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Old 01-12-2005, 05:31 AM   #1 (permalink)
A couple of my short stories

I used to write stories all the time a few years ago. I must have written about fifty. Then my dad deleted them from my hard-drive to make space.

I've only just started writing them again. And I figure I'll be writing a few more soon enough; next year I'm doing a degree in creative writing.

I've written these two; a very short story and a fairly short story. And I've just started on a much longer one, but for now any thoughts on these would be greatly appreciated.


The woods stood staring across at our house when I was very young. The trees were silent and shapeless when I sat at my window at night, watching them desolate and crazed on their lonely hill. The trees were there when I woke up, still wrapped in the mist of last night’s revelries. I thought they could swallow me whole.
I was watching a programme about witches when the woods were cut in half.
The fire burnt to the ground a clean strip of silent trees from one side of the woods to the other as if God’s own combine harvester had rolled over them.
The witches were clawing at each other’s eyes.
The fire burned its way up the hill, stopping where the new edges remained the next day. It died out at the peak of its endeavour.
The witches were running naked in the treetops.
Every night and morning after that I could still feel the hole in the woods when I closed my curtains.
I smelt rain in the air when I found myself in the great expanse of burnt grass that held the woods apart. I thought the ground was still hot and screaming under my feet.
I never reached the top of the hill. I stopped at a place where I could look in my window a lifetime away and waited for rain. When it came, so did the man whose haunts still resound in me.
They were his woods. His trees and earth. His home. Aching and swelling around him, lost in the measure of some unheard heartbeat.
He was following the sound of the rain, close to the ground as if he could feel his way along it. He crossed the naked expanse as if it was a change in him. I thought I knew how he felt.
The next time I saw the man I was asleep and he was still following the rain through the earth, towards place that never changed their pace. Wind buffeted his hair and form but the branches stretched to let him pass. He could taste the rain by now. Always following a storm that never came. By night crouching in the bracken and watching the night move. Sleeping where the wind wasn’t so biting.
When it rains I see him, the man with his indistinct face and low stride. And when I smell fire I see the witches, skulking through the treetops, coming silent from the woods to burn everything to the ground like the last days of the world.

"A Game of Tennis"

