Author Topic: Dead leaves - A short story due very soon (803 words) + rationale (229 words)  (Read 348 times)

Offline marie_

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Hello I'm new and I had to make an account because I have an assessment due tomorrow!

I had to whip up a 825 (or less) worded short story with a clear climax and resolution. My short story has to tie in with gender themes as well as a prompt (which is unimportant rn).

I just need someone to review my work because I don't have anyone else to read it sadly. :(

Please state if my story seems underdeveloped, confusing, or doesn't comply with elements of a short story.

Thank you so much!

Dead leaves

I look behind. Sounds of the stream burbling, the desperate mating call of a cicada’s ass. Reminds me of summer. It’s spring, though. The wind is far from the scorching touch of a summer breeze. Nonetheless, the cicadas continue to scream.

Sometimes I wish I had been deaf instead.

After the usual stop to appreciate the lake, I wade through tall and itchy grass, swatting anything and everything with my walking stick. I fail to evade the lone stray boulder, once again, and I’m back on the sand walkway. Only took a few to finally get to the incline.

Right now, there’s only one way and that’s straight ahead. Not much of a hassle as I uneventfully make it to the top.

It’s a cliff — a particular one where I find comfort standing at the edge. The wind rocks me back and forth.

No one’s come here recently. But it seems that today I have company.

“Damien.” The rustle of dead leaves manifests into a familiar voice.

“Chris,” I retaliate. It’s been a while. “Come here."

“Why? You wouldn’t like what I’m wearing.” His voice seems agitated.

“How so?” I am deprived of a reply. He trudges over and his foot pushes some of the twigs and dry foliage to my ankles. “All that matters is that you like it.”

“Well, yeah. But not if they don’t.” Ah. “Y’know, Damien… Though we live in the same world, I sometimes think you have it better.”

“How so?” That’s something I haven’t heard for a while. Granted, he’s someone I haven’t seen for a while. “I would think the opposite. You can see. See things, see what you look like, you can see the people you talk to.”

Another pregnant pause. “That’s the thing, y’know?”

“Chris. There’s more to you than your androgyneity.”

“That’s like saying ‘yeah, you’re gay, but try to live a better life.’” I don’t get his analogies like always. “Everyone talks about insecurities, right? But they’ve hidden theirs under the skin of their self-doubt while I’ve been wearing mine all my life.”

I turn around. What can I do? Everyone has their struggles. I’m sure I deal with mine differently to how Chris would. But I know that Chris’ parents have shut him out. I know that Chris has been self-harming. I know about the small plastic bottles and the tall glass bottles under Chris’ bed. I know this because Chris said it. And in all those times, I didn’t know what to say back.

Even now.
“I’m suffering, Damien. That’s what I’m trying to say.” Dead leaves swish around us. And I just know that he’s wearing the dress he wore when I met him. “One day I’m a guy, one day I feel like a girl.” His voice gives away his suppressed emotions. “They just don’t get that one day I am me, and one day I am me who is just wearing lipstick. And it’s not ‘just because,’ it’s ‘cause my fluidity tells me so.”

The corner of my lip twitches. I agree that his parents need to get a grip. They gave birth to Chris, not who they expect Chris to be. “Then I’ll talk to your parents” I jest.

He breathes in deep and lets it out. “Well, what are you gonna say?”

I ponder for a bit. “Chris can rock lipstick and dresses.”

I anticipate a laugh but he doesn’t.

Then, “Do you ever wonder how high it is up here?” he says.

I walk up to the end of the cliff, stopping when my stick touches air. I can feel the wind impelling me forward but you’d have to jump to actually fall. How high is it? That’s what I’ve been wanting to know. No matter who I bring here with me, they freak out when I stand right at the brink of my safety. Chris, though, he remains silent.

The wind leaves the cliff and ripples the water below.

It carried the stupidity out of me. I whip my head around, stumbling and almost tasting an unfavourable descent.

“Don’t fall—”

“Don’t jump,” I blurt out.

He remains silent and my pulse shoot into a frenzy. “No, Chris, no.” I take a cloddish step to what I hope was his blurred figure. My sweaty grip tightens on the edge of my cane as I try to spot him. “Chris, who cares about your parents!”

He doesn’t seem to move. He sure as hell doesn’t reply.

“It’s fine! I’m here!” My throat strains, “I don’t know what you look like, but it would still be the same if I did!”

“It’s fine, Chris!” My voice cracks. I wait for a reply but it remains silent.

I hear the crispness of the dead leaves as they get crushed.

“Chris?” But he remains silent.

-end of story-

This is my rationale:

I have chosen the first image reference and used it as the initial setting. The theme gender instantly made me think of how the label is slowly straying from the binary contrast of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ or ‘girl’ and ‘boy.’ People are discovering a greater spectrum of gender from being genderqueer, to genderfluid or not having gender at all. There is more diversity.

In my short story, the topic deviates from the typical and old tales of gender stereotypes. The characters are a closer representation of people in the modern society where this ‘diversity’ is generally accepted, though there’s always instances when it isn’t. Chris, the protagonist, is a genderfluid teen who has been failing to accept his own identity because his family chose not to. The last of his struggles — from him versus his family to his own internal conflict — is written from a perspective of a (legally) blind close friend, Damien. Damien tries to provide reassurance for Chris. Unfortunately Chris had planned to go the cliff to commit suicide.

I titled it Dead Leaves as due to Damien being blind and the readers only knowing Damien’s POV, Chris’ actions is shown through the sound of the dead leaves on the ground. When they made a crisp noise as they get stepped on, that indicated Chris taking a step. It happened to be his last before jumping off.