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a will-of-the-wisps short story


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#1    man_in_mudboots

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Posted 03 October 2004 - 02:57 PM

ill be posting it in enstallments.
----------------------------------------



We Meet Benedict

Benedict was a terrified man, terrified of just living his life.  Or, more accurately, he was not terrified of life itself, but of missing his ‘chance’ in life.  His whole life had been one immense period of worrying that he would miss it, so as you can imagine, Benedict was a very miserable and nervous man indeed.  
Benedict was originally from that wild, scrubby, brambly part of the north-east.  His parents, two miserable, tired people, tired of life and living life without a point, took him to Louisiana to live in when he was seven years old.  It was there in that tiny, forgotten town on a tiny, forgotten road they moved to that many of the things of his future were put into motion, and, in fact, that terror of missing his chance first settled in his soul there.

The Lights

There were many queer things in the swamps in the area which Benedict and his parents moved to.  Strange things seemed to congregate there, and bring hordes of stories and tall tales with them.  Some of the most frequently told tales included the one of the lady that choked in her sleep on six frogs that battled each other to stay in her mouth (Benedict never understood how the story-tellers knew the frogs fought in her mouth if nobody saw it, for surely nobody saw it or they would have helped the poor lady); the seven-foot-tall mad swamp hermit who killed three people to feed to his ‘pet’ alligators (which he was rumored to have had ‘relations’ with); the screams of a particular banshee that lived along Coteaux Bayou (which was agreed upon to be made by male muskrats fighting); and whole hosts of stories centering on eerie and mysterious huge black shapes lurking in the deepest bayous and darkest sloughs.  But nothing else starred in these tales like willow-wisps did. The name was a blanket term for strange lights that moved around in the swamps.  There was very little pattern in the lights; some were small as a man’s clenched fists, while some few were as big as people.  Some glided steadily close to the ground, some swung around just like lanterns a person was carrying, some flew around in random bee-lines, and some just floated in one spot.  They came in any number of colors, and some even changed colors as they went.   Nobody was quite sure how to explain these willow-wisps.  Father Etienne, the catholic priest of the town, insisted that they were demons, sent by Lucifer himself to lure men to distraction and cause them to miss their chance.  Some conjectured that they were ghosts; others thought that perhaps they were signs of impeding doom, others that they were somehow tied to voodoo magic rites. It had become almost a sort of contest between the towns folk to see who could sight the largest willow-wisp, brightest, most colorful, and so on.  Father Etienne kept documentation of the record sightings as bragging rights.
But it’s not as if the lights were all over the place, or easy to see.  Being that they were in the darkest, deepest part of the swamps, that left very few people around to see them.  Many of the lights were very faint or flickered, and could only be seen on a dark night.   Nor did they appear frequently; sometimes nobody would see a willow-wisp for weeks at a time.  Willow-wisps almost never came near other light sources, which meant they never came into the main town, which meant, in turn, that Benedict and his parents never saw any.  But that didn’t keep Benedict from wondering about them.  Just the word ‘willow-wisp’ would attract Benedict like nothing else could.

Edited by man_in_mudboots, 03 October 2004 - 03:02 PM.


#2    Tillghast

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Posted 03 October 2004 - 07:00 PM

Its great!

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#3    man_in_mudboots

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Posted 03 October 2004 - 08:46 PM

why, thank you!


.....

.....

.....want to know a secret? its been written for some few months, im just posting it in pieces makes folks think its shorter than it actually is, so theyll be more likely to read it. only about nine more chunks around that size to come!



#4    man_in_mudboots

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Posted 03 October 2004 - 08:56 PM

