Once two horses pulled the Plough, and the ploughboy stumbled behind over clods and lumps of meteor, but now only the patient gelding walks the furrows of night, and both the boy and his mare are gone.
This is how it happened.
The boy goaded the mare once too often, perhaps, or maybe a shooting star stung her hindquarters, but in any case, one night, with the Plough wheeling over Lincolnshire and the land far below huddled under snow and ice, she stopped hauling the Plough, and turned her head over her shoulder.
"Get up," the boy said. He leaned into the frame, one hand gripping the lash tighter. His gaze took in the mare's broad, sweaty back.
"Why?" said the mare.
The gelding nipped her shoulder. "We must."
Ears back, she said, again, "Why?"
"The humans." The gelding glanced back toward the boy. "The humans will be angry."
"In the name of Pegasus!" the mare said. "Look at the size of us compared to the size of them! For pity's sake, grow a pair, would you?"
Opening: BuffySquirrel.....Continuation: Anon.
I"m surrounded by friends and family who own horses (big, smelly beasts) and I pay attention to the three sexes - he, she and it. I don't want stepped on or bit or puddled or gassed.
This sounds like an old myth and it sounds interesting. I like it. But, it starts out in the past and then moves backward in time for action. That's not exciting me. It's not letting my mind see the world of the first paragraph before the third paragraph puts them in the air, flying over Lincolnshire. Then the horses talk and my mind is doing Cirque du Soliel loops to put the scene together.
Take a few more words to steady the reader into the story.
This appears to be the start of a tall tale explaining the origin of the constellation known in the UK as the Plough (and in the US as the Big Dipper). And while anyone can enjoy a good yarn, I would think the main audience would be kids, possibly of an age that would prefer shorter sentences than #s 1 and 3.
On the other hand, the vocabulary and images seem more oriented toward an older readership, so I'm guessing this is a short piece meant for an older crowd. And I'd be interested in hearing the whole story.
I wouldn't use "wheeling" to describe a plough's movement behind two horses.
I'm digging the writing and the subject. I'd read on.
It's interesting and I am interested where it may go. It helped knowing the Plough was the Big Dipper. As a typical American, I just assumed the English believed what we did.
There were parts that I didn't like. The first sentence is toooo long, break it in two. And, the third paragraph/sentence is tooooo long. Break that up.
I like narrators that know Everything so I would choose either the boy goaded the mare once too often or a shooting star stung her hindquarters. I immediately started wondering why the narrator was not certain and then started to make up my own reasons for the defiance.
I didn't like "his gaze took in the mare's broad, sweaty back."
I would prefer something like: "Get up," the boy said. He looked at the mare's sweaty back and gripped the lash tighter.
I think that a more direct approach gives more tension.
Now I know what the Plough is, I like this a lot more.
I'm iffy on "haul" in the third paragraph, and I agree with VKW about the boy's gaze.
I like this very well now, and I think I would have as a kid too. And 'wheeling" works for me to describe how stars move over Lincolnshire, if not how plows normally move in earth.
I thought the first sentence/paragraph was just plain beautiful.
The "His gaze took in..." sentence does sound a little awkward to me too.
Thanks, EE. Now it makes a lot more sense. I, too, thought the Big Dipper was universal - as in we stole it from some other culture. Hm. We still might have.
Interested to see where this is going.
I think I'd like to see a picture of the plough in question, too. That should help a lot with keeping unneeded detail out of the story.
Aww, he'd grow them if he could! lol
Thanks for the comments, everyone :).
When I was a kid, the Plough was known as The Saucepan with the Crooked Handle, but that doesn't make for such a good story idea. If you think of the handle of the Dipper as the horses' backs, that may help :).
Interestingly, the Plough is an asterism, rather than a constellation, as it's part of Ursa Major.
yanno, EE, if you want to read the rest, I can send :) it's only 970 words
Very interesting. It feels like myth-fantasy but a little modernized. Would love to see more.
Oh, and btw, continuation is hilarious :)
I liked it. I was reading it and then it stopped for some reason.
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