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Thread: Abilene Devils

  1. #1
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    Abilene Devils

    Violet sat on the bed. A breeze lifted sheer red curtains for a moment, as they billowed outward and grazed her snowy calf like a whisper. But she barely noticed or heard. Our sunless flower drooped, her head tilted off to nowhere, while her fingers mingled together lightly on her lap, and the breeze lapsed as the curtains sunk in a gliding gossamer fall, soft as a sleeping infant's breath, until they rested vertical in gentle folds again before her second story window.

    In her mind she was past the round and round and round. That had come yesterday, when her insides had behaved exactly like a chicken she had seen once with its head cut off, as they lunged in every direction and ran in panicked circles for hours and hours on into the night, with bouts of tears, shaking, sitting still, and then more. In the early morning, she had finally slept a little. Tonight she was supposed to work.

    Yesterday made her remember some things about crying hard and long that she had forgotten, how it reduced your breath to a grim pant between seiges, how it tired your face and jaws out, how the brine of your tears began to irritate and puff the skin beneath the eyes and along the cheeks, how your ribcage started to ache from so much clinching against breath.

    Now that had passed. The curtain rippled and stirred again, but subsided as she stood up gingerly in time to see a child-sized dust devil pass down First street through the gauzy fabric. Yesterday she had stood up and let her robe fall to the floor, as she tearfully postured in front of the mirror and looked at herself, holding her own breasts, turning to see her derriere, the one that was so special, while she wept and regretted, staring into the eyes of a twenty-two year old girl who once dreamed of becoming a schoolteacher and a mother. But today, two hours after waking, her motions were fewer and more practical. She slipped down the hall to use the water closet, trying to evacuate the past. Yesterday was the day for knowing what a silly airhead you had been, yesterday was the day of understanding that what ached now, and had been aching, was not the result of abrasion from too much endurance. Yesterday was the day to cry because they would put stuff up there, stuff that might boil away Cupid's itch, but would also scald and scour the woman right out of you, whether it worked on the disease or not, the time to cry, because when the doctor cleaned you out afterwards, he would be scooping any dreams of a real life into his muck bucket—that dream life of every saloon girl—and even any thought of a comfortable existence, as what she could expect, he had been less than frank, would be uncomfortable. From the stories of other bargirls she knew of the unrelenting illness from the mercury cure itself. Yesterday had been the time to cry for fever and sterility and nausea and chills and bloody vomit yet to come. Yesterday. He had offered no easier way when she asked. Tomorrow.

    Violet slipped back into her room and her shoulders sagged again, as she plopped down on the bed like before, tired. She slumped there for a few minutes, then went to her toilette and sat in front of the mirror, brushed her hair without expression and put on some makeup, changed into a modest outfit with a high, soft, collar, and went back over to the bed and her blank stare.

    If not for being roused from reverie by a sudden sound and a stirring of the curtains, she might have sat there forever. She arose, as the curtains wafted and stood outward, almost horizontal, blowing like her own hair behind her. Far beyond the rooftops of Abilene cathouses a gray storm was brewing, thunder strode the distant horizon with a low growl, and down in the street a dust devil just sat there in one spot, spinning wildly, looking up at her, summoning. Well, girl. She tugged a few to times to make sure. Yeah. The dust devil grew larger and louder, until it filled the sky with darkness and she could hear nothing but its roar. Her hair flew upward for an instant, then fell down as she came to a stop, done with Abilene.
    Last edited by desiresjab; 10-17-2016 at 04:06 PM.

  2. #2
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Interesting text, DJ. Somewhat barrock.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danik 2016 View Post
    Interesting text, DJ. Somewhat barrock.
    Thank you, Dani. Does it seem ornate?

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Danik, please! I think the language is the charm of the tale. Instead of victimised the protagonist is turned in a kind of a witch or a she devil (of resistance not of evil doing).
    Last edited by Danik 2016; 09-10-2016 at 10:50 AM.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

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    Interesting topic, albeit one that has --you'll forgive the tired expression--"been around the block many times." I wouldn't say it's "baroque" but a tad overwritten. It includes info which doesn't necessarily advance the plot; e.g. "she brushed her hair without expression." At the same time, there doesn't seem to be any action or dramatic tension in the piece. Certainly, introducing another character or two would help, as well as dynamic dialogue.

    The prose itself could use trimming; the plot needs more flesh. Additionally, despite the cliché in the first sentence of this reply, avoid hackneyed images such as the headless chicken running around.

