Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New Beginning 391 (short story)

Hush now. Be still. I have a story to tell.

Not long ago and not far from here, in a small town up in the hills, lived a farmer and wife who longed for a baby.

For many years they kept their longing close to their hope, but when their hope ran out they were left only with longing and the longing grew until it became pain. When the pain grew too great to bear, the farmer took his wife down to the coast in the quiet days after the harvest, and told her it was time to put the longing away.

He was a kind man who regretted the harvest, cutting his crops with whispered promises that he would save the seeds and next year they would grow taller and prouder than ever. When he told his wife that they must forget about the baby they would never have, he tried to do it with the kindness he showed his crops, with stories of foreign travel and an unencumbered life, but the tears in her eyes washed away his kindness and in the end he blurted out the truth: 'I don't want to try any more'.

No, you can't have any ice cream. Hush and listen.

The kind farmer removed a Cabbage Patch Kid from beneath his overalls and held it high. "This here's the only baby we need," he said. "Billy Bob'll make a fine boy. Now quit yer' ballin' and fetch me some grub, woman."

But as the kind farmer spat chewing tobacco on the ground, an evil grin surfaced on Cabbage Patch Billy Bob's face, and--

Sit still! You think hillbilly sci-fi is easy to do? Now be patient while I finish telling the story . . .

Opening: McKoala.....Continuation: The Church Lady


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuation:

He buried the axe in her head, and cried out as he threw her body into the ocean: “I’m not going to try any more.”

--Sarah L.

Evil Editor said...

Very nice. A fairy tale for grown-ups? I see no reason to change anything. Well, I'd make "any more" one word, but that may be an American thing.

Anonymous said...

And the kind farmer removed a Spongebob Squarepants doll from his overalls.
"This is all we'll ever need" said he, as the porous and yellow creature began to do a little dance.

What agent wouldn't want to represent the next hillbilly romance sci-fi?

Robin S. said...

Hi Mckoala,

I really like this. When I read it, I can almost hear a narrator speaking softly - it's a good effect.

My favorite line is the last one, the way you've built so much depth of feeling into it, and explained so much in such short and beautiful order.

I couldn't come up with a continuation for this one, but CL, you sure did, and it's a good one.

Anonymous said...

I liked this alot. I'd like to read more.

Unknown said...

If you're writing for an older age group, I would think about killing the first line. I don't know how this fits in the overall story, so maybe it's necessary, but it just seems extraneous right now. It's easy to tell from how the story starts, that this is a story within a story beginning. Adding quotes or a good font choice when the book is actually published would make this absolutely clear.

This is, of course, personal opinion. I agree that the rest of this is really well done. Of course, if this is the sort of legend where the wife leaves the farmer, the farmer's soul sprouts a seed of evil, and he ends up killing everyone else's babies until the town ties him in a dark abandoned cave and blows up the entrance, then that would be a lot more awesome. =D

JL Carr said...

I have to say I'm not thrilled with the whole third paragraph. "For many years they kept their longing close to their hope," stops me while I'm reading. It's one of those pretty lines that doesn't seem to actually mean anything. Do you mean that all their hopes go towards having a baby?

As a reader I prefer plain language to flowery, so it might be personal preference. But the rest of the paragraph is like a flow chart - the hope leaves, they're left with longing, the longing becomes pain, then the pain's gone and it's time to get rid of the longing.

I know for a beginning like this you don't have to show everything rather than telling, but maybe there's a better way to get their pain across than the timeline of inner turmoil.

Peter Damien said...

Beautiful beginning (and funny continuation). I would read the rest of this short story happily.

Sylvia said...

I was slightly confused at starting with what seemed like a fairy tale being told to a child (hush now) and then shifting to an adult trauma that a child could (probably) not understand. Having said that, I liked this and I liked the picture I received of the man. I'd keep reading.

none said...

I can think of at least one "real" fairytale that's concerned with childlessness--Tom Thumb. There are probably others. I would think most children would be able to identify with wanting something and not being able to have it.

Chris Eldin said...

I really liked it, and would definitely read on. I liked the writing, the tone, and the subject.

Nicely done!

Wonderwood said...

I saw this short story on Elektra's crapometer and I enjoyed it. I agree that the opening "hush" line could be dropped without losing a thing.

Excellent continuation Church Lady! I think you might have written the continuation to my opening several months ago, it had a similar hillbilly theme. Nice job!

McKoala said...

Thank you EE and very close. It's more of a myth than a fairy tale. No Chuckie Cabbage Patch Dolls, CL, sorry, but LOL! They do get a baby, but as in all of these tales, things don't go quite as they might have expected... There's a draft up on the Crapometer, about six posts down, but the ending has changed since then.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was top notch, all the way through, and the continuation brought guffaws, both internal and external! Well done, McKola. (IMHO) I would love to read more and the fact that it is a short story makes me think that I WILL BE reading it, in some mag or anthology soon!

PS I liked P3 (seems like it could be combined with P2, tho)

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

I really liked this alot. I like that first line and I love the flow and feel of the language. I really want to know more so I think I'll go poke around to find out the rest of the story. See, it worked for me!

And CL - that was great! hillbilly sci-fi - a whole new genre coming soon to a trailerpark bookstoren near you!

Nancy Beck said...

This was lovely.

I have at least one big book of myths, and this reminded me of the beginning of many of them.

Good job! :-)