Shades


Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

This week, Write on Edge’s Red Writing Hood challenge was to roll with the quote “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”.

I decided to expand on the Witch Story.  If you are interested in the rest of the parts of this story, check it out in the Fiction tab at the top of the page.  The previous post in this story is here.  Let me know what you think – can you picture the characters well?  The emotions?

Go check out the rest of the prompt responses, or submit your own, HERE.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

She glowered at the sign, a strong suggestion that it ought to change its tune if it knew what was good for it.  It remained, as signs are prone to do, unabashedly unchanged.

She sighed, lifted her skirts and stepped over the stile, twisting to the side to avoid contact with the stubborn plank.

She put her hands on her hips and surveyed the forest before her.  It was grim, all dark pine trees weeping lichen tears, mist twining serpentine about the branches.

An hour trudging through the forest, passing signs proclaiming more and more wildly unlikely dooms to be meted out, and all she had to show for it was a bug bite on every exposed inch of skin.

“Show yourself, damn you!”

She wiped her hair away from her face, flailing at the mosquitos that buzzed excitedly at her exposed skin.  She was hot and sweaty, sticky and less than impressed at the only answer being a plank warning her of her upcoming disembowelment by rabid demon dogs.

“Is that before or after the herd of caribou grind my bones to dust?”

“Probably after – rather hard to be disembowelled once one has been ground up.  I’d reshuffle the signage, but you’re the first one to make it this far.”

There had been no telltale rustling in the underbrush.  When she swung around, the old woman was simply there.

“Are you the witch?”  She combated her surprise with abruptness.

“Gretal Baer at your service.”  She flashed a crooked grin, the laugh-lines around her eyes and mouth creasing her face.

“Agata Schwarze,” she replied grudgingly.  She shuddered, loathing the feeling of sweat dripping down between her breasts the fabric of her dress clinging to her back.  The old woman brazenly wore mens’ cotton trousers, cut off just below the knee.  Agata frowned at the sight, propriety warring with jealousy.  Strongly muscled and tanned forearms visible below the rolled sleeves of her shirt, a kerchief tied snugly at her neck in the way of farmers, the woman looked completely at ease.

As though reading her mind, Gretal chuckled.  “So young and yet so judgemental.”

She felt her face flush more.  Who was she to judge?

“What do you seek?”

“Witches.”

“Which Witches?”

Agata frowned, sensing another meaning behind the question but unsure what it might be.  “Good witches.  Witches to teach me.”

“You are young and the world is still in black and white.”  The old woman’s shoulders slumped with the weight of years.  “Come back to me when you can see the shades of grey.  Come back when you can abandon all hope but still enter.”

Agata would have argued with the woman but in one step, she was gone, as swiftly and silently as she had appeared.  All that was left was the pattern of light and green shadow playing across the mossy forest floor.

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25 Comments

  1. Lance

     /  March 23, 2012

    I have no explanation for this but from a fantasy point of view my interest level in characters goes
    1. Robots/futuristic figures
    2. witches/supernatural
    3. zombies
    999. vampires
    I went back and read some of the story. I get the characters and like the language.

    My only critique would be watch redundant words like “She glowered at the sign, the disapproving stare a” I would say glowered negates disapproving.

    I like this story…more please

    • I love a good scifi character 🙂 Though I don’t find that zombies have much character at all – the people trying to kill them do!
      good point… I’ll be doing a bit of creative editing in a moment, get rid of the redundancy. Glad you’re enjoying it. I’m not quite sure where it’s going, but I’m sure I’ll think of more things to do with it.

  2. Chaotically Yours

     /  March 23, 2012

    Well done. Nice accents, interesting main character (I’d like to know more about her), good pacing on the dialogue. Love the “lichen tears” description.

    I agree with Lance on watching out for redundancy, but that’s the only thing that caught my eye concrit wise.

    I think you’ve got the beginnings of an interesting tale, here.

    • There’s a provincial park I worked at on the north shore of Lake Superior that had just the right combination of humidity and temperature to create a forest just like the one I described. Every tree was swathed in lichens, it looked like a horror movie just waiting for us to split up.
      thanks 🙂

  3. I’m anxious to see where this goes. 🙂 Good job Lexy!!

  4. Well done! I love: come back when you can see the shades of grey.

  5. I like where this story could go. I love a good fairy story with tidbits of magic thrown in for fun 🙂

    My only critique is for the beginning. Each paragraph begins with “She”. It gets a bit boring 🙂 And I didn’t get the sense she had been travelling through this forest for sometime so the fact she’d seen numerous signs but perhaps you adressed this in an earlier piece.

    I also liked the witches’ response to return when she could see shades of grey

    • it’s definitely a good point. I noticed it, but wasn’t sure how else to do it. If you’ve read the other posts in this storyline, you might have noticed that she didn’t have a name until this one… I wanted the first use of her name to very clearly indicate that it was her, rather than just throwing in a name. I’ll have to figure out how to avoid the ‘she… she… she’ thing.

  6. I like a good witch story and this has all the markings of one with an almost Arthurian air about it.

    I agree with Carrie. I would like to really be able to put myself in this wood, so I think I would like more description of what is around her, what she sees besides the signs. Is the wood free of animals? Do no birds dwell within? Are the crickets chirping? Perhaps a bullfrog from the swamp deep within?

    The shades of grey and the irony of daring to enter were superbly done. I really enjoyed this story.

    • It could definitely use some more description. With a fairly limited wordcount, though, I limited the description of timeline to mentioning that it was ‘an hour trudging through the forest’, and left the forest itself to the imagination, focusing on her reaction to its mugginess and insects.
      Thanks, glad you enjoyed the read 🙂

      • word counts can definitely stifle the creativity sometimes.

        • I think it really helps though – helps keep me on track a bit. I can easily type out a thousand words… not good words… just… words that are strung together in a valid sentence structure. Having a word limit means that I have to weed through and only pick the ones I absolutely need for getting my point across. Sometimes I just want to keep writing, though!

          • Yes, you are exactly right. The word counts do help. If you want to keep writing, keep writing, though. I hope you never feel like you have to end a story just because it hits 600 or 400 or 800. Just write, and you can cut later.

  7. I like that you had her jealous but offended by the mens clothing 😀

    • thanks 🙂 I wanted to show her still-traditional mindset, despite the fact that she’s a pretty untraditional girl.

  8. Duffy

     /  March 23, 2012

    I liked it enough to read the other two posts. I like how you mix the comedy in there using the signs. The witch’s response is great.

    • Thanks! I definitely want this to be a pretty humorous story, glad that’s coming across 🙂

  9. I’ll have to admit that fantasy isn’t my #1 favorite genre, but I found myself drawn in by your characters – I was disappointed when the witch sent her away, I wanted to see where that was going! 🙂

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it in spite of its fantasy aspect 🙂 I think she’ll run into that witch another time, but not until she’s grown up a bit – I like her too much for that to be the last we see of her.

  10. Can’t wait for the next installment.

    • happy to hear you’re enjoying it – I think I’m going to have to start seriously thinking of what needs to come next in the plot!

  11. inmandyland2

     /  March 24, 2012

    I really enjoyed this piece. There was something in the descriptions, the tongue in cheek humor, the characters that really pulled me in.

    • thanks 🙂 I’m enjoying the ridiculous aspects of this series of responses so far

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