC. This first might just be a typo/oversight. "...and steps away when each has been righted and stand once more like the sentinels they should."
Something feels off about this sentence. Maybe "like the sentinels they are" or "like sentinels should be" or just "like sentinels." It feels like a word is maybe missing. The only other thing is that there are a lot of long sentences necessitating lots of commas to be grammatically correct. Because of that, maybe try and be on the lookout for ways to craft some of the shorter sentences so they don't need commas, just for variety.
Just a quick example: Married, seven years, unhappily. Stuck, three years, with someone she's never truly known.
Could be: Married for seven years - all of them unhappy. Stuck for three years with someone she's never truly known.
I'm a big fan of using a dash now and then. Maybe a little too much of a fan. Anyway, I'm not saying any of the sentences had grammar problems; just suggesting being on the lookout for the opportunity to remove a few of the commas to make the story even easier to read.
Overall, great piece. I really did enjoy it. And clearly I'm a fan different, unusual or uncommon pairings. I'm really glad we were matched for the review exchange this time around. Thank you for sharing your story with me.
Author's Response: Yeah, that sentence that you mentioned - the one with the sentinels - really gave me a lot of trouble when I was writing it. I don't know exactly what's wrong with it, but your suggestions are extraordinarily helpful and I'll be sure to go through and rework it when I've got some time.
Anyway, thank you for the review! I'm struggling to try and figure out where to start.
First of all, I'm thankful that you mentioned/noticed the flow and sort of structure I was trying to get at. It definitely reads sort of like a poem, which isn't something that I initially intended but is, in my opinion, a nice little element that just popped into it by accident. It's funny, because I'm actually a terrible poet, so the fact that you said it reads sort of like a poem really tickled me.
Ah, yes, commas. I'm sort of a comma freak. I can see where some of the sentences may be a little hard to read, so thanks for mentioning it. I'll go through and weed some of them out when I've got the time. I usually try and be pretty careful about sentence lengths and varying them, but some of them slip away from me. Anyway, thanks for pointing it out!
I'm not really the type of person who can write something in one day, even though I have in the past. This one took a little while, and I kept revisiting it over a span of a few weeks. And I certainly try not to sound forced; I simply spend a lot of time on my individual paragraphs. I'm flattered that you noticed, because I think the crafting of sentences is something that often falls by the wayside.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the lovely review. I'm glad that my short little thing gave you something to talk about.