Fantasy

Greenlace

Jan. 31, 2019
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Average Rating: 2.62
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I used to wonder how I got here.  I used to wonder how I managed to get from the dryness of my everyday life to here, where everything from my wildest dreams existed.

I lived in a mountain community, small, but not too far from the big, shining city we could see from certain vantage points.  I had the garden I had always wanted; my friends joked about how my house was more forest than actual house. They understood me.  There was a man, too, a quiet one. He lived not far from me, and when he saw me digging up my garden, or when he saw that I was trying to build something he always came over to help me fix it.  His dark eyes were dreamy, I couldn’t tell whether he held affection for me too or if he was just a friendly person. But either way was nice, I had never had that kind of attention before. No one aside from my mother had ever been so kind to me and she had been gone a long time now.  Could I remember when? Could I remember how? It seemed odd that I couldn’t remember the day; I had thought it branded upon my heart.

There was a place in the mountain just above our village that spewed bubbles, colorful, gleaming bubbles that caught the light and reflected it in odd places and made shadows in others.  The fish seemed to like them, in the river beside my house they would jump out of the water to pop them.

There was a meadow also, the long, soft grasses of emerald green that daytime fireflies frequented.  I went there with Miles, and watched our little daylight stars blink in and out of view.

And the sky- Oh, the sky!  Regular nights were so much different than I remembered.  The darkness was filled with colored, voluptuous clouds that moved and changed; the formation and decay of galaxies.  And some nights, the nights that I would spent on my roof, aurora borealis would light up the sky with green and blue lights; sometimes even pink!

The days might have been bliss, but at night I wondered where it had all come from, this life, this world that was so much different than the one I only half remembered.  I thought maybe it had to do with the train. The train that flashed before my eyes every night before I would go to sleep. I tried not to think about it, but sometimes, sometimes I thought I heard a voice, a familiar voice, talking to me, calling for me.  How long had I been here?

 

I opened my door to my friend Alice, a new grandmother who also lived in the village.  

“Alice?  It’s three in the morning, what are you doing up?”

“Della?  Oh Della I’ve missed you,” she said, hugging me around the shoulders.

“Really?” I asked.  “I saw you not that long ago.”

“Della, it’s been months.  You’ve been asleep all this time.”

I furrowed my brows.  “Asleep? No I’ve been here, I’ve been gardening- you remember I took you some of those glowing lilies not long ago.  Are you okay? Do you want to come in?”

“Come in?” Alice asked in confusion.  “Della, you’ve been in a coma for seven months.  You were hit by a train, don’t you remember?”

The image of a train slammed my eyes.

“The train,” I repeated faintly.  “No, I’ve been here in Greenlace over a year now, I like it here but there are no train tracks anywhere close by.”

“Are you awake?” she asked.  “What’s Greenlace? Honey, you’re in a coma, wake up!”

“I don’t- I don’t want to,” I said, fighting off the surge of memories that beset me.  None of them were as nice as here. I couldn’t leave the new friends I’d made! I couldn’t remember anyone else who wanted me there.

Alice looked away, her mouth a tight line.  “There are people here who want to see you back, Dells.  You need to fight it.”

“Fight what?” I demanded.  “There’s nothing to fight here!”

“Think about it, okay?  Think about it.”

“Think about what?”

It was like a switch was flipped and she smiled pleasantly.  “Oh Della, I didn’t wake you, did I? I was just having a hard time sleeping tonight and decided to go for a walk.”

“You didn’t wake me,” I said quietly.  “Have a good night, Alice.”

I thought about it.  I thought about what whoever had possessed Alice had said.  Maybe I was in a coma. This place was so good it reminded me of a dream, but why would I want to leave it?  But as I allowed myself to consider the possibility the more pieces of my old life hit me as though between the eyes.  The worst thing I found, though, was that there wasn’t anyone who was waiting on me.

“It was you, Della,” I realized.  It wasn’t anyone else speaking out of Alice’s mouth, it was a construct of my own mind’s making trying to get me to live.  Just like everything and everyone else in this world, she was a figment of my own dying mind.

 

“You don’t look like you slept much,” Miles told me the next morning as he joined me in my weed pulling.

