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Chapter 5: Willow

by Miraculor77


Ashe's POV

I glance over my shoulder as I walk farther down the ramen aisle. He's still there, staring at me with a dumbfounded expression. I wonder why. I turn my head and walk a little faster, eager to escape his stare. For some reason, I feel like I recognize him, like a sense of déjà vu. But that is impossible. I hadn't left the underground studio for six years, and from what I know, everyone Above died because of the Takedown.

I pay for some food that I grabbed at the self-checkout, seeing that there is no cashier. Twenty-five lunae.

I step out of the store, the floorboards creaking under my feet as I walk over them. A dark object looms in my peripheral vision, and I look at it on impulse. The sight makes me freeze. That feeling of familiarity is stronger now, more powerful. I blink confusedly, and the world around me darkens. My eyes flutter shut as I stumble into the darkness.

When I open my eyes again, I'm no longer in front of the store.

*-*-*

**Flashback**

A forest surrounds me, humming with life. The sunlight filters through the branches, creating a dappled pattern on the ground. I see a young girl, perhaps six years old, run around. Something about the way she moves seems familiar, and with a start, I realize she is me from nine years ago. She crouches and takes a flying leap, and when she lands, she twirls. I smile slightly, watching her brown waves bounce as she dances. Children are really so simple, finding joy in everything.

The shock has worn off slightly and now I take the time to really look at everything. There is a tree, large and lush with leaves. Its branches hang low, swaying gently in the breeze. In the soft light, its small leaves shine slightly silver. It's beautiful, yet somehow familiar. At the sight, a thought comes to me: Willow.

Just then, a face pokes out of the curtain of leaves. A small boy looks down from his perch from the branch, looking for something. He too is familiar. He smiles slightly, then yells my name. "Ashe!"

Little-me halts in her tracks and whips around to face the tree. At first, she looks surprised, but her expression quickly morphs into a glare.

"Kyre! You know you're not s'posed to be there. Get down this instant." Her voice is bossy, even though "Kyre" looks about a year older than her. He obliges, grinning widely now, and hops down from the low branch. I decide at that moment that I like little-me. He pushes his dark hair off of his forehead and proceeds to lift her up and spin her around.

"Put me down, we gotta go to school!" Little-me wriggles in his grasp, and when Kyre puts her down, she runs at full speed, right past me.

"Last one to that brick box is a pixelated glitch!"

Pixelated glitch? I crinkle my eyebrows in confusion.

Kyre chases her, and--I note with satisfaction--although he is taller and has longer legs, little-me is faster. Granted, she had a huge headstart, but I'm still proud.

As I watch the two kids disappear into the distance, the world around me shifts again.

**End of Flashback**

*-*-*

I stumble forward, holding my arms out for balance. My fingers brush something and when I look at them, there is black dust on them. A tree is in front of me, a destroyed tree. Its charred trunk has a large gash down the middle, splitting it in two. I take a couple of steps back to really see it, and what I see makes me go cold.

It's the tree. The one Kyre was climbing. Its branches have gone dry and brittle, its trunk is in two halves that seem to be held together by an invisible force, and its surface is charred and coated with ash, but I'm sure.

It's the same tree.

I look around, but there are no other trees. There is no forest. Above me, clouds have come in. There is no sun.

I think back to my vision. Was it even real? Am I hallucinating because of the sudden change in my surroundings?

One thing's for sure, though.

Something happened here.

*-*-*

I pull my hoodie around me and take a sharp left. It's getting colder; what was before a warm breeze is now a cold wind. The sky above me is darkening, and I have a feeling that when night comes, I won't survive the cold.

I wander aimlessly, looking for a place to stay.  Absently reaching up to adjust my messy bun, I continue pondering about the vision and the store. As sad as it seems, right now, my only companions are my thoughts. I'm glad I thought to buy food with what limited money I had. Three packs of instant noodles sit in my pack, along with my meager supplies, blacked out laptop, and now dead flashlight. But now I only have a hundred lunae left, not enough to rent a place--if there are any left. I may need to sleep outside tonight, cold as it is.

That boy in the vision, Kyre, looked familiar. He looked like a younger version of the guy I'd bumped into at the store. The more I thought about it, the less it made sense. Kyre and I seemed like childhood friends. If we really were so close, why didn't I remember him? I didn't remember much about the Above, but a bond that strong can't be forgotten that easily.

A particularly strong wind throws off my balance, and I falter in my steps. I think I see something, and when I look up, and my jaw pops open.

A mansion towers over me in its white-stoned glory. My breath catches in my throat as I take in the wonder. High stone pillars rise up from the ground, connecting at impossible heights in graceful arcs. They are carved, not intricately, but in a way that speaks of timeless beauty. Large stained-glass windows glow softly with light from the inside. A large, imposing ebony door is set at the front, contrasting severely with the pale stone that surrounds it.

Taken by its beauty, I step closer, almost as though in a trance.

Above me, the clouds rumble and the sky darkens.

Much to my surprise, drops of water fall from the sky. The temperature drops, and I shiver, burrowing my hands into my hoodie's pockets. The rain falls harder now, and I know that I'll need to find shelter soon. I contemplate my options. If I leave now, I'll need to find a place to stay in, which is unlikely. This area feels forsaken and lonely, and I'll be completely drenched if I try to make my way through.

My other option is to knock the mansion's door. I apprehensively look at the large obsidian knocker, but I reach towards it anyway. The worst that could happen is that I get kicked out. It's worth a chance.

I lift the knocker with both hands and let it thud against the wood. I stand there, dripping with rainwater, for what feels like an eternity. Finally, the door opens. An old lady stands there, leaning on a stick and wearing a nightgown. She looks me up and down, and, to my relief, opens the door wider.

"Dear, do come in. You look absolutely lost. You can dry off by the fire, and I'll get Kyre to give you some of his ramen." She steps aside to let me in, and I gratefully accept.

"Thank you, ma'am. I really appreciate it."

She looks pleased. "And you're polite, too! Kids like there are so rare... By the way, you can call me Boss." She points me in the direction of the fireplace and then walks away to her "virtual koi pond."

I start in the direction Boss pointed me to, mulling over her words. Is Kyre a real person? And if he is, was that hallucination real too?


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270 Reviews


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Sun Aug 04, 2019 1:04 pm
Liberty wrote a review...



Heyo, Mira!

Hope you're doing well today or tonight, depending on what side of the world you're on, obviously. I'm here to give you a review! Let's get started now, shall we? Okay, so I know I was going to start reading the next chapter, but then I realized I didn't review the rest of our chapters! XP

So, the flashback is great! Every book needs one or two or it seems kinda dull, ya know? SO keep it up. Your description as usual is great. Also, I wonder if Kyre and Ashe could have been siblings...? They could've been separated because of the Takedown...

Enough with my thoughts. Let's get into the nitpicky stuuuuff. And just the teeny comments. ;)

Granted, she had a huge headstart, but I'm still proud.


The bold word is not one word. It'd be "head start". Two separate words.

"Dear, do come in. You look absolutely lost. You can dry off by the fire, and I'll get Kyre to give you some of his ramen."


KYRE. KYRE. KYRE. KYRE. WHAT IF THIS IS THEIR GRANDMOTHER? OR MOTHER, MAYBE?

"And you're polite, too! Kids like there are so rare... By the way, you can call me Boss."


Ummm, "there"? I think you may have meant "these" or "you". Those two words would have worked better, ya know? Alright. And last but not least. I noticed that you wrote "Kyre?" at the very end. And it honestly seems out of place. I can see you meant to make it so that Ashe was confused about it, but it doesn't seem right to have her notice it after this "Boss" is done talking. I hope you know what I mean.

Speaking of done talking, my review will close here. I hope this review helped and I shall move onto reviewing the next chapter. Of course, if you've got any questions, feel free to ask. (:

And as always...

Keep on writing!

~Liberty




Miraculor77 says...


I went back and edited the chapter. You know, this is the second review that said that %u201CKyre%u201Dwas positioned strangely, so I went back and smoothed it out. Thanks for the review!



Liberty says...


Not a problem!



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Wed May 22, 2019 3:30 am
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Honora wrote a review...



Hey Mira!
I'm glad I got a chance to read your last two chapters today. I can't say I'm disappointed! :D :D :D :D :D

I didn't find much to correct in this one. The only thing I can really say is that you need to find some way to let your readers know its a flashback without outright telling us it is.

