Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Entry #2

Eternal Sleeper
by Jim Stitzel

The Lonely Moon gazes down on me,
The pale, immortal Son of Night.
It wakens the Eternal Sleeper,
Who calls to me, and I answer.

She walked, barefoot, across a carpet of moss. Her song - soft, haunting - danced on a breath of air, spun through the wood.

Only the trees observed her progress, their bony fingers scraping across her skin, clutching her hair, tugging at her thin nightgown. Dead leaves chittered nervously, a lament for other lost souls. She seemed not to notice, hypnotized by the enchantment in the air.

She sang, even as vines wrapped around her and bore her to the great old oak. She greeted it like an old friend, her hand caressing its rough surface.

"Hello, lover," she whispered. "I have been waiting for you."

It stood wide to receive her, molding itself to her as she was pressed into it. Washed in the moonlight her features were transformed into gnarled bark as the oak claimed her for itself. Her song ended only after the tree was whole once more.

* * *

Somewhere in the forest is an ancient oak tree with a human face. The legends all say that once upon a time, the Eternal Sleeper reached out from its slumber and called a young maiden to itself, that she went to it willingly and became one with it, a song of joy on her lips. It is also said that when the Lonely Moon shines upon the Sleeper, you can hear her singing still.


Joni said...

The mythical feel of this is great. It sends me to another place. Enchanting.

Bernita said...

Do the other trees seek to retard her progress or do they try to entrap her for themselves?
Nice mythic image.
Cute compliment to Anne too.

Anonymous said...

Great storyline - nice connection to mythology, and to our inner selves. The connection to the natural world, and its infinite powers, is clearly defined. Great flow - can we tell that I loved this story! ;-)

Flood said...

Love how you included a Pale Immortal in this, Jim. Working both sides of the contest's theme.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Joni. As I commented over on Anne's site, Jason's pictures always seem to bring out the dark fairy tales in my writing.

Bernita, it's a little bit of both, I think, plus some creative metaphor mixed in there. This forest is new to me, too, but it's starting to reveal some of its personality and nature to me.

Glad you loved it, Bonnie! That makes me smile. :)

Flood and Bernita, that reference was actually a bit of inspiration I almost threw away until I realized that it actually worked in this context.

Thanks for the comments so far!

anne frasier said...

jim, this is wonderful!!!

i've always been fascinated by the strange and ominous lure of nature. it can be as frightening as any serial killer. i also love the way you tied everything together. it goes so well with the image -- and you even got both titles in there. haha!! good job!

Robert Ball said...

I love the poetic narrative rhythm and pacing.

Anonymous said...

A poem or a song- good imagery.

mr. schprock said...

I love this line: "Dead leaves chittered nervously, a lament for other lost souls."

Great writing.

Anonymous said...

I love a nice walk in the woods. Anybody want to join me. Great story!

Scott said...

This is definitely nice writing, and I think ambitious. Tackling a fairytale is no mean feat.

Anonymous said...

Stop it, Anne. You're making me blush. :) But seriously, I love the forests when it comes to fantasy writing. I grew up in the mountains of Applachia, and there was always something magical about walking among the trees. Thanks for the compliments!

Robert B., the irony is that I hate writing poetry. I've never been good at it, and I've always had trouble interpreting the stuff. Yet I find that a certain kind of poetry keeps creeping into my writing. Very weird...

Anna, thanks, kiddo. I'm hoping to see your story show up in here somewhere.

Thanks for the kind words, Linda.

Mr. Schprock, you can thank my wife for that line. I revised that one at her suggestion. The original was... well, let me just say that it didn't flow all that well.

Robert R., I can pretty much guarantee that we've not seen the last of this particular forest. There is definitely a much larger story here to be told.

Scott, believe me, I hadn't intended it to be a fairy tale. (Isn't it fun how stories tend to take on a life of their own?) But as I was revising, it certainly did seem to me that it held that fairy tale feel, albeit with a much darker atmosphere than your traditional fairy tale. (Though, if I understand my history correctly, most modern day fairy tales originally started out as something much, much darker.)

Again, thanks for all the comments and feedback so far!

anna said...

My favourite kind of story!
Pure enchantment.

Tami Klockau said...

Love the whimsical feel of this story! Great story Jim. I love the desciption, I feel as if I'm right there.

Anonymous said...

Mystical and alluring. Love the ancient oak with the human face.

writingblind said...

I know I already told you on your blog but I love this story. It's so poetic, I just love what you did with it.

Bhaswati said...

Beautiful writing. The language is as enchanting as the setting and the myth.

Anonymous said...

Great job of weaving the theme throughout the story!

Anonymous said...

Very descriptive. A good example of SHOW DON'T TELL.

Anonymous said...

It seems like that ol' moon is bringing out the poetic feel in a lot of us!

Anonymous said...

anna, it's my favorite kind of story, too! I've always loved the magical and the mysterious.

Thanks, Tami. I'm pleased that the story pulled you in.

KLG, I like the Sleeper, as well. I believe that there is more story to tell about it yet.

Rebecca, I'm not a poet. Not at all. So it's always a satisfying feeling when I find poetry in my stories. That's part of how I can tell that the story has a life of its own.

bhaswati, I'm glad you found it enchanting. It haunted me right from the moment I saw Jason's picture.

Thanks, fringes. One of the things I'm learing to do in my writing is weave a tight, cohesive tale.

bofire, thanks so much for your comment. Showing rather than telling is one technique I have so struggled with in my writing. It's such a subtle difference, so I'm glad that I was able to break out of that vice for this story.

nicholas, I've noticed that, as well. It's been great to see it!

Anonymous said...

I think I see the druid in your soul peeking out, Jim. Very nicely done. I love the sing-song rythem of the story.

Story Blook said...

I love the imagery of union between nature and woman in this story, sensous and sensitive.

Anonymous said...

Ohh I like this story! It had me riveted and intrigued right from the very first sentence of her haunting song. I could see it all so clearly. So inspiring!! You mentioned you're not a poet but poetry certainly seems infused in this piece of writing. Lovely. :-)

Fran Piper said...

This story, while it stands alone, also reads almost like a mythical prolog to a modern fantasy novel.

Great job! Let us all know if you decide to write the book!

Anonymous said...

Sandra, it's interesting that you say that because my username for a CCG discussion forum I frequent is DruidOverlord. :)

Story Blook, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Diana, thank you for your encouraging comments. Occasionally, I get 'lucky' and find that the story has taken over for me and written itself. It chose its own poetry. :)

Fran, I definitely will. At the very least I can see a longer short story coming out of this, but I can tell that the Sleeper belongs to a much larger universe. I can't wait to explore it!

Wonderful contest, as usual, Jason! Thanks so much for hosting another! I already can't wait to see what the next one looks like!

Anonymous said...

Jim, a most interesting perspective on nature's beckoning...

Anonymous said...

I wasn't expecting her to be swallowed into the tree! The thought is disturbing and strangely wonderful at the same time. Good pacing and storytelling.