Observations: I had mixed feelings about this story and a lot of circled things I wanted to talk about. I'll just cover them, point by point.
1. I was a little confused at the beginning of the story. At first Noelle seems excited about the costume. It seemed like it was her idea to dress so crazily.
"Are you really going to wear that?" My best friend Kim arches an eyebrow as she nods at the outfit in my hands.
"Why not? 'Tis the season to be jolly," I say, heading for the dressing room.
So, Noelle seems fine with the costume. Then...
When I emerge decked in the green velour vest and matching shorts, Kim can't contain her amusement. "Those red and white striped tights and pointy-toed slippers really complete the ensemble. Now I'm doubly glad you volunteered to take our shop's shift at the mall's gift wrapping booth."
"If I'd known about this costume beforehand, I might not have," I say.
See what I mean? Now it seems as if she was reluctant, after the fact. Also, that is a bit of a clunky expository-heavy statement that sounds distinctly, "as you know, Bob..." For you newer writers, I'm talking about having a character say something that is unnecessary because the character they're talking to already knows this. It would seem much more natural for Kim to have said, "Now I'm doubly glad you volunteered."
2. I think the word "fell" should have had quotes around it. That would have made it clear there was a double meaning.
You could say I fell for him.
3. I found it doubtful that they had a wooden ladder. If it was a grandma's ladder or an old ladder someone found in the basement, then maybe. I think they're all made of metal these days.
4. The first time kissing balls are mentioned, it's in quotation marks. That made sense to me. I've never heard of kissing balls. When I see mistletoe, it's little beribboned sprigs. Is this term/item common enough so that later in the story when Tyler talks about it, he calls it a kissing ball? Has everyone heard of these but me?
5. The fall... Hm. I accepted that he was in the right place at the right time. I accepted that he was strong enough to catch her. What I couldn't accept was that after she fell and was caught, she "was still holding up the kissing ball." This stretched reality a little too far for me.
6. I didn't see Tyler's standing her up coming, so that was a nice little plot twist. It's hard to surprise me.
7. I felt there should have been a tiny bit of inner dialogue here:
And when he invited me to meet him for coffee at the end of my shift, it was like something straight out of a fairytale...until my "prince" didn't show
Dragging my focus back to Kim's comment, I say, "He stood me up, Kim. Obviously, he had second thoughts."
"There may be a good reason he couldn't make it," she ventured.
I roll my eyes, then I smile. "You're such a romantic."
(The missing period was in the magazine.) I felt we should have gotten maybe one sentence about how Noelle felt about this after that "prince" line, but instead we go right back to the present. Then, I would have expected Noelle to be upset, insulted, irritated...something. Unless she has amazing self-esteem, being stood-up isn't something most of us would take on the chin so cheerfully. I say cheerfully because she smiles at Kim.
8. Later, when she sees Tyler in line, her heart gives a little leap. Again, I shake my head a little. This is not the reaction I would expect from a woman who was stood up with no explanation or even a phone call. At the very least, I'd expect her to feel mixed up. She can still be attracted to him, but be miffed about being stood up.
9. My brother never gave me jewelry for Christmas. I'm just sayin'...
10. Okay, Tyler had a great excuse, but he could have called the shop. If I ever stood someone up, I'd be obsessed over making sure they knew I didn't do it on purpose.
11. I thought the black moment (Noelle asks if the gift is for Elle, who signed his cast with a heart, and he nods) was great. (I might have picked a name that wasn't so similar to the heroine's.)
So, yeah. I enjoyed the story and some of this is nit-picky, but this blog is about what I think of the stories. I encourage you to agree or disagree in the comments. :)