Author Topic: Connflower blue - another of my ghost stories  (Read 1778 times)

Offline CarrieSheppard

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Connflower blue - another of my ghost stories
« on: May 16, 2006, 03:31:52 AM »
I've not looked at this one for ages - how does it flow?

(first part only)

I stood on a green hill, overlooking the beach below.  Straight out to sea – across the Channel – was England.  I was in a Normandy field, and around me stood many white crosses, each bearing the name of a soldier lost in the landings on D Day, 6th June 1945.

“I can’t imagine it.”  I said out loud to myself, in reverie.  “Kinda hard to imagine,” a voice said behind me in a soft American accent.  “There’s no way you can describe it, no way you can explain it to anyone who wasn’t there.”  The gentle voice was wistful.  I looked back out to sea, thinking about the landings, about the movies I’d seen, the stories I’d read, and how – in the peaceful sunshine of a summer day like today – it was somehow all still here, still waiting to be told, still ready to remind us.

“No, I don’t suppose you can.  I can’t truly imagine what it must have been like to have been there, to have really experienced what happened all those years ago”  I replied.  I turned and addressed a young man, tall and thin, with wiry brown hair, wearing a check (he would say plaid) shirt, open at the neck.  His jeans were baggy with turn-ups, and his arms were browned by the sun.  He looked sad.  “It wasn’t a day like this” he continued, “it was colder, darker, and the noise! You wouldn’t believe the noise.  Shouting, engines, gunfire - the screams were the worst.”  I looked at him more closely.  His face was deeply pockmarked, his face was thin and drawn and his eyes were cornflower blue. 

“The packs were heavy, the fog made everything even heavier, and there was the smell of fear and cordite and crap – some of the guys couldn’t take it, just being there.  That was before we even got into the water.  When we got into the water, it was worse.  Sitting ducks ain’t the word for it.”  Somehow it was what he didn’t say that told me the most -  his pauses in speech, his deep concentration as he talked.

I looked away from his eyes, for they became windows to the past, and I felt the devastation in his words.  “You talk as if you were there,” I said.  “Hmmm” was all he replied. 

“Tell me,” I said, “is it wrong to remember with museums and tours and these cemeteries, all these graves and all these names?”  I don’t know why I asked him, but I had been thinking about this since first arriving in Normandy just a few days ago.  “In some ways,” he said.  “Being remembered keeps us here.  It’s when everyone forgets, when there’s no one left at all to remember that you drift away, that it doesn’t matter any more, and there’s nothing to keep you here.  Some say that’s a good thing, but I like to be remembered, I like to think that what happened here wasn’t a waste.  But all war is a waste.” 

Offline Angeleyes

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Re: Connflower blue - another of my ghost stories
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2006, 09:52:27 AM »
Hi Carrie, I always love a good ghost story! This was great, would love to read some more. Can't spot any obvious errors.

Ann.
May all your dreams come true.

Whether you think you can, or think you can't....you're right!
-Henry Ford.

Offline Cathy C

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Re: Connflower blue - another of my ghost stories
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2006, 02:55:42 PM »
Hi Carrie,

Really loved the title of this one "Cornflower Blue."

Again, putting each speaker on a new line would help the flow of the story. :P

Only two parts struck me as awkward: I said out loud to myself, in reverie.
Don't think it's necessary to put in "to myself." How about: In my reverie I spoke out loud?

Second point: I turned and addressed a young man, tall and thin, with wiry brown hair, wearing a check (he would say plaid) shirt, open at the neck.

To my mind, and I could be wrong, (wouldn't be the first time. ;D) addressed would mean she should be speaking to him next?

I'm sure if I'm wrong someone will soon enlighten me. :-[

But a lovely, gentle story Carrie. Where do you get all your ideas? ???

CATHY C
Novel: Where There’s Smoke. Published by Fireborn publishing http://amzn.to/2tZKNCn

Short Story: A Killer Week Published by Bridge House http://amzn.to/2rhLVAX

Offline CarrieSheppard

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Re: Connflower blue - another of my ghost stories
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2006, 05:32:22 PM »
Thanks Cathy - helpful comments.  I'll have a quick revise.

Where do I get my ideas?  Well, actually - dreams!  My mind is just completely crazy at night - last night for example I dreamed of a steel mill, including amazing detail of compacted mud and the appearance of shoe marks on it in the old basement storage area.  Details of equipment (that doesn't actually exist) and how it all worked.  That was just one of three dreams last night.  Sometimes they make good stories ... sometimes I keep very quiet in case the men in white coats are listening...

Cornflower blue is a short one: here's the rest.  Is it enough?  Does it need more?  I dunno....

