Wednesday, May 26, 2010

'Chicken Little' Goes Literary.

I while ago I had posted a first draft of a short story I had written. After posting, that story just hung out in my documents file, just waiting for a reawakening.

It got one.

I wasn't all that pleased with the first draft (Typical. No one likes poor, little first drafts...or seconds, or thirds...and I usually don't like fourths either.), so I just left it chillin' in the memory space of my computer until I felt inspired enough to take it on again.

 Last week draft five was born. The word count leapt up by almost 400 more words, the metaphors/symbolism became much more defined, and the overall piece became more polished. I like it a lot better now, so I will let you take a look at it again.


You know the story, the one about the chicken who thinks that the sky fell on his head? I’ve heard that story; it’s nothing like the real thing. I was there the day that the sky fell down and I’m telling you, it’s nothing like that story.

The day before was a typical day in the summer of 19--. A light breeze blew and the sun tickled your cheeks. It was one of those days that called you out of doors and held you there for hours in the magnificent seasonal sunlight. A perfect day for a boy of my size to start making his fortune, so I, along with my neighbor Frankie, started up a  lemonade stand. By noon we had made one dollar off of our product- which sold at twenty cents a cup. By supper time we had a whole dollar and twenty cents. The two of us went home that night, Frankie with 40 cents in his pocket and the rest jingling in mine, being as they were my lemons that we squeezed the juice out of. The next day we were going to do it again; we figured if we kept it up, by the end of the summer we have enough money to buy a boat for sailing out on the lake. We had it all planned out; our futures were upon us and we were ready.

But I didn’t account for what would happen next. There was no way I could have. Stuff just isn’t supposed to happen like it did then.

The day after, I walked out onto my front lawn to set up our stand once more, but the lawn wasn’t there. Well… I suppose it was, only it was covered in this flakey, blue mess that looked like someone has thrown sheets paper all over the ground. The road looked the same. I looked up at the clouds to check and see what the weather was looking like…only there were no clouds. There was no weather. There was nothing.

The sky was...gone.

Now, it’s hard to explain what nothing looks like, but I tell you for sure, I saw what wasn’t there. The blue expanse that was dotted with clouds and warm rays of light the day before was now emptiness. Above my head was an eerie vacancy that shouldn’t have been. Instead of sky there was…well, it is hard to say what it was. Sort of a hum, more sound than a sight, something you felt but couldn’t touch. It was like there was a wild wind, but with no movement. It was like the sun’s glow on a blistering day, only without the light and warmth coming down to touch you. I looked up again. Horror began to set in.

The sky was scattered on my front lawn.

I leapt backwards onto the safety of my doorstep when I realized the truth of the situation. The sky was on my front lawn and in its place was nothing.

I screamed for my mother like I usually did when I was having a nightmare, so she would come and tell me everything was alright. But the sound hissed out of my mouth, fell off my lips, and filled the bareness around me, my voice blending with the hum. Nightmares are always worse when you have to face them alone.

I looked for my neighbors. The houses were all there. The trees, the cars, the whole deal, just like it should have been! Only, everyone had pieces of the heavens strewn across their grass.

No one saw me, no one heard me, and probably no one cared. I was alone and desperate, so I did what any boy of my size would have thought to do if given a situation such as mine. Carefully, I snapped a branch off of the little piney shrub next to our doorstep. I poked the ground, or the sky rather, with the branch. Nothing happened. No sound. No feeling. No sudden explosions. I edged one toe off the step and gingerly stood on what was once the sky. Again, nothing. Emboldened, I bent and picked up a piece of it; it was flimsy like a sheet of the Sunday newspaper, but soft like the flannel pajamas with big, red, clown-like buttons that my grandma had given me on Christmas one year. Though thin like paper, when I shook it, it didn’t crinkle, it didn’t rip. So I threw it- HIGH. It didn’t suspend itself back where it belonged, instead it floated noiselessly back onto the lawn, covering up the patch of green that I had exposed.

