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Author Topic: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers [RESOLVED]  (Read 1482 times)

Welcome, once again, to another bout of the Fortnightly Writing Competition!

It is April, and Persefone has returned. Thus, it is only fitting that we write about...

FLOWERS


Flowers are lovely, are they not? The scents, the colours, the gentle hum of the bumble-bees... Flowers can be found in a lovely garden, where a romance is about to begin. Flowers can be found upon a casket, where one story has come to an end and, no doubt, another has begun. Precious saffron comes from beautiful crocus flowers, opium comes from blazing poppies. Poppies, that thrive on old battlefields and on lapels. Belladonna and hemlock are flowers, too, lest we forget. There is no end to what you can do with flowers...

Get your 'flower power' on, and write a piece that relates to flowers, and post it in the thread before midnight, 20th of April.


Since the world is quite disorderly at present, extentions to the dead-lines are quite possible, if required.

Best of luck!

For the Newcomer: The Fortnightly Writing Competition is, well, a little competition in which we write and post a text within a fortnight, and then we vote to see which one is best. The winner is then to select a new topic and start a new round. It is very fun!
« Last Edit: 29 Apr 2020, 02:15 by Reiter »

Sinitrena

  • Mittens Serf
  • Wheel of Fate
    • I can help with translating
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers
« Reply #1 on: 06 Apr 2020, 22:15 »
Oh, interesting. I have several ideas already. Now, what is the best one...

Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers
« Reply #2 on: 13 Apr 2020, 22:48 »
De grâce


Jacob opens his shutters on a beautiful Wednesday.

His garden shimmers in the spring dew.
It never looked better. This is a comforting sight for the old florist - the promise of a full stall, the promise of better times.

Skipping breakfast, he grasps his (t)rusty pruning shears, a pair of gloves and ties on his apron.
Now he's kneeled in the grass, busy amid the gladious.
The gardener gently grabs a stem and open the blades – the first picking of the season!

A small voice emerges from the patch:
- "Don't cut the flowers."

His vision isn't so sharp any more and it takes him a while to notice a tiny figure sitting on the petals, staring at him.

Seconds pass without a move from either side.
He puts his hand forth and makes another attempt.
- "Please".

The old man frowns and mumbles:
"These flowers are mine. They grow in my garden, on soil that I bought, with water from my faucet."

She gets up and crosses her arms, her head barely emerging from the plant. Two piercing eyes are fixed on him.

He brushes the nuisance off with a wave of a hand and closes the blades.

The annoyed gardener proceeds to cut a couple more flowers and put them in his basket. Only after a while does he perceive a sob. He lowers his head and squints.
The puny figure is still there, lying in the grass. The oak leaves which form her dress are torn, dangling miserably on her frail shoulders. Tears stream down her face.

In the morning breeze, an ashamed and confused Jacob leaves the flourishing patch and heads back to the house.

His daughter rushes down the stairs.
"Hi dad, not in the garden yet?"
Before he can collect his wits, she has engulfed a croissant, kissed him on the cheek and left the house.

The rest of the day is spent on a neighbouring plot, as the old man fights the thought that he's losing his sanity.

Thursday opens his eyes on a radiant sun. The majectic garden spreads before his window and the gladius, rhododendrons, tulips, hyacinths, anemones exhibit their colors.
His florist instincts take over. "Time to cut".

Father and daughter meet in the hall.
- "did you pick me flowers for the Bronson's wedding?"
- "not yet."
- "well, have a nice day."

A shudder runs through his body as he slides the bay window.
"Don't be ridiculous."
He silently approaches the rhododendrons and gets his pruning shears out of his apron's pocket. Neck stretched, the ear alert, he watches the garden. Nothing.
"Brace yourself Jacob."
A dozen flowers are removed and carried inside.
He comes back and kneels down. As his hand approches the next row, something grazes his thumb.
The tiny silhouette leans on his knuckle and repeats:
- "Don't cut the flowers."
He's ticked off.
- "I'm a florist, you know. That's what I do for a living."
He could easily throw her out, blow her away like a dandelion. But he'd like to reason her.
- "I promise to replant them. I'll grow even more flowers."
She doesn't step back.
The old man overlooks her desperate attempts to lift his hand, struggling in vain. A distant memory of his brother trying to uproot an old sequoia for laughs comes back to him.
He notices that she's wearing the same oak leaves as the previous day, stitched up with spider thread. He wonders why she didn't fetch new ones.
- "Damn! Am I really daydreaming about the clothes of a fairy?!"
He closes his eyes and shakes his head, as for waking up.

When he opens them again, she's gone.
Jacob lifts his hand and looks under. Nothing.
"Stop acting stupid."
He moves his hand towards a rhododendron.
The blades enclose the base of the flower. Yet his fingers are shaking.
*CLIC*
He glances left and right and proceeds.
*CLIC CLIC*
"Maybe I shouldn't watch?"
*CLIC CLIC CLIC*
"And cut yourself a finger? That's a stupid idea."
*CLIC*
His resolution strenghtens
*CLIC CL-
- "Aaaahhh!"
She was hugging the stalk of a rhododendron. The very same stalk that he had started to chop.
Now she writhes in agony. It's hard to see if she's hurt because she's bent in two.
He looks at the blades in his hand. They are only covered with sap.
When his glance comes back to the ground, he can't find her.
He begins to comb the grass, to no avail.
"Is she playing tricks on me? Is she dead?"

Odette Arby has never seen her neighbour drink alcohol since she moved in.
Yet, here he is, drunk as a fiddler at 10AM.

His daughter wakes him up on the following day.

The sun breaching through his windows carries the insolent smell of roses, a smell he usually enjoys.
- "You gotta cut these flowers or they'll be wasted."

He drags himself  to the garden.
"Of course I should cut them".
He advances a trembling hand.
The light seems to fade out slightly.
"Then why won't I?"
He drops his tool and begins to cry.
(In a low voice) - "What am I gonna do, little fairy?"

On the same afternoon, a truckload of flowers arrives at "Lindy Weddings".
Jacob pops the trunk and takes out several flowers baskets, to the relief of his daughter.
She greets him with a smile and comes to help.
But after a while, she raises an eyebrow.
- "These aren't our flowers?"
- "No."
She puts her hands on his.
- "What's going on, dad?"
- "A little fairy deterred me from picking them."
...
She thinks for a few seconds.
- "Is it because they were planted by mum?"
His eyes fog up.
She frees him of his basket and sighs skywards.
« Last Edit: 15 Apr 2020, 12:09 by Creamy »
 

Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers
« Reply #3 on: 16 Apr 2020, 15:49 »

I'm an ass at writing in english, but if you don't mind...


