Avery Tollin and That Old Man

May 12, 2011
By BlueCannons3030 GOLD, Alleman, Iowa
BlueCannons3030 GOLD, Alleman, Iowa
15 articles 0 photos 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pain. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
-C.S. Lewis

Avery Tollin was sitting on the park bench. His knife in his hand.

He cut at his arm once.

Around the corner came an old man.

He cut again.

The old man looked at Avery hard. Long. With searching eyes.

Avery Slashed at his arm a third time.

“Why do you cut yourself. Why harm your own flesh?” The old man with searching eyes asked.

“That’s none of your business, old man. Leave me alone.” Avery answered bluntly, through teeth gritted in pain.

Blood stained the blade of his knife. Avery wiped it on his jeans leg.

“Go!” he shouted at the old man.

Avery pocketed the knife. He was done for the day.

“It is no business of mine, I’m sure. But that makes no difference whether or not I asked a question. And any polite young man should always answer to their elders.”

Avery pushed his long black hair from his eyes. The old man sat right next to him on the bench. Avery scooted from him.

“I told you once old man. It’s none of your business. Now beat it. I’m not in the mood to talk to old men. And,” he added with a smirk, “I’m not supposed to talk to strangers. Especially old men.”

Surprisingly, the old man did not take offence. In fact, he laughed. “Oh, I’m no stranger to you, boy. And you may not remember me, but I remember you.”

Avery just stood up and left, calling from behind his back, “Whatever, pedophile.”

Avery saw the old man again walking to school the next day. Monday. He would have normally just shrunk into the crowd. Been hidden in his friends.

But Avery didn’t have friends anymore. Not since he became who he was. He was always in a bad mood. Quick to anger. Not fun to be around. He had lost his friends. Only two had stuck around for a while. His best friend, Clay, and his girlfriend, Catie.

Even they left eventually.

Nobody was near him, he couldn't hide from the old man. So naturally, the old man walked over to Avery.

“Avery, I’d like to talk to you, if you don’t mind!” Called the old man.

“What! I don’t give a crap what you want from me! Leave me alone before I call the cops!”Avery exclaimed, becoming desperate.

“Avery, listen to me. You must not harm yourself. Depression is the key from happiness. People are the key to go back.” The old man said, his eyes pleading.

Avery noticed something. He had not told the man his name. When He realized that, he turned and ran. When he looked back over his shoulder, the old man was gone.

That night Avery went back to the park bench.

Again he took out his knife. He ignored the old man when he walked up to Avery.

Avery cut.

“Avery, don’t you recognize me?” The old man asked.

“Yeah, I do recognize you. Now get away or I’ll call the police! I don’t need a creeper stalking me!” Avery replied.

He took his knife and cut his arm. He pocketed the knife. He stood up. He walked away.

The next time he saw the old man was the next Friday. The old man was talking to some little children, but he somehow didn’t seem in the slightest bit sketchy. The old man pointed the children towards Avery. The small girls and boys ran at Avery.

“Will you pway wif us mister?” The child was probably two. She was wearing a little dress, and somehow, the whole thing made Avery smile. He decided that playing with a bunch of toddlers felt better than cutting that day anyway.

Avery looked up at the old man. Who smiled. Then walked behind a tree, but did not come back the other side.

Avery became himself again. He threw away his knife, and his friends came back to him. He never saw the old man again. But he realized that people, they are the key back into happiness. And Avery could name one person who he knew was definitely the key back to happiness. He never forgot that old man.

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This article has 2 comments.

on Aug. 19 2011 at 4:43 pm
BlueCannons3030 GOLD, Alleman, Iowa
15 articles 0 photos 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pain. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
-C.S. Lewis

thank you for all that, I'm always happy to have constructive critisism and I'm really greatful, as to answer your question about who the old man is - thats my favorite thing, he can be whatever you want him to be. My teacher personaly imagined him jesus, some of my friends like to think he's the essence of happiness. If you want him to be a ghost, then he might be a ghost. All I really wanted was that he wasnt a random stranger.

again- thanks for everything, it means a lot

on Aug. 19 2011 at 4:31 pm
lovelycheese GOLD, Cupertino, California
11 articles 0 photos 136 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If you have something to do, then do it. You can't get wasted time back." ~Ben Carson.

Here I am.

Gosh, I have to say right off the bat I love depression stories. For me a little bit of my heart breaks whenever I read them. Okay, here goes.

Very good beginning. It grasps the reader and pulls us in. I love the almost lyrical way you write this. Beautiful. 

- "…Why harm your own flesh?" The old man [with searching eyes] asked. Take out with searching eyes if you want. I think it's a bit bulky, since you described him earlier. Nitpicky comment, sorry.

- Avery wiped it on [the leg of his jeans]. I just think it flows better that way.

- When you write "It's no business of mine, I'm sure…" I got confused about who was the speaker. Though after reading it a couple of times I decided it was the old man. You might want to add a dialogue tag there to avoid confusion.

- Avery scooted [away] from him.

- "I told you once[,] old man." Don't forget the comma. 

Good grammar over there.

- 'Surprisingly the old man did not take [offense].' I guess it doesn't really matter which way you spell it, but offence is the British spelling for the US offense. 

- '[Now] he was always in a bad mood.' Your previous sentence talked about a different time frame, I think. Just add 'now.'

Good use of paragraph spacing.

- "Avery, I'd like to talk to you, if you don't mind!" [c]alled the old man. Lower case 'c' in called. 

- 'When [h]e realized that, he turned and ran.' Lower case 'h' in he.


Overall grammar and punctuation - wise, I think you do an excellent job. Your writing style is also catchy - with the short sentences and clear writing. 

However, I found the ending a bit abrupt. Some questions left after a story are alright, but sometimes too many makes it really confusing. I felt a bit about that after I finished. 

I still don't know who the old man is. I think, though, you could end the last sentence something like this:


'He never forgot about [his] old man.'

This way, you aren't confirming anything concrete, but you aren't leaving the reader clueless who the old man is. Usually the phrase 'his/her old man] means a father or a man of relation. This is just a suggestion. 

But reading 'Then walked behind a tree, but did not come back from the other side' makes me think the old man is a ghost, but how did he talk to the kids, then? These are some questions you can subtly answer, but not entirely answer. 

I also thought how the child talking to Avery and how he suddenly just put away his knife and was happier was a bit too easy. In real life, I believe it takes more changing and more coaxing than that. Perhaps you can elongate the store and make Avery go through more changes. How did having no friends change Avery? Why did they stay away? Who was the old man? What kind of after effect did the cutting have on Avery, even after he was happy? Why did he cut himself? What about the little girls and boys teach him that people are the key back to happiness?


Just a couple of things for you to think about. Overall I think this is very well written. I commend you for writing about depression, too. I don't know many people who would. Congratulations on a beautiful story.


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