If Hana Larkhill had her way, her father’s body would be in a sailboat, rope and a flute in his hands, and she would watch him embark one last time toward the unknown at the eternal curve of the earth. [Wow, holy long first sentence… Sugg: cutting it into two?] Instead James Larkhill lay in a sterile metal box at Faraday’s Funeral Home. Someone who did it for a living had caked his face with makeup. [This sentence read awkwardly to me. While it makes sense, it doesn’t flow well as well as it could into the next line. Sugg: combining this with next sentence and determining what is really important to keep.] His delicate freckles were powdered out of existence. An old blue suit bound his body; even the strawberry gold of his curls had faded.
Hana’s mother, Noa Larkhill, hasn’t fought these depressing conventions. But she had insisted on an open casket. James’ [OK, so should this be “James’s?” I’ve seen it both ways showing ownership, but I believe it should be ‘s for singular and s’ for plurals] face and shoulders were in tact and the suit covered his abdomen. But Hana felt the looming specter [while I really like “looming specter,” it makes sentence read a little flower, imo] of his ruined lower body, smashed into irreparable pieces by an anonymous fender. [great visual in this sentence!]
Faraday’s was cold, clean and modern—everything was black or stainless steel. Everything had razor-sharp edges. It was the kind of place that gave Hana the feeling she was being blown through by unseen drafts [LOVE this! Spooky J]. She longed for home. For his family, James had provided [This phrasing takes me out of the moment. If Hana is the narrator, why doesn’t she just talk about the house? All the details given afterwards I really like, but this beginning is distracting. Not sure if this is supposed to be 3rd party omniscient?] a house with a door that shrunk up in the winter and bloated until it wedged in the door frame in the summer, a house with stairs that had predictable creaks and groans, a house that moved around them like a familiar friend.
James’ death three days earlier had crushed Hana underneath deep, prolonged silence. Her mother, whose loudest expression to this point had always been in the strength of her brush strokes on canvas, rocked and wailed.[I’m totally confused by this line. How did her dad’s death crush her under deep silence if her mother was wailing? Was Hana the one completely silent? Or the atmosphere? Does that make sense?] Hana felt like a ghost, alone and unseen [really like this, visual and descriptive! Nice!!], holding her mother’s tiny shaking limbs [is she holding just her mother’s limbs or her mother’s whole body? Sometimes phrasing can be taken too literally and then it just sounds weird. Just saying.] in a room full of people that, at least today, felt like strangers.
Firstly, thanks so much for sharing your work with us, Sarah! I hope you find my feedback useful. Overall, I really like where the story’s going and am definitely interested in the spooky elements that are so clearly hinting at what’s to come! Great job!