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These Elysian Fields - Short Story for The First Line

on Thu Apr 26, 2018 2:56 pm
Hello person reading this. It is me, Matt. No, no, the other one. No, not that one either... Never mind. I've got a story here that I've just finished and was hoping someone could look over it for any obvious flaws/repetitions/crapness.

It's for The First Line a journal that gives you the first line to a story that you must then write (so don't blame me for the adverb!).

This is my effort:

These Elysian Fields


"I wanted you to be the first to know," Rowan tentatively confided in me.

I was enjoying the tickle of the wind against my limbs and the sun heating my skin as I listened to the leaves rustle and the faint hum of cars from the road in the distance.

This demanded my full attention. Rowan is not the talkative type, but when he has something to say, you’d be best paid to listen. Not the wisest of us perhaps, but I’ve never heard him lie or make an extravagant claim (unlike others I could mention).

“What is it?” I asked.

A hush descended on the wood as soon as I said this. The sun, embarrassed, hid behind some fast-moving clouds. As the temperature dropped, I shivered.

“They’re going to build a new road,” he said.

I waited for more information. None was forthcoming. I forgot to mention: Rowan needed a little nudge now and then.

“Where?” I asked, keeping the impatience from my voice.

Rowan did not answer, not immediately. It was hard to tell what he was looking at, but I think he was just taking in the woods and their surrounding fields. The sun returned, resplendent. We watched the shadows chase one another through the long grass, across the fields and over the hills, out of view. Not for the first time, I thought about how perfect the name of this place was.

“Here,” said Rowan. “They will build it here.”

I didn’t know what to say. I swayed. If I hadn’t been ready for bad news, I may have toppled over.

“How do you know?” I asked.

Rowan watched the children playing Red Rover in the distance. His gaze settled on the acorn-studded grass in front of us. I noticed for the first time that there was litter there; wrappers from some soulless fast food chain, discarded here in the middle of these Elysian fields. When had those arrived?

“You were sleeping,” he said. “A young couple arrived in one of those automobiles they love so much.” His voice dripped disapproval. “Foul things. Unnatural. Shouldn’t be allowed.”

I got him back on track.

“What did they say?”

“Not much,” said Rowan. “But their radio, it said a lot. It talked about population increase, upward mobility and connecting the cities of this great nation. It mentioned Eisenhower and a new word - interstate highway - which I think we can work out the meaning of.”

Rowan’s voice had dropped to the merest whisper. I didn’t think any of the others could hear us, or maybe they were just pretending not to.

“It said they were going to build a road, a system of roads, unlike any that have ever existed before. And one of them is going to run right through Elysian County. Through this very wood.”

I said nothing. What was there to say? Rowan was not one for making things up and the fast food wrappers staring up at me defended his story.

“Oak,” said Rowan. He sounded scared. I’d never heard Rowan scared before, and I realised that I was too. I’d had nothing to fear since I was a mere sapling. What could hurt a mighty oak? We survived lightning strikes and drunk drivers. But a road? A road meant men with their heavy machines and their metal tools...

“Did it say when they will start construction?” I asked.

Rowan nodded in the breeze.

“The end of summer,” he said. “They’ve already reached the next town.”

I took this in while I looked at the beauty around me; nature at its finest. Soon all this would be gone, to be replaced by black tarmac, metal cars and more fast food wrappers blowing in the wind.

I silently cursed men for their small-mindedness, their rush for progress and inability to see what was right in front of them.

“Wake the others, Rowan,” I told him. As the eldest, the other trees looked to me for wisdom, experience and patience. Now they would look to me for something I couldn’t give: hope.

I saw him rouse Beech and Elk without incident, then I turned back to the fields once more and tried to work out what I was going to say.

The grass shone golden as it rippled in the wind.
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Re: These Elysian Fields - Short Story for The First Line

on Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:09 pm
Matt, I like it. Let me be honest, it's been done before, the topic is wellknow, but that doesn't change the fact that it's still relevant. These debates are alive all the time in all places, it seems. More importantly, I think the story is really well written, nicely paced and lively with authentic dialogue. The only thing I would change is this line [b]Not for the first time, I thought about how perfect the name of this place was.[/b]

I thought it seemed a bit forced because of the brief.

Well done and good luck with it.

M
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Re: These Elysian Fields - Short Story for The First Line

on Fri Apr 27, 2018 11:18 pm
Hi Matt,

I like this. Think it works well. Took till just before reveal to realise it was the trees. I’d suggest slightly edit down repitition about litter and roads to make it more succinct in second half. Apart from that seems fine.
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Re: These Elysian Fields - Short Story for The First Line

on Sat Apr 28, 2018 6:46 pm
Thanks Mette and Sue!

I edited this down to 600 words and sent it off ten minutes ago. Just wanted you to know that I valued your feedback and cut lots of stuff as a result.
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Short story competition feedback- useful stuff.

on Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:10 pm
https://www.theshortstory.co.uk/my-readers-report-by-barbara-lovric/

For anyone writing short stories this is useful.
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Re: These Elysian Fields - Short Story for The First Line

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