Another day at Oleandro’s

The sun are already set,  somewhere beyond the high concrete buildings of Bari Vecchia. The dew still on the sidewalks, people goes to work blaming the humidity. Oleandro watch its clock: 7:59. Time to open his flowershop. The old roller shutter make a sound like a burp. The flowers in the morning shadows seems to silently awaiting his arrive. Sometimes Oleandro would to say loudly “All right crew, everybody to your work!”, but he’s the only on the shop. And the flowers does theirs thing in beautiful indifference. With a light whisper Oleandro start the morning routine. A fat man enter the shop, the first costumer of the day?
-   You have a cactus or similar plants? – he asks.
-   Get out of here. – Oleandro answers calmly.
The fat man spit and exit. Oleandro knows this kind of people, they want cacti because are too lazy to watering. Don’t worth the time, better costumers will arrive.
And they arrive. A suffragette bought liliums for the church, a boy orchideas for a date, a politician gladiolus for a famous singer. Someone ask for tips about flowers, Oleandro have always the right one. Hours passes keeping busy. It’s getting dark outside, Oleandro watch the clock: 19:50. Should he call a day? But better costumers often arrive late.
And she arrive. A lady dressed in grey, a fine little grey bag in the right hand. Her long black hairs seems gray in the light of the flowershop. She looks around from a plant to another, moving in slow steps. It’s late but Oleandro don’t give hurry. She stops, pointing the pot of roses by the color of rubies.
-   A bouquet of this. – she say. No “please” added.
-   For what occasion? – Oleandro asks.
She stare at him with cold eyes.
-   None of your business. – answers even colder.
Oleandro don’t lose his pace.
-   I beg your pardon,  it’s my job inform you that flowers are more than pretty things to pick easily. They have meanings, and sometimes grudges. In this case: the ruby roses commonly are labeled as “burning passion”, but the meaning could not be positive.
The lady seems thinking on the last word. Oleandro is not sure, but there was a glimpse in her eyes when he said “grudges”? 
-   Fine then. – she answer calmly – I don’t want it is positive.
Oleandro hold a grin. Yes, the kind of costumers he like the most.
He point his finger on the left side of the shop.
-   So I suggest carnations that mean also “burning passion” but less positive than roses. And if yellow even less.
The lady approaches the yellow flowers, looking closely. Then nods in approvation.
-   And if you need to enforce the message,  - continue Oleandro - snapdragons means “strong wish”. Purple fits better with the yellow of carnations.
-   Carnations, snapdragons… - she repeat at herself, like checking the sound of the words – Suits well.
Oleandro lend a pair of small golden card to her, each it’s blank.
-   Another thing: important bouquets have to be send with a card for greetings, compliments or other message you wish. I have here a fine selection.
She looks the cards and pick one with engraved ornaments of nettle leaves. – This is fine. – she says, not asking for the meaning of the nettle. Like as she already senses it, think Oleandro.
While the lady take a pen from her bag Oleandro picks the flowers and start composing the bouquet, choosing a thin paper to wrap. With the tail of the eye he look the lady is writing “Tonight you d”. He look away.
Oleandro lend the bouquet at the lady, she look satisfied. He tapped on the cash register, lend the receipt to her. It’s intentionally exaggerated.
She don’t bat an eye, take a pair of big banknotes and pay. Oleandro note in the bag the blink of a dark metallic thing.
Then she turn and leaves the shop, without say goodbye nor thanking. The lady in gray exit the door and lost in the night.
Oleandro count the cash, he made a very high price for the bouquet… but his tips on flowers worth the cost.
It’s very late. Turn off the light, close the shutter. The moon is set above the big concrete building. A little haze swept over the streets. Oleandro grins relaxed, feeling fulfilled goes at home. Another day is done. The flowers in the shop rests, waiting for another late costumers.

_

Sinitrena

  • Mittens Serf
  • Wheel of Fate
    • I can help with translating
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers
« Reply #4 on: 18 Apr 2020, 09:27 »
Part 1 of 2

When the Sun breaks up the Rain



On the edge of the forest, no more than a hundred paces from the treeline, on cold stone, in grey surroundings, where ground and air no longer allow anything to grow, a bed of flowers encircles one tiny, unassuming one in its middle. When the sun breaks up the rain and light shines through the clouds again for the first time in hours or days, this is where it sends its first greetings, this is where it smiles and remembers, after a while, that the world is more than just this tiny place in the wide mountain ranges, impenetrable jungles and uninhabitable deserts.

From the sun this bed took its light, from the rainbow it borrowed the colours. In circles, first small, than larger and larger, the colours spread out from the middle. Violet is just a tiny ring, no larger than the spread fingers of a hand, Blue already has the diameter of a forearm’s length, Green again takes its width from the trunk of a tree, Yellow can compare to the stride of a horse, while Orange might be a small hut, and Red is as wide as the top of the oldest tree.

But the one in the middle, the single, lonely one, does not share any colour at all. Transparent and no larger than a thumb, it is made of ice. Its leaves, serrated and parted in three, resemble those of a maple tree, just smaller, the stalk takes its thorns from a rose, and the petals might be those of a water-lily. The blossom never opens, never closes. The flower never turns its face to the sun, but always the sun seeks it out when it shines. And then the flower glitters and tiny crystals sparkle like broken glass and send their colours to the field of flowers and enfold it in rainbows of its own.

Around the patch of colours and life, nothing grows. The ground of the high plateau is frozen and hard, stone and here and there compact earth. Pebbles and rocks are scattered there and no tracks of animals ever break the everlasting grey.

Trees, crippled and broken, which stand in loneliness where the ground starts to decline towards the valleys, seem to look upon the bed of flowers with envy and longing. No birds chirp in the distorted branches, no rodents scamper through non existing undergrowth. What sunlight there is, the trees keep for themselves, what water rains down on them, they thirstily suck into their adamantine trunks.

There, in the mountain ranges, in the forest of little life, hangs a blanket of pelt down from the trees. Stakes hold it wide to the sides and more furs, thin and threadbare, cover the ground. Little fills the shelter but a flower, a dented pot and a jagged knife, and little protects it from the harsh climate but branches that have long since started to grow around the pelts. The wind has rubbed off the hairs from the furs a long time ago, leaving brown skin and mended holes. In front of the makeshift tent, stones are laid out in a small circle, a larger one is polished clean from use and wear. Next to the stone, an old and knotty staff – more grey than brown like all the trees around – leans against the tarpaulin.

A flimsy fire warms the cold crooked hands of an old woman. The holey pelts around her shoulders and hips do little to help. The boots, hardly more than cloth and thread, seem to be grown together with her leathery skin. Her hair, once black, now hangs stringy and thin over her face, obscuring her drooping left eye and the still sharp right one, violet like the inner circle of the bed of flowers. Once full red lips now break the wrinkled skin in a colourless line. Where her skin is visible, it is brown and full of darker liver spots and only where her wrists are encircled by old scars does it stand out in snowy white.

She might seem tired and broken, but in truth she listens sharply to the world around. From below, where the valleys host towns and villages, sound sometimes carries up to her. Now, after long years of the same, the sounds have changed. They are closer. People have moved into the forest. Large groups wander through. From one side they come and from the other and whenever they meet, sound becomes noise. It echoes from the mountains, it washes over her: swords clashing onto each other, people screaming, first in anger, then in pain; the sounds of skirmishes – the sounds of approaching war.

Never does the old woman show a reaction. She always sits or, sometimes, she leaves her ever burning fire to hunt and to gather. But she never reacts to the pain below. Sometimes the woman wanders to the flowers, always she greets them young.

It is nineteenth day since she first noticed the change in the forest, in the way the leaves dance in the wind, in the way the wind talks to the grass, in the way the few animals are driven towards her. Now voices drift to her, harsh when she hears them, but mostly just the whisper of a changed vicinity. The ground vibrates under the heavy boots of three men. They sneak, but the old woman knows the forest. She knows every leave and every root, every piece of rotten wood and every sluggish stream. They hide behind tree trunks and in the recesses between air roots, but the old woman knows how the light shines through the branches and how it reflects off the dew on the mushrooms. Long before they reach her camp, it is hidden. Long before they break through the treeline and become aware of the vast high plateau and the circles of colour and life, she is gone.

She sits, perched up on some branches of the last tree before the emptiness, and watches them as they step out from the shadows and into the rain. The men are clad in thick leather and woollen cloaks protect them from the cold. A coat of arms on their chests certainly means something to them, though the old woman neither knows nor cares. It marks them as soldiers, and the swords on their sides mark them as fighters. The short bows next to them and the attempt of stealthiness mark them as scouts.

Free from the dreary forest, they suck air into their lungs, before their gazes fall upon a field of colour in a vastness of grey. For a moment, they are speechless, then one whispers: “Magic!” and runs towards the flowers.

“Wait!” another calls, but both follow.

While they still run, the first man starts to poke the flowers of the red circle with the tip of his sword. Their stalks bend to the treatment and the delicate petals shake. A wave wanders along the outskirts of the ring. When the man flicks the sword’s edge a bit and cuts one of the blossoms right underneath, it slowly slips to the ground and disappears in a sea of red, then disappears altogether.

Not seeing this, the man kneels down and plucks one of the flowers with stalk and root. A smile is on his face when he turns around to his comrades, who have reached him. He presents the red flower to them, and then it crumbles through his gloved hands, withered and part of the wind. Black ash dances for a moment in front of their faces, then it is gone.

“Dammit!” he curses, “Fucking fragile magic!”

One of the other soldiers laughs. “Would be great to catch us some magic. But that’s hardly the flower to pick, is it?” His outstretched arm points towards the middle of the field and three pairs of eyes follow the hand to the single flower that is only visible because rain, which has stopped now, has collected on it and a little bit of sun peeks through the dark clouds and reflects towards them.

“Dammit!” the first soldier curses again, then he whistles slowly. “That some fine magic over there. Just imagine what we can do with that!”

Without waiting for an answer, he steps into the sea of flowers, flattening them under his boots.