One other thing that I noticed is that the very last word "Kyre?" is kind of out of place. It should be I think it should be before she thanks Boss. Maybe have her be nervous or something. It was just weirdly put. That's okay though! ;)


Anyway, that's all I have to nitpick with this one! ;)
Once again, you've done a wonderful job and I'm EXTRA eager to read more! I REALLY want to see what happens next! (I hope it's in Kyre's POV! That would be fun!)
I feel like I should give you some credit because honestly, I don't read many books that are written in first person. Usually, I don't really care for them except for the odd one. Idk why but it's a weird quirk of mine. (Even though I'm writing one in first person myself XD)
I just want to give you an extra well done because you've managed to be one of those few writers that keep me interested while writing in first person!
Not that I'm a huge professional or anything but still! Good job! :)

I REALLY look forward to reading more! Please post soon!

Your friend,
Honora




Miraculor77 says...


I really am debating over whether to label that section as a flashback or to not. You see, the review below this one said that the flashback was hard to identify, so I labeled it. I'm really not sure, though, I'll come back in a week to look at this with a fresh eye and try to make it obvious, but not obvious--if you know what I mean. :)

About the positioning of the word "Kyre," I know its place seems a little weird but I feel that ending the chapter with the phrase "virtual koi pond" would be weirder.

Thank you for the review!
- Mira



Miraculor77 says...


Also, yes. It is in Kyre's POV. I'm working on it right now. It's nice that there are people who actually want to read my story. :)
Honestly, it's my first time writing in first person present tense. Most of the other stuff I'd written was in past tense, and most of that was in third person. I'm glad you like it!



Honora says...


I can't wait to read it! :D



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Sun May 19, 2019 6:17 am
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Toboldlygo wrote a review...



Hey there! Toboldlygo here for a review!

I'm going to give you some super generic but hopefully helpful tips, first. I recommend giving us a brief chapter summary (1-3 sentences) telling us what happened previously. The reason is that I didn't remember very well, so I wanted to go and look, and I had to go to your portfolio to find the chapters to get caught up, and it turns into a bit of a hassle. And that takes me to my other comment, that it's helpful to have a folder in your portfolio dedicated to the chapters of a particular story (or to poems, short stories, fan fiction, etc.). This means that when someone is signed in and is reading your story, all the other pieces in that portfolio alone will appear on the side. If you have the chapters of one story in particular in that folder, the reader can easily move from chapter to chapter. You don't have to do it, but it's helpful. Stories you've already published can be moved to a different folder in your portfolio. If you have questions, pm me and I'll help you through it better.

On to the review!

What exactly is the text in italics? Is it a dream? Thoughts? An imagined scenario? Memory/flashback? It would be helpful to have a better idea so we understand it. It's also sometimes hard for the eye to focus on a plethora of italicized text, so it can be beneficial to your readers to find other ways to indicate the setting of a particular block of text.

One thing I'll comment on is that we don't seem to know much about your character. Sometimes writing in first person can be hard because a character describing him/herself in the first person or in his/her head can seem weird when you write it. I'm not saying you need to change it at all, just that we can do with more in the way of character development. It's extremely important and will help your story come much further if your readers know your character better.

Regarding your plot, I get the impression that you have an idea of what you want to do and where you want to take the story, but you're not entirely sure how to get there. Is this a fair assessment? I recommend thinking out exactly how you intend to advance your story and then breaking up the developments by chapter in which they occur. You definitely have ideas in your head; I can see that clearly as I read it, particularly towards the end. What it needs now is more determination to get to that point. It might make each chapter longer, but that's okay, because we'll be getting valuable story information from it.

Overall, this is a great story! This is a great chapter and well done!

Happy Writing!

Toboldlygo




Miraculor77 says...


Thanks for the review.
Now to answer its different parts:

About the portfolio, I'd put all the chapters in a folder dedicated to Code: Delete, but for some reason, they weren't showing up. It turns out I had to make everything "Private." You should be able to see the chapters at the side now.

The italicized text is a memory/flashback. I went back and labeled it. Sorry that it was unclear before.

I looked through the chapter again, and you're right--there really isn't much character development. It's hard to keep track of what the reader knows/doesn't know about Ashe. I'll try writing it down in incorporating her personality into the writing more.

I've been trying to advance the plot more, but this chapter still feels like I'm setting the scene. I'll plan out the next chapter and see if that helps.

Again, thanks for the review!



Toboldlygo says...


I see them now! I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes!




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