I wrote a short story. One recurring critique is that the flashbacks don't feel like flashbacks, so the readers get confused. The story is about a man who hears a piano next door. Nothing unusual—except the room hasn't been unoccupied since he moved in. The story alternates between present, past, present, past (this is another cause of the confusion). Here are two examples:
However, just as he closed his eyes, the song returned. Noticeably louder this time. But because of his exhaustion, he didn't do anything; he just lay there, letting the tune sink into his consciousness, mix with the dream that was about to come. And peacefully like that, he fell asleep.
* * *
Pianos always brought Ming bad memories. They reminded him of Ai-Ling, his deceased girlfriend. He met her three years ago in a musical instrument store (while searching new strings for his guitar). Usually, it didn't take him long. But that day something caught his attention.
"So, have you heard the piano?" Ming sat up and refilled his glass of wine. They alway drank wine after having sex.
Li-Mei shook her head. "But I think you can show me."
"Sure you want?"
"If I want to listen to a piano play in an empty room? Hell yeah!"
"All right, I'll show you tonight."
* * *
From that afternoon in the cafe, Ming and Ai-Ling became a couple. It happened naturally. As if they’d been connected since the day they were born. Plus they both had passion for music, so, though their tastes differed (Ming liked punk rock and Ai-Ling classical), they never ran out of topic to talk about. Their contrasting preferences balanced each other in a fine, delicate way.
Is that the case? If so, how can I fix it?
(someone suggested adding
hads in the flashbacks. Like,
Pianos had always brought Ming bad memories. Is that the best solution?)