“I didn’t,” I said.  

“Is something wrong?”

I didn’t answer at first.  “Yes.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

I pursed my lips.  “No. I think...I think I’m going to forget about it.  Do you want to come over for dinner tonight?”

He did.  And forget about my 3 A.M. encounter I did.

At least- as long as I could.  It was a while. I spent days at the river with the rainbow fish, hiking the canyon of butterflies, and running the flower booth at the occasional festival.  But then I began to feel weak. I stayed at home, Miles making meals for me and making sure that I got everything I needed, and in such a small town it was inevitable that everyone would find out about my illness.  It was Alice who came after most of the others had come with their casseroles to see me.

“You haven’t got much time,” Alice said to me.  It was my subconscious speaking through her again, the way it hadn’t in a long time.

“I know.”

“It doesn’t have to be.”

“This is my home now,” I said.

“That’s what I thought you’d say,” she sighed before crossing over and kissing my forehead.  “Give my best to Miles.”

 

I had Miles take me outside and summed up the last of my strength to make it to the roof of my house.  Tonight was going to be the end, and I knew where I wanted to accept it. Under the sky which was the part I loved most about my little world.

“It looks different from normal,” Miles commented.

“Yes,” I agreed.

The sky looked stormy without clouds; the lightning the sparking of neurons that were slowing down, a reflection of my own dying mind.

“Maybe we should get back inside,” Miles said.

“No, let’s stay,” I said, taking his hand.  “I want to watch.”

So he settled in next to me, arm cushioning my head to watch the sky.

“It’s beautiful,” he said.

A dying mind, I had to agree.  Lights traveled up and down the dendrites, sparking in the open space between them.  At first they seemed strong as lightning, now they just seemed like fireflies, slowing with my own sluggish mind.

Miles kissed my forehead, and cradled in his arms beneath the sky that was myself, everything went black.

 

The morning dawned bright with birds singing and those familiar bubbles floating lazily overhead.

“Good morning beautiful,” Miles said.

I sat up, feeling better than I had ever felt.  “Good morning.”

“I was kind of worried when you passed out last night, but you look like you’re feeling better.”

“I am,” I said, unable to contain my grin.

His smile matched mine and I had a feeling of excitement, of beginning.  Maybe I was dead, maybe this was my afterlife, but with the experience I had already had here I knew it was a pretty damn good one.

 

 

Wonder:

This short story is my entry to the "wonder" contest. I tried to show Della's feeling of wonder when exploring this new world, the world shaped by her dreams.


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Much potential
hadiyyyah rated this work:

Feb. 10, 2019, 12:58 p.m.

This is a good concept! Some of the diction needs refining as it lacks subtle complexity, such as with the passage: “His dark eyes were dreamy, I couldn’t tell whether he held affection for me too or if he was just a friendly person. But either way was nice, I had never had that kind of attention before.” There are too many descriptors used for this person’s eyes, to provide the author with an example, I would change this to something like, “I couldn’t tell whether he held affection for me in his dark eyes, or if he was just a friendly person. Either way, I had never had that kind of attention before.”

This story also overuses the device of melodrama to come across as profound. Though very lyrical with lovely sounding sentences, sometimes it is too much. An example is this passage: “And the sky- Oh, the sky!  Regular nights were so much different than I remembered.  The darkness was filled with colored, voluptuous clouds that moved and changed; the formation and decay of galaxies.  And some nights, the nights that I would spend on my roof, aurora borealis would light up the sky with green and blue lights; sometimes even pink!” Though the use of exclamation marks works well for more dated forms of writing, I feel that adds a comicality to this work that I don’t think is intended. It’s also mismatched with the tone of the narrator’s voice, which is much lighter and younger. Try also to stay away from the cliches of overdramatizing the beauty of nature.

The plot also needs a more coherent structure. Della’s being hit by a train comes up quite suddenly and has the danger of shocking the reader. Maybe find a way to integrate this more into the beginning of the story, and let the reader prepare themselves for this interaction with Alice.

The dialogue also needs more differentiation between characters. For instance, I feel that Alice and Della have a very similar voice. Think about what this sounds like if you were to read this as a stage play. Would the listener be able to distinguish between characters if they were not told who was speaking?

