Write It Sideways

Excerpt Critique: “Canyons,” Women’s Fiction

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Canyons

Women’s fiction

*Please note: This excerpt is taken from the beginning of the work.

Pam and Doug stand side-by-side in front of the mirror, thrusting toothbrushes into their mouths, scraping until red infuses the mint froth in the sink. Doug tries to wash down the mess with a burst of cold water, but their blood is still there, mingling on the porcelain.

“Divorce is not an option,” Pam says. Her voice is low. The children are only just down the hall getting ready for school. “We don’t believe in divorce.” She pulls the teeth of a comb through her bangs to straighten them across her forehead. There is a crease growing above her eyebrows, which has been there some time now. She thinks it makes her look angry. Doug says that’s because she is angry, but she knows it’s the weight of years. She is no longer beautiful.

Pam has always liked to think of her beauty rather like an apple: a clean-scrubbed flesh, a firm, pleasant roundness. A practical sort of beauty. That’s what Doug said, years ago, as he slid a diamond ring on her finger by the edge of the canyon, wind blowing her hair away from her pink face, the earth plunging into itself next to them. He said he could look at her forever.

Today, it seems to Pam that she and Doug are still standing beside that canyon, only this time they are on opposite sides of it.

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