Red plants fall under him, get folded and broken. For a moment, tiny flames spark up where dead leather touches vibrant life, then the beaten flowers crumble into dust. The orange circle holds no problem for the man either. These flowers also fall when he tramples them down. Small yellow petals get ripped from their stalks and the wind takes them away, before they, too, turn into dust further away. The green flowers, which seem almost like grass, only bend to the weight of the man, but where his feet touch the ground, footprints are left behind. When he reaches the blue circle, juice collects on the ground, blue and sticky, and he has to force his legs up for the last few steps. He never enters the violet circle. Before he steps into it, he bends down to the ice flower in the middle.

His glove touches one of the petals, just the tip of the glove and just the very edge of the transparent blossom, as if he wants to test if it is real. He feels it, its coldness and its power. It creeps up through the leather and into his nail, it slithers through his finger and hand. Up through his arm and towards his heart it slides and forces its way.

The other men call out to him from the safety of the grey beyond the colours, but he doesn’t hear them. He does see crystals form on his doublet and cloak. They are ragged and stick out from his clothes, not tiny and delicate, not dew on the grass in the morning, but broken ice on a frozen lake. He wants to scream, but then the ice has already reached his mouth. It fills it, it freezes his tongue, it enters his airway.

Two man fight each other, both wanting to reach their comrade, both stopping the other from entering the bed of flowers.

Long spikes of ice, thin but strong, like those of a porcupine, shoot out from the first soldier, collecting the sunlight in their tips. They melt and with the spikes melt the crystals underneath and with the crystals clothes and man. A fountain rises up for a moment in the hostile environment, drenching the flowers in new rain. Where the water touches fallen flowers, new ones sprout from the frozen ground, leaving no trace of the man who just stepped through them.

The two other men tumble over each other. They slide into the bed of flowers, leaving a new trace of destruction. They scramble out of it, breathing heavily.

“What the fuck was that?” one asks.

“Magic, obviously,” the other answers. His dilated pupils reveal the lie in his nonchalance.

“That’s fucking powerful!” The man picks himself up from the ground again.

“Yeah.” This one stays on the ground, for his eyes only see the crystalline flower. He looks at it, to some degree with fear, but more with longing.

“Strong enough to flatten an army!”

“Yeah.”

“We only need to control it. But how?” He, too, pokes the red flowers with his sword.

“There must be a riddle. There’s always one. A secret or riddle to catch the magic. That’s how it is.” He stands back up as well.

The old woman, up in the branches of the tree, looks upon the men for a while. When the rain ends and the sun peeks through the clouds, she slowly slides down the trunk. Her leathery skin scrapes against the rough bark, leaving cuts and bruises she doesn’t pay attention to. When the man becomes ice, the woman lands on the ground with a feathery jump. She takes her staff out of a hollow between two roots. She leans on it but even though it is shorter than her, it still stands taller. Her back is crooked and stiff. Her long, unruly but thin hair hangs deeper than ever in front of her face, leaving only the tip of her small nose visible.

While the men argue about the best course of action, the woman tries to straighten her back. A few times she opens her mouth, revealing black teeth where they are not missing, and tries to speak. First, it is just a hoarse croaking. Not used to speaking after years of silence, she has to start several times. When a whisper becomes a murmur and then speech, she throws her head back.

“When the sun breaks up the rain,” she calls, and her voice carries over the hundred paces between her and the two men.

Their argument interrupted, they turn around. “Who’s there? Who are you?” one of them calls.

The woman doesn’t answer. Instead, she calmly walks towards the flowers. Her steps are slow. She holds her staff with both hands. She sets it in front of her and almost seems to drag herself forward. With every step, her back seems to become slightly straighter, as if her tired muscles and bones just needed to remember how to move after weeks of sleeping.

“and light shines through the clouds again,” she continues.

“Stop!” The man frees his short bow from his belt and puts an arrow on the wood. “I’ll shoot!”

The woman doesn’t stop. The wind blows her long hair out of her face. The locks whip behind her, strong and radiant. They reveal a face that shows no emotion, no fear, no anger, nothing. Her eyes, violet and clear, look towards the men without any sign that she even notices them. She talks towards them, she speaks in their direction and her strong, young voice carries towards them like the vibrations of a bell, but still she ignores them at the same time.

“when you no longer gain and long,” she says.

“Stop!” the man calls again, while his comrade readies his bow as well. Neither loosens his arrow. The woman is still too far away for the weak string to send the arrow to her. “Who are you?”

The woman doesn’t react. Her steps, strong and purposeful, carry her ever forward. They are light and swaying on the frozen ground, almost like a dance. Her long, slender fingers hold her smooth staff with vigour. She sets it on the ground every other step and swings it at her side in-between. Sometimes, she throws it from one hand in the other and back again. The hemline of her skirt drags over the ground and raises dust and small stones. She takes it into one hand to hold it up.

“when you see neither good nor wrong,” she calls.

“What does this mean? Is it a riddle? Who are you? What are you?”

The woman doesn’t look at them. Her eyes are focussed on the garden of colours and especially on the one in the middle. It is as if she speaks only to it, as if she answers a call from a long time ago. Her full red lips smile involuntarily as if they never do anything but smiling, and so dimples have formed on the edges of her mouth. The scars on her wrists seem less noticeable, less white on leathery brown, but instead white on white. For a step or two, her stride falters when she looks at them, but she recovers immediately.

“when love is hate and hatred’s love,” She remembers.

“What the fuck’s going on?” one man whispers to the other.

He shrugs.

The woman walks. The steps are no longer those of an old woman. Her back is straight. Her face is no longer wrinkled and haggard. Her staff is smooth and green, like a fresh shoot. Hair, once black, then grey, now black again like a starless night, falls down her back in wavy locks. Her eyes a clear. She has passed half the distance to the men.

“no lost affection lets you starve,”

An arrow flits past her ear. A moment before, her head was there, a moment after it is. The arrow lands head first in the ground behind her. Her steps don’t waver. Her tall body glides forward and stones and dust voluntarily make room for her gown. Round and firm breasts fill out the neckline, where golden and silver threads form a rich pattern.

“when passion leaves your heart alone,”

Involuntarily, the two men back off from her and only the red border of flowers stops them. The man who shot takes a second arrow from the quiver on his belt, but his hand freezes in the middle of the movement. For a moment, they see that she is changing, that wrinkles disappear and pelt becomes velvet and silk. They notice grey streaks turn to black and a drooping eye become clear. But the changes are small, with every step and every breath, and in the end they only see a young woman, unarmed and unprotected.

“no pain and sadness makes you frown,”

It takes all their will, but the bows are still turned towards her. She is close to them now, so close that a second shot could not possibly miss her.

“Stop!” one of them calls for the third time. “Stop, in the name of the king! I am...”

His words are drowned out by the stronger presence of her voice.

“when glory’s gone and power too,”

For a second time, the arrow misses her. It flies wide, shot by a shaky hand. She never looks at it. She, the young woman, still has her eyes on the flower.

Even now, as one of the men draws his sword and runs towards her, she still marches forward. He grabs her collar and puts the sword against her neck.

“Tell me who you are. Tell me what you want!” he hisses.

Finally, her eyes jump to him. Her piercing look lets him shudder. The next words are hardly more than a whisper, but one that can be heard far over the plains. “then you may seek what’s no-one’s due!”

“What does that mean? Answer me, woman!”

“I did,” she says.

Behind the men, flowers turn their heads. Blossoms look upon the woman. Where they have ignored the men, now red and orange and yellow, green, blue and violet all turn their attention towards the woman. Just the flower in the middle, frozen and stiff, only ever glitters in the sun. All colours seem more vibrant, all flowers more alive, now that the rain clouds have drifted away and the sun shines bright and strong. A gentle breeze has become the beginning of a storm, but the flowers are unfazed, as is the woman. Only her long hair whips left and right behind her back.

Through the dark sky, a rainbow bends down to the earth and where it ends, six colours are the honour guard of a woman and her flower of ice.

The second man steps closer to the woman as well. “Who, what are you?” he asks.

“Nothing. Everything. Nobody. Everybody. I am the world and the world is I.”

“Stop talking in riddles, woman. Who do you belong to? Who do you serve?”

“When there are sides, I belong to all. When there are none, I am all. When there are thousands, I am none. I have stopped being someone a long time ago.”

“I told you to stop talking in riddles! Do you want to feel my sword in your neck?” He looks her up and down. His eyes blaze with lust. “Or maybe my dick in your little cunt first?” He pushes his sword harder against her throat. His whole body presses against her.

Her eyes, uncaring, never leave him. “You may have my body, if you wish it so. Neither would it be the first time, nor would it matter. Neither would I fight you, nor would I care. If you seek answers, you may ask. If you seek gratification, you may take it. If you seek magic -” She shrugs.


