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Elipsis
January 15th, 2012, 10:19 AM
-Got another short one for you today. This is a rough draft and I haven't been over it with a fine tooth comb, so mind the slight errors. And of course, enjoy!-

*A Fire in the Winter*

I was sitting in the parlor with a glass of wine, the fireplace keeping me warm for the night, as I stared into the flames. I was lost in my head. The divorce was final as of this morning and I was left with the lesser of two halves. So I had retreated to the old family farm, left to me after the passing on my father. I felt it was a shame that good land should go to waste, remembering how I would help with the daily chores as a young man. How I would break my back as I worked for hours in the stables and fields that I roamed for the first half of my life. I remembered watching from the kitchen window as my father dug the hole out by the ancient willow tree at the back of the property. I remembered watching from the car as the workers did the same for him years later.

But since then, I had rented it out to my old neighbors for them to farm, for I thought myself too proud and educated to go back to a life that had died with my father. And now it was the only thing I had left. The land was deserted now, the weather too harsh for anything to grow. The normally soft soil was coated with a thick layer of frozen snow drifts. It felt uncomfortable to see the place in such a state. So I secluded myself to the only warm room of the house and burned the old moldy furniture for heat. Perhaps tomorrow I would make my way into town for some real firewood.

I lit a cigarette and poured another glass of wine for myself as I watched my mother’s favorite chair burn away to ashes. Thick black smoke wafted up the flue and I wondered what kind of chemicals I could be inhaling. Rather that than cold, I concluded. The dog at my feet stirred and brought my attention to a darker place. Fate had dealt me a shit hand. A dog for a daughter. My attorney suggested I take the deal, less I lose more than I already had. The german shepherd looked up, and must have seen the sour look on my face, for its ears went back and it shifted away from me slightly.

I took the opportunity to get up from my seat and shuffle to far window. The moonlight cast itself upon the snow in a way that illuminated the whole field in an eerie blue that seemed too unfamiliar to me now. It was a silent windless night. The old rusty windmill in the distance had fallen into disrepair and looked almost kitschy now. Someone somewhere would love to have that old thing in their front yard as decoration. Most notably my wife… Now my ex-wife.

It was then that I saw something out of place. There, out past the windmill, near the willow tree and the two graves, was what appeared to be a shadow. It swayed in the stillness of the night. It seemed to pass from solid to transparent, then back again, as it moved from side to side. I stared out at the thing until my glass was empty again. `The figure kept its repetition even as I retraced my steps to the bottle by the fire for another drink. Though, when I returned to the view of the willow, the figure was gone only to be replaced by a stationary solid object that stood upright.

Feeling the need to investigate further, I gathered my sports coat and stepped out into the still blue. I was ill prepared for weather such as this. My jacket gave little protection from the freezing temperatures and my loafers punched through the crusted tops of drifts and left my feet cold and sopping wet. By the time I had made it to the windmill, roughly half way, I regretted not bringing the bottle along for fortification from the cold. But I pushed forward, reasoning that the sooner I dismissed this silly curiosity, the sooner I could go back to warm my feet and belly.

I curled my arms to my chest and trudged on, my chin tucked into my collar in an attempt to keep my face warm. It wasn’t long until I felt the chilling touch of a willow switch scraped over my brow and I looked up to find myself under the old tree. There before me were the two graves, and I had a passing thought of how cliché it was bury loved ones there, on a farm no less. Some things just never grow old. Next to the mounds was what I had spied from the house. A shovel had been pushed into the ground next to my mother’s resting place, a small amount of frozen dirt moved away into a pile nearby.

Well isn’t that morbid, I thought to myself? Perhaps it was the neighbor kids pulling some sort of sick prank. I pulled the shovel out of the frozen ground, which took more effort than I had imagined, and tossed it into a drift before heading back to the house. I hurried to get back to the solace of the fire inside. As soon I entered the house I took off my shoes and socks and coat then hurried to the fire in order to bring my extremities back into feeling. I grabbed the bottle and took a long swig, instantly feeling slightly more comfortable.

I watched the fire eat away at the last of my mother’s chair as I grew drunk and limp. The dog was still curled up, sleeping away the cold as I should have been. Instead I dragged another piece of furniture into the room and shoved it on top of the coals. More smoke boiled up from the fresh fuel and was sucked out through the chimney. I sat in front of the fire for another hour or so, listlessly reliving past events out in my head.

It was then, as I watched more memories burn away in the fireplace that I heard the heavy footsteps of work boots make their way through the back door and into the hallway that lead to the parlor. The wood floor creaked under the weight of the step and I turned my attention to the open doorway. My head lulled and I tried to focus in my drunken state but my eyes weren’t cooperating. A figure entered into view, dark and dirty but very familiar. His boots were wet with melting snow and the shovel he carried was caked with dirt and clay.

A strong heat touched my back and I turned to see that the chair had been completely engulfed in flames. And sitting there in the melting comfort of the cushions was my mother. She watched in silence with her hands idly knitting as I had always remembered her. Footsteps grew loud as my father’s figure drew near and loomed over me. Neither of them said a word, as usual. I felt like a child again. My mother stood up from her burning chair, allowing my father to sit after his hard day in the field, then continued to tidy up. My father ruffled my hair as he passed over me to take his place.

I watched as my mother straightened the books on the coffee table, dusted the shelves, and straightened up. She touched everything she passed in a gliding, graceful way, and as she did so spread her fire to it all. My father had pulled a newspaper out of the ether and had begun to read it as it was slowly devoured by the heat. The warmth felt good. The burning memories all around me was refreshing as I witnessed them all live one last time. Their final moments gave them absolution from all of these years of neglect. I yearned again for the days to work the land, to work alongside my family once again.

I raced to my mother, embracing her for the first time since I was a child. I felt the warmth of her love against me. It grew and grew until we had both been surrounded by the heat. When I let go, I could feel all of the memories melting away. The house was burning around me and so I made my way to the far window again to spy at the willow tree at the edge of the property. I took one last breath before I collapsed and wondered what kind of chemicals I could be inhaling. Rather that than cold, I concluded.

archer88iv
January 15th, 2012, 12:16 PM
I have no complaints. :)

SeaBee1
January 15th, 2012, 04:53 PM
Neither do I. Very well done!

Doodally
January 15th, 2012, 05:04 PM
-Got another short one for you today. This is a rough draft and I haven't been over it with a fine tooth comb, so mind the slight errors. And of course, enjoy!-

*A Fire in the Winter*

I was sitting in the parlor with a glass of wine, the fireplace keeping me warm for the night, as I stared into the flames. I was lost in my head. The divorce was final as of this morning and I was left with the lesser of two halves. So I had retreated to the old family farm, left (given?) to me after the passing on my father. I felt it was a shame that good land should go to waste, remembering how I would help with the daily chores as a young man. How I would break my back as I worked for hours in the stables and fields that I roamed for the first half of my life. I remembered watching from the kitchen window as my father dug the hole out by the ancient willow tree at the back of the property. I remembered watching from the car as the workers did the same for him years later.

But since then, I had rented it out to my old neighbors for them to farm, for I thought myself too proud and educated to go back to a life that had died with my father. And now it was the only thing I had left. The land was deserted now, the weather too harsh for anything to grow. The normally soft soil was coated with a thick layer of frozen snow drifts. (I see the word 'drift' quite a few times. Maybe you should use another word elsewhere to reduce the repetition?) It felt uncomfortable to see the place in such a state. So I secluded myself to the only warm room of the house and burned the old moldy furniture for heat. Perhaps tomorrow I would make my way into town for some real firewood.

I lit a cigarette and poured another glass of wine (I find "of wine" to be redundant, so maybe just "glass" would suffice?) for myself as I watched my mother’s favorite chair burn away to ashes. Thick black smoke wafted up the flue and I wondered what kind of chemicals I could be inhaling. Rather that than cold, I concluded. The dog at my feet stirred and brought my attention to a darker place. Fate had dealt me a shit hand. A dog for a daughter. My attorney suggested I take the deal, less I lose more than I already had. The german shepherd looked up, and must have seen the sour look on my face, for its ears went back and it shifted away from me slightly. ( I understand the distance you're trying to express, but why have you not named her? I'd prefer a name, personally.)

I took the opportunity to get up from my seat and shuffle to (the?) far window. The moonlight cast itself upon the snow in a way that illuminated the whole field in an eerie blue that seemed too unfamiliar to me now. It was a silent windless night. The old rusty windmill in the distance had fallen into disrepair and looked almost kitschy now. Someone somewhere would love to have that old thing in their front yard as decoration. Most notably my wife… Now (I'd remove "Now", personally) my ex-wife.

It was then that I saw something out of place. There, out past the windmill, near the willow tree and the two graves, was what appeared to be a shadow. It swayed in the stillness of the night. It seemed to pass from solid to transparent, then back again, as it moved from side to side. I stared out at the thing until my glass was empty again. `The figure kept its repetition even as I retraced my steps to the bottle by the fire for another drink ("for a refill"? to break repetition?). Though, when I returned to the view of the willow, the figure was gone only to be replaced by a stationary solid object that stood upright.

Feeling the need to investigate further, I gathered my sports coat and stepped out into the still blue. I was ill prepared for weather such as this. My jacket gave little protection from the freezing temperatures and my loafers punched through the crusted tops of drifts and left my feet cold and sopping wet. By the time I had made it to the windmill, roughly half way, I regretted not bringing the bottle along for fortification from the cold. But (However?) I pushed forward, reasoning that the sooner I dismissed this silly curiosity, the sooner I could go back to warm my feet and belly.

I curled my arms to my chest and trudged on, my chin tucked into my collar in an attempt to keep my face warm. It wasn’t long until I felt the chilling touch of a willow switch scraped over my brow and I looked up to find myself under the old tree. There before me were the two graves, and I had a passing thought of how cliché it was bury loved ones there, on a farm no less. Some things just never grow old. Next to the mounds was what I had spied from the house. A shovel had been pushed into the ground next to my mother’s resting place, a small amount of frozen dirt moved away into a pile nearby.

Well isn’t that morbid, I thought to myself? Perhaps it was the neighbor kids pulling some sort of sick prank. I pulled the shovel out of the frozen ground, which took more effort than I had imagined, and tossed it into a drift before heading back to the house. I hurried to get back to the solace of the fire inside. As soon I entered the house I took off my shoes and socks and coat then hurried to the fire in order to bring my extremities back into feeling. I grabbed the bottle and took a long swig, instantly feeling slightly more comfortable.

I watched the fire eat away at the last of my mother’s chair as I grew drunk and limp. The dog was still curled up, sleeping away the cold as I should have been. Instead I dragged another piece of furniture into the room and shoved it on top of the coals. More smoke boiled up from the fresh fuel and was sucked out through the chimney. I sat in front of the fire for another hour or so, listlessly reliving past events out in my head.

It was then, as I watched more memories burn away in the fireplace that I heard the heavy footsteps of work boots make their way through the back door and into the hallway that lead to the parlor. The wood floor creaked under the weight of the step and I turned my attention to the open doorway. My head lulled and I tried to focus in my drunken state but my eyes weren’t cooperating. A figure entered into view, dark and dirty but very familiar. His boots were wet with melting snow and the shovel he carried was caked with dirt and clay.

A strong heat touched my back and I turned to see that the chair had been completely engulfed in flames. And (I'd remove "And" and just start with "Sitting") sitting there in the melting comfort of the cushions was my mother. She watched in silence with her hands idly knitting as I had always remembered her. Footsteps grew loud as my father’s figure drew near and loomed over me. Neither of them said a word, as usual. I felt like a child again. My mother stood up from her burning chair, allowing my father to sit after his hard day in the field, then continued to tidy up. My father ruffled my hair as he passed over me to take his place.

I watched as my mother straightened the books on the coffee table, dusted the shelves, and straightened up. She touched everything she passed in a gliding, graceful way, and as she did so spread her fire to it all. My father had pulled a newspaper out of the ether and had begun to read it as it was slowly devoured by the heat. The warmth felt good. The burning memories all around me was refreshing as I witnessed them all live one last time. Their final moments gave them absolution from all of these years of neglect. I yearned again for the days to work the land, to work alongside my family once again.

I raced to my mother, embracing her for the first time since I was a child. I felt the warmth of her love against me. It grew and grew until we had both been surrounded by the heat. When I let go, I could feel all of the memories melting away. The house was burning around me and so I made my way to the far window again to spy at the willow tree at the edge of the property. I took one last breath before I collapsed and wondered what kind of chemicals I could be inhaling. Rather that than cold, I concluded.

All in all it's a very interesting read. I found very little that didn't fit my fancy. I have suggested some things, but considering this is a first draft without little polishing, it's a very impressive approach. It was a fresh and original idea, which is always the way to go. Decent descriptive writing, without too much or too little in volume. Great story.

Keep it up

Elipsis
January 15th, 2012, 08:54 PM
Thank you everyone for your comments. Especially the leftover errors, Doodally. Much appreciated.

Doodally
January 15th, 2012, 09:11 PM
Any time. If there's anything I can do, give me a bell.

I'll be looking forward to any future works of yours. :)

Grape Juice Vampire
January 15th, 2012, 11:30 PM
This is very good Elipsis. Besides what Doodally found I saw nothing else.

Nevermore
January 15th, 2012, 11:49 PM
Once again, you've written a masterfully drawn short story, letting reality and dream wash over each other and never letting the reader see what is what until the final sentence. Emotions are trully brought out through the character, and you let the bitterness and nostalgia the chaacetr feels shine through the words. I have no complaints with the writing, and only ask that you continue to write.

Notquitexena
January 16th, 2012, 10:25 PM
This completely creeped me out, which I expect was your intention.

Elipsis
January 16th, 2012, 11:28 PM
This completely creeped me out, which I expect was your intention.
Hah! And this is why I will continue to do it.

LaughinJim
January 17th, 2012, 04:09 PM
Chilling, as was the intent, no doubt. I detected shades of Bradbury in the imagery there. If this is a rough draft, you might consider cutting down the use of the pronoun "I." Its excessive use was the pet peeve of renowned editor William Shawn of New Yorker. If it is to be submitted for publication, some readers might have this same inclination and because of the unique properties of this word, being one letter and capitalized, its frequency can be detected by merely scanning the piece. They could therefore give it an initial "no" and move on to the next ms without reading the work for merit. A couple of these and the piece might not make it through slushing. Just a thought.

I liked it. I think it's worthy. I don't have the above foible, but I'm not cutting the check. I.I.I.I.[-X

Elipsis
January 17th, 2012, 10:10 PM
Interesting note there, LaughinJim. I'll try and work around that during editing. Thank you.

Higurro
January 18th, 2012, 07:56 PM
Another brilliant read. You strike a efficiency of description, between too much and too little, that makes the writing a great deal more satisfying, so thanks for that.