I ran inside, slammed the door, and leaned my back against it. After counting to ten with my eyes squeezed tight, I opened it back up again, popped my head out, and sure as anything the sky was still there, right where it didn’t belong, scattered on the ground like confetti left over from a surprise party we hadn’t had.

I bounded up the stairs screaming my dad’s name. He was a smart guy, maybe he could fix it. Dads generally know a lot about problems and sometime they even know enough to be able to fix them.

“DAD! The sky! It fell. The sky is on the front lawn, Dad. I tried to put it back but….”

“What?” my father asked, as he rolled over to face me. The space next to him on the bed was empty; the sheets were neat and tucked in. Mom was sleeping on the couch again.

“The sky. It’s on the lawn. It’s all blue and everywhere and it feels like my P.J.’s from grandma and it won’t go back up where it needs to!”

He rolled the other way to look out the window, but the faded, floral curtains were drawn shut. “Prob’ly just fog, son. It’ll pass. Go on downstairs and turn on the coffee pot. I’ll be down in a bit.”

I kicked the side of his bed with my slippered foot. “THE SKY FELL DOWN, DAD AND COFFEE ISN’T GUNNA FIX IT!”

“Yes, yes, I understand.” said my father as he tied his robe on and then rubbed his temples with heel’s of his hands.

I stomped down the stairs, scared and infuriated, and peeked out the window. Sure enough, just as I had said, there was no sky in the sky. I opened up the front door and jumped on the mess that had found its way onto my lawn. I jumped and stomped around in a fit. I jumped on what was supposed to be the sky.

I heard my dad’s footsteps on the stairs; I flung open the door and cried, “LOOK!”

He did. He blinked a couple times and ran his left hand through his hair, like he did after having a fight with my mother. Then he chewed on his lip a bit and said nothing.

“That’s the sky, Dad! All over our grass, just like I told you. That’s a whole bunch of sky!” My voice sounded hollowed, like I was in a cave, only with no echo.

My dad said nothing. He just stood there blinking his eyes, chewing his lip, and rubbing his gray-streaked hair.

A couple minutes later my mother, in an adjacent room, lifted herself off the couch and shuffled in, robe on, hair in a disheveled braid, looking down at her slippers.

“Boys, would you shut that door! The …” She stopped short and made a little sucking noise as she drew air quickly into her lungs. Her mouth quivering, she walked out onto the step and stood next to my father. Her eyes just kept getting wider or maybe her face was just getting smaller.

“It’s…the sky…” I tried to explain, hoping they would somehow, in their parental understanding, be able to make it right again.

But neither said anything.

“WHY IS IT ON THE GRASS? WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?” I yelled at my mute parents, aggravated that I was the only one feeling the need to take some sort of action on this problem. I was the kid! How was I supposed to fix it? Stuff like this wasn’t supposed to happen. The sky is supposed to always be the sky, but that day, on the front lawn of our home, it wasn’t! Someone had to fix it, but my parents just stood gaping, waiting for it to right itself.

My dad just shook his head and stared at the lawn, as my mother stood beside him and pulled her robe tighter. “Sometimes things are just out of our control, son…”


Writing this was a bit out of my comfort zone. Not only was it a SHORT story (see orginal story post), but it was a literary piece, aimed at adult readers, with unresolved conflict and an almost depressing ending. Not really my cup of tea. I generally like young adult/youth fiction, and most specifically the fantasy genre. I like imagination and whimsy mixed with the clash of swords. Well defined, good verses evil and the evil always loses type plots.  I also like sharp wit and unusual humor, and would love to someday write a really goofy, bizarre children's book. My comfort zone is basically anything BUT adult...they just aren't very fun.  So this story was a stretch. While it was written from a child's point of view, and seems to contain elements of the fantastical, it is very much so geared toward adult readers, in that it is REAL LIFE in meaning.

This story is now waiting grading from my online school. Then the plan is to actually freelance it out into the big, wide world. I have a couple ideas as far as short story publishing consumer magazines, so I will whip up a query for this little baby and send her out. And then wait. Then I either get denied or I become famous...oh the glories of being an author!

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails