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message 1: by David (last edited Feb 23, 2016 02:53PM) (new)

David O'Neill | 12 comments I wrote this short story a few years ago for a ghost story competition. I hope you like it.

(For some reason, the paste process robs the formatting that was their originally, so the paragraphs lose their spacing. If you know how to fix that, please let me know.)

Passing On

The smoke from the fire drifted through the air and hazed across the full moon, painting it a delicate eggshell blue. Flames curled and wove around each other as they reached for the sky, throwing sparks into the cold night air, their short lives bright and quick as they tried to escape before fading away. Curling back on itself, the smoke thickened to form a blanket, sinking under its own weight, and in it a figure gradually formed, hazy and indistinct at first, but swimming slowly into focus against the random swirls.
Even with the fire, Co-Shee White Swan pulled the skins tightly around herself against the chill, the small baby in her arms wrapped in furs and sleeping peacefully, its little face smooth and pink. Co-Shee stopped singing the lullaby and looked up, her black hair braided tightly against her head and a smile on her face as the figure became clear.
“Hello, father,” she said, happiness in her voice.
Distant and quiet she heard, “Is that you, my little Co-Shee?”
“It is father. It is so good to hear your voice.”
“Ah, my little beautiful baby swan, your voice is like the dawn chorus to my old ears. And what is that in your arms?” Her father, Ha-Nee Eagle Wing, became clearer as he talked. He leant forward as if trying to give himself a better view. “Is that…” his voice cracked and he couldn’t continue.
“Yes father, this is your grandson.” She looked adoringly at the small bundle and gently lifted him up so that her father could see him better.
“Ah, he is so handsome, my little swan. Does my grandson have a name yet?”
“Yes father, he does,” and she told him, tears in her eyes as she spoke. But already the smoke was drifting away and the moon was once again a plain pearl of silver in the black of an obsidian sky.
Sto-Kan Cloud Drifter waited for the spirit’s world to retreat before walking towards the fire. He could hear gentle sobs and waited for a moment, compassion in his heart, allowing a few extra moments of privacy before having to disturb the grieving figure sitting by the fire.
The rest of the tribe stood in respectful silence around the neatly built wooden pyre. Even the animals seemed to sense the emotion and all were quiet, heads down and wide eyes blinking slowly.
Sto-Kan took a deep breath and laid a gentle hand on the grieving shoulder, feeling the tremor of quiet sobs through his fingers. When he spoke it was softly. “Did the spirits grant commune tonight?” In the half light of the fire he saw the nod, and the hands that tried to wipe the tears away. He asked, “And did you learn anything else this night?”
Ha-Nee Eagle Wing straightened his old frame. “My little swan named her son Ton-He Bright Moon,” he said, his eyes leaking tears of sadness that wet the smile of joy he had at seeing his daughter and grandson at peace. She had died the previous night during childbirth, taking her unborn son with her. None of the tribe’s elder women could do anything to save her.
That night the tribe sang their song of passing to Co-She and Ton-He as the pyre lit their journey on to the spirit world.

The End

message 2: by Ruby, Just plain Epictastic. (new)

Ruby (rubyyy) | 2486 comments Mod
Wow, that is beautiful!

And, yes, Goodreads does that for some reason - I just replace regular paragraphs with a blank line between each 'paragraph'. It isn't perfect, but it works.

message 3: by Samantha (new)

Samantha Really good!

message 4: by David (new)

David O'Neill | 12 comments Thanks for the positive comments - it's appreciated.

I'm going to try and post something up every month, maybe even weekly if the muse takes me. I'd appreciate your thoughts.



message 5: by Alyssa (new)

Alyssa (ajdietz) I'm becoming a fan of yours, David! Though because I read Gracefully the twist at the end didn't quite surprise me. Haha. Still, that doesn't take away from the beauty and emotion you were able to put in this short story.

What Ruby said, about just adding an extra line between paragraphs, would help make this a little easier to read.

Overall this is a very, very good story. I have no nitpicks or criticisms!

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