Off the deep end
#1
Going to give this one a rating of Teen for mental health and mild violence, just to be on the safe side. Comments are welcome, looking for Concise grade when it comes to that.

The psychiatrist’s couch smelled like stale apples. I was stretched out, staring past my scuffed brown loafers to the shelves full of books that were supposed to impress.  Framed certificates hung between the bookcases, proclaiming achievements at places I’d never heard of. The only real color came from abstract splashes of paint, carelessly applied to some canvas he’d thought enough of to hang.
 
“George, are you ready?” he asked. “I assure you, the treatment is perfectly safe. Many people have seen reduction, or even elimination of their phobias through hypnotherapy.”
 
I scowled. I knew he could see it, but I couldn’t see him seeing it.
 
He chose to ignore it. “Now, I know many people are reluctant to talk about their fears. And once we begin, you won’t have to say a word. For now, I need you to verbalize the object of these sessions.”
 
“I’m scared of water,” I said. “I fell in a pool as a child, and almost drowned. This is supposed to help. Is that it?”
 
“It’s a good start,” he replied. “And for now, yes, it will suffice.”
 
I rolled my eyes. Maybe he took his words from the same place that minted those hanging awards.
 
“Now, I want you to relax, the best that you can.” His vague presence behind me shifted, and I heard a gentle ticking noise begin. “For this exercise, I want you to focus on the sound of my voice. Close your eyes, breathe naturally, and just listen.”
 
Great, now I had to listen even more carefully to his droning.
 
“I want you to do one more thing. You need a touchstone, an item to focus on in your mind. Something simple, like a knickknack, or trinket, or even a favorite fruit.”
 
“An apple,” I said. I didn’t even like apples, but the smell from the couch’s fabric had a way of lingering and making itself known.
 
“Good, good. Now picture this apple as we go through some exercises. You don’t need to answer out loud, just think about these questions.”
 
So now he was going to ask me questions I wasn’t even supposed to answer? The cynical part of me wondered if this is why they asked for payment in advance.
 
“Now,” he said, “I want you to keep picturing this apple. Think about what shape it is, how smooth the skin is, how regular the color is. I want you to think about picking it up. How firm is it? Turn it over in your hand. How heavy is it?”
 
Part of me realized this would probably be done faster if I played along. What was the harm, anyways? I pictured a waxy, plastic apple that would be right at home in a bowl of fake fruit on his shelf. Maybe there was a dent from a fake banana, and a spot where part of a fake grape had melted some color on it.
 
“Fix this apple in your mind. Give it a name. Something to serve as your mnemonic, so you can picture it when you say the name.”
 
Now I had to name my fake apple. “Corey,” I said.
 
“Very good,” he said. I heard the faint scratch of his pen. “Corey. Now, to practice visualizing, let’s take a bit of a walk in our minds.”
 
He had me picture carrying this apple through a park, a train station, even finding the perfect place to set it down and observe it. I also pictured the odd looks I got from the people I passed, carrying a fake plastic apple past an old couple feeding pigeons from a bench.
 
“Okay, George, let’s find a safe place to keep your apple for now. Picture a secure box, that you open the lid. Now you’re placing Corey inside, and closing the lid. Now you’re locking it to keep the apple safe.”
 
I blinked as the ticking metronome stopped behind me. Sure enough, the same bland ceiling tiles and stuffy books were waiting to greet me.
 
“Now remember,” he said. “It’s not unusual for most people to see no difference after the first session or two. But we are laying a good foundation for the next meetings, to get you into a better place.”
 
I sat up and stretched. “If you say so, doc. At least I don’t feel like I need a nap anymore.”
 
He gave me a look, bald head shining behind round glasses. His bristle of moustache did little for his appearance. “The best results come from clients who believe in the process. I assure you, many people  minimize or even eliminate their fears with this process.”
 
“I believe you, or I wouldn’t be here.” I gathered my hat and lunchbox from the front table. “I’ll see you next Tuesday. For now, I’m going to visit a park and see how many people are walking their apples.”
 
He said nothing else as I closed the door.
 
***
 
“George, you’ve been making some good progress in these last sessions,” he said. “It’s going to be time to move into the next stage of this therapy. We’re still going to be using your apple, but I’m going to ask you now to branch out a little.”
 
I still looked around the room, anywhere but at him, but couldn’t help admitting he was right. I no longer had gasping moments of panic when the train went over the river bridge, as long as I didn’t look out the windows.
 
“I want you to start visualizing a fish, next to your apple,” he continued. “And let’s have some fun with it. Give it some nice, bright colors. Maybe it’s not even a real fish. Go wild.”
 
A few weeks ago – had it only been a few weeks? I would have laughed, but instead I found myself readily going along with him. I made my fish roughly diamond-shaped, with a long and tall but skinny body. What colors didn’t go well together? Pink and yellow, I decided. Pink for the top half, yellow for the bottom.
 
“Think a bit about where it lives – is it warm? Or cold?” he said. “Does it have a strong tail? Big flippers? How about teeth?”
 
Great big teeth, the better to eat you with, I thought with amusement. I gave it little purple flippers on the sides and tail, with big eyes and some blue spots. And I imagined great big lips like a celebrity would have. For the final touch, I pictured a purple tulip bud sticking out the top of its head.
 
“Now, then, we’re going to picture how it lives. I want you to imagine it playing with your apple, splashing around in a very shallow pond.”
 
I felt my skin prickling. To my surprise, though, my terror didn’t come rising up after it. After all, I wasn’t the one in the water; the fish was, and that’s where it belonged.
 
I pictured it taking short hops out of the water, watching the apple bob on the surface in time with the splashes. I even put some palm trees on the beach behind it.
 
