Hey Holly! :)
First of all, just wow. This story is so heartbreaking but also tender at the same time. I really like the writing style you’ve chosen to use here too -- present tense but with minimal dialogue -- as it enhances the grieving mood of Hannah as the narrator. It’s also about her and Neville as elderly people, which is something rarely written about so I really appreciated how you took a bit of time in a flashback talking about how their bodies aged and the health problems he started experiencing later on that contributed to his heart failure from the plant poisoning in the end. The Ministry officials going back and forth about how they’re going to remove said offending plant sounds like a typical government official, and Hannah’s reaction to them being in HIS garden is so realistic and my heart broke for her as she stared at the African violets in the windowsill, trying not to let her grief overtake her. You’ve written such a beautiful piece here, and I hope you get back into writing because it you have such good talent and ability to write about tough subjects with ease. Great work! :)
(18-19 House Cup Finale Constituent Smoozing event)
Hello Alo! Here for some wonderful admin appreciation! (And RvG).
What an incredibly well written story. Your description is breath taking. From being to end, I am swept up in Hannah's world as her thoughts about the events of Neville's passing sweep through as the aftermath of everything unrolls before her.
Hannah's regret is absolutely heartbreaking here. I honestly an rather speechless at how well you've written her throughout this story. To watch a loved one's health decline is difficult enough, but then for some terrible accident--and an accident from doing something that Neville loves so much is... well, I've said it before, heartbreaking. Hannah's reget at keeping Neville indoors really stabs you in the gut. I think it's, unfortunately, an all too common human condition to have this regret. If only, if only, if only... And you've brilliantly captured this throughout.
Your use of dialogue is masterful in this story, as well. You have how characters communicate written into the description. I can easily imagine the words exchanged betwen Hannah and the others in her life. But then, you have actual spoken dialogue at the very end. Even the sigh of the African violets is too much for her. (Note: it's only now that I've seen your author's note at the end, so let that be a testament to how well your experimentation with dialogue has paid off!)
This is a wonderfully heartbreaking story, and I'm glad I've had the change to read it. Thank you for sharing.
Omg! This story is awesome! Emotional but awesome! It has me from the first sentence! I look forward to reading more of your stories! I am favoriting you as an author! Keep up the great work!
Author's Response: Thank you so much! Emotional definitely is something I was going for in this story. I do have two other stories up and have a couple more I used to have posted on another site that I will be transferring here as well.
... I didn't need my heart, anyway. Thanks for that. :'(
But, in all honesty, this was a truly lovely piece, however heartbreaking. The imagery in it is wonderful. I could very easily visualize Neville's garden, the chaos and beauty of it all. I love that he built a fountain without magic; that seems like a very Neville thing to do. Some things are worth the extra time and effort, and for Neville, his garden would obviously deserve that special attention. I also think it's very in-character for him to grow and keep non-magical plants, such as the African violets. The fact that he took the time to care for plants that served no purpose other than being pretty exemplified his true passion for herbology and gardening; to him, it was more than his job.
And Hannah... oh, poor, sweet Hannah. Her grief was pouring out of my screen. The way you intergrated all of her memories with Neville felt very organic and unforced. I especially love her reflections on watching him work, how she memorized his movements, the way his hair moved in the wind... gah, it was just lovely. (And sad, obviously.) The bit about the charm on the chair dying with him shattered my heart into a million pieces.
I really appreciate how sensitively you handled Hannah's guilt surrounding Neville's death. It's something everyone experiences when losing a loved one. We think of what we could have done, the things we missed, etc. Perhaps I'm reading too much into things, but Hannah giving the Ministry man the African violet felt symbolic of Hannah's remorse. She'd done wrong by not healing Neville properly, so she wasn't worthy of something so beautiful of his. (But, then again, I have a habit of looking for symbolism and metaphors. They're my favorite lol.)
You did a really decent job with not using any dialogue until the very end. It's super hard to do; I know from experience. I applaud you for doing it some effectively; it made the dialogue all the more powerful.
This was a wonderful read. Well done!
Author's Response: Oh my goodness, this review made my day!! :D I'm very pleased you were effected by the emotion in this story. It's a huge compliment. It's one thing for me to read it and feel like I conveyed what I wanted to convey, but it's another when someone tells you they're moved. It's been several years since I wrote this, but it's still I think the piece I am most proud of, probably because I worked the longest on it and really put a lot of thought into the structure and into editing. When I first wrote it, I was really worried about how confusing it might seem. Jarring flashbacks are a real pet peeve of mine, and when I found myself wanting to incorporate scenes both past and present, I struggled to do that in a way that didn't have huge italicized flashback sections. I was unsure about the results at first, but over time, it really started to grow on me. I think it works for two main reasons: Taking advantage of Hannah's age and grief and being overwhelmed to make it read like wandering thoughts. The African violet is definitely supposed to be symbolic. My intention was to have the African violet be symbolic of Neville himself. As his health failed, it also went downhill, and now that he's dead, its death is imminent as well. To Hannah, her failure to keep the plant in good health is a reminder of how she wasn't able to save Neville either. It's too fresh a reminder for her right now, and she can't bear to see something else he loved die. I think you reading her remorse into it is appropriate too, though, and not that far off what my intention was. It's also something she can control in the moment. There's a lot outside of her control at the moment, including the fact that the men from the Ministry have come without her asking to take away something from his garden (which she wants gone, but still).
Tears in my eyes... :(
Author's Response: I am so pleased you found it moving!