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Sorry, but this one just doesn't work for me. I don't get a good sense of Loti's feelings for that picture and note. I know she hangs it wherever she goes and it made her shed a tear once, but I don't FEEL the connection. I think it's because I don't know Lori too well. All we really see of her is in an office or wherever, but I can't get a handle on her character, who she is and what she's all about.
The same goes for Billy.
Are we to assume that Lori called Billy before she came over? I don't recall a mention of it, and I find it hard to believe that Lori just shows up like that, takes out some presents and gets invited in.
Given your other Christmas stories which I enjoyed a lot, this one misses the mark.
I liked this one. Something kind of sad about the whole thing. The grown Billy versus the happy child full of potential. Lori coming face to face with reality after so many years idealizing the photograph.
But I agree that Lori should have a greater connection with the photo.
I'd consider opening with a scene of her in a training camp. Maybe she's in the muck doing push-ups and a drill instructor's shouting at her to quit (in less nice terms). Then, next scene she's curled up in her bunk looking broken like she might actually quit just as the letter arrives. Maybe you could even establish she's a bit of a loner/outcast in her unit.
Or, have her be in the Army. There'd be a scene where she's huddled in a foxhole somewhere with sounds of explosions around her and she's clutching the photo tight to her chest, praying. Thus showing the line you use later "It always brought me luck". It could, in her mind, actually have saved her life.
As always well written, but it fell flat for me. I didn't feel any emotion. When she threw the photo and note out the window it felt like she had given up too quickly, especially since this boys words had such an impact on her life. Its as though she didnt have as strong a connection to him as expected. If she had pulled over and held the photo in one hand and the note in the other and broke down in a major crying fit, crushing the note in her hand I would have then felt her pain. This boy that had kept her going all these years, this need for her to hang onto it is the key to the story. Maybe you could elaborate on this. Give us a more deep understanding of her loneliness and why this boys photo and words mean so much to her....
okay I might be talking out of a hole in my butt, BUT, this could be a really good tear jerker drama, if you get us into their motivations and emotions...maybe the boy could have a connection to her in some way...that he really wanted to become a pilot, but because of his enviroment it was impossible.....
Theres a good story here it just needs that emotional depth, to get the audiences tears flowing...