02 March 2019

The Wall Game: a rewrite



Rovan had been stacking stones all day, but her wall was still only knee high at almost dinner time.  It extended from the west side of the house, where hostas were about to burst into purple flags, to the mailbox at road’s edge.  For every three stones Rovan added to the wall, she laid one aside for weapons.  She’d need this stockpile if—when—she was attacked.  It would be soon, she thought.  Her side of the home was already in deep shade.

Her brother Leroy was building his wall at the east side of the house where a white pine turned the grass orange with needles.  She wished she had the needles to throw, but he had that advantage because he was older.  “You’d better watch out!” he’d yelled in their last mad dash to the stone pile which waited to be spread down the hilly driveway.

The stones were heavier than snow, and Roven’s arms were tired.  But she kept at it. The game engrossed her: its raucous meetings, supply grabbing, and secrecy.  Last winter when snowflakes were the material at hand, building her wall was easier.  At 4-years old, she was learning engineering skills like the difference between building with snow and rock; like how to stabilize bigger stones on the bottom, because they don’t stick together like snow does.   She was also learning the thrill of war.

“Here I come ready or not!”  Leroy bellowed.

Rovan jerked herself up from wall building, and turned to grab smaller stones from her stash.  She had to attack.  She couldn’t hide because her wall wasn’t ready, and she wouldn’t run.  Not her.  Last winter, he won because he surprised her.  Unfair, but Rovan didn’t really care.  She giggled.


She saw him now, running toward her at his top speed.  Her throw fell short.  His didn’t.  She couldn’t block the blow with her chubby little arms.  She fell hard into the dark night.

#

About the rewrite:  I accepted a challenge to write a short story inspired by one of my poems. The chosen poem (HERE) about inner walls and crying walls, is anti-wall and anti-war, and I thought my story was, too.  Not according to my readers!  It didn't work that way.  I hope it does now. 

Following two readers' advice, I tried to change the tone from endearing to ominous.  I added more foreshadowing.   Yet, I need some endearment to end in shock, right?  Also, I used 9 more words, and now exceed the required 313 words of Magaly's prompt.  

Does the theme come through?  Above is the revision and below is the original.  
(Comments from before 3/5/2019 are on the original story below.)  

In so many ways, we set our children up for violence.  Do you think we're the kind of animals who would discover it ourselves?  And here's more questions:  Should I alter the genders, of who is older and who throws the fatal stone?  What difference would that make in its meaning?


Image result for humpty dumpty
Source

The Wall Game (Take 1)

Rovan had been stacking stone all day, but her wall was still only knee high at almost dinner time.  It extended from the west side of the house, where hostas were about to burst into purple flags, to the mailbox at road’s edge.  For every three stones Rovan added to the wall, she laid one aside for weapons.  She’d need this stockpile if—when—she was attacked.  It would be soon, she thought.  Her side of the home was already in deep shade.

At this very moment her brother Leroy was building his wall at the east side of the house where a white pine turned the grass orange with needles.  She wished she had the needles to throw, but he had that advantage because he was older.  “You’d better watch out!” he’d yelled in their last mad dash to the stone pile which waited to be spread down the hilly driveway.

The game engrossed Rovan: its raucous meetings, supply grabbing, and secrecy.  She first played it last winter when snowflakes were the material at hand.  At 4-years old, she was learning engineering skills like the difference between building with snow and rock; like how to stabilize big ones on the bottom, because rocks don’t stick together like snow does. 

“Here I come ready or not!”  Leroy was loud enough to be heard for miles.  Rovan jerked herself up from the stones she was laying and turned to grab smaller stones in each hand, ready to attack.  She couldn’t hide because her wall wasn’t ready, and she wouldn’t run.  Not her.  He came before she was ready with snowballs, too.  Unfair, but Rovan didn’t really care.  She giggled.

She saw him now, running toward her at his top speed.  Her throw fell short.  His didn’t.  She wasn’t fast enough to block with her chubby little arms.  Leroy watched Rovan’s night fall.

#


(I shudder at putting a short story--if it is one--on my poetry blog, but Magaly said 

I could write one, that I could take the inspiration from one of my own poems--and I did!  

If you wish to see the poem that inspired this story, look HERE.)



My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright. 

© 2019 Susan L. Chast


18 comments:

Mary said...

Ah, you have described the game so very well! I love how imaginative Rovan was. I also like how Rovan seemed to enjoy the game for the sake of the game - even though she was losing / and then lost!

Sumana Roy said...

Love this approach of telling a narrative. The two characters had their wonderful moments in the tale and so do the readers.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

I enjoyed reading your story and identifying with Rovan. Though I can see the source in your poem, it's illuminating to note you have made the story something new.

brudberg said...

This reminds me of childhood, I remember being the smaller one, with a younger sister so much stronger than I was (we were very close in age)... and also of course the feeling that as a boy I should never hurt a girl...

I hope all went well in the end, stones can be dangerous.

Rommy said...

This brought me back to when my kids were little and played similar sorts of games. They were a little more cut-throat about it though.

Magaly Guerrero said...

I'm with Mary, the description of the game puts me right there with Rovan, wanting to help her gather more building materials and arsenal. I really love her determination, the way she doesn't stop working towards her goal even when she knows that it won't be enough (at least for now).

I have a question about the last sentence. Was the word "night" supposed to be "wall", or did I miss a vital metaphorical connection because I am still drinking my coffee?

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I, too, admired that she giggled when she saw him coming, rather than feeling fear. Brave little girl. I could SEE those small chubby arms going up to protect herself. I shuddered at the rocks coming at her. Really well done, Susan. I found your poem very beautiful, too.

Gillena Cox said...

Wow!!! truly enjoyed this tale of sibling rivaly played out in game time
Happy Sunday
THEN MOON SMILED: a haiku fiction sequence
I did not link to PU today because i did poetry, still drop by

much love...

annell4 said...

I enjoyed your write!!

Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

Poor Rovan! Interesting how you got from your poem to this story--I too hesitated about putting a story up on my poetry blog

Vivian Zems said...

A delightful write. You kept momentum going in tandem with the game. Good one!

Sanaa Rizvi said...

Ooh this sounds like a fun game, Susan! I love how you describe this in detail and oh how I wish I could experience snow!❤️

Truedessa said...

I sense a lesson in your prose. We can learn a lot when it comes to building.

Carrie Van Horn said...

Sibling rivalry at its best! I also love Rovan's good spirited attitude! Great story Susan!

Susie Clevenger said...

I felt I was in the story watching the game. Whatever we build will fall if we have a weak foundation..Great lesson.

Rommy said...

The second version makes a lot more sense! There was something a little off about the first that made me think those kids needed to be careful they didn't hit each other and only went after the stuff they had built up. We're beginning to feel the horror in the second. Those were good improvements.

C. Sandlin said...

There was an ominous feel to this--I was wondering why she needed the rocks & the end felt like one of those stories you'd chew over.

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

You're going to leave me there? With a fallen Rovan? I want more! I want to know what happens to her. I NEED to know!