Day trip

Well, the internet doesn’t seem to want to entertain me today, so I guess I’m stuck with entertaining myself.
The following is mostly an exercise in description — a sort of literary still-life — the purpose was simply to force me to write something, because there is fuck. all. going on today worth commenting on.

We found the stone ring by following the two dusty wheel tracks that cut across the hillside.
It wasn’t the sort of thing that immediately put you in mind of ancient druids; it was more like the Viet Nam Memorial than Stonehenge: low-slung and built into the shallow slope like a miniature retaining wall that created a level space within it. Calling it a ring was also wrong, because it wasn’t really a complete circle; the top of the ring’s wall followed the same slope as the hillside so that the lower third disappeared into the ground. The result was a ‘C’ about twenty feet across, made up of the same rust-and-midnight-blue stones that lined the creek bed downslope and about two and a half feet tall on its deepest side.
The stones had been worked so that they could be set into the wall cleanly and mortared into place, but the result was nothing like a smooth facade; common vines, thistle, dog weed, and even a volunteer aspen sapling poked out from various cracks and seams, and while many of the stones were roughly the same size, several jutted out into the circle more than far enough to make good, even comfortable places to sit and rest (which we did). While we walked the day had seemed hot and dusty, but a cool breeze caught up with us a few moments after we leaned back against the sun-warmed inner wall of the circle with our legs splayed out into the cropped sweet clover.
There were four stones standing or laying within the ring in no particular pattern, and we studied them simply because they were new to us and there was nothing else to see.
The smallest two were roughest: one, about the size of a sack of grain, lay flat to the ground but had too uneven a surface to use as a comfortable seat or any kind of reliable platform; the second was less than a foot tall and jutted out of the ground at an angle, like the tip of an iceberg or the nose of a shark.
The largest stone lay almost at the edge of the circle in that portion where the wall had merged with the ground. It lay flat and had an even and comfortable surface (basically rectangular) that was more than large enough for three or four of us to sit on with our backs to one another without anyone pressing in on someone else.
The fourth stone stood upright a few feet from where I sat in the ‘deepest’ part of the ring; just tall enough to block my view down the hill when I was sitting down. It was a bit thicker in the middle than on either end, and its shape, combined with the cracks and variations in its surface, reminded me of a child’s mitten with the thumb pressed in tightly against the fingers.
Tommy was the one that noticed something wrong with it.

4 Replies to “Day trip”

  1. Oo, I like it. Just about exactly the time I’m getting bored (4th stone description) something happens to reward my attention (the “something wrong”). Some scents mighta been nice…
    Makes me want to know what you’re doing writing-wise these days. I’d like to read more.

  2. I had the same problem you did; I’d intended the thing to be a straightforward task of describing something in real life, accurately.
    The thing is, description for the simple sake of description is just filler (cf. the Belgariad); if it were a proper story, all that crap would be skipped unless it were important. If not…
    We rested, dusty, at a semicircle of old cut stones that might have once been a building foundation, though Tommy didn’t think so.
    Anyway, to get back on topic; I was getting bored writing the thing, so I threw in other stuff until it got (somewhat) interesting.
    All in all, I still prefer the shorter version above :), and leave the details until after someone get’s pulled in half :)

  3. Well, I don’t know. Like I said, I liked it… The description of the warmth coming through the rock, the one rock that was too rough to sit on… I enjoyed reading about that stuff. I know those things, and it put me more in the place of the writing, which I imagine would make the writing mean more to me. Might give more places in the writing for “save points”, anchors to hang memory of the story around. This is all just vague theory, mind you, but I’m leaning towards saying that unimportant description isn’t just filler.
    As for the rewrites, if encouragement helps, I think you’re a solidly good writer. I’ve got the coil-bound copy of Strange Weapons I got that one Christmas on my bookshelf, filed between Sheri Tepper and Josephine Tey…

  4. You probably have something there about the description — it would be very cool and useful when mixed with… umm… a story :)
    Then again, I got what I set out to write — a word-based still life picture. :)

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