Sinitrena

  • Mittens Serf
  • Wheel of Fate
    • I can help with translating
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers
« Reply #5 on: 18 Apr 2020, 09:28 »
Part 2 of 2


“Magic,” he hisses, “I seek magic.”

“Then you already have my answer.”

“Explain yourself, woman.” He drags her closer to himself. Their noses nearly meet. Eyes look directly in eyes, mouths speak into the darkness of the throat.

“I told you,” she says, “I told you of time, of reason and way. Think, and you may find an answer.”

“I will kill you if you don’t explain yourself!”

“You may do so, if you wish. And you may listen, if you wish. And you may take the flower, if you wish.”

“How, tell me how!” He pushes her back when she doesn’t answer and she falls to the ground. “Useless, you’re fucking useless.”

Her silken gown scrapes over the stones. It tears at the seams. Her staff rolls away. She pays no attention to it, or to the two men who start to discuss her riddle.

“Sunshine, there needs to be sunshine,” one says.

“And earlier, there was rain,” the other adds.

She slowly stands back up and comes one step closer to the red flowers. The holes in her dress mend, her scratched arms heal. The staff jumps back into her hands. She leans her head back and looks up to the sky. The wind whips her hair into her eyes. Cold, biting, she feels it more than in long years past.

For a moment, her fingers stroke the leaves of an invisible flower, of a flower that lies in her tent and awaits her return. Pinkie and thumb hold the stalk and the other fingers play music on the blossom. She remembers it well, the coldness, how it crept into her, how it explored her, how it retreated.

“I don’t want it for myself,” one now says, “I’ll use it for our country. For the king!”

“For the king!” his comrade echoes.

“And the king owns everything here. The flower is his due. That’s enough, right? No personal gain?” He turns towards the woman again, who just stands there. “Tell me, woman, is that it?”

She does not turn to them. She looks down on red and orange and yellow, but in that moment her eyes avoid the inner circles. Slowly, she walks even closer to the flowers and kneels down next to them. She puts the imaginary flower in her hand away in order to pet the red blossoms. The petals feel warm between her fingertips, full of life.

“You really are useless, aren’t you? Just here to say your little riddle and nothing else. I bet you don’t even know what it means yourself.”

He takes a deep breath and cuts through the border of magic and normality, kicking her lightly in the side in passing. When his boots fall onto the first few flowers, he hesitates, as if he waits for something to happen. He looks down onto the flowers. He studies them carefully. They are gone where they fell into them and they flicker briefly when he steps onto them. But nothing further happens.

A last time he looks up to the sun, just to make sure that it is there and shines on him. His steps are fast, then, his strides wide. He crosses the distance in just a few. He, too, leaves destruction in his wake.

When he is close, he draws his sword and pokes the ice flower. When nothing happens, he turns around. A satisfied grin forms on his lips.

He kneels down in the violet flowers. Their gluey juice oozes out under his trousers. It clings to them, then withdraws and seeps into the ground.

The soldier grabs the tiny flower in his fists. He pulls, then halts. Ice halts him. He opens his hand, and crystals fall from his glove. But new ones are there. He shakes his hand, but the ice does not fall down. Like before, it forms spikes on his armour.

The other man pulls the woman on her hair her to the ground. She lands on her back, her head is bedded on a pillow of flowers. She lies higher than the ground and even as he kneels down on her chest she does not sink down. She does not fight him, just stares up into his face and waits for the inevitable to happen.

It happens as ice prances over the soldiers arm. It forms spikes and patterns and snowflakes on his skin. The sun, bright now in the stormy sky, reflects off his body and blinds the men for a second, before he, too explodes in a fountain of lost life. The water drenches both the other man and the woman on the ground. It seeps underneath her and returns life to fallen flowers. They lift her up, they caress her. Her hair only stays wet until they have all returned.

She answers his questions before he asks. “What did you expect? He sought power. He wished to gain. He felt lust, glory seemed desirable. There was passion in his heart and longing. He wanted magic. He wanted and wished. In the end, it does not matter what. He wanted.”

“You knew this would happen!” He presses his hands around her throat.

Her body is still but not in fear. It does not fight the man on her chest. Her eyes are calm and knowing.

Her voice is not weakened when she says, “Of course.”

That, more than anything, makes him back off. His hands shake when he asks, “You, this is your doing, isn’t it? You, you touched it, didn’t you? You have its magic.”

“Yes.” For a moment, the oldness returns to her features. Her hair becomes stringy, her eye droops again, the silk is just pelt and leather.

It is just a flicker for the man. He shakes his head to expel the strange image. “How?”

For the first time, there is something close to an emotion in her eyes. “I sought death,” she says, “But even death held no interest for me. It had no meaning. Nothing did. I sought death and found a flower in the sky. Neither mattered. Once I loved, once I hated. Once, it was the same. But then,” her hands, pressed down by the man’s knees, twitch towards each other but are held in place. Instead, her fingers bend, trying to reach her scars, trying to rub them. “when I came here, even that was done. And because there was nothing else, the flowers accepted me as one of their own.”

She had walked for weeks and months. The delicate boots, fit for a dance in the palace but not a track through the forest and over ice and snow, had been ripped into shreds long ago. Harsh winds had blown branches into her face and left scars behind. Her hair, so beautiful once, was messy and knotty then. The bandages around her wrists had fallen down at one day or the other. She walked without destination, without purpose or reason. The forest was just any other forest, the mountain just any other mountain. When she started to walk, she just wanted to get away, when she fell asleep in the wilderness for the hundredth time, she wanted to die, but when the forest cleared before her eyes and she saw flowers in the sky, even those wishes had left her mind. The flowers seemed beautiful, different, apart of this world and still a part of it. The ice on them, that had frozen their blossoms and stalks, glittered in the winter sun. There was little. Most of the sky was obscured by falling snow.

She had no desire to come closer, no interest in the magic that had clearly touched this place. But this was her way and so she kept on walking.

When she knelt down next to the flowers for the first time, she greeted them as long forgotten friends that could no longer stir feelings in her heart. When she stepped through them, her feet, so long used to the elegant dances of the court, avoided every single one without her even noticing. When she caressed the ice, it was no colder than her fingers and no colder than her mind and heart.

As she had greeted forgotten friends, the flower greeted one of its own. It stretched towards her and licked her frozen fingers. After a while, pollen collected on her hands and a flower grew from her skin.

“This magic,” she now says, “is not for you or anyone still having anything left in this world.”

He punches her in the face. “You did this. You killed my friends!”  Blood drips out of her nose.

“I only warned you. Even for that, I see no reason.” Her speech is slurred. One of her teeth hangs askew. She hardly manages to get the words out between his repeated punches.

She never fights him, but he only stops when she also doesn’t move anymore. Dispassionate eyes are swollen but never leave him, sensual lips are cut but neither smile nor are they distorted by pain.

He stands up. “Cunt!” he says and spits on her motionless body. “You say I can’t have it? Then you won’t have it either. Nobody will have it. Not you, not I, not our enemies.” He picks up one of the larger stones from the ground. It is heavy and rough In his hands.

“It is your choice.” Her voice is frighteningly clear now, not disturbed by blood or broken teeth. “Do as you wish. Your friends made their choice and I made mine. Now, it is yours.”

He tries to kick her in the side, but she is lifted up by flowers and his boot just scrapes them, leaving another trace of ashes. He slips but catches himself before he falls.

While the other soldiers hardly cared about the path they left behind, he tramples as hard and on as many flowers as he can. His wilful destruction cuts an aisle through the colours. It is brown and grey and waits for the ice flower in the middle to destroy the man.

He smiles as he holds the heavy rock above his head and laughs when he lets it slip through his hands. It falls onto the flower, shattering it. Crystals shoot out underneath in all directions. Some land on the flowers, some on the frozen earth where his steps left behind nothing alive, and some drill into his boots and through his clothes. Where they land on ashes, they let new flowers sprout like the fountains before.

Slowly, the man takes up the stone again. There is no flower there and only a bit of violet juice where the rock has landed on the innermost circle. A few times, he strikes the lost flower again and again with the rock.

When he leaves, his feet feel cold and so it leaves him with even more satisfaction when he kicks towards the woman again. She hasn’t moved. She is still bedded on a bed of flowers. She, too, was hit by some of the crystals. They rolled off her body like raindrops in the heat.

