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xvszero
March 26th, 2007, 11:36 PM
(The formatting got all messed up and I don't know how to fix it, but whatever...)

A young boy sits in a dandelion-scattered field in summertime, holding countless threads in his hands. Outward they expand, in tens and hundreds, creeping and crawling in every direction around him, some entwined into rope as thick as his nervous little fingers, and they sparkle with a golden glow in the afternoon sun. Across the field, lying in each other’s arms, a young couple is lost in a place that only lovers know, oblivious to the world around them.

The boy stares at the threads in his hands in contemplation, then moves to entwine two more of them; but a third is caught and a knot forms, which only tightens the more when he attempts to undo it. Subsequent moves end in more knots, and finally he throws the entire work down in frustration.

He turns to his father behind him, biting his lip, a tear coalescing in the corner of his eye. “It’s ruined!” the boy cries, as tears begin to stream down his face.

“Now, now,” his father says, moving closer to the boy and gently picking up the threads. They glow translucent in his aging hands, and he begins to twist this way and that.

“I just can’t do it,” the boy sobs. “I’m not any good!”

“Neither was I, at your age,” the father says, continuing to work the knots. “It’s a tricky business, to be sure. We all made mistakes. I, your grandfather, your great-grandfather…” He trails off, concentrating on the threads.

“Really?” the boy asks in a softer tone, rubbing his hands against his reddening eyes.

“Of course. You’re doing fine,” his father says. He makes a few more movements with the threads, then pauses. “But I think this is about as good as we’re going to get it today,” he says as he hands the threads back to the boy. The boy looks down; most of the knots are cleared, but the original remains, thick and ugly in his hands. He begins to tear up again.

“Son?”

“Yes dad?”

“You did great. Really. Much better than my first time. Mine was so full of knots it nearly gave old gramps a heart attack trying to get them undone.” He laughs out loud, and the boy is infected, smiling through his tears.
“Are you ready to tie it off?” his father asks.

“I guess so.”

“Remember, all of the threads in one—“

“I know, I know,” the boy replies, and begins to twist.

The father smiles and places his hand on his son’s shoulder, gently squeezing. In the hazy distance the couple still lies, now staring into each other’s eyes, pondering the depths of the soul. The sun is lower now, and the shadow of the great oak stretches out across the field, covering all its path in darkness except for the strands of golden yellow that spread out from the boy.

“There,” says the boy, and drops the thick knot into the grass. It sits for a moment, burning bright, then softly fades into nothingness. The threads, a thousand creeping arms expanding from the center, burn away like wicks in every direction until they too are gone. The father and son sit in silence, watching the couple in the distance until the sun sinks to the horizon and the first stars begin to spark across the dark blue sky.

“Do you think they will be alright?” the son finally asks.

“Sure they will,” the father replies, patting his son on the back. “Sure they will. Now let’s get home, mom is waiting for us.”

“Ok dad. Race you home!”

In a flash they are gone, and not even footsteps remain.

*****************

The couple has moved to the bench now, where the man sits nervously fingering a small box in his pocket. The sky is clear and the stars are burning bright, constellations beaming across the heavens. A cool wind blows across the field, and the woman pulls herself closer to him. She turns and kisses him softly on the lips, then pulls back and smiles, her eyes begging. Yes, he thinks, she knows. Of course she knows, women can tell. And she wants this, and I want this, so why not? Why not tonight? Why not now? He fingers the box one more time, hesitates, then sighs and pulls his hand away. His lips cannot form the words, and he doesn’t know why. Perhaps tomorrow, he thinks to himself, yes, tomorrow for certain.

He turns and stares into the night.

SFizzle
March 26th, 2007, 11:45 PM
Not bad, I found it very easy to read. It reminded me a lot of Elizabeth Hayden. There are a few clunky spots, but I'm not sure how I would iron them out. You do use a few cliches I might want to normally avoid.

