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Desert Song

by waywardxwallflower


The sand was nothing new. It had coated Amadeus’s hands for as long as he could remember, and all of his pockets were full of the stuff. No matter how many times he washed his face, it stuck to his dimples and the line beneath his lip. He’d grown used to it by now.

He’d hated the sand at first. He’d hated his tiny little town on a one-way street in the middle of God-Only-Knows-Where, and he’d hated the rusty hinges on the shutters and the way that the only hint of green he could see was in a liquor bottle. He’d hated how small the town was and how big it made everything else.

Amadeus was sick of the colour blue. The sky was so big, too big, and it hurt his mind to think about. But he still bought things as blue as the sky. He thought it was an awful lot like containing it: if the heavens could fit on a shirt, maybe they weren’t so daunting after all.

So when, one day, in the old pawn shop at the end of the lane there came a sky-blue guitar, Amadeus was quick to snatch it up. He’d run home as fast as he could and smashed his piggy bank and used every last cent to buy the thing, and then he’d spent the rest of the day sitting out in the sand, picking at strings and taunting the sky with how small this other sky was, with how he could harness it and play whatever he wished on it, with how the sky could do nothing but watch.

On sunny days he sat outside and played, and on stormy ones he did the same inside (though it lacked the same spite). Soon enough, his fingers were tough and calloused, and the guitar was nothing more than his mind sitting outside his body for how well it took his thoughts and made them music.

Sometimes Amadeus did not think the sky was maddened by his playing at all; sometimes he thought it loved it. Sometimes he thought the sky looked down on him and smiled. And maybe he was growing used to how big it was. And maybe, just maybe, he found himself liking the colour blue.

One day, a stranger came from out of town. Amadeus didn’t know why anyone would pass through this place, but he was glad for a change, and quickly took to following the foreigner around. Her name was Celestine, though she told everyone to call her Tina, and she stayed in the inn near the middle of the road.

She took to spending her days in the inn and her nights out under the stars. One night, Amadeus decided to sit out with her. He never truly spent much time with the moon, as he now found the sun friend enough, but Tina was too intriguing to ignore for long.

“Why do you like the night so much?” he asked her, and she shrugged.

“It’s quiet, and the darkness is nice. Like a blanket.” She let a silence follow her words, but she quickly broke it again. “The day is too bright, like a spotlight. It makes people want to put on an act, because they know they can be seen. The dark, it’s - it’s truer.”

“Is this the first time I’m seeing you, then?” he asked. “Without the stage makeup or the costume?”

Tina smiled. “I guess you could say that.”

Amadeus let his mind drift, then, turning this thought over and over and shuffling through it in his mind. When it became a series of words he could vocalize, he did - the night was his time to speak, after all. “I like to play my guitar for the sun. Give it a show. I think… I like the spotlight. Being seen is scary, but it’s worth it. And in the light, you know who’s seeing you.”

“Kid, I’m not loving the implications of the last thing you said.”

He laughed, louder than her mediocre joke truly called for, but he didn’t feel like holding back. There was only Tina to see him, and the night. And whatever else it hid, he supposed.

After that night, Amadeus thought a lot while he played. His mind stayed tethered to his head, unable to properly rise in the clouds due to a busy schedule of thinking. He felt as though he were betraying that rich blue he had grown to love by thinking of the night - but he only ever played for the sun. He only ever played for the brilliant daytime sky. He liked to know where he was and he liked to know what stage he sat on and he liked to see the sand that surrounded him and know it was the same as it was yesterday. The night could not give him that. And perhaps he was thinking too hard about this whole day and night thing, and perhaps the sky was the sky no matter how dark or light it was, and perhaps he would let his mind fly away after all and let his fingers dance dumbly on the strings.

Another night, weeks later, Amadeus sat out with Tina in the sand and asked her a question that he couldn’t stop asking himself: “What sorts of monsters do you think hide in the dark?”

She just shrugged and told him, “Night holds truth, and truth is often much uglier than a lie.”

Tina was in town for another two months before she left. He would have said she disappeared without a trace, but that would not be quite true: she left a memento behind in the form of a knife in his father’s back. Amadeus did not know why she chose his father to kill, except that maybe he was working late that day and didn’t have much of a sense of personal safety.

The funeral was held the next day, with a sky-blue coffin from the pawn shop and bouquets of saguaro flowers. Everyone in town attended, though they barely managed to fill the church at the end of the road. After the service, there was a solemn walk down to the cemetery that sat a little ways from the rest of the town, and by the end of the funeral, Amadeus had gathered enough “thoughts and prayers” to last him a lifetime.