The sun shone when he arrived at the tennis courts but he thought he smelled rain. He always thought he smelt rain.
He didn’t remember ever having played tennis before and the racquet burned like a secret in his fist.
The birds were singing but he only heard the Astroturf.
Everything felt like a dream.
“Everything feels like a dream.” He said to the man with the heavy brow and shrivelled lips standing in the wooden booth near the entrance. The man reached beneath his counter and produced a dull bucket of tennis balls.
“Thank you.” He said, and taking the bucket, dropped it to the ground unable to hold its weight. The bucket tipped over to spill its contents onto the still Astroturf: a parade of round dull rocks.
The man with the heavy brow and shrivelled lips just stared.
He fell to his knees, suddenly aware of the naked sun and wall of birdsong. He clutched frozen, stiff fingers at the unmoving rocks, but he couldn’t quite touch them. He knew they would never get back in the bucket if he didn’t touch them but still he couldn’t.
“Pick those fucking rocks up, right now.” Said the man in the booth above him.
“I’m trying to,” he said, “but my fingers won’t move.”
The man burst out of the door to his booth. “I’m fetching the manager.” He said and was gone.
And his fingers were no longer frozen. In a daze he grasped each rock, feeling its warmth and weight, and dropped it with a final thud into the depths of the bucket.
“Ah! You made it!”
He looked up and the manager, slack hair greased to his pencil moustache, was bounding towards him, arms stretched out and wrapped around something unseen.
The manager wore a suit that seemed to be holding his insides in place.
He glanced at his bucket of rocks, small with embarrassment. The manager pretended not to notice.
“Everybody’s ready. The courts are set up and waiting. What a glorious day!”
He watched the manager bound off, the surly booth operator in tow. He thought he smelled rain.
“Well rocks,” he addressed his bucket of rocks, “everybody’s ready.”
Everybody was ready when, face red with effort, he dragged his rocks the last metre to the three courts where the manager, the booth operator and three others stood watching him. He stood up straight and tried to nod at them but could only smile. Nobody smiled back.
“Well,” said the manager, “it seems we’re all here.” His face darkened and he leant in to the booth operator’s ear and whispered something. The booth operator scowled and stumbled over and picked up the bucket of rocks. He looked into the bucket and grinned and whispered, “Your bucket’s full of rocks.” And turned and stumbled back and dropped the bucket heavily to the ground by the furthest court.
Everybody was watching him. He didn’t remember ever having played tennis before.
“Well, come on old bean. We’re all waiting for you.” Said the manager.
He walked awkwardly to the furthest court. One side was his. The other belonged to the booth operator. The middle court was occupied by the manager, facing him, and one of the other three people. The last two of these shared the third court in solemn silence.
“Anyone for tennis?!” screamed the manager and fell to the Astroturf heaving and crying with laughter. He pulled his knees to his chest, rocking back and forth, squeezing tears from his crinkled eyes. The laughter stopped and he shook with quiet mirth, eyes still tightly shut.
While everyone was watching the manager, he was staring at the blue sky, daring the rainclouds out of hiding. He stopped when he felt the booth operator’s eyes heavy upon him.
The manager had stood up and was watching him aswell. He looked around and everyone was watching him. He looked down at his bucket of rocks and swallowed hard, everywhere stinging with sweat.
He picked out a rock and felt its warmth and weight. He unclenched his other fist and saw his racquet was gone.
“I…,” he swallowed again, “I don’t know where my racquet is.”
The manager sniggered. Everyone began to snigger except for the booth operator who simply stared.
The sniggering turned to laughter and he turned away. All around him were hills stretching miles into the distance. Across the hills grew trees, spawning up out of the ground in thick dark clumps, swallowing up whole tracts of land. Getting closer.
Swallow me up, trees.
The laughter had stopped and the birds weren’t singing anymore. The manager’s mouth hung open and howled in its silence.
Something seethed up inside of him. His lip shook then was still again.
“I can’t play tennis unless I have a racquet.” He said, someone else’s defiance creeping into his voice.
The manager’s eyes went dark but his mouth still smiled. “Somebody give him your racquet.”
Nobody moved for a long time. Finally, someone from the furthest court appeared at his side and slipped their racquet into his hand. He didn’t look at their face. His rocks trembled and rattled in their bucket.
“Shall we play, then?” Said the manager, the smile still gone from his eyes. “It’s a glorious day for tennis.”
“I smell rain.” He said but he couldn’t hold the manager’s eye.
The booth operator showed him how to play tennis. The ball passed to his left along the row of courts with every point gained. He felt that this wasn’t how one played tennis.
As the ball crept between the courts he forgot about his bucket full of rocks. The sun ached and slid greasily down the sky.
The ball thudded knowingly into his chest and lay still at his feet.
His legs had roots in the Astroturf. He didn’t know what to do. He looked at the booth operator but he just turned away. He picked up the ball.
“Whom do I give this to?” he said into the silence.
The manager stared for a moment. His eyes bulged.
“Whom?!” he clutched his knees and grinned incredulously around the silent group. “Who says whom nowadays?!”
The laughter followed him into the hills. Into the trees. Shimmering and shining. Bouncing between the trunks.
He stood on the Astroturf and watched the hills, sad all over.
Swallow me up, trees.
TheWalkinDude is offline  
Old 01-13-2005, 07:27 PM   #2 (permalink)
Really interesting - very dreamlike on both. I'm some what torn because of that. I like the someone discontinuous, internal feel to the stories. They seem to play with rhythm and don't necessarily stick to a continuous chain, which I like.

I like the "unsettling" flow to the paragraphs. I don't feel that much I read disrupts me internally, or "gets" to me. This does, and I like it. I think it furthers the unsettling feelings the characters are experiencing. I have some trouble with the way some of the sentances are constructed. Its hard to say what exactly I mean. The best example I can come up with is the first sentance:

"The woods stood staring across at our house when I was very young."

The last bit - "when I was very young" - just doesn't seem to fit quite right, and I think that bit somehow conflicts with the "unsettling flow" that I do like!

Not sure if this makes sense at all, or if it even has merit. I'm a computer programmer! :-) Btw - I'm sorry you lost all your old work!

Last edited by ergdork; 01-13-2005 at 07:31 PM.. Reason: Just clarifying a sentance
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Old 01-16-2005, 07:16 AM   #3 (permalink)
Thanks for the input.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to improve them? I'm always open to suggestions
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Old 01-16-2005, 11:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
amonkie's Avatar
Location: Windy City
I love rain, and your use of that in both really caught my attention In the first one, I love the imagery that you use to develop the man - I'd love to see more of that idea expounded. The vagueness is almost too much to the point that it doesn't keep your interest without a little more description or thought to "hook" you.
Calling from deep in the heart, from where the eyes can't see and the ears can't hear, from where the mountain trails end and only love can go... ~~~ Three Rivers Hare Krishna
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couple, short, stories

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