    Be consistent with p.o.v. The story starts with 3rd person, switches to second person "you," then back to third.

    Next time, begin your stories in a way that "hooks" the reader.

    Keep practicing and especially keep reading exemplary modern and contemporary short stories.
    Last edited by AuntShecky; 09-10-2016 at 02:30 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AuntShecky View Post
    Interesting topic, albeit one that has --you'll forgive the tired expression--"been around the block many times." I wouldn't say it's "baroque" but a tad overwritten. It includes info which doesn't necessarily advance the plot; e.g. "she brushed her hair without expression." At the same time, there doesn't seem to be any action or dramatic tension in the piece. Certainly, introducing another character or two would help, as well as dynamic dialogue.

    The prose itself could use trimming; the plot needs more flesh. Additionally, despite the cliché in the first sentence of this reply, avoid hackneyed images such as the headless chicken running around.

    Be consistent with p.o.v. The story starts with 3rd person, switches to second person "you," then back to third.

    Next time, begin your stories in a way that "hooks" the reader.

    Keep practicing and especially keep reading exemplary modern and contemporary short stories.
    Thanks, auntie, for in general good advice and for taking the time to comment.

    Because this was an experiment in flash fiction, I only allowed myself 500 words for this project. I really had no time or space for other characters under this constraint. My object was to be with Violet during her last moments and see if I could capture any of the mood I would expect to be there. One necessity for no other characters is that Violet has purposely isolated herself. People do isolate themselves for this act.

    Perhaps this is not really a short story. A short story has particular aspects of form with lattitude. I know you are more familiar with the critical details of those aspects than I am. If not technically a short story, there was no where else I could post it that was more appropriate, since it is not a poem and not a blog-like musing.

    Whatever this form actually is, I have a group of them I hope I have not wasted my time or the time of others on, with only one character. All of them are extremely short and the subject under some intense focus. My greatest hope is that I can at least hold someone's interest for 500 words. If I have really not done that I cannot expect to hold them for longer. I will defintely take your advice to heart and look into the matters I feel are relevant as I yet again re-examine this piece for flaws from the point of view of otherness. Stepping outside oneself for these examinations is the most strenuous task for me, trying to anticpate how others will read, where they might stumble or become confused. As one becomes attatched to any piece, its flaws become more difficult to see. As the author proceeds with revisions, the text is only improving to him (or her) and becoming more clear. But after walking a short path so many times, how does he guarantee that others can walk it easily? The author can walk it blindfolded by now, missing every bump, just as he might miss those bumps in his re-examinations. Because he misses them does not mean the bumps are not there.

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    Got 'cha. I've been wondering myself as to appropriate location for certain bits of creative writing, especially when they're not, strictly speaking, technically short stories. Maybe the particular forum could be renamed "fiction." For instance, I think that I might've posted my novella, The Lyin' King, here. If not, it could've been put in "General writing."

    There's no dispute at all about the mood you established in your piece, but again, some clues or flashbacks judiciously dropped in would have enhanced the overall effect.

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    Well, (I pulled out of Pittsbutg a-headin' down that eastern seaboard), Yikes! I have to write this painful but not devastating post now.

    While down the coast these past five days I watched television late one night. I surfed right into the original version of The Shining starring Jack Nicholson. Those two spirit girl children invited the boy child to join them Forever and ever and ever.

    That line is used in this story, as well. It is an important line, I feel. It promtes a surreal moment which I was striving for. But I was always a little suspicious of it, too.

    I feel like a plagarist. I don't even know if King was the first to use this line exactly. Maybe it doesn't matter; maybe it is so common it is like a slab of public domain. For myself, my own standards will not let me keep the line, however.

    I would really love to hear how others feel about this issue in this particular case, since it is so clear cut. Am I overreacting? Doing just right? What?

    I have not found a suitable replacement line which carries the right weight in the right spot as this one does for me. When I do, I will post it.
    Last edited by desiresjab; 10-04-2016 at 09:55 PM.

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    Okay. I said I would publish the change. I am not trying to keep my story at the top of the page. It embarrasses me that it looks this way, but it embarrasses me more when I feel I have unconsciously plagarized something. I am a real worry wart about this.

    Forever and ever and ever, is revised to a simple forever.

    On one point of Auntie's critique, I feel that Violet's blank expression is quite relevant and I do not see what other expression she might have during these moments of her surreal experience. Even the dust devils seem to have come alive to participate in her death, while she goes through the motions like a robot. I cannot see her doing it any other way.

    I have now edited the story of the first post itself.

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