Slowly, she sits up when the man walks away. Her eyes follow him. They follow him as his steps become smaller and his legs stiff. She watches him as it gets more difficult for him to raise his feet, as ice glues them to the ground. She watches as he tries to free them with his hands, as his hands shrink back from the cold, as his sword freezes and shatters.

He turns to her, but now she looks into the middle of six circles. Flowers assist her as she stands up, they support her where bones are broken and blood has seeped into the ground. Her feet, naked from years of wanderings, seem to dance through the flowers. No matter how close they stand, they never touch them, they never push them aside.

The ice does not creep over the man’s body. It just holds him, holds him in place, unmoving and unrelenting. He screams, but his words are meaningless.

Some of the flowers nuzzle her legs, welcoming an old friend. They entwine around her legs. She kneels down in the middle of familiar colours, never breaking any of the circles, and lifts the big stone from the ground. In her hands, it crumbles to dust that blows over the bed of flowers. Where the garden is still broken, it heals. When she stands in the very middle of all the circles, the flowers shift to offer her more room, and she shifts to not take away too much. She looks to the sun that shines on her, on her grey hair and the wrinkled skin, on pelts that fall away and on healed wrists.

The man screams until his voice is gone, until his breath is gone and he falls, always bound to this place. Even as the hard ground scrapes his palms, the ice does not let go.

The sun sends a greeting to the old woman. It sends her a rainbow and at the end of the rainbow grows a flower of ice that was once a woman in a bed of six circles.

Not far away, in a hidden camp, in a tent of old pelts and branches that are grown together, a flower melts.

On the edge of the forest, where the trees end and the never ending frozen world begins, a patch of flowers, violet and green and red, blue and yellow and orange, more beautiful than any flower found in the world so full of life, grows on grey and lifeless ground.

Not far away, a man dies and then a body is frozen solid.

But the most beautiful one of the flowers stands in the middle. It is taller than the others. No colour touches its body, but from time to time, when the sun breaks up the rain and the light reflects off the flower and showers the circles in rainbows, one can see black in the petals and tiny specks of violet where the pollen would be. There are no thorns on the stalk and the leaves are long and thin. The blossom might belong to a rose.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Notes:

- The interchangeability of the soldiers is intentional.

- Flower symbolism is complicated and no two websites seem to agree on anything, so I went with this list, where Lotus flowers (colloquially aka as water-lilies) are noted as standing for rebirth and black roses for death (which are the two I wanted).

- Here is the “riddle” again for easier reading:

When the sun breaks up the rain
and light shines through the clouds again,
when you no longer gain and long,
when you see neither good, nor wrong,
when love is hate and hatred’s love,
no lost affection lets you starve,
when passion leaves your heart alone,
no pain and sadness makes you frown,
when glory’s gone and power too,
then you may seek what’s no-one’s due!


Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers [VOTING]
« Reply #6 on: 21 Apr 2020, 00:05 »
Ladies and gentlemen, happy spring! It is midnight, and with no extentions requested, I say that we can begin voting.

In our lovely vase tonight, we have three very splendid flowers, namely:

De Grâce, by Creamy.

Another Day at Oleandro's, by TheFighter.

and

When the Sun breaks up the Rain, by Sinitrena.

EDIT: Also

Full Metal Daisy, by Baron. Silly, silly Baron was a bit late, but I say that his entry is still in the running.

Most excellent contributions!

Now, then! Read and vote on each piece, as according to the categories below:

Character: Who are they, and how well are they written?
Plot: What happens in the story, and how well is it realised?
Writing Style: Which story is the most well-written and built? This would include turns of phrases, spelling, narrative tricks and turns, etc.
Atmosphere: What is the atmosphere and the ambience of the piece like? How does it connect to flowers, and how well?

So, my little gardeners and wall-flowers, read, consider and vote! You have until midnight on the 28th of April to decide.
« Last Edit: 21 Apr 2020, 18:24 by Reiter »

Baron

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers
« Reply #7 on: 21 Apr 2020, 04:43 »
Midnight?  Which crazy time zone did you crawl out from under?  I've still got twenty minutes to spare!  ;-D

Full Metal Daisy

        The name is Bloom.  Jade Bloom.  And I'm a 4 inch tall vessel of destruction.

   That's right.  Some forest creatures are herbivores, and some are carnivores.  Some are omnivores, and some are detrivores.  Me?  I'm an inimivore.  That means I eat my enemies.  For breakfast.  With a side of bootlegged bacon and some moonshine gin to wash it down.  Don't mess with me.

   We pixies are a war-like race.  You can think of me as a super-pixie.  I sleep in the plank position and then get up six hours before dawn to pump pebbles and then shoot up bats.  All morning I practice mixed-martial arts with a squirrel ninja.  The guy moves in fast-forward and uses his teeth like nunchucks, but I can beat him.  All afternoon I nap with my eyes open, designing murderous weapons in my mind as I compete against myself in six simultaneous mental chess games.  In the evening I build those weapons in the illegal hack-shop some of us ultras carved out of that rusty old truck the humans dumped.  Have you ever been murdered by your tongue being pulled so hard it ripped your heart out along with it?  I have a machine for that.  DON'T FREAKING MESS WITH ME!

   Bluesday Blossomber the 14th, 06:00, eastern forest quadrant.  The annual war-games are upon us.  The entire forest participates in these drills in case the humans return.  Brownies, gnomes, fairies, goblins, elves, shrews, and pixies.  I'm with my unit down in a root-trench, the early morning mists swirling like the ghosts of my future victims.  I can almost taste the thrill of mock-battle already.  It tastes like barbecued grasshopper that's been burnt on the outside, but is still gooey on the inside.  I salivate at the prospect.

   “A-TEN-HUT!” the sergeant bellows, and we fall into line like graves on a battlefield.  The sergeant paces in front of us, her sneer drooping lower than the torn bit of flesh that dangles from her left flutterwing.  I haven't seen her in such a fowl mood since she lost all that money on the rabid porcupine fights back in Rotober.

   “We have the privilege of a special assignment!” the sergeant barks.  “Is anybody not feeling special today?”

   “SIR NO SIR!” we shout in unison.

   “Good!  High command has assigned this unit to liaison duty.  You will be assigned a partner of a different race for the duration of this war game.  You are to exchange battle tactics and build rapport, in order that our communal defences should be all the stronger down the road.  IS THAT UNDERSTOOD?”

   “SIR YES SIR!” we shout. 

   “I CAN'T HEAR YOU, LADIES!” she bellows back.

   “SIR YES SIR!” we shout even louder.  But the sergeant can tell our hearts aren't in it.  Damn babysitting duty.  The last time we got stuck with liaising I had to pull a firefly's butt out of a choking frog before it detonated.  I can still feel the mix of stomach bile and fly-poop under the fingernails of my mind.  Corporal Hoppers went so long without oxygen that he passed out; I figured he was dead.  It would have been the firing squad for me after I buried him secretly under the dogwood patch, but it turns out that's how frogs hibernate and he came up just fine later that spring.

   I resist the urge to spit.  No, I channel it inwards.  Up into my sinus cavity.  Yeah, that's how disgusted I am at this whole prospect.  Mother pus-bucket barf rags.  I'm already plotting where to hide another body.

   “McNutt!”  the sergeant barks.  “You will be assigned to private Wraithweave.”  A sinister looking goblin dressed in a spider's exoskeleton emerges to salute his new partner, and they depart with their sealed orders.  Dammit!  Why couldn't I get partnered with the freaky necro-dresser?! 

   “Tearjar!  You have been assigned to corporal Fluffbomb.”  Holy crap!  It's my ninja squirrel sparring partner!  He salutes his new partner and then turns sideways and disappears.  Dammit!

   “Coneway!  You get Dr. Nosefingers.”  A squidgy looking mole emerges to salute, his weird nose tentacles twitching eagerly to meet a new friend.  Well, I dodged a bullet there, at least.

   “Bloom!”  I stand straighter, inwardly praying for a cool partner.  Necro-dressing squirrel ninja!  Necro-dressing squirrel ninja!  “You have been assigned to lieutenant Petal-Flare.  And may god have mercy on your soul.”  A bright smiley waif of a fairy is now in front of me, doing that goofy wave-salute thing that fairies do.  Then she grabs my hand, right in front of everyone, and leads me off like we're best chums on the garden path.  I feel the urge to murder rising, rising....