A cloud passed over the sun and the air chilled slightly.  I turned and looked out to sea again, almost believing that if I turned around, he would vanish, like a ghost from the past.  I turned back and he still stood there, but to my surprise, he was not a young man as I had first thought, but old.  “I was young and foolish” he said, “but we did a good thing, though maybe not a good way.”  His hair was grey, and thin, his face was still pockmarked and his eyes were cornflower blue, but a finer blue like watercolour. 

I looked out to sea again, wondering at the potency of imagination in such a place – where emotion leaked from every white stone, from every grain of sand.  “It made a difference,” I said, “what they did.  My children asked me what it would have been like if Hitler had won the war.  Can you imagine?”  I turned round again for his answer.  He was gone.  “I’m sorry?”  Another young man, this time in a light linen suit, stood where the American had been.  The accent was slightly North American, but the hair was darker, the frame broader and the face fuller.  “Did you ask me a question?” 

I explained that I was talking to myself, and apologized for the rhetorical address.  “Hey,” he said, lightly, “it gets me like that too.  This place, it kinda breathes the history right out of the ground.”  I looked at the gravestones around me, and bent down to look at the nearest one.  “I wonder, did he have a family?”  The man sighed.  “He sure did,” he said.  “Dad made it outta there, but Uncle Bob didn’t.  They were shipped out together, landed here, and one came home, and one didn’t.”  I looked into his eyes for the first time, now that I felt more accustomed to the strangeness of the situation.  They were a deep, cornflower blue.

Offline Uncle Bill

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Re: Connflower blue - another of my ghost stories
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2006, 08:03:20 AM »
     Great story, Carrie!  It is well-written and makes for a nice read.  I would change the date you have for D-Day, though.  If you leave the date as 1945, you won't be able to write a ghost story about the Battle of the Bulge, or any of the other things that happened in 1944.

     And Cathy has some pretty good advice for you as well.  Her suggestions would help clarify some ambiguity problems that occur when dialogue isn't separated from the body of adjoining lines.

     But, all in all, I liked it very much.  Keep dreaming at night.  Keep a notebook next to your bed.  And keep writing.

UB
Leetonia: It ain't the end of the world.  But you can see it from there.

Offline Cathy C

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Re: Connflower blue - another of my ghost stories
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2006, 08:37:38 AM »
Hi Carrie,

I think the story is long enough - any more and I think it would feel like padding?

It's short, sweet and the nice twist at the end gave me a shiver. Just what all good ghost stories need. ;D

'My mind is just completely crazy at night'

You sure it's only at night? :D

CATHY C
Novel: Where There’s Smoke. Published by Fireborn publishing http://amzn.to/2tZKNCn

Short Story: A Killer Week Published by Bridge House http://amzn.to/2rhLVAX

Offline CarrieSheppard

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Re: Connflower blue - another of my ghost stories
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2006, 09:07:11 AM »
Thanks Cathy, thanks Uncle Bill.  I feel all warm and happy now - I will sharpen it up and then... er, and then.  Um, now what?

I should keep a notepad by my bed - and a tape recorder as I sometimes dream great tunes too!  (well they are in my sleep anyway)  But you are right, it's not just at night, my little brain does keep churning out all sorts at all times.  If only it would focus on my latest project for the benefits of accredited training... yaaawn...

Carrie

Offline Jake Reagan

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Re: Connflower blue - another of my ghost stories
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2006, 08:51:47 PM »
It was JUne 6 1944

Offline Jake Reagan

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Re: Connflower blue - another of my ghost stories
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2006, 08:57:55 PM »
Didn't mean to simply correct the date. Great story. I found it insightful and thought provoking. Good work. I am writing about WW1 and I have often wondered who will ever remember all those souls who perished. It's all gone now ....we need to remember. They were young, clean and honest and they died for us. I'd like to read more....

sjreed56

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Re: Connflower blue - another of my ghost stories
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2006, 10:56:06 PM »
I’m not that much in to mysteries and it’s been ages since I’ve read a ghost story, but I am going to keep checking back with you. I love the smooth rhythm and enchantment of your writing style. This one was very thought provoking as well. ~ Sherry

Offline CarrieSheppard

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Re: Connflower blue - another of my ghost stories
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2006, 03:29:10 AM »
Hi all!  Well, some great feedback and I'm feeling really positive about the story.  I will do some work on it and get it shaped up.

Re the world wars - the great wars as they are known - I wrote a song on this subject too about what will happen when all the old men are gone and all most people will have to remember them by is Hollywood ... scary stuff really.

My grandfather fought as a pilot in WW1 - one of those few who survived.  When my brother was born he looked at my mother's son and said "Cannon fodder."  A bitter legacy, but given his perspective (two world wars in the end), one that is understandable.

I research what I write usually, so I will have a careful look about choosing dates.  Oh yes, my brother was born on June 6 - day Kennedy was shot, Dday, and (this year) my 25th wedding anniversary!  Jeez - I feel like I should be grey haired and granny like to have been married so long.

Thanks again all,
Carrie