Sunday June 19th, 2011

The exercise:

Give me what you've got for: the ghost in the orchard.

Because with the white netting on the cherry trees, it looks rather ghostly over there. I shall have to get a picture of it.

Had a good day off, as there was much sunshine and resting to go around. Did a little bit of work in the yard this afternoon before going up to join Kat's parents for a Father's Day dinner. He did up a nice turkey dinner and Kat brought the dessert - a strawberry pie with a pecan crust. Yum.


She stood beneath the tree that had been her favorite through all the years of her childhood. Third row up from the street, fifth tree in. There was just something about the curves and texture of the branches. And she had always been convinced it produced the sweetest cherries in the whole orchard. The entire valley, even.

She closed her eyes.

The wind played with the leaves and carried the scents of the blossoms to her nostrils. She breathed deep. The years peeled away and she could feel herself shrinking, her adult body returning to its adolescence. The sun stepped behind a cloud and the air grew colder.

She thought of her little brother.

His insistently uncombed brown hair. The always smiling lips. The laugh that could be heard in every corner of the orchard, no matter where he might be. The permanent dirt stain on his left cheek. She smiled as her thoughts turned to their cherry spitting contests - always done out of sight of their parents, but the winner invariably too proud to keep their victory secret for long.

She felt his icy, tiny hand take hold of her fingers.

Her eyes remained closed, though her breathing became more laboured. Silent tears formed in the corners of her eyes but she dared not blink them away. For even the briefest of openings would allow her eyes to return to the present.

And she was not ready to be without her brother again quite yet.


Greg said...

Heh, I always wonder if vendors are deciding who they'll sell to when people wander past; luckily they always seem happy enough to sell to me when I stop.
I like the friendly-ghost story, it surprised me a little (though I know it shouldn't) but I think that's because Henri was lurking around yesterday. The paragraphing works really well, I think, with the longer stretches building the emotional connection and the very short ones providing just the right counterpoint. If I were to suggest any changes, I'd say you don't need the "And" in the very last line; without it you get a slightly stronger statement and it fits better with the other short lines.
Great work!

The ghost in the orchard
David and Joanna crouched behind different trees and looked across the orchard. Somewhere in there was a giggle-wight, hiding in the branches of a tree or behind a thick, gnarled trunk. Waiting for them to enter and try and take the apples, whereupon it would leap out, laughing and giggling, and pelt them with windfalls and rotten, wasp-infested brown soft fruit until they fled, empty handed.
David adjusted his father's sword. It was belted around his waist and threatened to trip him up with every step, the sword being as long as his legs. He waved a hand at Joanna, indicating that she should move forward, and she gestured rudely back. He sighed, and picked a new tree. Then he put his head down and scurried over to as fast as he could, the scabbarded sword banging against his shins.
He reached the tree and leant against it, his chest heaving with the effort. The giggle-wight was quiet, it couldn't have seen him. He could see Joanna still hiding behind her tree, and waved at her. She waved at him, then turned round and ran off!
"Joanna!" he shouted, forgetting for a moment that he was now in the middle of the orchard. She just ran faster, and he realised he'd just told the giggle-wight he was here.
Something rustled a little way off, and it might have giggled too. Quietly, like it was the only one that knew what the joke was. David grabbed the hilt of the sword with both hands and pulled hard, but the sword barely came a foot out of the scabbard. It was heavy.
Something giggled behind him, and he struggled to turn round, still pulling on the sword's hilt. He fell over, but there was nothing behind him. Lying down though, he managed to pull the sword out of the scabbard at last, and got to his feet.
Something giggled overhead and he grabbed the sword and swung it up Too late he realised how heavy the sword was, and that he couldn't control it. The sword sparkled and glistened in the afternoon sunlight as it fell down towards him.
Something giggled then, trying to drown out the screaming.

motherinToronto said...

The Ghost in The Orchard.

We gathered at the orchard on the 6th of January most years. We had Wassailing between Dartmoor and Exmoor. My Grandfather led song and we clattered pots and pans. We woke up the apple trees and frightened evil spirits. In the dark of the night, my wide eyes searched for these ghosts and fairies in the dark crevices of the orchard. The adults sang unfamiliar old melodies boisterously. While us children pretended not to be scared. The wind howled between the moors. The wolf tree stood guard on the high hill. I was convinced goblins and ghosts rattling their chains ran away from all our noise. If I were a ghost living out here, I'd run away too.

While the men were busy getting carried away, we crept to the house. Halfway there, they caught on that the women and children had snuck away. We ran as fast as we could, locking them out in the cold. With amused grimaces they pled their cases. The very youngest decided that they should be shown no mercy and required a song and dance. Under a starry night sky, we settled before the crackling fire with our cousins; watching our fathers make fools of themselves out the window.

My 2 year old didn't care that I stayed up celebrating fathers day. I wrote about my Grandfathers old farm with his orchard. You're right Marc, orchards do have ghosts. I remember the fog covering the ground reaching up to my knees in the mornings. Something was in that fog. :P

Marc said...

Greg - that's an excellent point about the final line. Amazing how much of a difference the removal of just one word can make.

Wonderfully atmospheric and creepy. I particularly liked the description of the giggle as 'like it was the only one that knew what the joke was'.

Mother in T.O. - what a great story! Definitely brought a smile to my face :)

Miss B said...

When black frabric covers the blue sky, paranormal creatures come out to play. Rosie goes outside to look at the beautiful orchid, "it's so beautiful when all the fog is out." She says to herself. But then she saw something moving around. So Rosie runs into her house in case that thing is bad. She goes outside as the moving had stopped. Into the orchid she hears a slight wailing sound. She screams as something goes through her thats cold and misty the wailing gets louder.
She runs home as fast as she could screaming all the way. She run home jumped into her bed and started crying. " I'm so cold and scared" she whispered to herself.

Marc said...

Miss B - that is rather close to being nightmare inducing. I think I shall go distract myself now.

Miss B said...

that's what it's meant to do Marc.