   “Oh my god, I can't BELIEVE we're partners for the WHOLE game!” Petal-Flare gushes.  “We are, like, SO going to be besties forevs!  I just LOVE what you're doing with your hair.  You've got that whole rambo-butch-cat-backhair-in-a-fight thing going for you!  Is that berry dye?  Who does your wings?  Right now I'm wearing swallowtail with hints of virginiensis, but I'm thinking of going full-monarch in the summer.  Wow!  Those boots are all dog-collar, aren't they?  Do you get those at the Toad Depot or what?  Hey, is that a knife or a machete?”

   I look down and realize that I've subconsciously drawn my tactical survival knife, the one with the serrated back that can saw through bone in a pinch.  “Oh my!  How did that get there?!”  I blurt in mock disbelief.  I dart a quick glance back at the sergeant, who is remarkably only four steps behind us by now.  She just shakes her head, eyes impassive behind those aviator sunglasses made from dragonfly eyes.

   “Uh, orders!” I say, turning quickly back to lieutenant Petal-Flare.  “We can use this to open our orders!”

   “OMG, that's such a FANTASTIC idea!  The last time I opened an orders envelope in the field I totally broke a nail.  Well, it was just a glue-on, but it throws off your whole campaign after that, y'know?  Wait, stop waving it.  I can so TOTALLY do it myself if you hold the blade still.  This reminds me of when my cousin Betuniella sliced open her thumb on that pollen grater!  She was all, like, omg I'm so going to bleed out!  And the rest of us couldn't stop laughing.  They had to glue it back together with spider silk.  She had to carry that spider-butt around with her for like a WEEK in case it burst open again!  She tried to pass it off as a mink purse, but, C'MON!  It screamed spider-butt hairs from a mile away.  Wait, what were we talking about again?”

   The tactical knife is still shaking in my hand, lurching murderously towards my partner in involuntary spasms.  Not here!  Not here!  Get her deeper into the bush, my precious!  Then you can sink deep into her flesh like a half-inch steel mosquito stinger.  Yesssssssss.  Patience!

   “And... GOT IT!” lieutenant Petal-Flare cheers, slicing open our orders on my still-wavering blade.  “Is that nerves?  It's ok if it's nerves.  I used to freak out at the sight of snail-slime.  I know, right?!  Once we get into the fray I'm sure you'll be fine. OMG!”

   Silence!  Sweet, golden silence!  Maybe the squirrel ninja slit her throat when I blinked.  That wouldn't be so bad.  Sure, I would miss the satisfaction of doing it myself, but... hey, sometimes you gotta roll with the punches!  Wait- maybe it was an enemy sniper.  I drag my baffled and befuddled mind back to the task at hand.  We're on a mission here, and I can't let this fairy-ditz get inside my head.  I scan the forest for threats.

   “Are you seeing THIS?” Petal-Flare splutters, passing the orders to me.

   I glance down briefly.  Search and destroy.  Intel reports humans have hidden a toxic waste device in the daisy glade.  Our orders are to locate the device and eliminate it before it detonates and takes out all life within a three kilometre radius.  Intel also reports domestics and mechanicals in the vicinity.  Exercise extreme caution.  Why is this dream mission in the middle of a nightmare scenario?     

   “Shit!” I curse, reluctantly sheathing my tactical knife.

   “Like, I KNOW, right?” Petal-Flare says.  She's still at a loss for words.  Must be nerves. 

   The sad thing is this means I'm probably going to have to let her live.  I'm one of the world's greatest soldiers, but even I can't stash a body far enough away not to get caught AND complete this hypersensitive mission at the same time.  I mean, if we were just running recon then I'd have her in sixteen pieces before the orders hit the ground.  But search and destroy with hostiles in the vicinity?  There's no way I'm missing that, even with a fluttering blabbermouth in tow.  Maybe if a ricochet hit her voice-box, all accidental-like....

   “I guess we better get moving,” she says at last.

   “I guess so,” I reply.

*   *   *   *   *

   “OMG!  Don't you just LOVE how the dappled sunlight catches the daisies in the gentle breeze!  And the smell of the sunlight baking the dew off the grasses: it's like, so peaceful!  I just wanna flit merrily between the flower stems and sing my happy song, y'know?”

   The daisy glade is an obvious death trap.  The open terrain is exposed on all sides to enemy surveillance and sniper fire.  Venturing into it's perfumed expanse would leave you dangerously short of cover when things get hot.  From our vantage under the adjacent fern canopy I can make out at least half a dozen drones buzzing on patrol.  Sure they're just bumble bees in tinfoil costumes since this is just a drill exercise, but we have to treat them like they're floating death machines.

   “I make six-plus mechanicals in the sky, and let's not forget about the domestics,” I say.  “I'd put my money on one in the long grass, and another in the gloom of the cedar forest along the southern flank.  That's where I'd be.”

   “They don't use REAL domestics, do they?” Petal-Flare asks with just a hint of worry in her voice.

   I shrug.  “Usually it's just a hypnotized rabbit fitted with carnivore teeth, but one time they used a dog costume made of sticks and straw and operated by fifteen rat puppeteers.  But that's beside the point: a real domestic could breach the forest perimeter at any time.  We gotta be prepared for the worst.”  I make a show of cocking my gun.

   “Whoa!  There's no WAY that thing is legal!  Where did you EVEN get that gun?!”

   “I made it,” I reply, stroking my creation lovingly.  “And it is illegal.  You don't win wars by playing nice.  It's a standard rifle upgraded to fully automatic with custom rotating chamber and top mounted feed-tray.  Custom cartridge, custom scope, custom barrel, and custom flash suppressor with bayonet attachment.  I've tweaked it so it recoils like a junebug for better aim, and it can fire 160 rounds per minute.  I call it Beau.”

   “Does it take, like, cat-claws for ammo?!”

   “Wasp stingers, 50 millimetre.  These ones are rubber, as per war-game regulations.  But the lower barrel can shoot a stink-bug mortar 50 yards.  What are you packing?”

   “I've got like this bow that shoots LOVE arrows.  One time I had to use it on this drunken chipmunk at the fall festival.  He was so like-”

   “Shut up,” I say simply.  “Here's the plan.  You get all dolled up in flower camo so you can move inconspicuously through the meadow.  Don't worry about the drones, I'm gonna take care of that.  Here, take this.”  I hand her a smoke grenade.  “Set that off three feet west of the device when you find it.  That way it won't arouse suspicion that we've located it.  I'm going to create a diversion from that dead stump on the far north side.  Wait till the drones and domestics are engaged, then flit like a butterfly, covering as much terrain as you can.  We'll rendezvous at the device two minutes after you smoke it out.  Got it?”

   “Wait, WHAT?!?” Petal-Flare asks, eyes wide like a doe in a wolf-pack.

   But I'm already moving through the undergrowth along the fringes of the meadow, a ghost in the shadows.  I highly doubt that lieutenant Petal-Flare will be able to move stealthily enough through the daisy glen to avoid the snipers surely positioned in the surrounding trees, but that's all a part of my plan: the real diversion will be a fancy fairy princess in full floral dress shrieking and flying for her life around the meadow, while I move in undetected to disable the device.

   The stump is twenty yards away; close enough.  I grab a custom-made sing-and-shake mortar shell from my ammo belt and carefully take aim.  The shell will whistle, then send out shaking ribbons and rustling sounds after a timer goes off, attracting the attention of any enemy operatives in the vicinity if only briefly.  Then Petal-Flare makes her move, and I make mine.

   FFSHHHHHHEW!  The shell whistles through the air and plunks into the soft rotting wood of the old tree stump.  I creep silently away, so as not to reveal my location.  Suddenly the air is filled with rustling sounds from the stump, like a helpless bird has got its beak stuck and is frantically trying to free itself.  I see movement in the long grass, and the drones all buzz over to investigate.  Still no movement from beneath the cedars, but I expected as much.  That's where the real danger will come from, and I bet nearby is where we'd find the device.  I count out the seconds patiently.  Petal-Flare should be flitting by now.  Soon she will be detected.  I stroke Beau soothingly.  Soon....

   Suddenly there is a very realistic barking sound, and then there is a creature bounding through the flowers.  It's black and furry, but I can't make out its exact nature as it crisscrosses the meadow beneath the tall flowers.  It is go time.

   I am a shadow.  I am a wraith.  I am one of those insects that is all needle-thin legs that you don't notice until it's just about up your nose.  I am a flower-field ninja!  I am stealthy death, unforeseen.  A brain aneurysm that just explodes your brain from out of nowhere.  And now I am frozen, as the creature bounds past, invisible through the stems and foliage.  And now I am moving again towards the cedar-gloom, searching.  Still no smoke signal from Petal-Flare, but I am not surprised.  I set a timed-clicker flare to detonate in twenty seconds, and then continue my search.

