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Fox Tale: Sunshower

by dahlia58


“Geez- Just my luck…” muttered Ruri Fukumoto, leaning back glumly against the trunk of the leafy tree she was huddled under.

A sunshower, of all things. She hadn’t expected to get hit by one on her way to the store. The rain began pouring down so violently, she was forced to take cover in a thicket of cedars near Koho shrine, a small, aging structure built out of red-painted wood. Apparently, it was dedicated to a local animal deity, though Ruri couldn’t remember the name.

Sighing deeply, she fingered the hems of her soaked blouse. “Guess I’ll just go back when this rain stops.”

She couldn’t go to the store drenched like this, after all. Hopefully Amane and Shou weren’t too worried about her at home, considering they had seen her leave that morning without an umbrella.

The cold water pooled inside her shoes was making her feet sore, her wet bangs were sticking uncomfortably to her face, and even as she sat waiting under the tree for more than ten minutes, this crazy, sunny cloudburst showed no signs of letting up anytime soon. It was bizarre, really, how the sky was still bright-blue despite the torrents of rain flooding the ground.

Right now, poor Ruri could do nothing but stare blankly into space, her legs having gone numb from crouching for so long. At this rate, she knew she was going to catch the flu. Her tired eyes were even starting to make her see things: orbs of pale, white lights seemed to be floating in the distance.

“Hm?"

The 9-year-old blinked in surprise. Somehow, the lights looked like they were coming closer. Although faint, she could also hear the shrill sound of flutes and the steady beating of drums mixed with the falling rain. It didn’t take long for her to realize that both the will-o’-wisps and curious music were slowly nearing Koho shrine.

"What's going on...?"

Startled as she was, this wasn't Ruri's first time facing strange phenomena, so she felt calm enough to run over to a larger cedar to hide herself. There she sat hugging her knees and bating her breath, hoping the grove was dense enough to conceal her from whatever this was.

Good grief! That's what I get for hanging around an empty shrine in this weird weather! Seriously, this is creepy!

She bit her lip to keep her frantic thoughts from coming out verbally, not wanting to imagine what could happen if she made any noise.

The ghostly lights were only a few feet away now. Footsteps were echoing across the stone path to the shrine, matching the rhythm of the drums and flutes. Judging from the volume, it sounded like there were many people walking towards the building, but Ruri couldn't hear anyone talking at all.

Curiosity always killed the cat. Deciding to risk it a little, she slowly peeked out from behind the tree.

A procession of kimono-clad figures were making their way through the trees, two pairs at the front and back carrying paper lanterns on sticks. The four near the front were dressed completely in black with eboshi caps on their heads, while the six near the back were wearing white robes over red trousers. Musicians on either side of the parade were playing reed flutes and beating small taiko drums. The tallest of the group was walking in the middle, holding a scarlet, paper umbrella over a snowy-white figure, whose face was hidden by a silken hood.

That's, a bride?

Indeed, the white figure was wearing a Japanese bridal costume, with the customary over-robe, obi sash, and large hood. It became clear that Ruri was witnessing a traditional wedding procession, which explained why they were heading towards Koho shrine. The groom, his family, and the priest were probably waiting there for the bride's arrival.

Still, a wedding in this downpour? Even if these figures really were spirits, Ruri doubted any creature would wish to get married on such a rainy day. She strained to get a better look without being noticed.

Her brown eyes widened when she glimpsed what was sticking out from the bottom of the figures' clothes.

Wait, aren't those things-?

Fox tails. Those were definitely fox tails. But none of the silent figures seemed to have snouts, at least from what Ruri could tell at this distance. The ones holding the lamps looked pretty much human, save for the tips of their furry tails poking out of their trousers.

Everyone in Japan knew fox spirits possessed various skills, including those of shape-shifting, possibly thanks to their connection with the ancient god of agriculture, Inari. Perhaps that's what these foxes were doing, in order to look less suspicious to outsiders.

Now that I think about it, sunshowers are called "fox weddings" sometimes, aren't they?

