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The Lake and the Stars

by ellasnotebook


The smell of the woods wafts through the air, of fresh soil, and sweet sap. Breathe in. Sigh. Hear his footsteps up ahead, the leaves crunching under his feet. The trees cluster together like a maze of rough bark and thick, soft leaves. Not that it matters, it’s so dark the trees are hidden in shadows. He looks back, sky blue eyes twinkling in child-like delight. He has the most breathtaking eyes. Wish for eyes like his. Wish for him. Shut up, shut up. He calls out.

"Hurry up! We're almost there," he bounds ahead. Grin, force a smile. It's cold, bitter cold, the kind of cold of late autumn nights. He's like a late night autumn night. Pretty and freezing. Shut up. Focus on following him. Past taller trees, bigger rocks, mossy soil. It's the same. Where is he going? It's too late for this. Wish for home, hot chocolate, and a book. A cat curled up on your lap as the fire crackles beside you.

Doubt. Doubt. Follow him blindly. His hair is like a sheep, soft, and blonde. Watch sheep bound through the trees, happy to be out of the pen. Black sheep. Skipping towards the slaughter. Why are you here?

Rub your hands together. It's so cold, so angrily cold you think you can't stand it. Just a little more. A little further. Why am I here? Doubt. Snap a twig, flinch back. He turns around.

"A little further," he assures. A little further, a little longer, a little faster, a little harder. Rub your hands together. Watch his breath fog up. It mingles with yours, entwined together in the frozen night air. Shut up.

"Here," he says, stopping at a cliffside. It overlooks the lake. Gasp. The stars hang high in the sky like lanterns. The lake gleams with freckles of light, reflections filling it's murky black waters.

"Beautiful, breath-taking," stutter. Doubt. He grins. His blue eyes glow like the stars in the sky. If he is the sky, your heart is like a great, black, murky, lake. His sparkling eyes reflect into your murky, muddy brown ones. Shut up. Shut up. Reflections of stars on the surface, twisting, grabbing seaweed underneath. Shut. Up.

He sits. Sit next to him, bare calves pressing against the cool stone. He talks about old times. Better times. Please don't mention the embarrassing thing. He mentions it. Laugh, face flushing red. It is so cold, so terribly cold.

"Do you like it?" He looks with his star eyes. Look away.

"Absolutely," Be more enthusiastic. Smile wider. Wish your heart was on fire, instead of this mind-numbing mud. He smiles, takes your hand. Blush, look away. Shut up. Calm down. It's so cold.

"You'll come back with me tomorrow, right?" he leans in closer, his star eyes reflecting off of the murky dark. It's so cold. Go inside. Be warm. Be happy.

"Of course," Smile. Come back tomorrow. Be cold, don't be alone. Stars touch the waters, his lips press against yours. Try not to think that stars are already dead when you see them shine, and lakes hold more secrets than their reflective surface.

Go Inside. Doubt. Or... Keep warm in the brilliance of an already dead star, and content with the surface of a filth-filled lake.

Choose the latter. Repeat cycle. 


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Points: 92
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Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:44 pm
SophiaClark says...






Random avatar

Points: 92
Reviews: 1

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Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:43 pm
SophiaClark wrote a review...



Great story! I really like how you captured the speaker's thoughts and feelings in detail. Another thing I like is the use of repetition in bringing up several ideas multiple times throughout out the story.

However, sometimes you use the same phrasing in your repetition, which can get boring. For example, I love how you put "Doubt." several times in the story, but in the third and fourth paragraph, you place "Doubt." Next to "Why am I here/Why are you here." Putting the change in perspective aside, the same use of structure when including these ideas next to each other could be put better. Expressing the same ideas next to each other but with different structure or wording would help.

Also, this problem appears again in your expression of the cold. You use "cold, bitter cold," "cold, so angrily cold," and "Cold, so terribly cold," which again tires the reading with the same structure and wording that doesn't convey anything new. I understand repetition can be used to emphasize important key ideas, but overuse can get, well, repetitive.






Thank you for the review!
I see what you're talking about with the repetition, I'll have to go back when I edit it and fix that. Thanks for pointing it out to me!



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Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:53 pm
Radrook wrote a review...



