Post by 🧛mintedstar/fur🧛 on Oct 14, 2019 20:43:17 GMT -5
XD I've gotten heavy friend encouragement to participate in this for fun.
Also, fun incentive, but to elaborate on the prizes:
I'll be doing a full acrylic painting for the top three winners! Participants will get a watercolor (which might be less detailed).
Uuuuuh. I think if you look through my 'recent topics' you can find examples of my art. I don't have much acrylic, but I think I'm pretty passable when it comes to doing most anything. Art does not have to be about your story. You can request something specific.
Post by <Raintalon> on Oct 27, 2019 23:46:49 GMT -5
Doll Story Prompt: the smell of rotting leaves
What does the smell of rotting leaves remind you of?
To some people, it might make them think of change, of transition - the shift from summer to winter, the change in lighting, in mood, that comes with autumn.
To others, it might have a more specific meaning - the smell might remind them of the best day of their lives, or a day they'd rather forget. Or a moment they cherish that always seems closer to their heart at that time of year.
As for me, the smell reminds me of my mother, and more specifically, of her life's work. Fall was always her favorite season, so every year, as soon as the leaves began to gather around the gutters, just like clockwork, a cheer would seem to settle over her. And it was that particular time of year, too, when a strange story began to unravel itself in the midst of our somewhat queer, but seemingly rather ordinary, lives.
My mother used to run a doll shop.
Not the sweet, pink kind that you find in malls or at a fair, though. She made dolls for collectors, not for children, and her artistic style was what most people would consider a bit unsettling. Starkly realistic, and just a bit gothic - I don't think I ever saw her make a smiling doll. It wasn't that she was depressed - it was just that happiness showed itself a little differently in her than in most people. It showed in the intensity of her work - in the emotions peering out from the thin outer layer of stoicism her pieces portrayed.
I helped her make the dolls sometimes, too, after school, and the thing you learn about dolls, if you spend enough time around them, is that they’re hollow. Literally hollow, because we never stuffed our dolls, but also in a different way. Empty inside, even when they’re in pairs, or come in a set of twins. They're profoundly lonely things, and if you spend enough time around them, you start to feel empty, too. Like the dolls are trying to make you like them. Maybe because loneliness is easier to bear when it's shared, or maybe just out of some distant, cold longing that no one who's not empty is able to sympathize with.
You get used to the feeling, eventually. I did, because I’d been around them since I was born, so they’d given up on me a long time ago. Or maybe they made me like them at a young age, so I never had time to grow up thinking life should be any different. But if it’s a customer, we always told them not to stay downstairs too long. It's not hard to figure out why. Those people who did stay would begin to act strangely within a few hours...they wouldn’t want to leave the store, and when they did, finally leave, or my mother kicked them out, they’d wander all about, as if they’d lost all sense of purpose and resolve. It would always wear off eventually, if they stayed outside...I don't think humans are meant to feel the emptiness of dolls. It's not a natural state - the human heart is naturally filled with all kinds of things, and when emptied, it's easy to tell that something is wrong. That something needs fixed. And the human body will fix itself, if given even the smallest chance.
But my mother didn’t like when that happened to people, so she always tried to get everyone out as quickly as possible, the exception being if she could tell they were already used to the dolls.
Some people were. Some people who came into the store seemed like they were already empty inside, and with those people, the dolls left them alone, because there was nothing left in those hearts to steal.
Another thing you learn, if you spend enough time in the shop, is that when something’s empty, it tries as hard as it can to fill itself. That's just how things are...nothing likes to be empty. So they draw everything they can inside, hoping they can find a way to fill up the hole inside themselves, but with dolls, they never can, because they don’t have hearts. You can’t fill something that doesn’t exist, after all. So they just try, and try, and try, forever and ever. And that means that things get drawn in...things that should stay where they were, things that instead of being empty, are looking for something empty so that they can fill it with their own form. Because maybe that way, they’ll be less lonesome.
