Monday October 14th, 2013

The exercise:

Our writing prompt today is: telling tales.

All the guests have once again departed, which is always a bit sad. But I'm looking forward to seeing everyone again at Christmas... and that's not all that far away already.

Now that Max has left his third cold behind, he has decided to go right into his fourth. Making up for lost time or something.

And, so far at least, it is much worse than the one he just got over.


The tree has watched over this plantation for generations. Lurking in the rarely disturbed north-east corner of the property, it is the tallest and widest oak of the five in its grove. You can see the top of it from the main house, if you care to climb onto the roof.

Its bark has heard many stories, and many more secrets. Over the decades it has absorbed complaints, victories, defeats, and even a handful of prayers.

For, you see, the daughters of this place have gone to it with their burdens in order to lighten their loads. They have used that tree as a sort of living diary, I suppose. Spoken words whispered into the leaves instead of written messages scrawled across hidden pages.

The strange thing of it, though, is that they all found the tree on their own. As best I can tell no girl told another about what they used that old oak for... yet they all ended up there sooner or later. All of them - from serving girls right up to the master's own daughter. Generation after generation, without fail.

It makes me sad, you know. Being aware of all that but still having a duty to carry out such as this. The axe feels unnaturally heavy in my hands as I make my way across this field with the sun at my back, but I can't ignore the instructions I've been given.

I have to continue on. That funny old tree has to come down.

Because, you see, that tree has started telling tales...


Greg said...

I feel for Max. I get every cold going, and occasionally go from one cold straight into the next as well. However, the counter side to that is that I never seem to come down with anything else, and that seems a small price to pay for never having anything worse than a cold :)
Another great opening to a story today! Really evocative, with little hints of mystery and teasing touches to draw me in. I really enjoyed reading it, and wonder if the narrator will actually be able to chop the tree down, and what the wood might do if he succeeds!

Telling tales
Sir Rhodri Gray sat back on his haunches and poked the fire. They'd found seven sticks of wood, and he supposed he ought to be grateful that there was any wood to be found in the middle of a pyramid anyway. He added the fifth stick to the fire and sighed.
"Look Rodders," said Algernon Thistle III, somehow managing to sound upper-class British despite his Texan roots, "cheer up, old soul! The rest of the party know that we're in here, and they'll get us out. It's only a pile of rock, you know."
"A pile of rock that has withstood Napoleon's cannon and two thousand years of withering heat," said Rhodri. His words were listless, as were his hopes of rescue.
"We'll be fine! Look, we'll tell tales to pass the time!"
Rhodri stared across the fire, at the flickering shadows englooming Algernon's face, and tried not to scream at the thought of having to listen to him telling tales for the rest of their captivity.
"I think I ought to go and feed the snakes," he said dully.
"What with?"

[Btw, typo for you: "its" rather than "it's" at the start of your second paragraph.]

morganna said...

What tales the land could tell if it chose:
The softness of the deer's ear,
The shadows of the storm clouds passing,
How the cities feel, those islands of light and shadow ...

Marc said...

Greg - I'm thinking he will not succeed, but I suppose I'd have to write it to find out for sure...

Also: ugh, thanks for the typo catch. Stupid brain.

Great scene, you really brought it and its inhabitants to life. Rhodri has my sympathies!

Morganna - lovely, though it feels like the beginning of something longer. Something that I think I would quite enjoy reading, should you have the time and inspiration :)