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Smoke Filled Forest Eyes

by Cailey

My grandfather used to tell me that you could tell a lot about someone by looking into their eyes. "Take a look at your grandmother," he would say, motioning across the room to where she sat with her knitting in hands, rocking gently in her chair. She'd been deaf for years, and had no way of knowing that the two of us were talking about her. Still, she would give a small smile, and her eyes would meet grandfather's for just a few seconds before she returned to her work.

"What do you see?" I would ask, and I would watch my grandmother while my grandfather answered.

"I see that she's had many, many years of life," he would begin in a slow, steady voice, as if pretending to be a fortune teller. "A satisfying life, though. You can see the crows feet on the corner of each eye that show how much she likes to laugh. She has kind eyes, grandmotherly eyes, eyes willing to serve."

"And love?" I asked. My grandfather nodded solemnly.

"More love than you can even imagine."

I'd cherished the memory, and made a mental photograph of the way love looked. I referred back to it often, when leaning against the bathroom door watching my mother get ready for work in the early hours of morning. She would brush her teeth and pull back her hair and apply too much makeup, all the while talking to me in her familiar, distracted voice. She never took the time to look back at me, but I could see her eyes reflected in the foggy mirror, and most of the time I saw bits and pieces of that look. Love.

I'd seen love in my father's eyes as well, though I only saw him once or twice when he stopped back between some journey. He would look down at me and his eyes would be overflowing with the look, but then he would turn his face away and speak to my mother and leave again. A secret part of me always doubted whether his love was real or not. I never had the change to figure it out before he left for the last time.

Years later, after meeting strangers and teachers and friends and finding traces of love in each pair of eyes, I met her. Her eyes were grey, with dots of blue and circles of green that made her look as though she wore fake contacts. She didn't though, as she told me time and time again. I told her once that her eyes were like watching a forest through campfire smoke. She laughed, ad then laughed harder.

"I get the smoke," she told me, her voice singsong and full of life. "People tell me that my eyes look like smoke all the time." She shrugged, almost apologizing for all those people who went along handing out the same boring comments. "But where did the forest come in?" I didn't answer, and maybe I should have. Maybe she would have liked to know that her eyes weren't only grey, that green and blue decorated the iris, too. Thinking about it doesn't matter at all, anymore. I didn't say anything, whether I should have or not.

I never talked much as a child, or as an adult for that matter. I felt words could never say enough anyway, so why bother? It wasn't that I didn't like people, because I did. I just had a hard time holding a normal conversation when all I wanted to do was read the deeper words that weren't being said. A person could easily answer that they were fine and everything was good, but their eyes could reveal sadness, pain, anger. I would much rather read these emotions than hear the empty words.

"Are you even paying attention to me?" she asked one day. We were sitting in the grass, spread out in the middle of the meadow so no one could use it for anything else. Selfish, maybe, but no one else seemed to mind. "You're always staring at my face."

"Your eyes," I corrected quietly, trying to will myself to look away. She sighed and brushed back a piece of curly brown hair that had escaped her ponytail.

"Because they look like smoke?" She sounded tired, annoyed, maybe angry. Her eyes looked tired, too, and questioning. I felt like her eyes were interrogating me, begging me for answers. I just couldn't figure out what kind of answers she wanted. I tried to remember what we had been talking about. She picked up a few blades of grass and started twirling them in her fingers. I imagined her turning into my grandmother who couldn't hear. I would look up, like my grandfather...

Her face was down, so that I couldn't see her smoke filled forest eyes. I wished she had a mirror in her lap so I could see the reflection of love in her eyes as I had my mother. Maybe she would look at me for just a few seconds, like my father. I wouldn't even mind if she left, as long as her eyes showed that one look before she went.

"Smoke in the forest," I corrected, thinking maybe she would look up to answer. She didn't, didn't answer at all. I waited longer, hoping she would turn her face up. I wanted, desperately, to see her eyes one last time. "Are you angry?"