Ghosts are like that. People who died, but never left us, clinging to life even in death, are a special category. They're the opposite of empty - they're trapped, always roaming around, feeling like they belong somewhere else but never finding where that is, because where they belong is not anywhere in the living world.
And when you take something empty, and then you take something that needs to belong, they’re drawn to each other. Like twins. Like they were meant to find each other.
Once, we had a ghost in the shop. We knew they were there because they would unlock the doll cases at night and cause all kinds of mischief - once, we found the cash register hanging wide open, all the money thrown on the floor and around the room, but not a single bit of money taken. Another time, there were footprints in the dust on the floor, that lead to nowhere but a dead end by the back wall.
All these things led us to the belief that someone was here with us. But the most striking time was late in October, on a gloomy, rainy day where the smell of leaves was even stronger than usual. A lovely day, but a lonely one - the sort of day that makes even the most connected of people feel oddly isolated from the world around them.
On that day, my mother and I opened the shop to find that one of the large dolls had been taken from its case, and was hanging from the ceiling, suspended like a puppet from strands of fabric that looked like they’d been pulled from the furniture. The doll almost looked alive, then, like something was behind its eyes besides emptiness, and I remember how very cold the room seemed to become as I looked into those eyes.
I believe the ghost had tried to use it as a body, but I don’t know for sure. Perhaps they had just felt like getting up to a bit of extra mischief that day...but that wasn't what it felt like. It felt...worse than that, like the whole shop was grieving along with them. Even after we took the doll down, neither of us spoke for hours, because that was how long it took for the sadness to fade from the air.
My mother hated them, because they were always causing trouble, wrecking the shop or making things difficult for her in the mornings when she had to open. I kind of liked them, though. I don't think they meant to cause us any trouble - I don't think they were breaking things on purpose. I think they were just trapped, and didn’t know what they wanted, so they struck out at whatever they could, like a frustrated child. And they never tried to harm us, and I always thought they could have, if they wanted to.
In any case, they stayed for a long time - nearly a year. In that time, they almost began to feel like a friend - a familiar presence, in a place that so often felt cold and empty enough to reach all the way to your bones.
And then, as autumn began to creep back into the air once again, my mother's health began to fail, and we had to leave town for several days. Or, that was how it started - but as days turned to weeks, and weeks to months, it began to seem less and less likely that my poor mother would ever recover enough to return to the place she'd held dear for so many years.
I took a train one afternoon, late in November, just to see it again, and because I'd caught whispers from my mother about dolls she missed - ones she was especially proud of - so I had the idea to go and recover them, before our debts overtook us to the extent that the building was sold out to someone else.
I looked for the ghost when I arrived, but as soon as I set foot inside, I knew that they’d gone. Physically, I couldn’t see signs that they’d messed with anything, and more to the point, the shop felt so very empty again, like it always had before they came to visit.
In the end...I think maybe they came because of the dolls, but after a while, my mother and I were what they were there for. We were alive, after all. Not dolls. Not empty. Just human, like them. Maybe the only thing they had left to remind them that they, too, had once been more than a shell. And then, once we were gone...I’d like to think that that departure was enough to send them on their way, and maybe they were able to be at peace.
I cannot be certain of that.
In any case...I never saw any sign of them, ever again, or of any other ghosts. I think, without the doll shop, we were just a family - a living family, with no vessels to encourage the dead to visit.
But still, every autumn, when the smell of the leaves in the gutter of our new home drifts up into the air, I think of them, and light a candle out of doors in their memory. Just in case they're still lost in time somewhere, and needs light to guide them on their way.
Because once you're gone, the only thing left of you in this world is the fragments you left with others, and if nobody has any pieces of you, what will happen to you then?
So I light a candle every year for them, because would like to think that one day, if I after I die I lose my way, and end up stranded in the dark, that someone will light a candle for me, too.
