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June 5, 2019

Fiction: Blackbird Woman – WEP/IWSG June Challenge

I found out about this WEP/IWSG challenge from Elephant's Child and I thought I might try it. The topic is 'caged bird.' Of course, I wrote a fiction piece. Feel free to point out any mistakes or suggestions. Here is my piece:

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Fiction: Blackbird Woman

A woman wandered silently through the half darkness and stopped at a cliff overlooking a vast land of shimmering water. Above her, the sky dripped in gray droplets. The woman shivered and flocks of blackbirds flew out of the folds of her gown. They gathered around her for a moment as if introducing themselves and then they soared away. The woman was not afraid. She was calm.

When she woke in the morning, the woman somehow could go through the day without having to stop and worry. She didn't ponder where the dream came from, she only knew it helped her.

From an early age, she was forced to move from place to place and never quite felt she was at home until she found this house in this sleepy town. She was always overwhelmed by people and often a need to run away would surge through her. But in her own house with scarcely anyone close by, she was at least comfortable.

Soon the dream became more real than real. She began to feel the rain and the soft touch of the bird's feathers brushing against her. She began to change as well. Her blond hair grew longer in black waves. Her skin turned paler. Her green eyes grew sharper and she no longer needed glasses. Blackbirds started to fly to her yard frequently. They became her constant companions and yet she did not feel lonely when they left her. She knew they would return and often when they did, she would feed them and take care of their wounds.

One spring day, an old man moved in next door. She knew he was no good by the putrid scent that came out of his chimney. She stayed out of his sight.

While she was washing her dishes in her kitchen on a cloudy afternoon, something black hit the window pane. She rushed outside and saw one of her blackbirds on the ground with a silver arrow in its chest. She glanced across the yard, over the wooden fence and at the old man standing there with a silver bow in his hands.

"I didn't mean to hurt them. I was just trying to frighten them. They went after my tomatoes, you see." He stretched out a hand toward his garden. The vivid red of the tomatoes shined under the dark daylight. He gave her a smile but there was no kindness there. She smothered a cry and glared at him in silence. He cringed and scurried back into his house.

She brought the bird into her house and laid it on a pillow on the couch. The bird made no noise when she pulled out the arrow with hardly any blood. When she stood up to get bandages, the bird flew out the window. She stared at the arrow that she had dropped on the floor. It had a white feather at the end.

The weather became dreary. The rain kept their steady fall. Her birds did not appear. She missed them but it was better for them to stay away. She was certain the old man did mean them harm. She remembered his ease holding the bow. He was not an amateur archer.

In the middle of another rainy night, she woke to a muffled shriek. She was sure it was one of her blackbirds but when she went down to the kitchen and looked out at her yard, there were no birds nor anyone. There was only the darkness divided by the moonlight here and there. She heard another cry but again no birds. She flipped the switch for the kitchen light but nothing happened. A third cry made her run to the corner where she pulled down her white raincoat and put it on along with her boots and rushed outside.

The rain struck the roof like rocks. She flipped the switch but the porch lightbulb would not come on. She returned to the kitchen and fumbled through the cabinets for a flashlight but found only candles. The sound of thunder made her jumped. As she searched for matches, a loud shriek echoed through the air. She dropped the candles and ran outside. Her left foot slipped and she fell down. She screamed at the sight of three of her birds lying on the ground with silver arrows in their chests. She turned toward her neighbor's yard. It was empty but she caught a glimmer disappearing in one of the upstairs windows. She returned to her birds and pulled out all the arrows and threw them to the ground. "Please, you must leave. It's not safe here," she said. The birds looked up at her and squealed. She watched as they flew up and disappeared into the darkness.

A flash of silver flew toward her and before she could discern what it was, sharp pain bloomed in her chest. She peered down at the arrow sticking out of her. It had a black feather at the end. She let out a breath and sank to the ground. She lay there and stared at the brightening sky. Her vision was becoming blurry. The pain was easing little by little.

Several days later, the old man was found dead inside his house. All the doors and windows were locked. A look of shock was upon his face and broken arrows with black feathers surrounded him.

As for the woman, no one knew where she went. Her house was vacant but all her belongings were still there. But then no one really knew she was there in the first place.

A little while later when spring had returned and rain was less persistent, a blackbird awakened on a cliff overlooking a sea of water. She turned her head slightly and blinked. For a moment, her eyes were green and almost human. Then they returned to their black sheen and she flew away.

