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Thread: The Dump In The Fields

  1. #1
    Registered User DieterM's Avatar
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    Feb 2010

    The Dump In The Fields

    The small-town street seemed strange and unfamiliar. Yet it was wearing a feel of home and well known. The bakery, the drug-store, the book-shop, the hairdresser’s. Low buildings under a low sky. Young, summer-dry trees bordering the empty sidewalks. Dust and boredom creeping into the corners of everything. A black cat, tail stiff, crossing the car-less street, in a distance. I was walking aimlessly through the day, my head in the clouds that oppressed the plain. The air was still and muggy, carrying a light, rotten scent with it, like a sensation of dead ends.

    At the corner of an old, low house, the asphalt ceased. Abruptly, as if cut off with a scalpel. But I noticed a small path spiralling through the man-high corn fields. I had nothing better to do, so I followed it. Hands in my jean’s pockets, whistling a tune without a title.

    The yellow of the corncobs, the luxurious green of the leaves stood out against the dark-grey sky. The field was unfathomably wide, sheer infinity. The path was capricious, turning this way, then that, all in bends and curves. There might be a thunderstorm looming. Maybe. Or maybe not. Maybe the weather would stay like this forever, cloudy, windless, murky. As if time stood still, a forgotten item in a lost landscape.

    My white shirt was glued to my torso. It was hot, the suffocating heat of a closed room. My mood was nondescript. My thoughts as aimless as my wandering. The surroundings as strange as the small town I had been walking through. I didn’t count the minutes that had passed since I had left the last building behind. Minutes, hours, days didn’t matter.

    Suddenly, the cornfield receded. I came across a long and high wall I had never seen before. I followed the wall for a while, I had nothing better to do. Still no end was foreseeable. Gradually, I started to wonder what could be on the other side of the wall. I wasn’t curious. But the thinking about possibilities hidden on the other side kept my mind occupied. Sometimes, the emptiness in my head got a bit hard to bear. But this had been my choice; now, I had to deal with it.

    Then, I saw the hole. Something had brought part of the wall crumbling down. Behind the wall, I discovered a dump. I was utterly surprised – I had never heard about a dump around here. Or perhaps, someone had told me and I hadn’t listened properly? Never mind. Here it was. A dump.

    Now my curiosity was aroused. What did people in this region throw away? I climbed over the remains of the wall, stepped on a rusted metal plaque that read ‘Danger! Do Not Enter! Trespassers will be’. The rest was unreadable. What exactly did they do to trespassers, I wondered briefly. Before deciding not to care.

    The dump was nothing recent. In front of me, a hill of garbage and litter rose into the grey afternoon. Old brown television sets, fake wooden plastic tables, and chairs and sofas and beds, lamps, broken refrigerators, cast iron stoves tainted red with rust, bicycles, cupboards and wardrobes, and metal things, and ceramic things, and stone things, and paper things, and everything. Heaped here, thrown there, an original mountain range of detritus.

    I knew that I shouldn’t, but I had to. I stepped on the nearest stove and climbed on it, then the next object, and the next, still going upwards and upwards. I wanted to see what lay behind the garbage hill. Another garbage hill, or something else, or nothing, or anything?

    When I reached the top, I halted. There was an old man sitting on a half-rotten rocking chair, having a nap. He was bold, badly shaved, skinny. His grey trousers were stained, his shoes shoddy, his red-and-white checkered shirt open on a white, hairless, bony chest. Without any explanation, I felt a sudden anger rising in me. What did the old fool think he was doing here? He was an intruder to my story. This was my secret dump. This was my own, private adventure.

    I approached carefully. ‘Yo!’ I shouted. ‘Yo man! Wake up! You have no right to be here!’

    No reaction whatsoever.

    I was finally standing before the sleeping dotard. I was trembling with just choler. ‘Don’t pretend you haven’t heard me!’ I yelled in his ear. ‘Hey! I’m talking to you!’

    I finally grabbed the old man by the shoulder and shook him. ‘Wake! Up!’ I shrieked.

    The rocking chair toppled over, the old man fell backwards. His arms were stiff, his mouth open, his eyes staring into another world’s void.

    A thunder rumbled far away. The rest was silence.

    The old man must have been sitting there, dead, for quite a while.

  2. #2
    Registered User
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    Apr 2010
    I really like the way you drag us into this strange, almost alien landscape where time seems to stand still for everyone except the hero.
    I also enjoyed your vivid descriptions, and the internal deranged dialogue we get to listen in on.

    I do think you could trim away bits here and there without spoiling the shape of the story - or diminishing the atmospheric mood. There is some repetition where you seem to be trying to say the same thing in as many different ways as possible.
    Choose the best and bin the rest.

    Also the line I was trembling with just choler is a strange expression - do you mean 'I could feel myself trembling with anger' perhaps? The word 'choler' is very old-fashioned - and sounds out of place in a story where the hero says 'Yo!'.

    Other than that a very good effort.


  3. #3
    Registered User DieterM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Hillwalker, thank you for your constructive comment. I've posted this short-story on my blog, too. After having read your intelligent review, I've made some amendments. I don't want to post the new version on this forum but those who desire to do so can check it out on my blog novel (http in my profile section). Thanks again, readings like yours are one of the reasons I really cherish this forum!

  4. #4
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    Mar 2010
    I like your writing a lot, but I feel unsatisfied after this one. I felt like I deserved more from a short story with that much description. It fit more of a flash-fiction format, and though this was certainly not long or tedious, I just felt a tad duped. I think a lot of sentences were overkill, as well, and I think that though the writing reads well, they disrupt the flow a bit.

    Truth is, I also think it's an interesting concept, and that it could also be interesting if you worked in some more characterization and possibly continued the story to find out his reaction to the discovery.

    Just me. Still, nicely written. I'd change a couple of terms/phrases:

    -tune without a title -> nameless tune

    -What exactly did they do with to trespassers... that sentence seemed to disturb an otherwise strong flow.

    These are two minor edits, though. Overall, nice flow, but I think it's not quite a finished product, though your writing makes it an intriguing one.

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