We got a live one here — Lori’s piece that she’s looking for help and feedback with. (Ed Note — Paragraphs are added here for clarity’s sake, not necessarily formatted as the author intended, so feel free to change things up a bit.)
Quick overview of the rules of engagement – be polite, be respectful, but be honest. If you’re confused, say so, and if it’s not for you, that’s fine too. There is no one-size fits all in the literary world. Give some real feedback, and (hopefully) helpful suggestions.
FICTION – TITLE UNKNOWN
Looking for ammonites on the beach below the castle, he walks through the labyrinth, holding the red string. He climbs up through the coral curls and the walls sprout sparks around him as he walks. His fingers pry small shells and stones from the wet sand beaten down hard by wave after wave.
Sometimes he looks up at the massive storm-cloud outline of Bamburgh Castle against the sky; sometimes he looks out to the horizon. He thinks, What lies across the channel? The author never lets the string fall from his hand, as he walks the tunnels turning this way and that, climbing up through the cave. Digging into the sand once more, he pries up an encrusted shape the colour of sand, and turns it over in his hand. His thumb traces the ridged curve of a tiny ram’s horn.
A creature once lived in the chambers of this small spiral castle under the ancient ocean. He holds the object loosely in his hand and looks out from Northumbria, across the waves, perhaps toward France. He continues to walk through the labyrinth, leaving a trail of red string, a string of connectivity from chamber to chamber as he moves ever in to the centre. At the heart of the maze is a circular red room.
Sparks fly out from its walls. In the middle of the room, a plinth heaped with dark velvet holds up a velvet-lined tray as if proffering jewels. But instead of a necklace or tiara, he sees displayed a magnificent pair of French flintlock pistols. They are intricately embellished with flowers of silver wire, they are heavily gilt. Is she heavy with guilt, he wonders, or as light as a gull on the wing? He takes one pistol from the tray and holds it with the red string in his hand.
He turns around and she is standing there. The monster, the mystery deep inside his cave, is only this small smiling woman. She is mouthing words to explain, to connect. The author lifts the lovely pistol, and as easily as in a dream, points it at her heart and shoots. A thin red cord springs across the space between them, and connects.
He sets the pistol back in its place. The red cord runs from the centre of the crumpled woman to the tapered muzzle of the French flintlock pistol. Twisting out near the lock-plate, the string meanders off into the depths of the cave. He follows it back down the winding path.
The author has been standing on the beach a long time, looking out at the horizon. Now he swings back his arm, and hurls the ammonite as far as he can. It makes a small splash among the waves and sinks.
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