A Forest Outside Time Prompt: Lifeline and Red Moon
Suha moved deeper into the woods, her small body trembling as the cold wind swirled leaves through the air, some catching in her short, dark hair and hanging there like ornaments on a Christmas tree. She wasn’t looking up at the crimson moon over her head. Or down at the dark, leaf-covered ground. She wasn’t looking at the tall, colorful trees on either side of the thin path she moved along, or glancing over her shoulder at the shadows, even though she desperately wanted to. Instead, she focused everything she had on moving forwards. She didn’t remember how she’d come to be here. She didn’t even remember how old she was, although she guessed around eight or nine, mostly based on the distorted reflection she’d seen in a puddle before it had become much too dark for that. All she knew was her name, and what it meant. A howl - or a shriek - cut sharply through the trees, making her flinch back. Then another, so close she almost cried out, but she bit her tongue and barely choked it back. “Suha!” The cry came from right next to her and she jerked away in shock, slipped on the dead leaves covering the ground, and would have fallen if a small hand hadn’t caught hers.
It was a boy close to her age with dark hair and bright, intense eyes. She opened her mouth, but he put a finger on her lips to stop her from making any sound. “Come.” He whispered urgently, and began to run, and he didn’t let her hand go so she was forced to break into a run too. The howls were close behind, the trees soaked in the blood red glow of the moon high over their heads, her breath was coming in tight gasps as her chest screamed for air, her muscles were on fire, she was going to fall, she was - They were in the open air, and she went down, and the boy - Asim, she knew his name now, he was Asim - went down too.
“We have to find the others.” Asim said quietly, after they’d had a moment to catch their breath. Not long enough, but it would have to be. He was already getting up, and he still hadn’t let go of her hand, so she didn’t have much of a choice. She got to her feet and he nodded. “You know what we have to do now. You know we have to find the others.” And they did. She didn’t...she couldn’t….remember why, or who “they” were, but somehow she knew it was very important to find them. She nodded, and Asim seemed relieved. “Good. You are the first, after all.”
They’d been walking for what felt like hours, and Suha was exhausted. Well. She’d been exhausted when they’d started, but now she was extremely exhausted, which was worse. Asim seemed to have boundless energy, and she watched in both amazement and envy as he leapt over a fallen tree, caught a branch, and used his weight to swing himself ahead of her by several feet. “Hurry up, Suha!” He called, half laughing as she slowed. But he shouldn’t have laughed. She could smell it, and she opened his mouth to warn him, but it was too late. The earth under Asim’s feet moved. His smile froze to his face, and he tried to take a step away and fell on his back as the dirt continued to move around him. Suha tried to move, to help, but all she could do was watch in horrified silence as the hole opened, and the dirt began to pour inside….along with her friend. His scream was horrible. She clapped both her hands over her mouth and fell to her knees as he disappeared, tears pouring down her cheeks and silent sobs wracking her small body as the ground sealed behind him. He was gone.
She didn’t move for a long time after that. The air was colder than before, the forest darker, like night had come early, though somehow she could still see. When at last she began to move, her body felt stiff and brittle as dried leaves, but she didn’t stop until she was on her feet and swaying slowly back and forth, back and forth, back and forth in the wind. Then she began to walk, one bare foot after the other, the same direction she’d started in before she’d met him. She walked for hours, or maybe days. Her feet ached, and each step felt like it would be her last, but she forced herself on until she could see a faint orange light ahead of her. As she got closer, she saw it was a jack-o-lantern with a cruel glowing smile and curved teeth. Its big, bright eyes seemed to stare right through her and she shivered and kept moving, and then she was on the porch of a small cabin. She knew it was small because the door looked like it had been built for her, and most doors were closer to twice her height. The cabin itself was dark, and dead leaves covered the old wooden steps like it had never been swept before, or at least not for a very long time. She thought she could smell something faintly from inside...pumpkin pie?....and her stomach growled and seemed to fold and begin to gnaw on itself. Suddenly she was hungrier than she’d ever been in her life, and the smell made her mouth water in anticipation. Without thinking about what she was doing, Suha opened the old wooden door and went inside.
