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March 17
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3:24:34

An Orderly finishes looping thread through flesh.

3:25:17

He goes about his business with a sigh and ties a futile knot.

3:26:27

Once he’s tied the catgut sutures and wrapped the paper crepe bandages, the Orderly moves onto the next man because the next man had a chance to keep breathing.

3:26:54

More orderlies take the bedding from the cot because there are men with a chance to keep warm and alive. A Nurse in a grey uniform that might have once been white almost leaves the sheet underneath his limp heaving body because a dead man should at least have a burial shroud. But she takes it anyway.

3:28:43

His face takes on the waxen quality that blood loss brings.

3:29:11

His temperature rises. Its been days since he was fished from a taken trench, but there are no anti-tetanus shots for a boy-prisoner with flak in his lungs so liquid fills them oh-so slowly. There is no healing from this. There is no point in propping up a man already lying in his grave.

3:33:47

Fever blooms across sharp, delicate cheekbones in high ruddy spots.

3:33:25

His chests rises and falls more painfully as his breathing is more and more like a struggle than a function.

3:38:53

His hair falls onto his forehead in damp curls. He thinks he feels someone pushing it back. He thinks, more desperate than ever, that someone is gently hushing him like they would a feverish child, not a dying boy-soldier.

3:38:46

“I’m sorry-” He whispered.

3:38:54

“-I didn’t mean to leave-”

3:39:03

“I don’t want to-” His voice breaks and he barely finishes at a whimper. “I don’t want to go!”

3:39:16

He imagines someone stroking his face. He imagines their cool, salty tears dripping onto his hot, cracked skin. He imagines someone is with him and that he’s not fading fast and fading alone. He imagines he is more than a battle stained husk of a human being. He imagines someone holding his stiff fingers in their cool hands. But there is no one. He is alone save for the man hacking in the bed beside his.


3:39:34

He imagines someone thumbing away the tears that come anew as pain cuts its way through his ribs and now grips his heart. He doesn't, however, imagine the Nurse with icy eyes that melt for a moment on the almost-gone boy. She murmurs softly in her harsh language. He snaps up and grabs her wrist, his eyes seeing another. He doesn't see the nurse but another girl with icy eyes that only melt for him. He wants the girl now. Now, so he won’t go alone. But the Nurse gasps and flinches away, trying to pull her wrist sharply out of his vice-like grip. She wants to go, so he lets her go. He falls away again, limp as ever. The nurse strides away and loneliness mounts with every new swish of her skirts as she leaves him, down and down the row. She must have taken the image of the icy eyed girl with her, like memories are photographs that can be stolen, because he cannot picture her cold face after the nurse is gone in sound and in sight.  

3:39:47

His fingers curl weakly, but there is no blanket for them to grip so they just furl into half fists. No one spares him even that much thought. Just another body in bloody olive to bury.

3:39:59

He stares at the swathe of canvas above his head. It is watermarked and filthy, so he strains his eyes on the curve of a stain and etches into his head.

3:40:12

It ease the pain.

3:40:31

He can’t close his eyes. All he wants to do is close his eyes. But the water stain is the silhouette of a spinning woman's petal shaped skirts so he can’t close them. He can’t- He won’t.

3:40:33

He closes his eyes.

3:40:34

He can feel a hollow in his chest throbbing. It blurs and softens the rest of the world as it sharpens and overwhelms everything else. It aches fiercely now that the agony in his flesh is fading with the last of whatever solid strength was left in him.

3:40:41

The throbbing hollow beats against his ribs like a prisoner throwing himself at iron bars. It keeps at it until it slows. Finally, the prisoner must be exhausted from hitting metal again and again because the prisoner falls and the iron bars never give.

3:40:44

Private Jack Mercer’s heart laid still.

3:40:52

And the gilded, glowing watch on his limp wrist ticked on.
For this awesome contest: www.deviantart.com/journal/His…

Autumn, 1918

Germany is running low on supplies, but not prisoners and of course their own boys get what they have first. That does not mean there is no human kindness for a young prisoner dying of his wounds, however, time has no compassion and he has very little. 

