Journey | Oubliette

I decided to do something new: write a short vignette about the image below, similar in style to Erin Morgenstern’s flax-golden tales (I love them!). The difference? The shorter vignette fits into a larger story, which I will continue to write until the characters tell me I’m done.

Feedback always appreciated.

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“Once upon a time,” Father begins, and his words fall into an ethereal cadence that puts me in trance.

Once upon a time, there was an old knight who sought only one thing in his last days. He had slain dragons, saved damsels, and broken curses. He knew war and conflict as old friends, but he sought the company of  a new bedfellow: peace. So the old knight did what all knights do when they are restless: he went on a quest. 

His travels were solitary. His days were his own. No racing across borders and against time. When he came across a magical object, he let it be. His newfound reverence for the mundane pleased him.

One day, the old knight came across a deep chasm he did not remember from before. He climbed down and down and down, and the space became narrower and narrower. When he reached the bottom, it was cold and dry. The space was big enough for him to lie down, and the sun was a tiny circle above him. He decided to go back up, only to realize he could not remember the way. Each place his hand rested felt strange, and so he resigned himself to his fate.

‘This is a peaceful place,’ the old knight said, and he curled up and slept for years until a woman fell on top of him. She wore strange armor of boiled leather, branded with odd symbols. 

‘Who are you?’ The old knight asked.

‘I’m a knight. Who are you?’ She responded.

‘I’m a knight, too! What are you doing here?’

‘I’m on a quest,” the lady knight said.

‘I am, too!’ the old knight crowed. ‘What do you seek?’

‘Adventure,’ the lady knight smiled, ‘though I think I have come to the wrong place. What is your quest?’

‘I don’t remember,’ the old knight replied. They stared at each other in silence, and then he began to chuckle. The lady knight giggled, and they launched into loud, throaty laughter that echoed up out of the oubliette. 

For years they laughed until they cried, tears streaming down their faces. One day they stopped, and it had been so long neither could remember anything except that they were an old knight and a lady knight at the bottom of a forgotten oubliette.

‘No one is coming,’ the lady knight said. ‘No one knows we are here.’

‘We know,’ the old knight said. ‘And it does not matter. This is a peaceful place.’

They curled up, forgetting who they were to each other – questing knights, father and daughter, husband and wife – and slept. 

One day this story will make its way down on a lost current of wind and they will wake and remember. They will climb out of the oubliette, and she will find adventure and he peace.

This is why my father likes fairy tales.

Journey | Leaves in the Forest

I decided to do something new: write a short vignette about the image below, similar in style to Erin Morgenstern’s flax-golden tales (I love them!). The difference? The shorter vignette fits into a larger story, which I will continue to write until the characters tell me I’m done.

Feedback always appreciated.

aH2Knxq

via

After a week, we abandoned the tracks. Intuition, Father claimed.

I’m not sure where we’re headed. I think it’s okay. Father seems to have a pretty good idea of where we need to go.

At the very least, he doesn’t act lost.

I want to ask if we’re trying to go somewhere he remembers. I want to find out if we’re trying to go somewhere from Before.

Does it matter? We’re looking for her. She is our destination. She exists outside of Before. I need know no other purpose.

I must have seemed upset about the tracks, because Father mentioned it later.

“We couldn’t follow them forever, Grey. They would have led to an old city. Maybe we would have walked for days, maybe weeks – but we couldn’t go there, Grey.” When Father explained it like this, I understood. He’s right, of course – but I miss the tracks until the second day, when we stumble upon the waterfall.

“Have I ever told you about the oubliette?” Father asks. I shake my head, and he begins.

Journey | The Patch

I decided to do something new: write a short vignette about the image below, similar in style to Erin Morgenstern’s flax-golden tales (I love them!). The difference? The shorter vignette fits into a larger story, which I will continue to write until the characters tell me I’m done.

Feedback always appreciated.

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Several of the pumpkins rotted already. It takes us the better part of an hour to find one that is edible. Father tells me odd, old stories, like one about a maid who became a princess with the help of magic, a pumpkin, and a glass slipper.

“Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo,” Father trails off.

“Tell me real stories,” I plead. “I don’t want to hear fairy tales.”

“But fairy tales have happier endings,” Father counters, “and real stories can be more sad.”

Our fire crackles, and the log configuration Father worked so hard to perfect crumbles. Sparks fly up, dancing and cavorting in the dusk. I hand him a small log, and he manages to use it and a long stick to salvage the fire, or at least give it a couple more hours.

“There are enough sad stories, Grey,” Father shakes his head. “The world got too full of the stuff, and it spilled over into bedtime stories and woven words.”

We did not speak any more, and when the fire died down and we curled up against the trees I thought I heard him cry, tears echoing under a starless sky.

Journey | Tracks in the Forest

I decided to do something new: write a short vignette about the image below, similar in style to Erin Morgenstern’s flax-golden tales (I love them!). The difference? The shorter vignette fits into a larger story, which I will continue to write until the characters tell me I’m done.

Feedback always appreciated.

vOak8x7

via

I don’t know where the tracks go. I’ve followed them to the edge of the forest and through the overgrown field. I’ve gotten as far as the old bent tree, crooked with age, before I had to turn around. I barely made it back before dark.

Father tells me that in his day, the tracks approached obsolescence. Some were still used, but they didn’t take as many people or things as far as they had once before. I tell him they only took me as far as the old bent tree, and he laughs.

“Why do you want to see where the tracks go?”

I don’t hesitate when I answer.

“I want to see where the people went.”

He considers this a moment and nods.

The next morning, he comes with me when I leave. He hands me a backpack. It is as heavy as the guilt in his eyes. I say nothing and walk next to him. I try to stand tall, even when others hurl names and insults, rotten produce and rocks. The settlement is far behind us when the blood is dry on my cheek.

It is not until we are in the overgrown field that we speak. I tell him to watch for snakes, and he smiles. That is how I know I can ask my question.

“Why do you want to see where the tracks go?”

Father doesn’t hesitate when he answers.

“I want to see where she went.”