Benedict Meets the Priest

Benedict was exploring his new home, absorbing the sights and vibrations of the miniscule country town they had immigrated to, when he came across a church.  It was, in particular, a Catholic church, of which there was a plethora of in the area, but, to Benedict, at the time, a church was simply a church. He had heard for a long time from his parents that churches were open to anybody at any time, and he saw a group of people with a child his age walking through some smaller doors in a lesser building next to the church, so he went in the same doors after them.  He found himself in a sort of hall with an extremely low ceiling, that was completely empty except for a large but simple crucifix on the wall that looked hand-made, a handful of people, and a sprinkling of rustic wooden chairs that made a lot of creaking noises with the slightest motion of the person sitting in them.  There were a lot of children, as he could see, and most of them his age, with adults scattered here and there.  One adult in particular caught his eye, a small but vibrant man dressed almost all in black that unceasingly flashed from one kid to another; it was the parish priest, though Benedict didn’t know it. Benedict wanted very, very much to know what the man was doing, and to talk to him, but he wasn’t quite sure how to go about getting the man’s attention or what to say to him if he did.
Finally, though, the man came to Benedict.  He was short and stocky, with the dark hair, almost black eyes, wild bushy eyebrows, and swarthy dark skin of a Cajun Frenchman. The man asked Benedict his name and the names of his parents before realizing that he didn’t know Benedict’s family.  Benedict told him that he had just come to the town to live, and that he came to see what a church was all about.  The man asked Benedict if he knew about God, and Benedict correctly told him that he did not; his parents had never said much about God, or shown much care to know anything much about religion.  The man told Benedict that he would talk to him special in a few minutes, after he went around to the other children and everybody else was gone.  Then, nobody was left except Benedict and the man.  The man explained to Benedict that he was a priest, a person who brings the words and will of God to other people, and told him that his name was Father Etienne.  He talked to Benedict for almost three hours, giving him almost incomprehensibly vast amounts of information about God, Le Bon Dieu, and how this Good God wanted him to live his life.  Benedict sat there amazed, wide-eyed and drop-jawed, unable to take his attention off the priest.  He had never imagined anything like that before could be real. It was like all the bed-time fairy-tales Benedict’s parents had never told him, and what’s more, Father Etienne insisted it was all true.  Father Etienne left briefly and came back with a thick but squat book with a plain boring cover and no title on it at all.  Father Etienne said it was the book God had gotten people to write, and that it wouldn’t tell him everything he needed to know about God, but that it came darn close.
And, right before he went, Father Etienne leaned towards him, almost like he was sharing a secret, and told Benedict that he was about to hear the most important thing he had ever heard.  Benedict leaned in closer with him, as in a huddle, and listened as he said, “Benedict, everybody on earth is put here by God for a reason. There is something here that we have to do to fulfill Gods purpose.  We all are given at least one chance in our life to complete our task, although often we may not understand how it could possibly aid his plan. So many things can happen to make a person miss his chance. Do not miss yours.”  The words stood out in Benedict’s mind like a huge mountain in the middle of a treeless plain, and it resonated in his mind for months afterwards.

im not fond of dialogue.


#5    Daughter of the Nine Moons

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Posted 03 October 2004 - 11:02 PM

M&M great story. In my opinion a lot of dialogue isn't always better. Good work thumbsup.gif

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#6    man_in_mudboots

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 11:18 PM

thanks beaucoup! just a few questions, for anybody to answer that feels like it. does it seem fomulaic? predictable? samey? cliched? i tried to make it fairly original, but these type things are hard to tell if you wrote it.


#7    Daughter of the Nine Moons

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 11:26 PM

Actually I found it very original and refreshing (plus I love the French/Creole names)

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#8    Arsenik

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Posted 05 October 2004 - 08:49 AM

It is hard to tell when you're writing it. I write movie screenplays, and i usually have 4 or more people go through it before I move on. tongue.gif

Edited by Arsenik, 05 October 2004 - 08:50 AM.

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#9    man_in_mudboots

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Posted 05 October 2004 - 05:10 PM

QUOTE(Daughter of the Nine Moons @ Oct 5 2004, 12:26 AM)
(plus I love the French/Creole names)

 


i try to give the characters interesting names. if the character isnt french (which is rare) older names that arent used much work.  Maman didnt think i should name him benedict, you know, because the first person folks think of is benedict arnold. but i say why let one wicked person ruin a good name?

Edited by man_in_mudboots, 05 October 2004 - 05:21 PM.


#10    man_in_mudboots

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Posted 05 October 2004 - 05:13 PM

After Benedict Met the Priest

Benedict and his parents eventually moved to Georgia and then Carolina, all the while Benedict waiting for his chance.  He fully understood that it might not come to him for a long, long time, but it could come to him tomorrow, as well, and he had to be ready for it, lest he miss it.  Years passed, Benedict finished school, and it came time for him to go to college.  To his parent’s dismay, he stalled, and continued stalling, not quite sure what he wanted to be.  He studied to be a doctor, then a lawyer, then a writer, then a veterinarian, and a multitude of other courses that he never completed, some of them not even lasting two months before he  gave up on them.  The truth of the matter was that Benedict was faced with so many options that he was utterly paralyzed.  Any one of these could be his chance.  Any of the others could be a distraction, a vice that would cause him to miss that precious chance, and he was not going to let that happen to him.  The problem was that he couldn’t tell the chances from the distractions. Was he meant to be a doctor? Was his task to save the life of some person that would greatly further Gods grand plan? Or, as a lawyer, would he successfully defend an innocent man, who would in turn inspire some other great person to change the world for the better? How could he tell? There were just too many options and too little time to figure them out; Benedict was frozen with indecisiveness.  So he dabbled in different fields, wasted time, and lost hope in finding his chance in his career.  Instead, he began to pay more attention to potential chances such as investments.  
On one occasion, Benedict found a man selling a very old and valuable coin, which he predicted would double or even triple in value in only ten years.  Benedict thought very seriously about buying the coin for weeks, thinking that perhaps it was his chance; it was expensive, but it would appreciate and maybe he could use the money for Gods great work, and if not, at least he would have money to live off for a while, while he waited for his real chance to come to him.  He finally decided that he would risk buying the coin, but upon returning to the store, he found it had been bought by somebody else only the day before, while he was making up his mind.  For weeks afterwards, he was a nervous, worrisome mess, thinking that the coin was really his chance and that he had just missed it. On another occasion, he went through much the same ordeal with a round group of stocks in a bull market, and in a lottery after that.  Once, he met a girl named Adeline (when he and his parents were living in Carolina), a lovely girl with big, round eyes and wispy, almost frizzy hair, whom he thought, for a while, he loved, and, occasionally, it seemed as though she was drawn to him.  He wondered whether she could be his chance - he had never thought of a chance as being a person - but he refused to do much more with her than just talk politely on a couple of occasions, little more than coming out of the shadows, and so she drifted away to other, bolder men as Benedict’s focus had drifted to other possible chances.  Benedict was terrified that his chance would appear in the most inconsequential event; scared stiff that he would overlook it because it was so menial.  He lived his life in terror of missing any little chance at all, because he was unable to tell whether it was his one great chance or not.  He was absolutely miserable, but not once did he ever regret hearing Father Etienne, who had become to him almost like a second Christ, say those words. Often, when Benedict was thinking of nothing in particular, he would hear those words in his head, ‘So many things can happen to make a person miss his chance. Do not miss yours.’ It had become for him almost a prayer.