"I need to go," she answered, her face lifting at last. Our eyes met, and I realized sadly that I could no longer see any traces of blue or green. Her eyes were sad, heartbroken. I reached a hand out, but she pulled back and lifted herself to her feet. I followed, and she led me away from the meadow, out of the park. "Goodbye," she whispered softly, suddenly drawing me closer. Her lips planted a soft kiss on mine, and went she released my arm and I stepped back I saw the look filling her eyes. I saw love in her smoke filled forest eyes, and for a minute I could not breathe.

By the time I recovered she had gone, taking her eyes along with her. I followed the path to all the places where we had sat, to every sidewalk where I had seen her beautiful eyes. I found her nowhere. I traced steps back to her home, where all I found was a gaping hole, a pile of ash, and smoke rising up through the space where her house should have stood. Behind it, past her yard, I saw the trees of the forest rising into the sky. The smoke drifted on, and she was gone.

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53 Reviews

Points: 258
Reviews: 53

Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:34 pm
TheSybarite wrote a review...

I have only word to say for your story- Beautiful. Though I know that by now you have gotten it a lot, but it is the only word that truly describes your work. Perhaps even 'beautiful' falls short of describing this story. I especially loved the starting- the first paras snd a wave of nostalgia through the reader. Also, I really loved the meadow scene. All- in- all, this was perfect! I loved it!!
Keep writing..:)

Cailey says...

Thank you so much!

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Points: 484
Reviews: 5

Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:24 am
Swiftie13Initiate wrote a review...

i love this!! how the smoke in her eyes and all!! :)

I wanted, desperately, to see her eyes one last time.

that sentence,i think don't need to have comma's between wanted and desperately.

"By the time I recovered she had gone


" I stepped back I saw the look filling her eyes."




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Points: 413
Reviews: 2

Mon Jul 29, 2013 2:27 am
PeterHerron wrote a review...

Hi! This is my first review! So I'm going to try to be constructive. Not that I think I'll have to, because it was really good, I just want it to be a good review...

Anyways, that was tragic and bittersweet. I loved it! Made me feel as though I'd lost something, and was unable to ever get it back. You also did an excellent job of offering depth with the the grandparents and parents. It was truly moving.

So, yeah! Cudos to you, Cailey. Keep it up!

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933 Reviews

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Reviews: 933

Sun Jul 28, 2013 8:37 pm
Iggy wrote a review...

Hey there! Iggy here to review.

I'd cherished the memory, and made a mental photograph of the way love looked.

I definitely don't like that conjugated pronoun. It's choppy and doesn't give that sentence the presice flow it needs. I suggest just a simple "I".

Her face was down, so that I couldn't see her smoke filled forest eyes.

I think that you could find different synonyms to replace "smoke". After a while, it's repetitive and tendious.

So! A very lovely written work, especially since it is about the eyes. I love eyes, they are my favorite thing to focus on as a writer. I love the in depth way you describe the emotions and colors he saw in people's eyes.

Other than the few nitpicks states above, it was an excellently written story. The content and imagery made up for the short length of the story. Your grammar had a steady flow and I felt as if I could relate to your characters.

It did confuse me when the girl left. Why? I don't understand that part.

Other than that, nice work! Just keep writing!

~ Iggy.

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184 Reviews

Points: 36
Reviews: 184

Sun Jul 28, 2013 7:56 pm
RoyalHighness wrote a review...

Hey, I'm going to review your beautiful work here!
First off, my first impression was "overdone." The beginning could've been a little more attention-grabbing, and less artificial. I feel like the beginning words slid out of a can. Put some you in those words!
I love how close I got to the character. For the few minutes it took me to read this, I felt like I was the character. I don't even know his name, but I feel like I know so much about him. That's terrifically difficult and you pulled it off beautifully.
Second, I love the ending. The first word that came to my mind was "haunting," and the second, "beautiful."
I loved this piece, just work on that intro! Great job!

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159 Reviews

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Reviews: 159

Sat Jul 27, 2013 2:11 pm
Skydreamer wrote a review...

Hey, I'm going to give this a review. Before I do though I have to say, it was really well written. And I saw the wall post where you said you "spit it out from your fingers" and for doing that, you did an excellent job.

So I'm going to go from paragraph to paragraph because this was so rich and there's a lot to look at, and also because I want to make sure I give a thorough review.