Many legends mentioned how rain falling from a clear sky signified the marriage of two foxes. At any rate, spying on spirits could result in incurring their wrath for generations, especially if they happened to be in a foul mood or in the midst of a sacred ritual. Ruri stopped peeking at the procession and shut her eyes, quietly waiting for the foxes to finish their ceremony.

After what felt like hours, the sunshower finally stopped, the music immediately faded away, and when Ruri stepped out of her hiding place, there was no longer anyone in sight. Without wasting a minute, the soaking wet and rightfully disgruntled child began running back home before another fox decided to lose their single status that morning.


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Sun May 31, 2020 5:09 am
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potter4life wrote a review...



Hi dahlia58!Im @potter4life
Today im here for a review:)
I have a few points that maybe can help your writings;)
So firstly i wanna compliment your writing,it was a good piece of work !
you can improve by using show not tell and not just telling people what happened.
The plot line was good,especially the fox tail part.
you could improve a bit on the grammer since there was a bit of mistakes here and there but it was a few only.
Anyways,thats all i have to say:)
Keep up the good work!




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Thu May 14, 2020 3:12 am
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Featherstone wrote a review...



Hey there! Knight Feather here to review, and hopefully drop a few helpful hints for ya~

First and foremost, I'd like to compliment you on both your description and conclusion! The first passage that caught my eye was this one, towards the beginning of your work:

The cold water pooled inside her shoes was making her feet sore, her wet bangs were sticking uncomfortably to her face, and even as she sat waiting under the tree for more than ten minutes, this crazy, sunny cloudburst showed no signs of letting up anytime soon. It was bizarre, really, how the sky was still bright-blue despite the torrents of rain flooding the ground.


I like this part for two reasons: first of all, I get a good sense of more than what things look like, and the plight she's in is relatable. How many times have I, myself, had my hair plastered to my face from rainfall or sore feet from too many puddles or hiking in wet dew? It's relatable, which pulls me in. Second, you describe both tactile senses (that is, how she feels the hair on her face or sore feet from her wet shoes) and visual senses (the color of the sky, for example), which helps set the stage from more than one angle.

Your conclusion was also a lot of fun, particularly your last sentence.

Without wasting a minute, the soaking wet and rightfully disgruntled child began running back home before another fox decided to lose their single status that morning.


Honestly, I just found this nicely-paced, funny, and tying things up nicely. We feel her agitation, it ends on a peaceful note, and leaves it with a chuckle (and as a humor-appreciator, I do enjoy this.)

I actually don't have any nitpicks for this at all, either. I didn't catch any obvious typos, misspellings, awkward sentence fragments, or funky grammar, so nice job on that point!

All this being said, I do have a few pieces of criticism, though I must say that overall, I rather liked this piece.

First, I found a few instances where there was exposition posed somewhat bluntly through dialogue. Dialogue can be great to help expose plot or a character's internal monologue, but I have to admit that it felt a little bit unnatural in a few places, mostly because stating one's feelings to oneself so straightforwardly strikes me as a bit strange. Here's a couple examples of what I'm referring to:

Sighing deeply, she fingered the hems of her soaked blouse. “Guess I’ll just go back when this rain stops.”

"What's going on...?"


It can also be through directly-stated thoughts, though I found these generally less jarring than the dialogue:

Good grief! That's what I get for hanging around an empty shrine in this weird weather! Seriously, this is creepy!


These are examples of a "tell" rather than a "show" (which is much harder than it seems, and I fall into telling sometimes, too!). I might advise pausing when you catch yourself stating an emotion or plan bluntly (i.e. "I'll do x, y, z" or "I felt angry") and taking a moment to think about what this does to a character. Does it change the pitch of their voice? Does it give them goosebumps, or make them look more closely at details because they're nervous? Does it make them cross their arms or close in on themselves? Or are they happy, so that the cadence of their voice takes on a light, melodious quality? How does it change the character's perceptions or actions? Then, I work towards writing those instead. So, in regards to that last quote (the "good grief" one), maybe you could turn it into something like this (note: you might also notice how you can indirectly state a thought in the third-person in this lil' half-baked example, which I find really useful in my own writing):

Ruri drew in a tremulous breath, digging her teeth painfully into her lower lip lest she make a sound and closing her fingers around the fabric of her sleeves, as though holding on tightly enough would still her slight trembling. A visceral fear hung at the edges of her consciousness, goosebumps palpable against her fingers. This is what she got for hanging around an empty shrine in the weird weather like this.