56 comments:

  1. This is an excellent story, I like it a lot.
    You did ask for suggestions to correct mistakes, so I hope you don't get offended at this. Here are several sentences where there are anomalies.
    1: "yet she did not feel lonely when they leave her" this should be either "she did not feel lonely when they LEFT her" or "she DOES not feel lonely when they leave her
    2: "the rain kept their steady fall" this should be either "the RAINS kept their steady fall" or the rain kept ITS steady fall
    3: "She remembered his eased holding the bow" this should be "She remembered his EASE holding the bow.
    4: "She returned her birds and pulled out all the arrows" this should be "She returned TO her birds and pulled out all the arrows"
    5: "...and before she could discerned what it was..." this should be "Before she could DISCERN what it was..."
    6: "...the old man was founded dead..." this should be " the old man was FOUND dead..."
    I hope you don't mind these corrections, your problem seems to be mostly with incorrect uses of past, present and future tense when writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yeah, I have tenses problems, this seems to be a constant and I also kind of hate editing so I missed a lot but this is helpful, thank you.

      I have to disagree with you on #2 - as I think 'rain' is plural and doesn't need an s. there seems to be varying opinions on this but I found 'rains' just sounds odd in this instance.

      I have made the corrections, thank you and have a lovely day.

      Delete
    2. Lissa this link might help, but I agree with River on #2.

      https://www.usu.edu/markdamen/WritingGuide/CGGS/320pluralintro.htm

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. thanks, I'm always glad someone reads my writings even if they need a little work.

      thanks for stopping, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  3. How lovely that you have joined WEP. I didn't realise you had seen my post and story. Did it speak to you?
    I like your tale, but agree with River that your tenses are not always correct.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was going to read your piece when I have more time because I didn't want to rush-read.

      thanks for stopping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  4. Oh my goodness, this story gave me chills! Wonderfully done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think I was going for that but that's okay. I'm glad you enjoy it.

      thanks for stopping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  5. You've had a pretty good critique of your work so I defer to that. An interesting story to be sure. I'm glad the woman survived, transformed as she was and the old man died.
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. transformed as she was - I think she would be happier as a bird.

      thanks for stopping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  6. Well, I'd say he got what he deserved. This was beautifully written.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you & thanks for stopping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  7. What a beautiful story. Fables are fluid so perhaps we should cut you a little slack with your tenses. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. probably. thanks for saying that.

      thank you for dropping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  8. Oooh, Lissa, despite your tense problems, I loved your story. You say you hate editing. I'd prefer to edit than write a first draft. I hope you overcome your dislike, as a well-edited story reads better. However, you have a great story here. Love the ending and don't feel at all sorry for the old dude.

    Great that you've joined WEP this month. Elephant's Child is one of our very best supportive members.
    I hope you enjoy the experience. You asked for a critique, so I hope you don't mind people pointing out your mistakes. If you prefer, you can ask for people to email you, but when it's public, other people learn. You're not the only one ever to make a mistake with tenses, LOL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yeah, I'm trying to edit more often, I need the practice. but sometimes it really is hard to catch the mistake, some wordings just seem right to me even when it's wrong.

      thank you for dropping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  9. Intriguing story! I was glad to see the neighbour pay for his cruelty!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. funny that people should focus on the neighbor and not the woman.

      thank you for dropping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
    2. Lissa, readers are often attracted to a villain if he/she is well crafted. And we like to see villains get their just desserts.

      Delete
  10. Back again Lissa. I just came from reading the two and fro from The Real Cie’s flash. Thanks for taking the time to read a genre you usually avoid. You’re right. Part of WEP’s success is down to reading as many stories as we can which sometimes means we are faced with stories that freak us out. If you don’t like the subject matter you don’t have to read it. Leave a comment to show you’ve been there. My story was a bit horrific a couple of challenges ago and my good friend came by and said she couldn’t read it. That’s all part of it. So you did the right thing. Thanks. I think you’re learning a lot on your first WEP. It’s great to have your interactions.

    Denise

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't mind reading but perhaps I should not said it wasn't my cup of tea, anyway, what's done is done.

      Thank you for dropping by & have a lovely day.

      Delete
  11. Well, I focused on the woman, Lissa. From the beginning of the story when the blackbirds surrounded her. I felt that they felt drawn to her and she didn't feel afraid. What I found very well done is the transformation of the woman into a blackbird and the way she just disappeared without the village knowing where she had gone. In other words, your protagonist was engaging and that is what kept me reading until the end. I wanted to see what happens to her.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

      Thank you for dropping by & have a lovely day.

      Delete
  12. What a strange, almost surreal story, very powerful. I'm not sure what happened to the woman, but I feel for her. And the old man just got what he deserved.
    One grammar comment: in the very beginning, your write "a vast land of shimmering water." Maybe you could use a different word, not "land." A land of water sounds odd. Maybe expanse or mirror and stretch. Anything but "land".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now that you meantion it, 'land' doesn't quite fit does it? I really just want something that sounds solid but perhaps not land. I'll have to think on this.

      Thank you for dropping by & have a lovely day.

      Delete
  13. An interesting story that could be made into a longer tale if you so wished. Good versus evil with good winning out in the end and the interaction of the birds was a clever take on the prompt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. Some people said there are no good or bad people but how we see them but I've always like the idea of good verses bad, it makes a better story.

      Have a lovely day.