Inside was...not dark. She had to shield her eyes in fact, because candles lined every wall and lit every corner of the small room with dancing reddish light. Music was playing from somewhere, and she thought they were violins, but she wasn’t sure. Maybe they were drums. The smell was stronger in here too, the cooking pumpkin and spices burning on the air and almost driving her mad with hunger. “Suha!” The voice was right behind her and she whipped around, opening her mouth to scream. But she didn’t. Because it was Asim, alive and apparently well. He looked...odd. There was a faint glow coming from him, silver and cold, and it shone through brighter as he opened his mouth. He had fangs. “Don’t. Move.” She didn’t move. There was something terrifying about his eyes now, something that made her suddenly even more afraid of him than anything in the shadows outside. He reached forward, opened his mouth...and screamed as his hand caught fire.
Suha fell back. She didn’t mean to move, but she did, and suddenly the house was trembling all over, the floor shaking under her, and she fell, hard. Dark shapes sprang up all around her, and then hands were on her arms, pulling her and pushing her at the same time, and she was running again, out of the house and back into the cold, cold trees. She didn’t remember the next part. Then, as she slowly crawled back towards consciousness, voices swam lazily above her in the form of half-heard words. “Speak...no….who?...” That was Asim, she thought dazedly. The other voice was higher, and she didn’t recognize it. “Others….when…..name….” Suha sat up. Asim and a girl with long black hair fell back from her, and Asim put a finger quickly to his lips, but he didn’t need to worry. She knew better than to speak by now. I know, she thought quickly, and both children relaxed instantly. She went on before they could speak. But not all of it. Where am I? “The Death Woods.” The girl - Suha knew her name now, she was Aisha - answered softly. “Think. Remember.” And suddenly, Suha did. She remembered the sounds that had surrounded her like air, the screams and the way the plane had trembled under her feet. She remembered bright colors and flashing lights, and a hand so tight around her wrist she thought it would break. She remembered a flash of a face like a mirror, or maybe it was Asim, terror flooding his face. Or maybe he really was a mirror, and that was what she had looked like, before. She remembered what free fall felt like. It had reminded her, stupidly, of a roller coaster, except for the way she flipped and turned in the air with nothing to hold her down. You really were weightless in free fall, it turned out. She remembered nothing after that, but it was enough. Asim was nodding. “I was there, too.” He said softly, and glanced at Aisha. “I died a while before that.” The other girl answered the unspoken question after a long moment. “Heart failure. Some luck, right?”
The wolves (they weren’t really wolves. They were huge, winged things that howled and screamed, but Suha wanted to think of them as wolves, so she did) finally caught up. Suha ran, but Aisha was faster and so was Asim, and she knew she was holding them back, but she couldn’t make herself tell them to leave her behind. Terror tore a ragged hole in her chest as her feet pounded the forest floor, and she opened her mouth without knowing what she was going to say and then suddenly she wasn’t on the ground anymore. Stabbing pain pierced her shoulders and she wanted to scream, but she didn’t, because there was no air in her lungs. Wings beat the air on either side of her, and she heard cries below her but she was too disoriented to see where they were, and soon she was too high anyway. The wolf - the thing - that had grabbed her let out a horrible scream and tightened its hold on her, then threw her down and she was falling, falling like a stone, like she’d done before. She thought she saw water under her, but then it was gone and she crashed loudly into a huge, circular nest. There was a small boy laying there, his eyes closed, bleeding slashes decorating his dark skin. His face had cuts all over it, and he was missing his right arm completely. In its place was a ragged hole that barely oozed dark red liquid. She went to him and bent down to check for a pulse. There was none. A sob rose up in her throat, but she turned away and squeezed her eyes shut and didn’t let it out, even though it threatened to choke her. She was going to end up just like him, shredded and killed again. She stopped. Then, almost without meaning to, her hand crept up and rested on her chest, right over where her heart should have been. The silence was deafening.
