Monday, April 03, 2006

Meadow Crossing, Part 4, Final (Fiction)

(Just joining us? Go back to Part 1)

       Voices stole across the darkness. The eaves of the house fell into silence.
       "Wow. Look at that old building," Sally said.
       "Yeah," Jennifer replied. "Pretty cool, isn't it?"
       Their sneakers tapped along the quiet roadway. In the grass, the rabbit flattened, tensed, but chose not to run.
       "How long has it been abandoned?"
       "Oh, years and years. It’s always been half falling down. Once in a while someone boards it up, but kids just rip it open again."
       "Look at the window on the second floor. I wonder why they kicked that one out."
       "Who knows," Jennifer said.
       The moon sparkled high overheard. It's light almost too pure to be real.
       "Any idea what it was?"
       "A boarding school for girls called 'Meadow Crossing.'"
       "What a shame," Sally said. "I wonder why they shut it down."
       The rabbit bolted back to where Nathaniel walked. It avoided the blackest shadows.
       "I did hear a story, but I don't know if it's true," Jennifer said. "During one of the flu epidemics long ago, the area got hit hard, especially the school-aged kids. Many of the girls here got it, and they made the building a temporary hospital. The place was overflowing with people from all over. They even had tents up in the meadow. Mostly the boys, I guess. It was pretty bad. Most people who got it died."
       "God, that's awful."
       "Yeah. Just imagine. Dying so young. Never getting to experience so many wonderful things."
       "Hey, speak for yourself."
       Jennifer laughed. "Not everyone racks up dozens of steamy, teenage romances."
       Sally slapped her arm.
       "Hey! It's true!"
       "Dozens? Give me a break! Anyway, someone had to show you biddies what to do."
       Sally closed her eyes and breathed. A cloud wandered past the moon. "Oh, the memories. A night like this would've been magic. Can't I go back?"
       "Nope," Jennifer said.
       They drew even with the yawning windows. The glass and panes were gone.
       "What's that doing there?"
       Sally pointed to a huge shape parked in the shadow of the house.
       "The bulldozer?"
       "They're putting a housing development in here."
       "You mean--"
       "I think so. The house. The trees. The meadows. They're going to rip it all up."
       Sally's expression fell. "That's sucks," she said.
       Jennifer's footsteps slowed.
       "I don't think so."
       "Why not?" Sally asked.
       "This is going to sound crazy, but I don't think this is good. I don't think this house should've stood for so long. It feels like time froze, but decay didn't."
       They stopped.
       "Something's here. When the night settles in. Like something's waiting. You feel it?"
       Sally reached out into the night.
       "Sometimes it's better to move on," Jennifer said. "Especially in the wake of something so terrible. It's just better to move on."
       Fear tickled up Sally's arms, and she turned away.
       "Can we go?" she asked.
       Jennifer stared, motionless.
       "Can we?"
       Jennifer blinked, caught the look on Sally's face, then started off again.
       A breeze disturbed the leaves as the voices trailed, then disappeared. The bent house overlooked the meadow, and the meadow did the same.
       So close, the gigantic hulk of machinery slept. Metal and gears and gasoline. In the heat of the sun, it's bite would come, tearing the Earth, and chewing the wood to dust.
       Yet, in the heavens, the stars smiled, patient as eternity. Nathaniel and Amanda dreamed the last of their troubled dreams.
       Already they heard the music. Already oppressiveness lifted.
       And the constellations sang a song to lead them.

Go back to Part 3


anne said...

I like the change of perspective here, it's both very effective and very "visual".

Erik Ivan James said...

Good story Jason.
Hard to keep the ole heart down in the chest.
It wants to crawl up into the throat. Become a lump.

Bernita said...

I'd like to see the early parts fleshed out a little more.
It's a beautiful concept.

Ann Marie Simard said...

Wow Jason, it is both unencumbered by useless rhetorics and very beautiful.

When is this being published????

I just love the dialogues - sorry, Canuck accent - they are very real, but the lyrical parts are incredibly good. There's a poet hiding in the heart of the lawyers don't have hearts, but people do....

Take care and thanks for being there when I was so sick...

Ann Marie

Anonymous said...

Anne, thanks! I wasn't sure if I was going to hold folks long enough to hit the end. The reason the first parts were so dense and poetic was that it wasn't normal human perception. It was a haunting from the ghosts' point of view.