The second thing is a somewhat small one: the mention of a "sunshower." After reading all the way through, it eventually became clear what this phenomena was (when it rains while the sky is clear, if I'm not mistaking), but I have to admit that I was a bit confused in the beginning, since the term is unfamiliar to me. Perhaps, in the beginning, instead of using the term 'sunshower,' you could simply describe what it looks like; or, alternatively, you could offer up a description as a definition. For example:

In spite of blue and seemingly-clear skies, the rain fell in heavy sheets to the earth, steadily turning the dirt into heavy mud: a sunshower.


Third, I wanted to mention exposition! I like the mythological elements of this story, and I would love to see more on them! This can largely be dealt with by simply adding in some elaboration on pieces you already have, explaining stories or adding more details to aspects of it.

Everyone in Japan knew fox spirits possessed various skills, including those of shape-shifting, possibly thanks to their connection with the ancient god of agriculture, Inari.


Instead of just stating that "everyone in Japan knew," maybe you could offer a one-paragraph story about it. For instance (disclaimer: I know nothing about Japanese mythology, this is purely for explanation purposes):

The concept of fox-spirits shapeshifting wasn't an alien one to Ruri. She'd known the folk tales ever since she was a child, about how one had used his shapeshifting skills to turn into a handsome man and trick a human woman into marrying him. They were known to have been made by Inari, the god of agriculture, and he'd given them such a gift. Perhaps that's what they were doing now, to protect themselves.


It'd also be fun to hear more about what the shrine looks like, or what kind of animal the deities are.

Finally (and this is a small thing) it might be fun to make a reference to fox weddings earlier? Or maybe she sees a fox, or thinks about them? It might add some interesting foreshadowing.

Overall, I think you did a really good job on this piece! You had spots of really nice description, your flow was good, your pacing was fast enough to be engaging but slow enough to enjoy, and you varied your sentence structure and wording so it never felt repetitive.

Have a great day!

- Fea




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Tue May 12, 2020 10:30 pm
dahlia58 says...



@Liberty

You were the most recent user besides chrisdixon to review my work, so I was wondering if you'd be interested in this one. Of course, it's completely up to you however^^




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Tue May 12, 2020 3:10 am
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ChrisDixon wrote a review...



Hi dahlia58. I am here for a short review.

Let's jump in!

1) I really enjoyed reading your novel with interesting description, and I quite like how you express the sun-shower also as "fox wedding".

*Here are some grammatic mistakes from your writing I suggest you fix.

2) "Right now, poor Ruri could do nothing but stare blankly into space, her legs having gone numb from crouching for so long. "

You need to change "having" in the sentence to "had". Or if you would rather not, then you should change "gone" to "felt", and erase "having" instead.

1)The first reason for the suggestion is because the sentence is present-tense, but "gone" is past-tense.

2)The second reason for it is because "she" is singular noun, but "have" or "having" is plural noun which is used if you are using "we" or "they". But you aren't using any plural noun, so you should change the helping verb (having)to singular noun(had).

So it should be: "Right now, poor Ruri could do nothing but stare blankly into space, her legs had gone numb form crouching for so long.

Or: "Right now, poor Ruri could do nothing but stare blankly into space, her legs felt numb from crouching for so long.

3) The word "fox tail" in your novel is suppose to one word, "foxtail".

*All of above are just suggestion, so feel free to use the advice.

Again I enjoyed reading your materpiece.

Keep on writing!

>ChrisDixon





Don't be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.
— Roy T. Bennett