Catgut Sutures: The predominate method for medical stitching until medical advances in the 1930s allowed for petrol-based thread. Before this, "catgut" fibers. German surgeons in particular favored carbolic catgut. Source: (books.google.com/books?id=NFGS…

Paper crepe bandages: The predominate method of bandaging on both sides during the war was compression bandages made with finely pleated paper. Allied bandages, bolstered by supplies from the U.S. were more clothe-like, while bandages for the Central Powers were often thin and flimsily made by the end of the war, due to shortages of... well everything. Example of British issued, American made bandages: (farm5.static.flickr.com/4096/4…

Kindness: Humanity is never far from the front. Examples of this are infinite, but one of my favorite examples is the following story from a soldier captured in March of 1918, when the Germans are pushing past their limits but still able to provide for their armies and prisoners in the West. As such, this example may be a little generous for Jack's circumstances, but I don't see why it's not possible for similar happenings in the hospital if they can happen so close too the front. Link: www.firstworldwar.com/diaries/…

Anti-tetanus shots: The heavily manured fields of the lowland countries and northern France contributed a plethora of bacteria to flak wounds already highly at risk for infection. Anti-tetanus serums were heavily used by both sides of the war and tetanus deaths dropped by almost 50% by the end of the war. However, prisoner triage only allowed for less grievously wounded men to receive them. Source: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22…

Soldier on his Deathbed: My grandfather served in three wars and I based Jack's words and actions at the end of his life on the glimpses my grandfather would give me when drunk and his eyes looking not at me but at a time long before I was even alive. I don't know if its realistic, because I am not a soldier, nor to I aspire to be one, but he is constructed as best as I can from the pieces given to me. The only death I have ever personally witnessed however was Grandfather's and I put his last few sets of words, the words of an old soldier in a young mans mouth, but I don't think there is too big a gap there to make it meaningful to a reader less personally invested than I. He passed this February so this is my goodbye, in a way. 

Jack's Watch: The first wrist watches were used during the Boer War when British troops were forced to make coordinated attacks against a savagely defensive enemy. Then, they were just pocket watches strapped to the wrist with leather and wire. However, when World War One rolled around, companies battled for superiority and many different watches were avaiible for issue. However, my favorite are the glow in the dark watches common with American officers. They were radioactive, which strikes me as somewhat symbolic for the era.   Source: www.qualitytyme.net/pages/role…

Critique/Comment Questions: 

1.) Does this piece evoke the time period? (late WW1, German prisoners hospital)

2.) Does the formatting (especially the constant breaks with the time) add to the feel of the piece? 

3.) Does the piece flow correctly, even with all the breaks? 

4.) Does Jack feel like a real person to you? 

Critique link as required by the submission rules: 
thewrittenrevolution.deviantar…
Add a Comment:
 
:iconinklingsofoblivion:
InklingsOfOblivion Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2014  Hobbyist Writer

Here be my two cents on your frankly wonderful piece :heart:

“3:29:11


His temperature rises. Its been days since he was fished from a taken trench, but there are no anti-tetanus shots for a boy-prisoner with flak in his lungs so liquid fills them oh-so slowly. There is no healing from this. There is no point in propping up a man already lying in his grave.”

^ Its -> it’s


Have you considered putting a comma after “so liquid fills them” just for a pause to emphasise the slowness of the filling?

“There is no point in propping up a man already lying in his grave.” – this sentence is brilliant. There are so many other sentences in this that I love, that I’d essentially copy and paste the entire piece to show them all to you. :heart:


*


In the “3:39:34
” and throughout, “nurse” is both capitalised and not. For continuity, perhaps either capitalise or lower case throughout, rather than both?

Also, perhaps hyphenate “icy eyed 


*


In response to you questions:

1.) Does this piece evoke the time period? (late WW1, German prisoners hospital)

- Honestly, unless you knew the terms Orderly etc I don’t feel that there is an obvious pointer towards any particular war, but it does clearly describe a war hospital predating modern medicine.

- After reading the artists comment, it adds to the poinangcy of the piece dramatically, and for those readers like me who didn’t feel compelled to think of one war or another, it really hit it home.


2.) Does the formatting (especially the constant breaks with the time) add to the feel of the piece?

- Definitely yes. This is the first piece I’ve come across which directly uses time to break up events. Very well executed :clap:


3.) Does the piece flow correctly, even with all the breaks?

    -       100% yes.


4.) Does Jack feel like a real person to you? 

    -      Again, 100% yes. You have rather a knack for character building.


Overall this was a stunning read, heightened by the artist’s comment. Thank you for constructing such a wonderful piece, and for taking the time to explain everything clearly. I for one gave it a second and third read over, and fell in love with it again and again.


Keep up the fantastic work, dear :heart: 

Reply
:iconviking-american:
Viking-American Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2014  Student Writer
Thanks so much for reviewing with such spectacular feedback. :)
Reply
:iconinklingsofoblivion:
InklingsOfOblivion Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
:heart: you're most welcome!!
Reply
:iconk3igu:
k3igu Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2014
1.) Does this piece evoke the time period? (late WW1, German prisoners hospital)

Im not big on history, but it at least sounds like it is in some hospital or recovery area during a war time. 

2.) Does the formatting (especially the constant breaks with the time) add to the feel of the piece? 

Yes, and no. For the majority of the story, the timestamps do well to sort of walk you through the little events and details at each phase of the progression. Each step further does well to add slightly more and more sympathy for the soldier. Also, each section is, on average, short enough while still being descriptive, that you don't feel the need to backtrack and re-read something for the sake of clarity, which is excellent since it also gives a feeling of "no turning back from what has happened".

Here is where I feel there was a problem with it though. At the last timestamp: 

3:40:52

And the gilded, glowing watch on his limp wrist ticked on.

Its an impacting line, and it does its job well to end everything, but possibly too well. It reinforced the idea that this was a man on his dying bed with nobody there for him, and I appreciate that for what it is. But the finality of it, time moving on while the rest of the hospital seems to be in a frenzy moving here and there, the war going on, etc. somewhat makes me wonder about the direction of this piece.  Was it meant to be a peak into the final breaths of a dying man? A portrayal of the horrible conditions soldiers at the time were made to survive in? The cruelty of war and what its result is to those not directly on the battlefront? A comparison between the high regard we have for soldiers fighting on our behalf and the seemingly insignificance (to a point where even a blanket was spared in his final moments) felt by those that were injured?...you get the idea.

It doesn't really take away from the story, just makes me question how it came to be.

3.) Does the piece flow correctly, even with all the breaks? 

Like I said above, the piece works better BECAUSE of the breaks. Its like a tour, except the descriptions at each station feel less like a statement and more like a brief experience. 
Reply
:iconviking-american:
Viking-American Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you so much for such thoughtful feedback. I do really appreciate it. :) 
Reply
:icondoughboycafe:
doughboycafe Featured By Owner Edited Jul 20, 2014  Professional Writer
Alright, here is what is possibly the latest critique in the history of critiques. I am so sorry it took as long as it did to get your your well-earned contest prize, but hopefully the feedback will make up for my hideous tardy behavior x_x. One thousand apologies, I mean it.

Let me first say that I loved this piece. The way you went with the framework was brilliant, the pacing is great. And, for the most part, I think you captured the essence of the war. Futile death really sums up for me where you went with this, and I will admit it was a hard piece to read.

I don’t think you need to do anything in the way of changing content, or fact checking. This is an impacting story and it leaves you by punching you in the face before it walks quietly out the door. However, I think there are some places that could use tightening, to make the end punch harder, and really drive home what you wrote about here. Also, the flow is already good, but eliminating some bumps and making it seamless will help it with impact, I think.

Remember that in the end, this is all my opinion, so take it or leave it as you see fit.

3:25:17

He goes about his business with a sigh and ties a futile knot.

 

^ I feel like maybe this would have more of an impact if he didn’t sigh. He holds in a sigh and ties a knot even though he knows it is futile.

3:26:27

Once he’s tied the catgut sutures and wrapped the paper crepe bandages, the Orderly moves onto the next man because the next man had a chance to keep breathing.

 

^actually, what if you combined this with the line above? You have knot-tying in here twice, so, what if he ties a futile knot (please don’t lose that line) with the catgut sutures while not voicing a sigh, then moves? Also, if you do combine these, it should probably be somehow kept in Jack Mercer’s POV. Doing 3rd person omniscient is really hard (and I never do it because I always fark it up). But seeing this all from the dying man’s perspective would be wow.

3:26:54

More orderlies take the bedding from the cot because there are men with a chance to keep warm and alive. A Nurse in a grey uniform that might have once been white almost leaves the sheet underneath his limp heaving body because a dead man should at least have a burial shroud. But she takes it anyway.

^ there is awkward phrasing in the first sentence. Can I suggest: “…take the bedding from his cot, because there are men with a better chance at surviving, and they need to be kept warm.”

The rest is bloody brilliant. Keep it all.



3:29:11

His temperature rises. Its been days since he was fished from a taken trench, but there are no anti-tetanus shots for a boy-prisoner with flak in his lungs so liquid fills them oh-so slowly. There is no healing from this. There is no point in propping up a man already lying in his grave.

^ first, *it’s – it has. Second, at first ‘taken’ sounded weird and I didn’t catch the meaning. It is totally correct, though, and this may just be me. However, maybe ‘conquered’ or something would make it more immediately clear. Third, you need a comma after “his lungs” to break the clause and make it flow correctly.


3:33:25

His chests rises and falls more painfully as his breathing is more and more like a struggle than a function.

 

^ I absolutely love the sentiment but it is a clunky sentence, let’s get rid of some un-needed words and adverbs. May I suggest? “His chest rises and falls, painfully, as his breathing becomes more like a struggle than a function.”

3:38:53

His hair falls onto his forehead in damp curls. He thinks he feels someone pushing it back. He thinks, more desperate than ever, that someone is gently hushing him like they would a feverish child, not a dying boy-soldier.


^ I am going to assume his hair was already limp, as it probably wasn’t gelled in the trench. So how about his hair sticks to his forehead?  The rest is heartbreaking.

3:38:46

“I’m sorry-” He whispered.

3:38:54

“-I didn’t mean to leave-”

3:39:03

“I don’t want to-” His voice breaks and he barely finishes at a whimper. “I don’t want to go!”

 

^this whole section feels off to me, mostly because this isn’t the kind of thing one actually says when dying or in a delirium. I understand he might mumble or moan or groan or ask for someone he knows by name, maybe call for help, but at this point if he’s dying of fever or tetanus, he’s probably to out of it to be this coherent or realize that he is even leaving someone behind, in this coherent a fashion. He might be thinking how he’ll never see so-and-so again or have a vague passing thought that he’s dying or someone won’t get by without him, but in a trench warfare situation, without more context, it’s hard to think someone in this state is reasonably going to assume responsibility for their own death, and speak so clearly about it.

I could see keeping the idea of trying to talk to someone though, trying to voice things, being confused, but it may end up unvoiced or disjointed when it actually leaves his mouth. Also, might do well to define his audience. Who is the message for?

3:39:34

He imagines someone thumbing away the tears that come anew as pain cuts its way through his ribs and now grips his heart. He doesn't, however, imagine the Nurse with icy eyes that melt for a moment on the almost-gone boy. She murmurs softly in her harsh language. He snaps up and grabs her wrist, his eyes seeing another. He doesn't see the nurse but another girl with icy eyes that only melt for him. He wants the girl now. Now, so he won’t go alone. But the Nurse gasps and flinches away, trying to pull her wrist sharply out of his vice-like grip. She wants to go, so he lets her go. He falls away again, limp as ever. The nurse strides away and loneliness mounts with every new swish of her skirts as she leaves him, down and down the row. She must have taken the image of the icy eyed girl with her, like memories are photographs that can be stolen, because he cannot picture her cold face after the nurse is gone in sound and in sight.  

 

^I think this needs serious trimming. There’s a lot of repeated phrases and things that don’t need to be there. I really like the idea, though, that the girl is standing over him and looks a touch sorrowful, despite only looking hardened. Part of the problem for me, though, is that a few lines take on an almost romantic tone which doesn’t seem appropriate considering he is horrible pain, desperate, and dying. Is there any way to distill this part to its base parts?

3:39:47

His fingers curl weakly, but there is no blanket for them to grip so they just furl into half fists. No one spares him even that much thought. Just another body in bloody olive to bury.


^great first and third line but I think the second needs to be changed, or it borders on angsty. Could it be maybe something like, “No one seems to notice, though.”

3:39:59

He stares at the swathe of canvas above his head. It is watermarked and filthy, so he strains his eyes on the curve of a stain and etches into his head.


^ it isn’t literally etching into his head. But it can be etching into his mind’s eye.

3:40:12

It ease the pain.

^ what eases the pain? I don’t understand this  line.

3:40:31

He can’t close his eyes. All he wants to do is close his eyes. But the water stain is the silhouette of a spinning woman's petal shaped skirts so he can’t close them. He can’t- He won’t.

3:40:33

He closes his eyes.


^this is weird in conjunction with the one above. Can you combine the two, saying that he doesn’t want to close his eyes but eventually they are too heavy and he has to?

3:40:34

He can feel a hollow in his chest throbbing. It blurs and softens the rest of the world as it sharpens and overwhelms everything else. It aches fiercely now that the agony in his flesh is fading with the last of whatever solid strength was left in him.


^ how is it aching fiercely if the agony in him is fading? Probably should be that it aches all the more fiercely as the last of his strength leaves him.

3:40:41

The throbbing hollow beats against his ribs like a prisoner throwing himself at iron bars. It keeps at it until it slows. Finally, the prisoner must be exhausted from hitting metal again and again because the prisoner falls and the iron bars never give.


^I would say hitting the bars, not hitting the metal, and then to keep from repetition, ‘the iron never gives.”


3:40:44

Private Jack Mercer’s heart laid still.


^ tense switch, keep it in present

3:40:52

And the gilded, glowing watch on his limp wrist ticked on.


^ last thing, is the watch gilt? If he is a private, he’s likely a drafted lower-class person. Still possible there was a gilt watch in the family that he wears, but as it never was brought up before, it seems like a strange detail instead of just saying ‘the watch’.  Plus, now that I read your completely awesome research (I never knew that!) if it was mostly a high priced officer thing to have radioactive watches that glowed in the dark, I would consider either making him a lieutenant, or just removing the glow part so it's a normal watch for a private to have. Secondly, I would keep it in present as well, I think it gives the ending more weight.

 

Ok, like I said, take this or leave it, I hope it is helpful. And honestly, if you do brush this up, I cannot wait to see it in second draft form. I think it has LOTS of potential and you really grabbed the emotional aspect to this theme; cleaning up words and phrases is absolutely the easiest part.

Reply
:iconviking-american:
Viking-American Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you so much for the Tolstoy of feedback. The sheer volume and depth of critique is stunning and I am going to utilize every word. Thanks so much. :)
Reply
:icondoughboycafe:
doughboycafe Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2014  Professional Writer
Please please let me know if and when you update it. I want to see the second draft, because I feel very attached to this piece.
Reply
:iconliliwrites:
LiliWrites Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Hi there! :wave:

This is a critique for winning doughboycafe's Historical Flash Fiction contest. :) My method with a critique is to start with a few areas I thought were strong as well as those I think could use some work, then write a line-by-line analysis showing how I might edit some areas, and then to wrap up with a review of the main issues and links to further reading. I hope that works well for you.

Keep in mind that a critique is subjective. You should use or discard this advice as you see fit. Disclaimer done! Let's dig in. 

Overview

I'll start by answering your questions:

1.) Does this piece evoke the time period? (late WW1, German prisoners hospital)

I read the artist comment before I read the piece itself, so I recognized your references. The use of catgut sutures would have been a give-away that this was pre-WWII, but other than that it felt very much like it could've been any war after the industrial revolution. 

2.) Does the formatting (especially the constant breaks with the time) add to the feel of the piece? 

I honestly didn't pay attention to the time breaks. They're an interesting device, but I just skipped them over because it didn't feel particularly important to know how many seconds were passing between little vignettes. Some other readers might feel that it added a sense of immediacy. I think that's entirely up to the personal taste of your readers, so I'd leave it as is. It doesn't distract from the reading.

3.) Does the piece flow correctly, even with all the breaks? 

Aside from a few places where you switched tenses (which I'll point out in the line-by-line), I felt that the piece had great flow. I loved the brief detail about the german nurse. It really brought home the reality that so many of those men's deaths were unwitnessed. 

4.) Does Jack feel like a real person to you? 

His situation feels real. Since all I get to see is Jack dying, I can't say he felt like a person. There's no back story, no characterization. He's a body experiencing a painful, lonely death. And for what this piece seems to be trying to accomplish, I think that works well. 

A couple other points:

:bulletblue: I thought you did a really marvelous job of making it feel like Jack was confused and alone. However, I would have really loved a bit more sensory detail. He's dying, and that should be the forefront of the story, but he can still smell, see, hear, and taste. Giving us a few of those details can really help make this feel like a more personal, immediate story. For example, maybe he tastes bile in the back of his throat, or blood and salt on his lips or perhaps he can smell rotting flesh from a neighboring cot, or the scent of antiseptics, or perhaps opium - if that was still used, I'm not sure about that detail.
:bulletblue: I think your piece would benefit from breaking up some of the longer sentences into shorter, punchier ones. This will help create a more confused, urgent pacing to the reading as well. More in the line-by-line.

Line-by-Line

3:24:34

An orderly finishes looping thread through flesh.

3:25:17

He goes about his business with a sigh and ties a futile knot.  [Love the foreshadowing by using "futile" here.]

3:26:27

Once he’s tied the catgut sutures and wrapped the paper crepe bandages, the orderly moves onto the next man because the next man had [first instance of tense-switching. That should be "has".] a chance to keep breathing.

3:26:54

They take the bedding from the cot because there are men with a chance to keep warm and alive. [This sentence threw me off. We were following a single orderly, so who is "they"?] A nurse in a grey uniform that might have once been white almost leaves the sheet underneath him [him? Jack?] because a dead man should at least have a burial shroud. But in the end she takes it anyway. It is needed for the living. [I'd revise here to "In the end she takes it anyway." and remove the last sentence entirely. Sometimes not saying something has a greater impact than spelling it out for the reader.]

3:28:43

His face [takes] on the waxen quality that almost-exsanguination [brings]. [I just don't like this sentence at all. The medical term feels like you're trying too hard, and you make the non-medical-educated reader have to pause to look a term up as well. It works just as well to say something like: "His skin takes on a waxy quality as the blood seeps from his wounds."]

3:29:11

His temperature [rises]. Its been days since he’d been [was] fished from a taken trench, but there are no anti-tetanus shots for a boy-prisoner with flak in his lungs. They are leaky, so liquid filled them, nice and slow. [This sentence doesn't make a lot of sense. The lungs are leaky? Liquid usually leaves leaky things.] There is no healing from this. There is no point in propping up a man already lying limp in his grave. [Good evocation of emotion.]

3:33:47

Fever blooms across sharp, delicate cheekbones in high ruddy spots. [Excellent description!]

3:33:25

His breathing became less like a function and more like a struggle. [I like this concept, but the wording isn't punchy enough. Maybe something more like: "Each breath is more struggle than function."]

3:38:53

His hair falls onto his forehead in damp curls and he thinks he feels someone pushing it back and hushing him. [Here is where you use a very long sentence that could be more impactful broken up. Maybe something like: "His hair falls onto his forehead in damp curls. He thinks he feels someone push it back while hushing him."]