He did not know quite what to think. He and his father had not been particularly close, but his death still stung deeper than anything he’d felt in his (admittedly short) time on earth. What also stung was Tina’s betrayal, and the fact that she had found it somewhere in herself to kill another human being for no other crime than existing.

Amadeus sat on the cracked stone bench in the cemetery and wound his woes among its strings. Perhaps Tina had so loved the night because it had allowed her to hide in it, perhaps that was her truth, or perhaps the madness that came with such utter darkness was what drove her to do it. Either way, he was glad for the rays of sunlight still stretching through the Joshua trees that stretched above his head and cast mottled shapes along the tombstones.

Except that all things eventually went away, and that included sunlight, and soon enough he sat with none for company but the persistent weeds and sand that etched themselves into the cracks of the bench and the stones around him. Amadeus didn’t head home, though. He was so desperate to understand, or maybe he was just so lazy, that he found himself unable to move anything but his fingers, still, still singing their mournful tune to stars that were probably suns to someone else, someone far, far away.

His father was not under the ground. He’d learnt that much in the church, that his father was somewhere else, somewhere better. He hoped the others whose bodies still decayed in the dirt were with him and kept him good company. He hoped they looked down at him, strumming his heart out, and heard his song, and he hoped that, when the sun came up the next day, he could find it in himself to open his mouth and sing with the notes, or maybe even just to walk home.

A hand squeezed his shoulder, though there was no one there. A “thank you” was whispered in his ear, though there was no mouth to speak it. And a quiet humming tune sang along to his sky-blue guitar, though there was no voice to sing it.


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767 Reviews


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Mon Jul 26, 2021 8:59 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi waywardxwallflower,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

I really liked this story. I liked it from beginning to end and I liked that very slow tone you started with and did a bit of an introduction. When I was a bit further on, I thought it might be a bit like a parable or a simile in terms of the plot. I thought of it as something deeper than just the surface telling of the story here.

I really liked your descriptions and how you managed to portray Amadeus as an interesting and likeable character. I especially liked the many examples you found to explain the colours and how you related them.

I also loved the introduction of Tina and when the first dialogues started I felt that this gave the tone of the story a new wind and that distance I got from reading disappeared and everything came closer. I was amazed at how the story turned out and am still a bit puzzled as to how it all came about. Still, I really liked how you introduced everything and how you told the plot in a calm tone.

But there were also a few times when you switched between sections too quickly and the reading flow suddenly dropped like a waterfall. :D Sometimes it seemed to me as if the scene was changing from one sentence to the other; especially towards the end I found this speed a bit too surprising and thought more that the plot would become calmer there again. (But it must have been like climbing a dune, slowly up and quickly down. :D)

Nevertheless, I liked your writing style, but I think you still have to make sure sometimes that your sentences are not always similar in structure. Now and then, there were some sentences that always started with the same word. In some cases, this made for good repetition in the direction of a rhetorical device, but in other cases it was a bit too unprofessional.

Finally, one last point that I really liked:

"It's quiet, and the darkness is nice. Like a blanket." She let a silence follow her words, but she quickly broke it again. "The day is too bright, like a spotlight. It makes people want to put on an act, because they know they can be seen. The dark, it's - it's truer."


That was a statement that I really liked and I think more people should take to heart. It has its genuineness hidden behind that statement and yet it makes me happy that someone said that. :D

Have fun writing!

Mailice






Thanks so much!! I'll definitely take this into mind, your advice was very helpful!



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Sun Jul 25, 2021 10:49 am
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eilisBK wrote a review...



Howdy waywardxwallflower (love the name!),

As you have specifically asked for feedback, this will probably be a fairly long review and I'm gunna give my opinion of your piece paragraph by paragraph. Alrighty, let's begin.

The sand was nothing new. It had coated Amadeus’s hands for as long as he could remember, and all of his pockets were full of the stuff. No matter how many times he washed his face, it stuck to his dimples and the line beneath his lip. He’d grown used to it by now.


Already I love the opening. We are introduced to a very sandy, probably hot, arid setting. Based off the setting we can make some assumptions as to what the MC is going to look like, and you add some very intimate, unique details to your MC right off the bat which is a nice touch.

He’d hated the sand at first. He’d hated his tiny little town on a one-way street in the middle of God-Only-Knows-Where, and he’d hated the rusty hinges on the shutters and the way that the only hint of green he could see was in a liquor bottle. He’d hated how small the town was and how big it made everything else.