Thanks for sharing this very mysteriously fascinating story. I especially liked all the vivid somber imagery of nature and its ruined state. The helpless situation of the woman is conveyed very effectively. The seemingly maliciously calloused nature of the speaker as well. Especially impressive was the conclusion with it’s cryptic hint that leaves the reader wondering and striving to tie everything else in the story together to fit it.


I like the skillful shifts from second-person singular = Why are you here?

to

third- person singular = He looks back, sky blue eyes twinkling in child-like delight

About the three protagonists:
1. The speaker
2. The female
3. The male

The speaker isn’t identified. So the only way we can determine who he or she or it is is via inference based on what is said. So exactly what does the narrator say? The narrator provides the female with constant advice on how she should behave in relation to the male. How she should smile, ho she should feel about everything he does or even about how her surroundings look. So the narrator isn’t some neutral bystander.

The female is described as some kind of a helpless victim unable to contradict whatever the narrator suggests or demands. She just has to go along. Why? We aren’t told and so we must infer the reason from the narrative.

The man who is described as physically impressive seems unaware of the female’s attitude. In fact, he seems unaware that she is being coerced into being with him. So in that sense he is also a victim of the narrator’s constant meddling and demands.

I wondered whether the female is some kind of a malfunctioning android fighting her own programming.

Suggestions:

"Not that it matters, ...."

As a reader I wondered if it doesn't matter then why mention it?

The first sentence would run smoother if the alliteration is softened.

woodwaf-sweetsa

[The smell of the woods wafts through the air, of fresh soil, and sweet sap.]

Suggestion:

The sweet smell of wood, fresh soil and sap saturates the air.


Same softening can be applied below:

Watchshe
Watch sheep


Suggestion:

"Observe the sheep,...."


The severe criticism of brown eyes as opposed to blue might be perceived by some readers as author racism.

BTW

The story can also be seen as a representation of how we must accept the world as it is regardless of how unappealing it might be. We are expected to keep our mouths shut and go along with the flow.






Thank you so much for reviewing this! I'm so glad you talked about the alliteration, because it sounded wrong in my head but I didn't know what was wrong or how I could fix it. I had no idea the eye color thing could be considered author racism, so I'll make sure to go back and fix it.



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Mon Nov 27, 2017 12:52 pm
BluesClues wrote a review...



Hi there! Rolling in from the General Review Request, although I see you only posted this yesterday, so there's plenty of time to get reviews anyhow.

So one thing that I think made this read a little weird for me was the omission of "you" in most cases. It made things sound like a command when I don't think that's how you meant them.

It overlooks the lake. Gasp. The stars hang high in the sky like lanterns.


"Beautiful, breath-taking," stutter. Doubt.


In these spots, for example, it sounds like you're commanding the reader to gasp and stutter. In some cases, I think you are commanding more - like "smile, come back tomorrow." It works in those spots - particularly with the repeated "shut up," which sounds more like the "you" thinking to themselves the way people do when they're out with someone they like and they think they're fumbling it. But when you get to places like this, where the "you" of the story is doing things, it reads oddly.

Not gonna lie, I have expected the story to end with the boy turning out to be a crazy serial killer who was going to push "you" off a cliff or something. I think it was the emphasis on the cold, using words like "angrily cold," the darkness, "you" forcing a smile and half-wondering why they're even out tonight (despite the crush), and the repeated "shut up" in conjunction with all that. And then there's the kiss, and the thought of stars that are already dead by the time your light reaches them. Considering the focus on the boy and the crush, it gave the end of the story an ominous feeling that made the conclusion sort of confusing for me. Like at the end you again mention the "already-dead star" and the "filth-filled lake," which maybe you were going for imagery that fit the doubt the character has throughout the story? But if so it didn't quite do that for me. It makes the character feel like a really grim person who isn't fully in the moment at the kiss, even though they've been crushing on this guy for the whole story.

The language is beautiful, but it feels like the story's just unsure of what it wants to achieve.






Thank you for reviewing! I see what you mean with the commands, I'll definitely have to fix that. I'll work on it's confusing parts too, because I wasn't sure what I was doing when I wrote it, ha! Honestly, when I was writing it I kinda thought the boy might turn out to be a serial killer too lol



BluesClues says...


Lol that would certainly explain why I got that impression!




I see no reason to celebrate the random timing of natural events by eating poison and singing.
— Dilbert