The present tense takes some getting used to.

AgentRustyBones
March 27th, 2007, 07:18 PM
I don't like the tense you've used here. It makes the story come across as way too passive to keep my interest.

There are certainly some clunky spots as well.

This appears to be too small of a sample with too little information given as to the intended genre, the length of the story, the point at which we are entering (is this in the middle or at the beginning?) for me to comment on how well it works in the larger picture.

If this is the very beginning of something, the strand thing has promise, but the couple is just distracting...unless there is far more importance on them being there that we aren't seeing in this small slice.

Doug
aka Agent Rusty Bones

James Carmack
March 27th, 2007, 08:38 PM
I agree with Rusty about the selection being too short. If this is simply meant as a samle of your writing (style, construction, etc), then I have to say that you're doing pretty well for yourself. However, as a glimpse into your story, we're left sorely wanting.

If the couple is central, then they're not nearly prominent enough. If they're meant as a frame for various vignettes, then they're actually more of a distraction than anything else. The big question is this: Who's story is it?

Next, more out of curiosity, is this part of a short story or a novel? I ask because the length of the work plays a major factor in the pace. I'm operating under the assumption that there's a connection that binds the couple, the father and son, and the man with the box. If so, these threads will come together to unify the plot. The selection is far too short to tell what your intentions are, so I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt for now. However, if you're wanting a holistic evaluation, I need more to go on.

xvszero
March 27th, 2007, 10:13 PM
The story is pretty much just a standalone short story.

The couple is very important. I thought that would be obvious! See, the father and child are manifestations of fate. The child is practicing... on the couple's fate. He gets it *almost* right but not quite... hence the inability of the man to actually propose to the woman even though all the pieces for the proposal seem in place...

I could ruin it and follow up on the couple but I think it is more interesting as it is. Who knows what will happen in the future? Unpredictable.

Jacquin
March 28th, 2007, 04:41 PM
I like it. I like present tense, I prefer first person present to third but it gives it a slightly distant feel that I assume is your aim. On first read I assumed that this was the prologue to a longer work and that the details about the father and son would become clear later on. As a standalone I don't know if the facts of the situation are clear enough. Anyway now onto the specifics... As usual I think it would benefit from a thorough trim.



A young boy sits in a dandelion-scattered field in summertime, holding countless threads in his hands.A nice image, but I think telling us it is summer is a little redundant. Is it relevant? I guessed the weather was good form the fact that he was outdoors and I got the rough time of year from the dandelions


Outward they expand, in tens and hundreds, creeping and crawling in every direction around him, some entwined into rope as thick as his nervous little fingers, and they sparkle with a golden glow in the afternoon sun.

This comes across a little too passive for me. Also you have already described the threads as countless, you don't have to say that again. I also dislike the "and" you dropped in there. Try something like this.


Outward they expand, creeping and crawling in every direction around him, they sparkle with a golden glow in the afternoon sun.


Across the field, lying in each other’s arms, a young couple is lost in a place that only lovers know, oblivious to the world around them.

Before reading your latest post I'd have said cut this, it isn't enough to give the situation away, but it is enough to appear to be useless detail.


The boy stares at the threads in his hands in contemplation, then moves to entwine two more of them; but a third is caught and a knot forms, which only tightens the more when he attempts to undo it. Subsequent moves end in more knots, and finally he throws the entire work down in frustration.

He turns to his father behind him, biting his lip, a tear coalescing in the corner of his eye. “It’s ruined!” the boy cries, as tears begin to stream down his face.

I like this, could loose a word here and there but a nice picture all the same.


“Now, now,” his father says, moving closer to the boy and gently picking up the threads. They glow translucent in his aging hands, and he begins to twist this way and that. HE begins to twist? I don;t think you mean that...


“I just can’t do it,” the boy sobs. “I’m not any good!”