First Paragraph

This was a good start, especially the first sentence because not only does it draw your reader it also helps your reader already make the connection with your title. Which for me especially was nice, because I really liked your title. Also it's always nice to use the wisdom of an elderly person concerning deciphering looks and attributes and such things. So I really liked that. I also liked the obvious connection that the grandfather had with the grandmother, I thought that was really sweet.

Second Paragraph

I really enjoyed the way you portrayed the main character's interaction with their grandfather, it was really heartwarming to read, heartwarming and sweet. And it was realistic in a way, and I thought that was really well done.

"More love than you can even imagine."

I love how this not only shows that the characters grandmother loved the grandfather but also the other way around, that he (the grandfather) really loved the grandmother, and it was really well written. XD

Third Paragraph

I thought that the whole idea of picturing love was a really great one. I'm someone who likes to look at people and figure out what they're thinking/feeling as well, so I thought that, that was really somewhat connecting with me, and possibly other readers. That said, I also liked (hehe I liked everything XP) how you wrote the characters interaction with their mom. I thought that was good, and simple. Obviously having a short story the problem is, making it short yet purposeful, yet making it work as a short piece, and I often find myself telling people, or being told myself, to lengthen my work because somethings are not being explained well, but no need to lengthen this, I thought it was very well stabled, and carefully dissected. It also leaves a place where you can think about what the different conflicts of the family were and things, like the character mentioned she puts too much make up on meaning she was most likely sensitive and insecure, and then the comment about her distant voice meant she thought or worried about a lot of things, causing her to sound distant. Um, at least that's what I got from it.

Fourth Paragraph

The characters perspective of the father was as good as of the mother. And I thought it was written really excellently.

I do have a very slight correction though,

"I never had the chance to figure it out before he left for the last time."

It could have been just a typo.

As for this one, I thought it was quite relatable as well, especially for me again in a way, so I thought it was very touching and sweet. You know, and obviously there was some type of misunderstanding, because of the look of love that the father had, I liked how you included that, so great, great job.

Fifth Paragraph

I liked the way you introduced 'her' I thought that was really well done, and poignant because obviously you were leading towards love and you did that really well. I'm making a suggestion that I don't think you have to take at all, but just to have an idea flowing, I have a suggestion of changing the "fake contacts" to "colored contacts" it's not a big deal, and it's up to you, but in case you liked it I figured I should suggest. I loved how you described the eye color though, and I've seen some very interesting eyes. XP There was one lady I saw who had brown spots in her hazel eyes, like darker brown spots, it was really pretty. So it was nice. And eyes hold a lot of importance really, so I loved how this was based on them.

I do have another small nitpick:

"She laughed, and then laughed harder."

Probably also a typo. XP I realize that these mistakes aren't that important, but I'd feel like I'm cheating you from something if I didn't say them.

Sixth Paragraph

I really liked how you wrote that her voice was singsongy filled with life, I thought that made her more special and kind of set her apart as a nice person. It kind of put a bit of mystic being effect which I think your character probably saw her as. I just thought it was a special paragraph and a little sad, because he didn't tell her how he saw her eyes. But it just added all the more to the story.

Seventh Paragraph

I loved this paragraph, I could relate, it was beautifully written, it almost made me cry, and it was a great insight to the main character and the narrator of the story. Which again just shows how balanced this whole thing was, and what an awesome job you did at putting it together almost seamlessly. I really liked the last two sentences because it's so true, it really gives the reader something they can take from the work. Something special.

Eight Paragraph

I'm making this paragraph part of their conversation. You did a wonderful job with their conversation and conversing given his way of communication, and her not fully understanding it. I liked how you made him correct her and thought that that was really nice to see, it was cute and romantic.

Ninth Paragraph

"Because they look like smoke?" She sounded tired, annoyed, maybe angry.

The start of this paragraph already held a bad omen. I was kind of worried that it would be a sad ending after reading this, I liked that though because it seemed like you gave your readers a bit of a heads up?

I imagined her turning into my grandmother who couldn't hear. I would look up, like my grandfather...

This was when I knew that he loved her, which I think was just absolutely fantastic writing. XD I just was astounded, and yeah, I'm really in love with this story and your writing.

Tenth Paragraph

I wouldn't even mind if she left, as long as her eyes showed that one look before she went.