There does need to be more distinction between this world and the world of Della’s coma, but I like the concept, and I believe that with editing and character voice development, this piece could be much improved.

Plot Setting Pacing Point of View Voice Cliches Character Motivation Dialogue Diction Sentence Structure Concision

Comment Rating: 5.0

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Interesting idea
GeoB rated this work:

Feb. 5, 2019, 2:18 p.m.

I like the concept here, not being able to distinguish the real world from the internal world, but I wanted more conflict; this seems like one, slow downhill slide. Nothing horribly wrong with that, but I think it could be more interesting if the woman had more to lose in her real life. Overall the piece feels somewhat flat. My biggest concerns are the mechanics. I noticed lots of punctuation errors as well as other things. Here, for instance, the author uses the pronoun ‘them’ twice, and it’s really jarring: The fish seemed to like them, in the river beside my house they would jump out of the water to pop them. It’s also a run-on sentence. There were also several exclamation points that seemed oddly placed. Here, the author writes: And some nights, the nights that I would spent on my roof, aurora borealis would light up the sky with green and blue lights; sometimes even pink! Try: Some nights, the ones I spent on my roof, the aurora borealis lit up the sky with green and blue lights, sometimes even pink. Some of the attribution seems clunky. Here, the author writes: “Yes,” I agreed. The word ‘Yes’ is already an agreement; I don’t think you need to repeat the thought in the attribution. Simply say ‘said.’ In fact, I would say the majority of attributions can simply use the word ‘said.’ Here, for instance: “It looks different from normal,” Miles commented. Yes, that’s a comment, no need to tell us this. Try: “It looks different from normal,” Miles said. Finally, I would encourage the author to use more dynamic verbs. Here, the author writes: “I was kind of worried when you passed out last night, but you look like you’re feeling better.” It would be a simple matter to change this to: “I worried when you passed out last night, but you look like you feel better.” Please keep in mind these are minor mechanical changes and can easily be fixed, but if you try to slip this by an editor, they’re likely to toss the story without giving it a fair shake. Just my opinion.

Passive Character

Comment Rating: 4.0

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lyrical, beautiful, more conflict
van rated this work:

Feb. 8, 2019, 11:25 a.m.

You caught my attention from the very first sentence! I immediately had questions-- where is "here"? How DID the narrator escape the dryness of her everyday life? But my favorite twist were the words "used to," because that just made me wonder: why does the narrator not wonder about the change in her life anymore?
I like your writing style. It's a little lyrical, a little poetic-- I especially liked the line "Could I remember when? Could I remember how? It seemed odd that I couldn't remember the day; I had thought it branded upon my heart." The questions and sentence structure reminded me of a song, of rhythm. I love it. Della has a pretty strong voice.
I was a little confused, though; until Alice, I thought the mountain community the narrator describing the new place where wildest dreams existed? It may be because of the past tense, but I thought for the longest time the narrator was describing the home they left behind ("the dryness of [their] everyday life"). Maybe instead of "I lived" say "I currently lived." Just something small to clarify.
Something that would ramp up the conflict would be more details on Della's past life (why did she not like it? What was so bad about the "real world" that made her cling to Greenlace?) That would make Della's decision much more real and understandable.
Love the name Greenlace, by the way. Where did it come from?

Pacing Conflict Voice Sentence Structure

Comment Rating: 3.0

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This is unbelievably FANTASTIC!
DrKinchi rated this work:

Feb. 13, 2019, 1:12 p.m.

The way you described the experience of being in a coma/the afterlife is incredible. I actually felt like I could see Della what Della was seeing, and now I'm having a hard time believing that you haven't been in a coma yourself!

Everything about this experience is surreal. Though, I'd have to say the dialogue is a bit choppy; but it fits! Since typically in dreams, you can't exactly make out what someone's saying in the dream unless you're dreaming really vividly. I loved that little detail of yours!

Honestly, if this was a full-on book about the fight between staying in the dream world while being in a coma, and trying to ignore reality's attempts to call you back to life, I would definitely read it over If I Stay anytime. Keep up the good work!

Plot

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