#11    Daughter of the Nine Moons

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Posted 05 October 2004 - 05:22 PM

Hey M&M,

Your writing reminds me of Anne Rice, whom I love. When she writes about New Orleans and the south you can feel the love she has for it. That is what I get with your writing. It is very sincere and very appealing. And it is not pretentious. Keep up the good work.

Dot original.gif

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#12    man_in_mudboots

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Posted 05 October 2004 - 05:26 PM

thanks, there isnt a place on earth better than South Louisiana.


#13    man_in_mudboots

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Posted 06 October 2004 - 11:55 PM

After Benedict Met the Priest

Benedict and his parents eventually moved to Georgia and then Carolina, all the while Benedict waiting for his chance.  He fully understood that it might not come to him for a long, long time, but it could come to him tomorrow, as well, and he had to be ready for it, lest he miss it.  Years passed, Benedict finished school, and it came time for him to go to college.  To his parent’s dismay, he stalled, and continued stalling, not quite sure what he wanted to be.  He studied to be a doctor, then a lawyer, then a writer, then a veterinarian, and a multitude of other courses that he never completed, some of them not even lasting three months before Eustace gave up on them.  The truth of the matter was that Benedict was faced with so many options that he was utterly paralyzed.  Any one of these could be his chance.  Any of the others could be a distraction, a vice that would cause him to miss that precious chance, and he was not going to let that happen to him.  The problem was that he couldn’t tell the chances from the distractions. Was he meant to be a doctor? Was his task to save the life of some person that would greatly further Gods grand plan? Or, as a lawyer, would he successfully defend an innocent man, who would in turn inspire some other great person to change the world for the better? How could he tell? There were just too many options and too little time to figure them out; Benedict was frozen with indecisiveness.  So he dabbled in different fields, wasted time, and lost hope in finding his chance in his career.  Instead, he began to pay more attention to potential chances such as investments.  
On one occasion, Benedict found a man selling a very old and valuable coin, which he predicted would double or even triple in value in only ten years.  Benedict thought very seriously about buying the coin for weeks, thinking that perhaps it was his chance; it was expensive, but it would appreciate and maybe he could use the money for Gods great work, and if not, at least he would have money to live off for a while, while he waited for his real chance to come to him.  He finally decided that he would risk buying the coin, but upon returning to the store, he found it had been bought by somebody else only the day before, while he was making up his mind.  For weeks afterwards, he was a nervous, worrisome mess, thinking that the coin was really his chance and that he had just missed it. On another occasion, he went through much the same ordeal with a round group of stocks in a bull market, and in a lottery after that.  Once, he met a girl named Adeline (when he and his parents were living in Carolina), a lovely girl with big, round eyes and wispy, almost frizzy hair, whom he thought, for a while, he loved, and, occasionally, it seemed as though she was drawn to him.  He wondered whether she could be his chance - he had never thought of a chance as being a person - but he refused to do much more with her than just talk politely on a couple of occasions, little more than coming out of the shadows, and so she drifted away to other, bolder men as Benedict’s focus had drifted to other possible chances.  Benedict was terrified that his chance would appear in the most inconsequential event; scared stiff that he would overlook it because it was so menial.  He lived his life in terror of missing any little chance at all, because he was unable to tell whether it was his one great chance or not.  He was absolutely miserable, but not once did he ever regret hearing Father Etienne, who had become to him almost like a second Christ, say those words. Often, when Benedict was thinking of nothing in particular, he would hear those words in his head, ‘So many things can happen to make a person miss his chance. Do not miss yours.’ It had become for him almost a prayer.




#14    Daughter of the Nine Moons

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Posted 07 October 2004 - 12:00 AM

QUOTE
Benedict was terrified that his chance would appear in the most inconsequential event; scared stiff that he would overlook it because it was so menial. He lived his life in terror of missing any little chance at all, because he was unable to tell whether it was his one great chance or not.


I really like this part thumbsup.gif

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#15    Arsenik

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Posted 07 October 2004 - 09:49 AM

... You do have this story backed up on paper or disk right

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