Again I felt like this was a reminder to me that there was going to be some type of heartbreaking ending and I was trying to brace myself for what I would see. That said though, I absolutely loved it. This paragraph I mean. I thought that like the rest it was written wonderfully. But most of all this paragraph was very sweet and romantic, and it's this type of romance we have less of in this world, in my mind, and I think it's the best kind.

The Last Three Paragraphs

I don't want to make this review too long and boring. haha XP So I'm just reviewing the three last paragraphs together.

I felt very, very sad when I saw the "I need to go," despite all the warnings I had received previously it still broke my heart. And I still felt it was abrupt. And I wished there were more explanations as to why she just had to "go" like that. And to be honest I wish she would have said more, and this is advice I think that she should have said a bit more. It's my opinion but not really for amending my heart but also for the story I think wouldn't hurt to have had her say something else. Perhaps she was moving and that's why she wanted him to listen to her and that's why she was heart broken. It's sad. But that said, I can't say it would have changed the story to add more, but as advice one more word other than the goodbye would have helped.

That all said though, I thought it was sill beautiful sad it had to end, but beautiful nevertheless. And beautiful because of it even. It's just that it seems like such a pattern to make the wonderful, perfect character have to leave. But the symbolic meaning of it was so different than most stories, and I feel more now than ever that she was kind of a mystic being, maybe not really, but really to the man character. I found that the imagery of the house being burnt to the ground was a little confusing, yet understandable. So it's a conflict raging within me, the ending, but it's a good one. And I know I wrote a lot, but I felt you deserved to have a lot written. Because like I said before it's very, very deep, and you deserve a deep reply. I'm usually a realist and trees rising to the sky was hard for me to visualize with smoke, but if that's what you meant to portray then you did so excellently.

So anyways, overall, the story was magnificent, and well done. Honestly I don't think one could say enough how inspiring and strange, and beautiful, and special, and wonderful this work is. Even before reading the story, the title caught my eye and I already knew I wanted to read it and review it. So thanks for writing this, and letting people see something different, and beautiful. See love in a more mystical and unusual way. I really can't wait to see and read more of your works, I've already planned to look through them and review some of them. So excited!

Thanks for this again.

--Keep writing and keep dreaming. XD

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332 Reviews

Points: 10657
Reviews: 332

Sat Jul 27, 2013 2:32 am
Blackwood says...

Gooood. Good.
Straight to the spotlight!

*mini review*
I think you could have made a better title to justify the whole piece simply by using less words. Such as just 'Smoke filled eyes' or 'Forest eyes'

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53 Reviews

Points: 82
Reviews: 53

Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:21 pm
Killyouwithwords wrote a review...

This was very good! Every word was exactly where it should be with neither too much or too little. It was beautifully written, and the grammar was nearly perfect with only one irrelevant mistake. You're very talented, and this story moved me. I could picture it in my mind very easily, though you used little description. Love is something everybody wants, but they don't want empty words and cadences. They want proof; which is exactly what he was searching for. On the way he must have gotten so lost in finding this proof, he forgot the importance of also telling people how you feel and and why you're doing what you're doing. In the end that's what lost him his love. I also love how you themed it around the saying Silviaelioness mentioned. Eyes truly are the Windows to soul. Amazing! :)

Cailey says...

Thank you!!

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19 Reviews

Points: 817
Reviews: 19

Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:25 pm
sylviaelioness wrote a review...

That was splendid. There is the famous saying that eyes are the windows to a person's soul. And that's what your character is doing. He's looking into the eyes of people, and reading what is actually going on deep, down inside where a lot of people don't talk about. It's an intimate thing. It's private too. Some people don't want others to know their in pain. But I think it's only the very skilled that are able to hide emotions in both their words and eyes.

This story take that idea about eyes and runs with it. He's obviously looking for love. Yet he wants the real love, the love he can see in the person's eyes. False words wouldn't do, because he would know whether or not the words were meant.

And then, we he see that love in her eyes... its over.

It's very nicely put together. Very nicely written, with the descriptions just perfect--not to much, not to little.

Great job!

Cailey says...

Thank you!

I want to see people turn and writhe; make them feel things they cannot see and sometimes do not know.
— Anna Held