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Orange Girl

by DomSanchez 

Posted: 01 March 2007
Word Count: 446

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I once knew an orange girl.

I sometimes think everybody I see now is orange but perhaps it is just the underground lighting.

The fluorescence does strange things to your eyes. Shadows begin to look green. Lichen and moss inhabit the depths of hollow eyes, orange eyes. This is just the trick of the light.

That is just the way we see these days. But I did know a orange girl once.

The orange hue from her skin would practically radiate. Her name was Matilda, and she would glow.

The people now around me do not so. They only watch, and i alone observe the amber smeared on their skin.

Matilda worked, sporadically. She would visit us in the laboratory, supposedly everyday, more like once a week.
I thought she would have been worth a screw, perhaps in a back-alley, against a wall, nothing more, but not a bad looking girl.

Others of us in the laboratory would speculate on why she was yellow, so. It was as though she had used an artificial sun lamp for too long, and never noticed just how orange she shone.

I mention the back alley because she was that type, she was the type to drag men into the back-alley, only to come back minutes later, wiping her mouth.

Some thought she had some illness and this was a terrible side effect of some awful treatment, that in a fatalistic panic she had to consume as much dick as possible at a voracious rate.

Some even considered it was a side effect of working in this laboratory.

She never consumed me, maybe it's regret that I now feel, regret that there is now nobody. Matilda would now do. I now ache to be in that back alley. Love for her to be wiping me off her cheek. I dread to think of prettier girls, sexes and genders seem to have merged in these catacombs, men and women just stare as I go by now.

We found out why.

No terminal disease gripped her organs; her voracious appetite for men did not allow her time, or indeed desire, to use a sun lamp. No one guessed, no one even joked upon the answer, some debate arose at the shape of the reason, people laughed, and said that perhaps it was all she could do.

She ate carrots, only carrots.

Carotene had claimed her blood and stained her eyeballs. No one ever knew her, other than her name, the way she would wipe her mouth when returning from the alley (perhaps the men were feeding her carrots back there?), that she died of a terminal illness and her name was Matilda.

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Comments by other Members

annatomic at 20:29 on 02 March 2007  Report this post
Hi Dom,
I like the first line.

I'm not sure what type of woman is

the type to drag men into the back-alley, only to come back minutes later, wiping her mouth

But it's very effective in giving the narrator a really convincing misogynist tone, especially backed up as it is with

Matilda would do

I have worked in an underground lab and I like the impression you leave me with that the narrator is trapped there, not literally but in the way that jobs can trap you.

Couple of spellings: fluorescence and hue, and 'matilda' is missing a capital M in the first instance.

Good luck with it,

JenDom at 22:47 on 04 March 2007  Report this post
Hi DomSanchez

Well I found your story!

Great first line, so got me hooked immediately. You have a sparse, immediate style that makes for easy reading. The "orange" mystery is a really original theme to build your story around

What, for me, let's this whole intriguing theme down are the following.

I feel your main character's disdain for Matilda, slightly odd. He thinks of her with contempt. He almosts detests her and yet he declares his regret and how Matilda "would now do". I guess because he doesn't come across as a sympathetic character, I cannot empathise with his dilemma, such as it is. He wonders why Matilda has an orange glow and instead of finding out why, he makes assumptions about her based on vicious gossip and vicious hearsay.

she was that type, she was the type to drag men into the back-alley, only to come back minutes later, wiping her mouth

Which brings me to Matilda. Why is she treated with such contempt and malice? She gives men blow-jobs and eats carrots. That's the sum of her existence here.

I need to care about either character, but here I feel they are slightly cold, detached, removed. One or both need to be engaging. The situation of the characters here need to be engaging. Why can't your main character be affronted by the rumours that surround Matilda, defend her honour and the twist in the end will be that she breaks his heart. Or vice versa. Matilda really is in love with him but then finds out how he views her and then expires.

There are quite a few typos here as well. You really would need to go through each word, each sentence with a fine grammatical tooth comb to tweak the words here so that they make a perfect coherent whole.

All the best

snowbell at 10:07 on 05 March 2007  Report this post
I thought this was powerful.

Not sure whether I agree with JenDom's comments here although I understand her reaction. I certainly normally recoil from easy misogyny in writing but here I was given the impression of someone who had become removed emotionally from everything and who is grasping - almost emotionally - onto the idea of someone for whom he originally had no respect because of the way the situation around him had changed (?) (I'm not sure, not knowing the context but something like: he is almost feeling romantic about unemotional and perhaps slightly sordid sexual interaction because there are no relationships anymore and at least that is human and alive) (?)

It is so hard to tell from such a short excerpt what is going on or how to read the attitude of the character in context, therefore I would hold fire on the "narrator needs to be sympathetic" comments for the moment.

I like your writing style and the short sharp sentences. I also like the way you give us hints of an emotional change "I thought she would be worth a screw" (suggesting a casual contemptuous character of the past) and then "I ache to be back in that alley" (suggesting emotional need and longing in the present) and "the reason I am mentioning this" (self-conscious awareness) and "maybe it's regret I now feel" (reexamining his previous disgust). This all suggests complexity in the character and a mysterious context that will be unravelled.

Heckyspice at 12:42 on 05 March 2007  Report this post
Hello Dominic.

We are all agreed you have strong hook in the opening line. But then the rest of the work fluctuates.

I think you need to consider the style of the narrative. At the moment the narration does not flow. A sparse style requires IMO shorter lines, break it down into single sentences with a line break were possible. A better rythym is likely to emerge.

If short flash fiction is your thing, then I reccomend that you read examples from the flash groups, in particular stuff by Prospero and Crowspark for seeing how to use broken narratives to full effect.

Best wishes,


DomSanchez at 12:48 on 05 March 2007  Report this post
Thank you for all the comments.

I have just noticed all the typos! Sorry!

It is very interesting hearing how people view the piece, whether it conjures up the thoughts I wanted to evoke. I think to certain extent it has, I want the reader to feel disgust at the narrator, yet sympathy for his humanity, his basic human needs. I also wanted to use something absurd to frame these emotions which is based on something actually true - a girl who turned orange from her carrot diet!

Thanks again.


I have tried to sort out the layout to make it a bit more punchy (and hopefully the typos)

Forbes at 22:42 on 06 March 2007  Report this post
I thought this piece was powerful, and agree with Snowball that you don't necessarily need either character to be sympatheticaly viewed. I didn't have sympathy for the MC, and felt the orange girl was a slattern. But you kept me reading until the end.

You do need to tidy up the piece there's an i instead of an I somewhere, along with other small errors.

I thought the casual, almost un-thinking cruelty of the piece was arresting. (You make the distinction between terminal illness and disease - an important point?)

It certainly made me think.


Jeremiad1971 at 13:13 on 19 March 2007  Report this post
Hello Dominic,

I think you have addressed some great themes here - urban isolation, commodification of human life, the dehumanising tendency of scientific scrutiny and the ultimate two fingers up to death - and I found it powerful.

It will need another draft to address some of the finer points as the others have mentioned but it will an effective calling card.



DomSanchez at 12:34 on 20 March 2007  Report this post
Cheers David,

I think the theme of urban isolation tends to feature in much of my work, perhaps I should post some more...

I think it is important to have cynicism, there is sometimes too much of an emphasis on the reader liking the protagonist, I agree they have to compelling, but you can witness the world through a distorted perspective, I believe that is very important.

Thanks again for the comments.


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