“Okay George, have it push the apple over to you. Pick the apple up, and put it in your safe box,” he said.
 
I did so, watching the apple tumble as the goofy fish bounced it over to me with its enormous lips. I pictured putting it in the box, and opened my eyes as the metronome stopped.
 
“How are you feeling, George?” he asked.
 
“I’m not sure,” I said. “A month ago I couldn’t even think about more water than a glass full, and now I can think about fish playing in a pond. But I still can’t look at the river when the train goes over it.”
 
“That’s perfectly fine,” he said. “Remember, therapy like this isn’t always about curing your fear – it’s about controlling it. You may still have a fear of deep water, and you may never go on a cruise ship, but the important thing is getting back to living your life normally.”
 
“Yeah,” I said. “Yeah, that makes sense. Thank you, Doc.”
 
“My pleasure,” he said. “I’ll see you in a week, George.”
 
***
 
“Are you picturing the bay, George?” he asked.
 
I was. The sandy beach stretched around it, with palm trees gently waving and the water a beautiful shade of blue. The fish and the apple bobbed in the small waves, and out beyond them was a darker blue of the ocean.
 
“Now remember, the water in the bay is the same temperature as the bath you were able to take last week. Think about what that fish is feeling – the wind, the water, how warm it is.”
 
I did, and it was surprisingly easy. I thought about how relaxing it had been, laying in a few inches of water – even cramped in the little tub in my apartment.
 
“Think about what it feels like to be the fish. Picture yourself being the fish.”
 
Though my eyes were closed, I could see in my head what the fish would see. Its eyes were on either side of its body, so it could see everything around it – the shells in the sandy bottom of the bay, strands of seaweed dancing lightly in the current. The plastic apple bobbed on the surface above me, always in sight as I pictured paddling through the water.
 
“The fish is at home here, George. You are the fish. You are at home here.”
 
I pictured the bay expanding, the bottom growing deeper as I drifted towards the ocean. I didn’t feel the fear; the fish had no reason to fear the water.
 
“Picture yourself swimming out into the ocean. The bay is safe, and it is near. You still have your apple with you. But outside of the bay is a large, beautiful coral reef.”
 
I swam towards it to see. Smaller fish darted among the colorful growths, with strange plants here and there among the bottom. The water was murkier as I went deeper, but I could still see the apple bobbing above me on the surface.
 
I saw a large space under the coral, forming an underwater cave. I stretched my fins and swam inside; it was much larger than it had seemed at first, with the sandy floor of it clear except for a large blue and red rock. Swimming closer, I bumped against the round, red parts and was delighted to see them light briefly. I bumped it again, hitting it with my purple tail fin, and the glow brightened until the rock started to move.
 
Beneath the rock, long tentacles snaked their way towards me. I swam back, seeing a pair of bright eyes in the darkness beneath the shell. One of the tentacles brushed against me, and the side of my fin burned with pain.
 
I turned and swam towards the cave mouth, but the water surged around me. I was nearly to the entrance when a tentacle wrapped around me in stinging agony. I fought, shaking myself from side to side, trying to swim free. In desperation, I opened my fanged mouth and clamped down; my lips burned from contact, but the tentacle released me.
 
Wasting no time, I darted towards the exit again and made it into open water. I swam as fast as I could towards the surface and my apple, but before I could reach it I felt the agony return as two tentacles wrapped around me.
 
I could barely move from the pain, and the tendrils began to pull me towards the monster. I twitched and twisted but couldn’t bring my teeth down on it – I was held too tightly. A third tentacle added to my suffering, and it was more than I could bear – the last thing I saw as my vision faded was my apple, too distant to help, bobbing on the gentle waves of the surface above.
 
 
 
“George, can you hear me?”
My stats (always a work in progress!):
http://forum.pokemonurpg.com/showthread....#pid118022

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#2
Claiming.
"Take Care of Yourself"

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#3
Concise Grade

The GOOD
-The opening paragraph does a good job of setting up the scene. You use a lot of detail to reinforce the drab and dull setting that your protagonist is in. Well done.
-
Quote:"I scowled I knew he could see it, but I couldn’t see him seeing it. "
Great line. Very humanizing.
-great use of the apple, it helps connect the reader to the reality that this story takes place in.
-loved the visuals of going through the different places, you've done a great job giving the protagonist personality, he has just enough cynicism to him that it makes you think: "yeah therapy wouldn't be a bad idea."
-very cute way to bring the Pokemon into the story!! I love it...
-The entire story was an amazing setup for what you have done, the title. The theme, the Pokemon, they all fit perfectly into this story  Well done!

The NOT SO GOOD
-this is a terrible habit to break, and I do it too. But you use a lot of commas, and it seems to be in some places where they aren't necessary. Then again, I could be wrong, Grammar isn't my strong suit but this definitely stood out.
Quote:only real color came from abstract splashes of paint, carelessly applied to some canvas he’d thought enough of to hang."
"George, are you ready?” he asked. “I assure you, the treatment is perfectly safe"
What it looks like is that you use commas to show pauses in the dialogue...or a sort of breath. While this is fine, I feel like you could do this less! 
--Albeit this can always be be said, I think that this story, especially in the middle, could have used a bit more detail about coping. As much as we saw George and his worries, the reader doesn't really feel it. There was never really a moment where we truly FELT his phobia, we only heard about it. A good example could be something small, like watching his psychiatrist sip water. (I know he was fine cups of water but just an example!)


Medium story? More like passed story. A very unique take on a capture and very enjoyable. Enjoy your fishy fishy!

EDIT: Accidentally mentioned this was a FOURPLAY story oops
"Take Care of Yourself"

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