Serial Fiction Beta Reads

Seed, Part 10

Everyone’s a Critic

Steve Fendt
5 min readNov 9, 2022

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Tangled | Steve Fendt

Author’s note for this beta read

  • Please go easy on the highlights.
  • Please, please comment! Be as honest as you like.
  • I’m putting all 12 parts up simultaneously. You can use the list at the end to move between parts.
  • Language warning. Plentiful c-words, f-words and other delights await you.

The Convent seemed to have been plucked from northern France and dropped in inner suburban Melbourne. Sal imagined disapproving, wimpled nuns tucked behind the tall, red-brick windows, peeking through the leadlights at the Bacchanalian goings-on below.

Family groups sprawled across green lawns below the austere pebble-dashed façade. Young couples sat, limbs intertwined; shirtless men stepped gingerly between them, clutching more brimming plastic beakers of beer than their brawny arms could safely hold.

Jelka had dragged him along to the gallery, where her friend Lottie’s exhibition was in its second and final week. Sal stalked between the abstract, translucent watercolours and geometric, indigenous-inspired acrylics; stopped occasionally to squint, frown and nod; stifled a yawn; moved on.

He stood with Jelka and Lottie for a short while in the sparsely visited space. He felt his eyebrows shoot up at the description of this pleasant but unchallenging set of works as ‘exploratory’ and ‘ground-breaking’; pretended that he had an itchy scalp; refrained from comment. Made non-committal noises of vague approval where he deemed appropriate.

Lottie ignored him anyway. She was a stocky, dreadlocked young woman. Pretty in a slightly butch way, he thought. He vaguely wondered whether she and Jelka might have a friends-with-benefits type thing going on: they seemed very comfortable with each other physically. But then: young women so often were.

He’d met Lottie before, but only for introductions and a few harmless words. The experience hadn’t augured well for their future interactions. Her features became expressionless whenever he spoke: lively brows became horizontal, two thick, black marker strokes of passive aggression.

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Steve Fendt

https://stevefendt.substack.com Short stories, serial fiction, memoirs of a possibly quasi-true nature. Stories of the Australian beach and bush.