She really was dead. And that meant….oh. She turned and ran to the boy again, checking for breathing, (none), eye movement, (none), and bleeding, (he was bleeding, but the liquid was thick and slow and lukewarm instead of hot like it should have been). Then he opened his eyes.
She almost screamed, but his hand slapped over her mouth to stop her. “Don’t.” He whispered, staring up at her in alarm. Lahab. His name was Lahab. “You have to get out of here, now. You can’t be here when they come back, you-“ He winced. Then focused on her again, and she shivered at the intensity of those big, bright eyes. Lahab sat up and raised his hand, and fire sprang from his palm with a wave of heat that blazed up against her skin. He smiled. “Guess I’m the distraction. Jump, Suha.” He lit the nest on fire, and it caught too quickly. Flames danced around him and everywhere, and they were hot, much too hot, and they were burning her and she wanted to cry but she didn’t. Instead she turned, climbed up the side of the nest, looked back...Lahab was smiling as the nest around him burned….and jumped.
She landed hard and rolled, almost gasping as pain shot up her arm. She pushed herself to her feet, and there was Asim, watching her like he’d expected her to come hurtling down from the sky. “It’s time.” He said softly. She stared at him, and the trees around him were bathed in the red glow of the moon, the leaves rotting on the ground and filling her nose with the scent. She would remember that smell, no matter what else she forgot. And she knew she would forget, somehow she knew that she was not meant to remember what happened next. “No one else was ever going to make it.” Asim murmured, Suha blinked, her heart so, so still in her chest, as he took her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. “We died a long, long time ago, Suha. There was never a chance for us. But for you…” She opened her mouth, but he immediately clapped his hand over it and she couldn’t get a word out. His next words were nothing but a murmur lost on the wind. “The moment a lost soul speaks a word, they’re trapped here forever.” He whispered. “Sometimes I don’t get there in time. But you haven’t said a thing since you came here, have you? You knew better…” He smiled, and it was a sad expression on his face, which looked so much like hers. “I guess some mysteries aren’t meant to be solved. Go home, Suha. Go home and live.” And the world went black around her. And Suha’s heart beat.
This decision was made by much crying. You have no idea. Even after using the criteria on the front, both Bubbling Tsunami 0:3 and Iceclaw's still tied. You all did so well and it was pure torture having to use a half-point or something as 'personal choice'. Which was so rough because both - both - of your stories really spoke to me. I nearly cried reading Untitled Picture. It was that good. But Forget Me Not really resonated with me as well and gaaaaaaah! Know that you are all too good of writers for this world. ;-;
Top three Winners are getting a Acrylic Painting. This can be a painting of literally anything (within reason and forums rules). Send me your OCs. Ask me to draw a book. Have me paint a flower. Do whatever! This is your commission! Please send in your requests by PMs if you're able, so I can keep track. Things will be painted by order of 1st, 2nd, 3rd.
OTHER PRIZES: All other participating authors will receive a watercolor! (Kind of sketchy watercolor.) Same instructions with the other prize ^ You can request whatever you like.
Thank you all for participating! All your stories were wonderful!! I loved reading them all.
NOTE: Excessively spamming the shoutbox may result in a 24 hour ban. Other forum rules still apply. Please do not advertise by linking other websites. Members are encouraged to report offending content to the moderators by PM.
Gнσѕт: In which board?
Nov 8, 2019 22:43:30 GMT -5
ᵇ ʳ ⁱ ᵍ ʰ ᵗ: Hey guys, going from non-binary to genderfluid. Really big change for me since ive been an NB for 5 years now.
Nov 9, 2019 17:26:14 GMT -5
ᵇ ʳ ⁱ ᵍ ʰ ᵗ: I've just decided that it's the right thing to do and it's a good way to cope with the abuse i've been getting at school etc.
Nov 9, 2019 17:27:27 GMT -5
Inigo: I support you! Just because you have identified as one thing for a really long time doesn't mean you're bound to it. People change and learn and get new information all the time.
Nov 9, 2019 22:38:58 GMT -5