View Full Version : The Chills of September

March 27th, 2014, 12:48 AM
I remember better days when I used to go to the lake, hand-held from both sides, to feed the swan. My steps were tiny; so to keep up with the pace of mother and father who used to walk me, I had a particularly distinguished trot. People used to stare, some jealous, others happy for me, because I was going to feed the swan – I had no doubt. The lake was one block away from home, but every walk was a quest for the delusional child I was, especially the first of the season near mid-spring.

My head looking up, tilted to the left, I sometimes asked "do they know I'm coming?". My father would laugh and keep looking forward; he never answered that question. After waiting for a minute, my avid gaze would tilt to the right and I would ask again "do they know I'm coming, Mom?". "Yes, yes they do pumpkin" my mother would answer "daddy told them yesterday", and they would look at each other and smile – this strange pair. My big white feathery friends must be as eager as I am then, I used to think. When we would reach the lake, my parents would spread an old tablecloth, woven with different drawings of Mickey Mouse courting Minnie, on the grass in the shadow of the same maple tree. I would stand aside and impatiently wait until my mother found in her large basket the "swan-bag" which she would finally hand me. I used to fill that bag during autumn and winter with one slice of every fruit cake, pie or cookie that she baked and keep it frozen for the big day. As soon as they would hand me the bag, I would disappear. Mother would pull out her student's mid-term compositions. She's been correcting these compositions since forever, I used to think, I wonder why she cannot get them right. My father would just lie down next to her on the tablecloth, put his head in her lap and look and look into the blue sky. I sometimes used to gaze up for a moment and try to guess what he is watching, but the fluffy clouds would soon bore me and I would sprint to the lake. As soon as I would approach the water, my lovely friends, each minding his or her business in a different corner, would notice me, cheer me with their wings, and paddle hastily towards me. Their behavior then was easier for me to figure out than my parents' behavior: first, they hadn't been fed since early fall; second, they knew that the first meal of the year would be mom's best treats that I had carefully saved for them; and finally, they loved me. I would break the sweets into crumbs and feed them, bathing in sunlight and serenity. It was like that, every Friday afternoon of every spring and summer.

On my eight birthday – and I was blown into this world by the chills of September – a cold wind brought early clouds to the sky that soon started pouring. As my parents rushed to move the party they had thrown for me inside, a strange sound from the sky pulled me outside again. I looked up to find a wedge of white birds flying. I had been noticing those birds for years. But on that very day, on my eight birthday, I stayed out in the rain, gazed at the grey sky, and realized that the swan were leaving. Ever since, I keep gazing at the sky, just like my father does and have a keen ear and eye for all sorts of sounds and shapes moving around me, but I remember better days.

Pietro Kheir
27 04 14

March 27th, 2014, 02:27 AM
The way you write, it flows from piece to piece as if you were picking up random trinkets or household objects from your life (I assume), and showing and telling. The way you discern meaning out of the memories from a time long ago leaves me with the notion that they are significant, even to me. Most of all, I love the bits of pre-8-year-old curiousity that isn't explicit: it lets the reader imagine for his/herself. Your descriptions are wonderful, overall. Everything feels very personal, and very rich, delicate.

Normally, when I'm critiquing, I'll (hopefully) be able to evenly divide praise and criticism, but this time, I have only praise. Sure, you could fix the grammar, but that's easy. It would be long and tedious for me to go over the nitpicks. ... I suppose I do have one criticism; namely, I didn't understand the last line, starting with, "just like my father does," to "around me." The previous section
evoked the child-like reverie that accompanies parental love, the glee of waiting for something, or being content. But I'm not sure how that line relates. I think it would be better to go from "...leaving." to "I remember better days."

Thank you very much.

March 27th, 2014, 04:16 AM
Impressive! A short, simple, uplifting and poignant piece that was a pleasure to read. So many try to build a crescendo and/or a labyrinth, not seeing the simple beauties and pains of life (or maybe not knowing how to express them adequately).

I'm not going to bore you with how well you managed flow, tone, setting, and characterizations. But I will remark that you did so with exceptional balance in my eyes, and the last sentence nailed it.

I raise a glass of Laphroaig (15 yo) to you,

March 27th, 2014, 04:58 PM
Thank you ShadowEyes and LeeC; I am very glad you enjoyed the piece.

ShadowEyes, I had a hard time guessing the correct verb tenses to use here and there and I'm sure I left some grammar mistakes behind. The sentence you suggested I should remove might have some symbolism for me. I do not think a lot before writing, but in retrospect I think looking at the sky - just like my father did - might mean understanding absurdity, planning for future life, and having ambitions (all part of growing up), as for having keen alert senses indicates having anxiety and worries (also part of growing up). Thank you again for your critique.

LeeC; Cheers! I raise a glass of Lagavulin 18 to you... as long as there is peat and barley, life is fine.

March 27th, 2014, 08:32 PM
I really like this. I'm always happy when I read something where the words follow each other without arguing. They flow like water poured over stone.

There's only one bit that made me blink: "My father giggled..."
Did he really? To me, a giggle is a specific sound, a little nervous and a little embarrassed, normally higher pitched and reserved for little girls. If the father giggles it gives me a certain idea of the kind of man he is. Which is okay, if that is what you meant (:

This is a perfect description: "...cheered me with their wings..."
It's the part I will remember long after I've forgotten the rest of it.

March 27th, 2014, 09:02 PM

Noted. Edited. Learned. Thank you.
No he's not. :)