Again, really great use of character to introduce setting. I especially love the line about only being able to see green in a liquor bottle. It gives us more clues as to what the setting looks like, but it is really subtle. I love it. My only bit of advice is that the final sentence seems a bit abrupt. I think you need to add a word at the end. Maybe add seem/feel? "He'd hated how small the town was and how big it made everything else seem/feel."

Amadeus was sick of the colour blue. The sky was so big, too big, and it hurt his mind to think about. But he still bought things as blue as the sky. He thought it was an awful lot like containing it: if the heavens could fit on a shirt, maybe they weren’t so daunting after all.


This is a neat little bit of insight into the MC's mind. We initially think that MC has a hatred to the colour blue because he hates the sky in the same way that he hates his town. Yet your final sentence lets us know that he is almost afraid, that MC is so used to small town life that anything larger frightens him and it's actually the fear that he hates.

So when, one day, in the old pawn shop at the end of the lane there came a sky-blue guitar, Amadeus was quick to snatch it up. He’d run home as fast as he could and smashed his piggy bank and used every last cent to buy the thing, and then he’d spent the rest of the day sitting out in the sand, picking at strings and taunting the sky with how small this other sky was, with how he could harness it and play whatever he wished on it, with how the sky could do nothing but watch.


This section definitely speaks to me as a musician (I would love to have a sky-blue guitar). You have a way of subtly giving the reader insight into what the MC is like without outright saying it. I really love that last sentence especially, something about playing the miniature sky to spite the larger sky is just so poetic.

On sunny days he sat outside and played, and on stormy ones he did the same inside (though it lacked the same spite). Soon enough, his fingers were tough and calloused, and the guitar was nothing more than his mind sitting outside his body for how well it took his thoughts and made them music.


This is my favourite section. It's beautiful. I had to stop reading your piece just so I could re-read that last line over and over and over again. Really good job.

Sometimes Amadeus did not think the sky was maddened by his playing at all; sometimes he thought it loved it. Sometimes he thought the sky looked down on him and smiled. And maybe he was growing used to how big it was. And maybe, just maybe, he found himself liking the colour blue.


Character growth we love to see it. Again, you blow me away with how poetic this is.

She took to spending her days in the inn and her nights out under the stars. One night, Amadeus decided to sit out with her. He never truly spent much time with the moon, as he now found the sun friend enough, but Tina was too intriguing to ignore for long.


I initially wasn't going to comment on this paragraph as I didn't have anything new to say about that I haven't already said above but I just had a tiny, little bit of advice. "as he now found the sun friend enough...". I know what you are trying to say, I like it, but just something about the grammar gives me pause. The grammar I'm pretty sure is correct, but the way it reads doesn't sound correct. I think the first portion of the sentence needs to be reworked to remedy this (super unhelpful I'm sorry).

He liked to know where he was and he liked to know what stage he sat on and he liked to see the sand that surrounded him and know it was the same as it was yesterday. The night could not give him that. And perhaps he was thinking too hard about this whole day and night thing, and perhaps the sky was the sky no matter how dark or light it was, and perhaps he would let his mind fly away after all and let his fingers dance dumbly on the strings.


Another gorgeous section. I love the character growth that we see and the newfound doubt. We already knew that MC was afraid of change in his small town life, and now we get to see it again and truly see how deep that fear runs. My one bit of advice is that it seems like you need a sentence of closure at the end. With so many "maybe" sentences I feel like you ought to add one that starts with "but", but there maybe a reason you left out the closure.

Tina was in town for another two months before she left. He would have said she disappeared without a trace, but that would not be quite true: she left a memento behind in the form of a knife in his father’s back. Amadeus did not know why she chose his father to kill, except that maybe he was working late that day and didn’t have much of a sense of personal safety.


Whoah... I was not expecting that. You raise a lot of questions here, many of which I'm fairly sure will go unanswered. Now I'm also torn. You reveal this news to us in a very nonchalant way, much like the vibe of the rest of the piece that I've read so far, but I'm just not sure if that vibe fits the news.

A hand squeezed his shoulder, though there was no one there. A “thank you” was whispered in his ear, though there was no mouth to speak it. And a quiet humming tune sang along to his sky-blue guitar, though there was no voice to sing it.


Such a wonderful ending to a wonderful piece. This has definitely been the longest review I've ever left and I hope you find something helpful here (and that reading this wasn't too daunting sorry it was so long!). I loved this. From the title I thought I was going to be reading some lyrics to a song, but I was not disappointed. This was wonderful. I would say that I want to read more about MC, but I honestly think that this was the perfect length.

Really great job!

Speak soon! eilisBK






Ah thank you so much!! This was super helpful and I am GRINNING




Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
— Thomas Edison