As I said in my last post, this is a short story I wrote as an assignment for my English class. The only changes I made to the original were the corrections my professor made, besides the title, which the original didn’t have. At the end, there is a comment on the story and on what my professor said about it. Enjoy!
There was once, right next to my house, a small garden. I call it ‘garden’, but the truth is that it was more like a space between my house and my neighbour’s which, at some point, people had volunteered to turn into a small green space. It had grass, a couple of trees, various types of flowers that filled the garden with colours during spring and, in the centre, a small pond surrounded by three wooden benches. It was, in fact, a pleasant space where I liked to read whenever I could.
One day, I was looking out of my window and saw a small child, alone, sitting on the grass on the shore of the pond. She was wearing a white dress and her black hair was short and messy. The child had her back toward me and seemed to just be looking at the sky. I wondered if she was waiting for someone, if she was lost. Eventually, my curiosity won and I picked up the book I was reading at the time and went to the garden.
I made my way to one of the benches, walking casually while keeping an eye on the girl. She didn’t move, nor seem to have noticed my arrival. I sat on the bench closest to her, turned to whatever she was watching, and I opened my book and pretended to read it. In truth, I was just thinking of what to do next.
A few minutes later, I heard a small, soft voice, “D’you live here, ma’am?”
I looked up and saw that the girl had walked a few steps towards me. She looked at me with open curiosity, though also a bit shyly, with big brown eyes and her hands clutched behind her back.
“Yes, I do,” I said, “Just over there.” I pointed and she followed my movement, regarding my house for a few seconds before turning to me again. “I never saw you here before. Are you new, or are you lost?”
“For what, little one?”
“I don’t know… Will you stay with me?”
I nodded, surprised at the request, “All right… You shouldn’t be here all alone anyway, you’re far too young… And what’s your name?”
“Jemima,” She answered, smiling. Jemima sat on the right side of the bench before turning her attention to the sky again.
We sat in companionable silence while I read and she waited for whatever she was waiting for. I finished three chapters and looked up, wanting to check up on the girl. She was gone. I looked around the garden, but there was no one else there. It was then that I noticed, under one of the trees, a white dove.
As soon as I looked at it, the dove cooed and fluttered off. I watched it as it flew away, and while doing so was filled by a deep feeling of calmness. After that, whenever I find myself in nature, I’m followed closely by that white dove.
This was the second story I wrote for the assignment, since the first one had largely exceeded the 500 word limit and had no end in sight. This one started off with me trying to figure out what I was going to write and, eventually, the first sentence popped into my head. I wrote it down, and then the rest came up from there. (I’m not sure if it went 100% like this, I have the vague impression that I was already thinking about gardens and that the sentence was floating around, waiting for me to notice it.)
I have to say that I do like this story, I think it has a certain charm to it, a certain mystery and mysticism that I like to read and write. When I started writing it, I had no idea where it was going, but then I ended up with a story, somewhat abstract, about peace (the white dove) and to which one can apply a religious meaning if they want (a garden with three benches and two trees; I swear I wasn’t intetionally adding religious undertones to the story, I just noticed them after reading it and decided they fit well with the story).
Now, the question is whether my professor noticed all of that, or if I ended up unintentionally overcomplicating what was supposed to be a simple writing assignment. My professor didn’t have many comments about the story, except that she would have wanted to “know more about the dove.” Now, I don’t know if it was I who wasn’t explicit enough, or if my professor didn’t interpret the story like I thought she would, or if there’s something else that I’m missing here, but, spoiler alert, the girl is supposed to be the dove (Hell, I even called her Jemima, which means “dove” in Hebrew… Ok, I admit it would really be a stretch for my professor to know the name’s meaning or to search it, so I don’t really fault her for that.) It just doesn’t make sense to me for her to say that, it’s all. If I had set out to explain the dove, which I don’t even know if I could, I think it would just spoil the story. It is supposed to be unclear why the girl/dove was there, who she was, and why she decides to follow the narrator. These are things that are supposed to be up for the reader’s interpretation. And I’m sorry if I’m coming across as whiny or something, it’s just that I need to get this out of my system or else I’ll combust. It’s not even about the grade, it’s the principle of the thing (though I think I would have discussed it more with the teacher if my grade was on the line, but whatever).
In the end, as much as I like this story, I think I did end up overcomplicating the assignment. The professor just wanted a story with a beginning, a middle with an inciting conflict and development, and an ending with a resolution. Boom, done. Instead, I had to be a (unintentional) pretensious smartass… Ok, I’m being too harsh on myself. Let me reformulate: I wrote how I normally would write. Well, maybe not “normally”, but it’s not the first time I write something like this. Besides, I thought the concept was good when I wrote it, not taking into account that maybe it wasn’t exactly what was being asked, that something simpler would have sufficed and achieved better results. Do I regret writing it? No. Would I have changed anything about this particular story, if I had known what I know now? Besides deciding to deliver another one instead, not much, just the two corrections my professor made.
So, I don’t know what else to say, really. Do any of my dear readers want to chip in on this?(Gained followers while writing this. Hi!) Do you like this story? Is it as good as I think it is? Am I being absolutely ridiculous?