Alyssa (midenianscholar) wrote in thedreamweavers,
Alyssa
midenianscholar
thedreamweavers

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Stone Garden

I wrote this...a year ago, Abigail? I don't remember exactly. This morning I felt like re-reading it, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I really, really like it (okay, I almost started crying, but that's because of subliminal things you guys won't catch). I wrote it for something, but I've changed the names and a few other things. Anyway, lemme know what you think.

Stone Garden

My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.
-Sweet Afton, Nickel Creek

A cold autumn wind blew across the cobble-stone road, sending red, yellow, and brown leaves into small waves, chasing each other back onto the dying grass. Dazzling, empty blue sky stretched above, accenting those leaves that still clung to their branches. Beside the few spontaneous bird-chirps, everything was silent, sorrowfully peaceful. Clattering horse’s hooves were heard in the distance, causing a worm-hunting robin to pause in its search. The hooves’ rhythm slowed and finally stopped outside the small iron-gate. A man dismounted carefully, yet with practiced ease. His eyes matched the sky above him. 

Patting his horse, the man looked over the fence at the scattered stones and leaves. His hair–once black–was nearly completely grey. When he saw the stone he searched for, he gave his horse a final pat, then walked to the gate and pushed it open. The rusty squeak it gave out startled the robin, who flew to hide in a tree. Looking after it with almost a wistful expression, the man turned to the gravel path and to his stone.

Crunch, crunch, said the pebbles and leaves he stepped upon. It sounded lonesome, aching. The man walked as if through a haze; his feet were both weary and eager. Finally he reached the rock, placed under a golden willow tree. He stood before as he had countless times, studying the cracking edges, fading letters, the layer of leaves covering it.

Then, gingerly, he knelt. He ran his hand over the top of the rock, watching dirt and leaves abandon their place. Afterwards he freed the front of the stone from its dying weeds. When he was satisfied with his work, he rocked back on his heels and read:


 

Mary Rildel

Mother, Wife, Sister, and Friend

“Grace like a flood saved me...

Praise your Lord, O my heart”


“You always loved that hymn,” the man murmured. In the tree, the robin observed him. A melancholy smile played on his lips. “Remember when we used to sing it on the road?”

Of course, the stone remained silent. Curious, the robin flew down and landed a few stones away. It now recognized the man as a frequent visitor to the stone garden.

After a few minutes, the man shifted and continued his talk. “It’s hard to imagine that we have been parted eleven years. Did you remember that this is our twenty-fifth anniversary?” He slid a hand into his pocket. “I made you something. None of the children understand, I think, why I still make you presents.” Glinting light came from his hand as he pulled out a slender rope-like object, which drew the robin closer. “Except, maybe, Clara.” Holding the silver necklace cupped in his hand, he paused again. “It’s not as good as the one I made on our first anniversary–my hands haven’t worked as well since I burned them two years back.” He winced at the memory.

A breeze pulled at his cloak, and with his free hand he gathered it closer. Looking at the necklace, he continued, “I made that leaf design you used to love.” Tracing it with his fingers, he smiled slightly. “Though your hair always got caught in it. I guess that won’t matter now.”

Gently he sat it at the base of the grave. Closing his eyes, he seemed to become absent from the earth. The robin spotted a bug not far away and ran after it. Lost in memories, the man did not notice.

He drew a deep, almost ragged breath, frightening the robin to the safety of a tree.

His voice had grown hoarse. “I hope you take time to look at Banon, our little girl. She’s nearly eleven. You would be so proud of her–I’m sure you are. She asked me yesterday what you liked to do. I showed her your needlework, and your journal. I gave that to her to read–thought you’d like it that way. Clara's the only mother she’s ever known, but she still has a need for you. We all do.

A faint smile played on his face after a few minutes of silence. “It seems like John’s maturity has finally caught up with his age. Yesterday he came by grinning like it was his birthday and told me he’d gotten himself engaged. He’s very happy, probably the first time he’s really been in years–at least the first time it’s lasted more than a few hours. He’ll likely be by here soon to tell you about it.”

The man fell silent again, studying the stone. He was immersed in thought. The robin grew tired of watching and flew to another stone, waiting patiently for him to leave so it could inspect the necklace he’d set down.

Slowly the man put his second and third fingers together, touching them to his lips and then placing them on the hard, cold stone. "Farewell, my love.”

He stood, stretching himself slightly and grunting as his cramped joints protested. Without saying more, he turned down the pebble walkway toward the gate and his horse. Instead of mounting, he took its reigns and led it down the road. The clip clop of hooves and boots soon faded into the distance.

The robin, seeing he had abandoned his necklace, flew to it and took it with him to his nest in a tree. He set it beside the rings, bracelets, and other trinkets he’d acquired in his years.

Seasons later, the old robin was returning to his nest, avoiding the falling leaves that sought to confuse him. He glanced at the man’s stone, and saw something that puzzled him.

The stone was no longer alone.

After that day, the man did not visit it any more.

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(Bah. Dreamweavers seems to have problems, because I don't remember seeing this in my f-list and wasn't aware of it until you posted a link. *headdesk*)

This is really, really odd, because several years ago Mum and I were driving past an old cemetary and spotted an old man sitting in front of one of the graves, and she suggested that I write a story about him. I never have, but it keeps nagging at me. You are a thought-stealer.

This is really pretty, sweet, old-fashioned, and a nice snapshot of sorts into life. I like that you tell it from the robin's point of view; it's a nice touch. The opening paragraph is nicely set up as well--it makes way for a quiet, warm, melancholy sort of feeling that suits the story well.

The problem is that too mant of your sentences are similiar, and this makes the story flow mechanically. Take the first paragraph--most of the sentences fall into the same sort of rhythm, especially as most of them begin with 'a': 'a cold autumn wind', 'a dazzling, empty blue sky', 'a few spontaneous bird-chirps', 'a horse's hooves', 'a man dismounted'.

Another example is this paragraph:

After a few minutes, the man shifted and continued his talk. “It’s hard to imagine that we have been parted eleven years. Did you remember that this is our twenty-fifth anniversary?” He slid a hand into his pocket. “I made you something. None of the children understand, I think, why I still make you presents.” He pulled out a shiny object, which drew the robin closer. “Except, maybe, Clara.” He held the silver necklace cupped in his hand. “It’s not as good as the one I made on our first anniversary–my hands haven’t worked as well since I burned them two years back.” He winced at the memory.

Too many sentences are structured 'he did this', then 'he did that'. Again, it makes for some akwardness.

Otherwise, I like this story a lot, and if you do some moderate re-writing, it could really end up fantastically.
I spelled awkwardness wrong. >_< Yeah, I am not allowed to type at one in the morning anymore. :p
I uploaded the fixed up version, using your tips and etc.. It's still a little choppyish, and maybe I'll come back to it again later.