“Neither was I, at your age,” the father says, continuing to work the knots. “It’s a tricky business, to be sure. We all made mistakes. I, your grandfather, your great-grandfather…” He trails off, concentrating on the threads.

I still like this, it is intriguing. Certainly made me want to read on. I don't even think I'd take anything out of this bit! :)


“Really?” the boy asks in a softer tone, rubbing his hands against his reddening eyes.

This on the other hand I would. Lose "in a softer tone" we get that he has stopped crying form the description


“Of course. You’re doing fine,” his father says. He makes a few more movements with the threads, then pauses. “But I think this is about as good as we’re going to get it today,” he says as he hands the threads back to the boy. The boy looks down; most of the knots are cleared, but the original remains, thick and ugly in his hands. He begins to tear up again.

Lose the second "he says". ALso I'm not sure I like the phrase "tear up again". In the context of someone playing with threads could that be tear as in torn not tear as in cry?


“Son?”

“Yes dad?”

I think I'd lose these lines. They don't really add anything and the speaker is clear from the context of the next line.


“You did great. Really. Much better than my first time. Mine was so full of knots it nearly gave old gramps a heart attack trying to get them undone.” He laughs out loud, and the boy is infected, smiling through his tears.
“Are you ready to tie it off?” his father asks.

This seems much more conversational and american in feel whereas the start was more formal and lacking in a specific location. I preferred it before to be honest, but I am English...


“I guess so.”

“Remember, all of the threads in one—“

“I know, I know,” the boy replies, and begins to twist.

Nice.


The father smiles and places his hand on his son’s shoulder, gently squeezing. In the hazy distance the couple still lies, now staring into each other’s eyes, pondering the depths of the soul.

Gently squeezing is redundant, the metal picture works just as well without. The couple are two people right? If so then they lie, if they are a single entity then it lies. I don't think I want to know what they are thinking, it spoils it as it makes my interpretation of the picture less accurate and it isn't necessary.


The sun is lower now, and the shadow of the great oak stretches out across the field, covering all its path in darkness except for the strands of golden yellow that spread out from the boy.

The great oak? What great oak?


“There,” says the boy, and drops the thick knot into the grass. It sits for a moment, burning bright, then softly fades into nothingness. The threads, a thousand creeping arms expanding from the center, burn away like wicks in every direction until they too are gone. The father and son sit in silence, watching the couple in the distance until the sun sinks to the horizon and the first stars begin to spark across the dark blue sky.

Again, I like the imagary, could be trimmed but not a big problem either way.


“Do you think they will be alright?” the son finally asks.

“Sure they will,” the father replies, patting his son on the back. “Sure they will. Now let’s get home, mom is waiting for us.”

“Ok dad. Race you home!”

In a flash they are gone, and not even footsteps remain.


Oooh, I like the vanishing act, until now we knew things were a bit odd but that works well.

*****************


The couple has moved to the bench now,
Has/Have. I'd go with have but that si because I see a couple as two people.


where the man sits nervously fingering a small box in his pocket. The sky is clear and the stars are burning bright, constellations beaming across the heavens. A cool wind blows across the field, and the woman pulls herself closer to him.
Surely she pulls him to her? Nice imagary again though.



She turns and kisses him softly on the lips, then pulls back and smiles, her eyes begging. Yes, he thinks, she knows. Of course she knows, women can tell. And she wants this, and I want this, so why not? Why not tonight? Why not now? He fingers the box one more time, hesitates, then sighs and pulls his hand away. His lips cannot form the words, and he doesn’t know why. Perhaps tomorrow, he thinks to himself, yes, tomorrow for certain.

He turns and stares into the night.

On a second more detailed reading I get the link between the young fate and the couple, but I really didn't the first time round. It could be I'm just a bit thick, but I had a story rejected which was about a luddite gremlin who hated modern trains and cars because the reader thought it was just about a lover of steam trains. He missed what I thought was an obvious giveaway so it can happen. You have talent, go write more!

J