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Eri knelt down slowly and thought about her world. The one with the solid ground in which she had stood all her life. Would that surface break apart one day? And when it did, what would happen to her? Perhaps she would end up floating aimlessly in a vast nothingness. Her feet never touching the ground again. Her hands never finding anything to hold onto.

I've been trying to edit this for about an hour. It's like a chess dilemma I created myself. I can't replace ground with surface because I'm already using it in the next sentence. And it seems like feet never touching the ground is the most natural way of saying it. I think feet touching the soil and feet touching the land sound strange.

Does anyone have a simple, effective way to solve this?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

"touching the earth." A native speaker would use that phrasing. "Earth" in this context has the double meaning of literal soil and "the earth," the planet.

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Thanks! I think this is what I was looking for. I think it works perfectly well, since "Earth" and "earthquake" are recurring motifs in the story. – Alexandro Chen Oct 14 '13 at 14:58
Exactly; I was thinking the same thing -- she's all shook up because of the earthquake, so "earth" is going to be on her mind. – Lauren Ipsum Oct 14 '13 at 15:11

One simple, effective way to solve it: Stop editing. It's fine.

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OK I'll try. Not sure whether I will succeed, though. – Alexandro Chen Oct 14 '13 at 9:36
Agreed. The secound ground is far enough away to not jar, and its use makes it seem almost like a name of a loved one; something they miss, recalling it twice only strengthens that image. I actually really like it. – CLockeWork Oct 14 '13 at 11:00

Replace the the.

That ground.
Any ground.
That or any other ground.

That way this is no longer a repetition, but a back-reference.

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