Erik, which part or parts did you find poignant? I'm intrigued by emotional responses. Many times I have them where other's don't, and vice versa.

Bernita, this one was tough in serial format. Probably my first experiment to start breaking apart and heading for the drain (but that's good, if I'm not failing, I'm not pushing the boundaries hard enough). I was trying to capture a sense of alternate reality in the first parts. I didn't want them behaving "normally."

Ann Marie, much appreciated! Great to see you feeling better and getting out into blogworld. This last section was intended to contrast with the earlier pieces. Heavy in dialog with a much more "real" feel to it.

Erik Ivan James said...

Likely my thinking (feeling) is weird, but the rabbit played a role for me throughout. Animals "know".
Part 4 brought in a twist of reincarnation.
Nathaniel/Amanda; rabbit/Sally?
I agree with Bernita.
Clean it up, "It's a beautiful concept."

Linda said...

Another great job Jason! :)

Terri said...

Goosebumps. I wasn't expecting this at all. This reads like it's going to have a happy ending but for some reason it made me sad.

Jay said...

You really carried this well - it's hard to keep driving emotion with breaks (of days) in between. I was sad at the end, and not just to find this to be the final.

Anonymous said...

Great POV change! I really didn't expect that sort of resolution, but it worked very well. Bittersweet in a lovely way. :)

Shesawriter said...


This was another evocative and visual piece. Outstanding, bud!


anne frasier said...

wonderful, jason!

Anonymous said...

Erik, very interesting angles! Thanks. :)

BeadinggalinMS, :D

Terri, goosebumps! Cool! I guess I blew the cardinal rule of romance, though. The HEA (happily ever after) ending.

Miss Jay, the serial format does have that weakness, yet I like the comraderie the serial stories seem to build. Thanks for the kind words. The ending is indeed bittersweet. =)

Sarah, thank you! The POV change was the key to the whole piece. I tried to come up with something unexpected. ;)

Tanya, thanks, my friend. :D

Anne, those old houses get me every time. I actually have one real situation I'm going to be writing about....

Bailey Stewart said...

I would love to see this fleshed out into a short story (or even an entire novel). It is poignant, visual, goosebumpy - everthing that everyone has already said. -

mermaid said...

We experience one reaction to an event, place, change etc. with our friends, and a totally different reaction with our partners.

The girls seemed to share nostalgia for a bittersweet story, but it was simply that, a building, the earth, a story to be buried and left behind. For Nathaniel and Amanda, the building, the earth, and their hearts were changing into something larger than themselves, something that would last long after they were gone.

For some reason, this reminds me of The River King by Alice Hoffmann. The soul forming years are experienced quite differently for each individual.

Anonymous said...

You've got a deal! I'll add you to my blog roll.

Jeff said...

Well done, Jason. :)

Anonymous said...

Eve, thanks for the encouragement! I will give it some thought. Perhaps avenues for expansion will come to me.

Mermaid, such an interesting concept you've raised! Yes, the same place and atmosphere imprinted much differently on the two pairs of characters.

Eileen, I've added you too! Thanks for the link. =D

Jeff, appreciate it. =)

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

Great conversation and very mystical and alluring! =D Wonderful, Jason!

Anonymous said...

Kelly, =D. I appreciate the encouragement.

LiVEwiRe said...

I'm so late getting here but it's always well worth it. That really kind of tugged at my heart, you know? It made me sad, but not in an unwelcome sort of way; perhaps it's the nostalgia linked to it.

Anonymous said...

Livewire, no matter when you come, I'll welcome you! Melancholy is such a complex and powerful emotion. Bittersweet. Longing with a warm glow. I'm glad it came across for you. :)

Michele said...

Gee, I go on Vacation and look what I missed!!!!

I was sad with the ending. It felt like something wasn't finished.
Like most lives lost with the flu epidemic - loves were interrupted, innocent childhoods were shattered and family trees were mowed down with a brutal blow.
When I've watched the documentaries, they've always touched a part of me. The frightened part. Your story went there.
Now with the bird flu and the sensationalism the media douses is with, it brings to mind that this could happen again.
Gives me the shudders to think your story could be played out fo real.
Very timely, Jason!!!