   CLATATACLATACLATACLAT!  The flare sends up a bunch of clappers into the air, and I can hear the drones and creature change direction.  I must be getting close now, as the gloom looms menacingly to the south.  Suddenly there is a swishing sound a plume of smoke two feet to the west.  Well, I'll be a deer-turd pie.  I turn east.

   That's where I see it, through the daisy stems.  It's like a car-battery, only wired to a circuit board and two pounds of modelling clay.  Next to it I see corporal Fluffbomb, the squirrel ninja.  Shit!  He beat us to the prize.  But then he turns towards me, a dopey look in his eye and an arrow sticking out of his shoulder.  Movement catches my eye, and I see lieutenant Petal-Flare emerge from behind the device, wearing a daisy-like a sombrero and wielding her dinky little bow.  She shrugs at me as Fluffbomb approaches, saying “I wuv you!”

   That's when the mecha-cat burst out of the cedar-gloom and shit really hit the moose tail.

Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers
« Reply #8 on: 21 Apr 2020, 08:02 »

My gosh, I fell like a rat among tigers!  :-X

_

Sinitrena

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers
« Reply #9 on: 21 Apr 2020, 12:00 »
No, no, just a mouse embraced by a cat.  :-*



And we're really nice cats.


Three interesting entries and very different.

Creamy: A nice tale about someone learning to let nature take its own path (to put it in a overblown way). Jacob seems like a really nice guy who truly loves the flowers in his garden. He takes care of them, his instinct seemes to be to take care of his garden, no matter what - until he realises that he hurts someone with it. I have to wonder how it can be that the little fairy shows up now, when he obviously worked on this garden for a long time? Has she moved in recently? Did he never go to this part of the garden? Never cut the specific flower she cares most about? The story starts at a logical moment for storytelling, namely when somthing in the routine changes, but we never learn why it changes. Obviously that's not what the story is about, put it just left me wondering. I like the two-line perspective change to the neighbour. Just to see how his behaviour - making complete sense for him - is seen from an outside perspective, though again, does the fairy only care about one specific flower? Is she the only one? Is it just Jacob's garden?
I can't say I'm a fan of the formating. It seems just so broken up, and starting dialog with "-" is just not usual in english and dialog tags are usually in the same line as the spoken text. It's still clear enough, just a bit weird.

TheFrighter: Oleandro is an asshole - that's more or less the first thing I noticed. I don't think main characters have to be likeable, but they shouldn't turn me away immediately either. I mean, answering a question about a cactus with "Get out of here" is not only rude it's also extremely bad for buisness. Even if he doesn't sell cacti, or doesn't like them, we're talking about a flower shop here. Oleandro comes across as extremly arrogant from the very beginning. It actually doesn't get better with the main interaction. He's leading the woman through her purchase, but in a rather condescending manner. It's interesting that your text points out the rudeness of the woman (-   A bouquet of this. – she say. No “please” added.; She stare at him with cold eyes. -   None of your business. – answers even colder.) but ignores his rudeness (unless I missed a line) and besides, she does go along with everything he suggests. I like that we get to see a snippet of what the woman wants to say with her flowers, of the backstory she obviously has.
I went through the meanings Oleandro associates with the flowers. As I pointed out in my notes, no two websites seem to agree on a meaning, so I'm not that surprised that the wikipedia list does not agree with Oleandro's interpretations. Let's just say, going by the list, the bouquet ends up with a slightly different meaning.
You said yourself that you're not great writing in English, and to be completely honest, if this weren't an entry for the FWC, I would have stopped reading after a few lines. There are so many mistakes that I sometimes had to guess what you meant to say. I put this in the comment about your writing, because I'm honestly not sure if this is a translation error or another sign of Oleandro's arrogance (or even showing the writer's sexism): Are you sure you wanted a suffragette to buy flowers? Macmillan Dictionary defines a suffragette as "a woman who took part in public protests about giving women the right to vote in the early 1900s." (not the full definition). So either your story takes place in the early 1900s (which seems unlikely, because there's absolutely no other hint for it, especially considering there are several hints that it takes place today (an exact clock, turning light off, old roller shutters, concrete buildings)) or you chose a word that really doesn't fit, unless suffragettes are still a big thing in your country?

Baron: Why, oh why, do you so often stop your stories when they start to really kick off? We get a lot of interaction between the two main characters, which wonderfully shows their different personalities (which made me think this story would have been a great fit for the Odd Couple topic a few months back). I was wondering, is Jade Bloom supposed to be an unreliable narrator? There are certain aspects that support the theorie, but they could also be hints at a Mary Sue kind of character: perfect fighter, best in everything, certain arrogance, ... Anyway, I like the take on military action, but again, it stops right when it gets going. Were you running out of time or is it intentional? I actually assume intentional, just based on your writing in general, but it can get a bit frustraiting for a reader.
I don't think you used the flower topic in any meanigful way. Flowers are mentioned from time to time, but the story and the background descriptions focus on the (military aspect of) pixie and fairy life.
The writing is, as usual with you, of a pretty high standard, so I don't really have much to say about it. I like how you show their diefferent personalities through their dialog (or non-dialog; Jade doesn't say all that much compared to Petal-Flare).



I'll abstain from voting for the time being, just in case Reiter decides that a late entry is not accaptable, though I assume they'll allow it.


Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers
« Reply #10 on: 21 Apr 2020, 12:48 »

You said yourself that you're not great writing in English, and to be completely honest, if this weren't an entry for the FWC, I would have stopped reading after a few lines. There are so many mistakes that I sometimes had to guess what you meant to say. I put this in the comment about your writing, because I'm honestly not sure if this is a translation error or another sign of Oleandro's arrogance (or even showing the writer's sexism): Are you sure you wanted a suffragette to buy flowers? Macmillan Dictionary defines a suffragette as "a woman who took part in public protests about giving women the right to vote in the early 1900s." (not the full definition). So either your story takes place in the early 1900s (which seems unlikely, because there's absolutely no other hint for it, especially considering there are several hints that it takes place today (an exact clock, turning light off, old roller shutters, concrete buildings)) or you chose a word that really doesn't fit, unless suffragettes are still a big thing in your country?
My sorry, another error of mine! I mean a very religious woman that go to the church every day. Somewhere i read the word suffragette and I thought it was a sinonimous but now I get the mistake!  :-[

_

Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers
« Reply #11 on: 21 Apr 2020, 18:35 »
Indeed, I allow Baron's entry to run in the contest, too. It is but a few hours. It is all in order to vote for it, if you wish.

I extend a hand of mercy to you, Herr Baron, all the way from my superior time-zone! Ha!

(No, but for the future, I stick to standard zulu time when I hold these. I think the forum is set to that time, and it would make the most sense.)

My sorry, another error of mine! I mean a very religious woman that go to the church every day. Somewhere i read the word suffragette and I thought it was a sinonimous but now I get the mistake!  :-[

_

Worry not, TheFighter. Why, we all have to start somewhere, and words and terms can lead you astray, no matter how practiced you are.

These little parties are an excellent way to get some practice in, which improves writing and language alike. It was a very good idea to submit your piece, although it is frightening, because it will be easier the next time.

Baron

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers
« Reply #12 on: 21 Apr 2020, 19:37 »
Yay!  The western hemisphere celebrates its equal status with the rest of the hemispheres!  ;-D

Were you running out of time or is it intentional?

Mostly running out of time.  There was this bigger, tougher time-zone that was bullying my little, scrawnier time-zone.... some milk money was stolen....  I don't really wanna talk about it.  :~(

Sinitrena

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers
« Reply #13 on: 24 Apr 2020, 17:39 »
Well then, my votes:

Character: Creamy's Jacob. I like how he cares about his flowers by both taking care of them and respecting them for the fairy
Plot: Creamy. A nice little tale. Some parts might need a bit eloboration bu otherwise a good little plot.
Writing Style: Baron. Baron's writing is always solid. Creamy was nice enough but could do with more descriptions and TheFreighter unfortunately doesn't write too great in English. (I'd love to read the story in the writer's mother tongue to see how different it feels, but I don't know where Frighter is from, so my lack of skills for their language might make this impossible.)
Atmosphere: This category is difficult, in the way it is described. Looking at atmosphere alone, on the feelings a story evokes, would lead to a very different vote than looking at the flower connection. I'll go by the connection to flowers more here than the pure atmosphere and that leads me to award a vote for TheFrighter, who has the clearest, deepest connection to flowers. Flowers (and their meaning) are without a doubt the main focus of this story.