      Delete
    2. And thanks for dropping by.

      Delete
  14. Hi Lissa - that was really well written and I thoroughly enjoyed the story - even with its undertone of horror. Really clever and I'll remember it ... good for you - cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't meant for it to be horror in any, just slightly scary.

      Thanks for stopping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  15. I'd say he got what he deserved. Liked the ending, makes you question did she become one of what she protected?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like to think she did became a bird but I guess it can be read as either.

      Thanks for stopping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  16. This had the feel of a modern fairy tale - or as the other Roland said, a fable. I used to dislike editing until I discovered it was like working on a sculpture - smoothing out the lumps that feel wrong on reflection. But a wonderful piece to open your WEP involvement. Welcome.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I agee with you, editin gis like smoothing out the lumps but sometimes it just seems rather hard to smooth anything at all. Repeating the process helps, I guess.

      Thanks for stopping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  17. This is beautifully fluid and delicate and moves from beginning to end seamlessly. There are a couple of errors, for instance - she wakes in the middle of a rainy night but 'There was only the darkness divided by the moonlight here and there.' Which description is one of my favourite lines here - very evocative, but doesn't fit because it's a rainy night. Just getting rid of the word 'rainy' would make that error-free. A bit later there is a statement 'the rain stuck the roof like rocks' which should read 'struck.' These are minor mistakes that are very easily corrected, not a big deal.

    Editing is a pain but a necessary part of writing :)

    I particularly liked your ending where the transformation is only hinted at through the eye colour and not made explicit. Enjoyed this fable very much, thank you for sharing it. And I hope to read more of your work in the future. Welcome to WEP!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I guess I didn't quite thought it through, I like it to be raining and yet, I like that there moonlight, guess it would be bit hard to see moonlight with all the rain falling, will have to think on this one.

      'Struck,' - you're right about that. I didn't see that at all.

      Thanks for stopping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  18. Thank you so much for joining WEP! This story is clever and it pulled me in with the fantastical concept. I absolutely loved the ending, too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words. And thank you for dropping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  19. A fantastic and imaginative tale. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. And thanks for stopping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  20. I love this story! A stark reminder NOT to mess with blackbirds!

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    Replies
    1. Fear the blackbirds! Ha, ha...

      Thank you for dropping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  21. I really liked the ebb and flow of this story, except I wondered where the birds were when they were missing. I really appreciated the ending.

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    Replies
    1. I imagine the birds were, not quite alive, perhaps the neighbor killed them and put their feathers on his arrows. This might not be clear but the broken arrows that surrounded the neighbor at the end has black feathers, before, they were white feathers.

      Thank you for dropping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  22. Very cool reincarnation twist. I am curious as to the meaning behind some arrows with white feathers (seems less deadly) and ones with black feathers (more deadly perhaps)? I didn't trust him because no one in their right mind would use arrows to scare birds. It's a quiet weapon. Yelling and clapping would be more effective. No, I think he was aiming to make blackbird pie, but didn't want her to know.

    "made her jumped" should probably be jump
    Did she throw the arrows or the birds to the ground? Or both?

    Great story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. '"made her jumped" should probably be jump' - I don't know - This is past tense and yet, I'll have to re-check.

      'Did she throw the arrows or the birds to the ground? Or both?' - I suppose I should make it that she throws the arrows onto the ground and lay the birds gently down?

      Thank you for dropping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  23. An interesting take on the prompt. I wonder what exactly that old man saw that shocked him dead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, you'll just have to wonder though I have imagined a whole lot of birds came or the woman came back as a ghost - one of these two.

      Thank you for dropping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  24. Interesting story! I'm imagining that the bird finally took their revenge on that awful old man... still wondering what the stink was.

    As a thought for style/editing purposes, a lot of sentences start with "she." It starts to feel repetitive, so you might play around with ways to change that up (at first I thought it was too many sentences the same length, but they aren't. It's too many starting with the same word).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps, the neighbor was cooking something but I really prefer not to imagine what that was.

      Well, I guess I could rework to remove/change a lot of 'she' sentences.

      Thank you for dropping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  25. What a cool take on the prompt. I enjoy the darkness and the fantasy elements of the story. It seems like a fable, with an important message for the young reader to discover.

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    Replies
    1. I really didn't write this to give out a message but I like that readers can find a message if they want to.

      Thank you for dropping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  26. How intriguing. There's a lot of mystery and I loved it.

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  27. Hi Lissa. What a beautiful blog you have here. Your drawings are absolutely stunning. Enjoyed your story immensely, will comment more fully shortly. I am replying also to your comment on my Caged Bird story, Tim and Sam, as Blogger has denied me access to reply on my own blog !
    Message for Lissa.
    Thank you Lissa. Sorry for the French, Spanish and Catalan bits of dialogue...see my explanations above.
    Glad you enjoyed the story.
    Have an inspiring week.
    Thanks again. Susan.

    ReplyDelete

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