Saturday, January 09, 2010

Entry #87

Winterwing
by Nathaniel Lee


It was not a sound that drew my attention. I looked down at my feet, at the source of the not-a-sound. The shadows of trees crept across the sidewalk like black water.

A bird stretched its shadow-wings on the shadow-branches in answer to my gaze. Wide wings, delineated against the concrete. Predator’s wings. A hawk.

I looked up at the trees, squinting against the sun. There was no bird on the branches.

On the sidewalk, the bird hopped back and forth, agitated.

hurry, hurry, it said. oh hurry.

“Hurry where?” I asked.

follow, came my answer. follow and hurry.

It fluttered to the next shadow-tree, paused, looked back. I glanced at the sky. The sun was sinking low. Soon there would be no shadows, or it would all be shadow. I looked back to the shadow-bird, thin and elongated. I followed and hurried.

My guide led me into the woods, one shadow among many on the snow. We crunched across icy leaves and stopped in a clearing.

here

I looked at the ground. A bird, solid and real, lay stiffly in a small depression. Dead. I saw no wounds, no sign of scavengers.

look. see.

“Even the fall of a sparrow,” I muttered. There had to be a witness, I knew. Where was he? Was it only songbirds who earned his love? Had he left us? Were we alone now?

Then I understood. “I see you,” I whispered.

The sun set. The shadow was gone.

31 comments:

Loren Eaton said...

I haven't had anything send the gooseflesh crawling along my arms and neck for a while. This did it. Eerie, haunting, elegaic. Beautifully done.

Ayodele Morocco-Clarke said...

A vision? An epiphany? Whatever...I like this story.

pjd said...

This is compelling all the way through, and I love the spirituality of the finish. The pacing is terrific, and the writing is clean and efficient. Very, very well done.

Scattercat said...

Thanks, guys! (Generic 'guys' here.) It took a lot of trimming to get this down to 250 words, but I think in the end it came out significantly stronger. Sometimes the trimming I do to get to 100 words every day ends up with a weaker or less coherent story...

Also, does anyone else find themselves wanting to tweak and fiddle with things after the story is posted? It's like getting an itch during a wedding.

Leah said...

I like this a lot. To me, it's like the spirit of the dead bird.

Leah said...

PS yeah, I tend to want to tweak and fiddle after something is posted. On my own blog I can do that but not here or some other places lol At least with my entry this time (it's my 2nd here), there's only one word I really want to change. The first one, I wrote it too quickly and sent it before I should have.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Wow. Just wow. Goosebumps and all. Not sure what else to say. Sitting here feeling the after effects.

Bernita said...

Lovely subtle depth to this. Nice balance of contrasts.
"hurry, hurry, it said. oh hurry." oh hurry made the shadow real.

Craig said...

You've managed to create a real sense of urgency with the shadow bird. Well done.

JaneyV said...

Nathaniel - I thought this was a very fine piece. I loved the progression and the ending was very satisfying.

Lena said...

One of the few stories till now which has given me real goosebumps. Jus wow! Can't add more. Great work!

Michelle H. said...

Very nice! I love the pacing with the "hurry." You could feel the urgency.

Aniket said...

Wow! The only thing that disappointed me was that I didn't have popcorns to stuff in my mouth as I read it. :)

Very well written.

catvibe said...

I loved this through and through. The end gave me goosebumps. Just beautiful.

Preeti said...

Hmmnn... scary. And the character definitely has a heightened sixth sense to be able to home in on such signals.
Very nicely done. Liked. :-)

Scattercat said...

I remain pleased that this was enjoyable for all y'all. ;-)
If people *really* enjoy this one, there's more like it every day over at Mirrorshards, my story-blog.

To me, it's like the spirit of the dead bird.

I tried very hard to keep it open to interpretation. Different readings are not only possible, but downright encouraged. I loves me some ambiguity, don'cher'know.

Kartik said...

Mysterious tale ... well written! It's downright creepy to follow ghost-birds(if that's what it was).

B. Nagel said...

The shadow-play reminds me of Peter Pan. The ending is poetic without being trite. Good job.

laughingwolf said...

super!

AidanF said...

I like the pacing that kept making me want to race forward.

Laurel said...

Riveting first paragraph. The whole tale is beautifully written and I love the spirituality. The reference to the sparrow falling is especially nice. He wants to be acknowledged.

The shadowplay is enthralling.

Mystical and elegant.

Four Dinners said...

A sixth sense and an aura of mysticism.

In 250 words???? How did you do that????

Fantastic!!! (and a bit creepy)..;-)

Deb Smythe said...

Eerie, elegant, mysterious-I echo what's been said above. Well done. I'll be pondering this one for a while.

Charmaine said...

Yes, of course, having "a witness" makes life, death, love or hell...real.

Profound.

Chris Eldin said...

I'm not sure I completely understood all of this, but I enjoyed it none the less. I love the mystical feeling left behind. A gentle rendering, very nice.

james r. tomlinson said...

I could visualize the frantic movement of the birds and would have to agree with Chris, there's a touch of mysticism here.

Terri said...

This truly is beautiful.

SzélsőFa said...

apart from this very line Was it only songbirds who earned his love it all made clear sense to me. in my interpretation it's the dead bird's spirit that visits the mc so as to have someone to witness him (the bird) stepping over to the other side.
even if it wasn't your purpose i read that all interpretations are encouraged, so i did feel encouraged to interpret your fabulous writing this way.
great job.

Scattercat said...

The line about songbirds is a second reference to a quote from the Bible about God's love and compassion, in which He notices "even the fall of a sparrow," and thus the reader is to be assured that God also notices their struggles.

SzélsőFa said...

thanks Scattercat for the explanation. I am not really familiar with Biblical references.
yet I perfectly got the meaning of that even the fall of sparrow

Aerin said...

Dear Entrants #1-105,

I have read your pieces so that I can fairly participate in the Readers' Choice vote. (I read all of them through last week, before I started commenting.) I will be coming back around to offer my keep/tweak comment, but I didn't want anyone to snark.

Cheers,
Aerin (#236)

BTW, it's perfectly fine if you still want to snark, but this way you can choose a more appropriate subject, like the Golden Globes or those wretched Old Navy dummies.