Baron

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers
« Reply #14 on: 26 Apr 2020, 03:25 »
An excellent collection of stories, friends!

Character: I vote Sinitrena just for the sheer descriptive power of her writing.  We don't know much about the old woman, but we know an awful lot of what we need to know.  I was intrigued by TheFrighter's lady in grey, but in the end not quite intrigued enough.

Plot: I think I was most sucked into the story of Sinitrena.  It's not quite a fair comparison, since her story was so much longer than the others.  I was right into Creamy's until the end, but I needed more closure with the (imaginary?) fairy.  Same with TheFrighter's story: lots of ominous suspense and then.... what happened?  Did the mysterious lady in grey murder someone?  I must know!

Writing Style: This was close, but I have to give it to TheFrighter.  Yes he needs to work on his verb conjugations, but some of his descriptions are magical.  I loved how "the flowers do their thing in beautiful indifference" and how Oleandro catches the lady in grey's writing "with the tail of his eye".  Creamy had his moments, especially describing the fairy ("oak leaves torn, dangling miserably on her frail shoulders").  But I was confused by some writing choices, such as referring to "a tiny figure" without really introducing who the fairy was, and the neighbour Odette Arby showing up for one quick nosy observation and then disappearing forever.  For Sinitrena it was almost the opposite problem: your writing is beautifully crafted and extremely descriptive, but I found myself getting bogged down sometimes with almost too much description.

Atmosphere: I think the desolate atmosphere of Sinitrena's mountain tundra, punctuated by the magic of the floral ring has to win this category.  TheFrighter had a strong showing in this category with the sinister machinations of the mysterious lady in grey, but that was a smaller part of his story.  Creamy created strong emotions with his writing, but I felt jerked around a bit too much between them to really feel any one thing (wonder, blunder, sadness, folly, redemption, well not really, and the sour taste of judgement in the end).

Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers
« Reply #15 on: 28 Apr 2020, 23:57 »
Lady's smocks and gentlesprouts!

I must say that this is an excellent bundle! I am very pleased, and I think all contributors should be pleased, too. We have four splendid little flowers in my vase, and I would like to talk of each one, before we move to vote.

De Grâce, by Creamy.

The unknown perils of gardening is here. For, truly, to whom do your garden belong? I like this piece, for its gentle mystery. Nonetheless, I feel some sorrow for poor old Jacob, and the poor little fairy. The open ending is most satisfying, as well.
The formatting and some of the sentences would benefit from some additional work, and some time to simmer, but it is quite cosmetic, considering that it works. A pleasant yarn, and a splendid contribution!

I quite like the little picture, I must add! A very nice touch.

Another Day at Oleandro's, by TheFighter.

A delightful piece, and Oleandro the flower-master is quite compelling, to me. I am oddly fond of him. He is difficult and quite rude, but with a love and a knowledge of flowers second to none. I would rather like to visit his shop, if I were in the neighbourhood. Even if he may clout me over the head for being a botanical ignoramus.
I wonder what the mysterious Donna has in mind. It does not bode well, but Oleandro has passed her the arms she needs. They see a lot, these florists.
All together, it is a good piece, and a good method to exercise and develop your English. The only particular problem is that the wrong words are in the wrong places. It is mostly cosmetics, but at times, they change the tone or give the wrong picture.
It is, simply, a matter of practice, and I think that it could work very well to your strength, with time. The more you do it, and the more you write, the better it will be. A most excellent contribution!


When the Sun breaks up the Rain, by Sinitrena.

A very strong piece from Sinitrena's garden!

It is a splendid yarn, this. The riddle is mysterious and the witch is intriguing and the tale is solid. There is a certain darkness to it, but it is not the patented Dark Fantasytm á la mode, happily. It works, it serves the tale.
I love these sorts of tales. Magical riddles are excellent fun, and you can discover all manner of splendid things in the woods, if you seek them. The piece is delightfully archetypical, in a way. The flower, the world, the wilting and growing guardian, and the foolish brutes stepping into things they do not understand, and pay the price. Solid, elegant and lasting. Very well done! Very well done, indeed.
It would have benefited from a second pass, and a few days to simmer, but that is, of course, cosmetics in the greater picture. I will without doubt read this again.

Full Metal Daisy, by Baron.

An unusual sort of fairy-tale, served hot from the Baron. As always, a most amusing and faintly worrying piece, and I must admit that I like both fairy tales and war tales, and the unexpected combination is most pleasing. I shall also admit that I am the littlest bit frightened by fairies, and Baron gives me good reason to be.
The sudden end is a particularly nasty trick, however, and I now demand that you sit down and write the conclusion, or better yet the entirety of 'Butterfly Wings of Terror'. Why, it could be a smash hit! Brian Jacques meets Sven Hassel! I only regret that the phrase 'Garden Warfare' may be a registered trademark.

-----


Now, for my votes, and some mentions. Frankly, it is rather difficult to choose.

Character:

TheFighter's Oleandro is my favourite, for his peculiarities. I am unsure why, but I find him and his devotion to his task most compelling. He is a mysterious presence, more so than his clients, the more I look at him.

Special mentions for Baron's Ms Bloom, also. She is a delight, in her peculiar way.

Plot:

Creamy's piece is, also, peculiarly compelling in its mysterious ordinariness. It is a rather sweet tale, with a slight and intriguing open end to close it.

Sinitrena's yarn, too, is splendid in this category. It is the tale of brutes stepping onto things they do not understand, and what it is to be the lilies on the field.

Writing Style:

Sinitrena's piece is excellent. It is a splendid little tale very well told, and the riddle and the sequence of flowers are a splendid touch of the sort that I am very fond of. Splendid!

As always, a particular mention to herr Baron, as his general style is simply excellent. He knows what he is doing, and is jolly good at it.

Atmosphere:

Sinitrena made a splendid effort, and the atmosphere of her piece is excellent. Its scenery, its tone and the very inspired connexion to flowers is very well done, indeed. It is a tale I would hear told again.

TheFighter's piece is very intriguing, in its normality. The mysterious Donna, and the flower-master, who knows ill deeds will be done, but who ensures that the murderess have the right flowers for the occasion. It is very well connected to flowers, and I really like the ambience.


I see now that I should have split this category, or settled for the latter portion, for it was particularly slim runnings in this part. I shall keep that in mind for the future, and set up the categories in a better manner.

The voting is due to close now, but I would like to postpone it for but an hour or two, just in case. When that time is out, I shall pass the winner their daisy-wreath.
« Last Edit: 28 Apr 2020, 23:58 by Reiter »

Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers
« Reply #16 on: 29 Apr 2020, 01:11 »
Character: Baron.
Plot: Baron
Writing style: Baron.
Atmosphere: Sinitrena.

I'll elaborate later.
 

Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers
« Reply #17 on: 29 Apr 2020, 02:14 »
Well, then! The votes have been tallied, and I hereby pass the Dandelion Staff and the Daisy-Wreath to:

Sinitrena!

The magnificent tale 'When the Sun breaks up the Rain' is the victor! Congratulations! It is now your turn to choose a topic, and start another bout of this competition.

Of course, you will need a flowery court! To the Dandelion's courtiers, I gift:

The Belladonna Cloak to TheFighter, for his mystery-piece 'Another Day at Oleandro's'. May it keep your secrets well, Spymaster.

The Ring of Roses to Creamy, for his melancholy tale 'De Grâce'. May it always calm and rally all fairies in your garden, so that they know each flower pruned is two returned, Herald.

The Jester-Hat of Wormy Jollies, to Baron for his martial fairy-tale 'Full Metal Daisy'. You had better write the novel now, O Court-Jester.

Thank you all very kindly for participating! And, once more, excellent pieces! Good night, and bloom on!

Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers [RESOLVED]
« Reply #18 on: 29 Apr 2020, 08:33 »

Thank you all for the gentle words! I am italiano and still have some problems with verb conjugations and other things in english, i'm working on it!  :-\

_

Sinitrena

  • Mittens Serf
  • Wheel of Fate
    • I can help with translating
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Flowers [RESOLVED]
« Reply #19 on: 29 Apr 2020, 16:14 »
Thank you all for your words and votes. This was a nice, productive round and I hope to see you all in the next one.