3:38:46

“I’m sorry-” He whispered.

3:38:54

“-I didn’t mean to leave-”

3:39:03

“I don’t want to go!” His voice breaks into something like a whimper.

3:39:16

He imagines someone stroking his face and of another’s [that reads awkwardly] tears dripping onto his hot, cracked skin. He imagines someone is with him and that he’s not fading fast and fading alone. He imagines he is more than a battle stained husk of a human being. He imagines someone holding his stiff fingers in their cool hands. But there is no one. He is alone save for the man hacking in the bed beside his. [Very powerful introspective look at this character, and way to drive home the desperate loneliness of the situation. I would use that opportunity to describe what the hacking sounded like though.]


3:39:34

He imagines someone thumbing away the tears that are coming [come] anew because [as] pain has cut[s] its way through his ribs and is now gripping [grips] his heart. He doesn’t, however, imagine the nurse with icy eyes that melt for a moment on the almost gone boy. She murmurs softly in her harsh language. He snaps up and grabs her wrist, his eyes seeing another. She gasps and flinches away so he lets go and falls away again, limp as ever. [I think a little more insight into why Jack grabs the nurse is needed. Does he want to talk to her? Is he just desperate to touch someone real? Does he think she is an enemy? There's not enough to help us see what is really going on between these two.]  The nurse’s kindness disappears then, as she is walking down the row and he is alone again. [This sentence is awkwardly worded. Maybe something a bit more like: "She moves down the row, taking her momentary kindness with her. He is alone again."]

3:39:47

His fingers curl weakly, but there is no blanket for them to grip so they just furl into half fists. No one will spare[s] him even that much thought. Just another body in bloody olive to bury. [Good!]

3:39:59

He stare[s] at the swathe of canvas above his head. It [is] watermarked and filthy, so he strain[s] his eyes on the curve of a stain and etch[es] it into his head.

3:40:12

It ease[s] the pain.

3:40:31

He can’t close his eyes. All he wants to do is close his eyes. But the water stain is like [that works better as a straight metaphor] the silhouette of a spinning woman's petal shaped skirts so he can’t close them. He can’t- He won’t.

3:40:33

He closes his eyes.

3:40:34

He can feel the hollow in his chest throbbing. It aches fiercely now that the gaping agony ["gaping" feels like overkill here, in my opinion] in his flesh is fading with the last of whatever solid strength was left in him.

3:40:41

The throbbing hollow beats against his ribs like a prisoner throwing himself at iron bars and it keeps at it until it slows and the prisoner must be exhausted because his heart shudders just once and the iron bars never give. [Run-on sentence. It may be more effective broken up, something like this maybe: "The throbbing hollow beats against his ribs like a prisoner throwing himself against iron bars. He keeps at it until exhaustion consumes him, but the bars never give." I'd stick with your simile here, rather than returning to the actual heart stopping. It is less wordy and more impactful, in my opinion.]

3:40:44

Private Jack Mercer’s heart laid still.

3:40:52

And the gilded, glowing watch on his limp wrist ticked on. [Powerful close.]

Wrap-Up

:bulletpurple: Keep an eye on your sentence length and variations. You use a lot of conjuntions in places where you'd create better pacing and narrative by just breaking it up into multiple sentences.
:bulletpurple: Look for ways to bring in more sensory detail.
:bulletpurple: It is a good idea to clarify when we are switching toward Jack's perspective toward the beginning. It was a bit confusing until about the 3:28:43 time marker. 
:bulletpurple: Sometimes you over-use similes. :P Common problem with rough drafts. Just remember that sometimes a metaphor is just as powerful. And sometimes you don't need either one. 

Further reading:

:pointr: How to Improve Your Writing Style by illuminara 
:pointr: Writing Description by OokamiKasumi 
:pointr: Writer's Tip: Writing Effective Sentences by DarlingMionette 

Good luck with any revisions. Let me know if you have any questions about anything in here. I'll try to clarify.

:heart: Lili
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Carmalain7 Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014
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