Gray Lies

Gray Lies

A Story by Kaliope
"

I wrote this story for a course about writing for young readers. The assignment required a text of 500 words or fewer so the challenge was to keep it short :-)

"

Blotches of green rushed by the window as Suzie's eyes shot open. A scream had startled her awake but she couldn't tell whether it had been real or just in her dream. She rubbed her eyes and marveled at the lush colors in the otherwise colorless world. The sky, the freeway, the car, her dress; even dad's hands on the steering wheel looked gray. Only the trees kept their lively hues.

Suzie spotted her own reflection in the window. Her face looked gray too, her eyes drained of color.

"Everything alright, darling?" Dad asked without taking his eyes off the road.

"I had a dream about running elephants," Suzie said quietly. A trumpeting flood of gray giants, she recalled with a shudder, rolling down a gray road and crushing all color in its way.

"That's nice," dad answered, tapping his fingers against the gray steering wheel.

Suzie sighed. "Does a car go faster than an elephant?" she asked.

"I suppose," her dad mumbled. He was tense. The gray car in front of them was going very slow but he didn't try to overtake it.

"Are you sure?"

"Well, fairly. There aren't many elephants running free in this part of the world, love."

Suzie looked out of the window. In the short time that she hadn't paid attention a thick concrete wall had jammed its ugly body between the freeway and the forest. Only the tallest trees peeked over its top; a dash of green against an ash-gray sky.

"Mum once told me that trees breathe," Suzie said.

Her dad remained silent.

She fiddled with the hem of her dress as she carefully composed her next question. "When trees inhale smoke, do they need to cough?"

"No love, I don't think so," he whispered hoarsely.

"That's good," Suzie replied, somewhat relieved, and smiled. Breathed in by the trees along the freeway, mum would have loved that. She would have loved the flowers and the wreaths too. So many colors in the cold, gray church.

Suzie sniffled and blinked. She hadn't cried during the funeral. Not even when the gray robed priest had handed dad a gray urn that contained gray ashes. It was not her mum.

Mum's sun yellow car had been crushed by an ocean blue truck and burned in a blazing red fire. Everything inside had gone up in black smoke. There was nothing left of her mum but a gray lie.

Tears ran down Suzie's cheeks and she caught one of them on the tip of her finger; no color whatsoever.

"Suzie?" Dad's voice sounded like he suddenly had a bad cold.

She cocked her head and caught sight of his reddened eyes in the rear-view mirror. He looked terribly worried. "It's alright dad," she assured him, "she's with the green now."

Confused he furrowed his brow. "Green?"

Suzie gave her dad a shy smile. "And red and blue and yellow and all the colors in the world. All but gray."


© 2016 Kaliope



Author's Note

Kaliope
Thank you for taking the time to read my story!

English is my second language and I want to hone my skills, so please feel free to point out spelling, grammar or punctuation (my archenemy in all languages ;-)) errors as well as any expressions that don't make sense.

Hope you enjoy it, tell me what you think!

My Review

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Featured Review

I liked that dream-like and detached way of telling the story. And the sentence "It was not her mum" is really great in an understated and subtle way. All in all it might be too subtle and understated for young readers, but then, I always tend to underestimate young readers :)

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

1 Year Ago

Thank you very much! I'm usually writing for older readers, so I wasn't too sure either whether this.. read more



Reviews

I enjoyed reading this although it is very sad story. It's very creative. Thank you for sharing!

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

1 Year Ago

Thank you very much, Elizabeth. This was the very first story I ever shared on Writerscafe - almost .. read more
I like it Kali if I may call you that the detached way of telling it and the end makes me smile well done

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

1 Year Ago

Thank you very much :-)
Raylene

1 Year Ago

Anytime dare
Well done. Enough details to keep my imagination busy, a touch of suspense and a somber tone from the beginning that set the appropriate mood throughout. I thought I was going to become annoyed by the number of times the word "gray" was used, but as you continued to use it, I quickly turned the corner and felt that each repetition was another oppressive wave of sadness, climaxing at the gray ashes that were not her mum. The emphasis on the bleakness of the world made the references to color more vibrant. I could see them shining through the fog of grief.

On the topic of young readers, I guess it depends on how young your target audience is, but I think this would be appropriate for young teens (and adults too). It's approachable without being dumbed down. I was an avid reader when I was young, and despised when authors were obviously simplifying for children.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

1 Year Ago

Thank you very much. It's always great to participate in the reader's journey throughout my stories,.. read more
maybe it's my nature. I always see the good in people. I haven't stumbled anywhere while reading this short one. nicely told. I could sense the feelings and heartache of the two in the car. a very interesting place to set your story. original.
I like it, Kali.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

1 Year Ago

Thank you Woody! This was the very first piece of writing I ever shared and its positive reception i.. read more
I liked that dream-like and detached way of telling the story. And the sentence "It was not her mum" is really great in an understated and subtle way. All in all it might be too subtle and understated for young readers, but then, I always tend to underestimate young readers :)

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

1 Year Ago

Thank you very much! I'm usually writing for older readers, so I wasn't too sure either whether this.. read more
I've looked at this, gone away and come back again several times. Even now, I have doubts as to whether I should say anything. Except for a bit of passive language, I think you've done a very good job with the writing, technically speaking. It might have to do with the way I read, but I always have to visualize the story. I need to "see" the players, where they physically are, and their surroundings. This being somewhat abstract and dream-like, I struggled. There may not be another person that has these same difficulties, but I wanted you, the writer, to know.

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

2 Years Ago

I understand what you mean and I thank you for not holding back. I honestly appreciate your feedback.. read more
I love the way you used colors in this piece of writing, how she saw everything in tones of gray but since she believes her mother is with the trees she sees them as they are. When we lose someone close to us we tend to hold on to something that reminds us of them and you showed that in this short story.

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

2 Years Ago

Thank you very much :-)
Very well written. A short story that can move you. I'd call it powerful. Just fantastic!

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

2 Years Ago

Thank you very much for the lovely review!
The story was really well thought out. At first I didn't quite know what exactly was happening, but you revealed her mother's death really well, which explained her dad's behavior and why the world was gray. So artistic. :) I love Suzie too. I learned in a book called "Bird by Bird" that sometimes we as writers have to put aside our rationale and become like children who look at the world with new eyes and lots of questions. I think you did this really well. And I don't think you have to worry about English being your second language at all. I didn't notice anything grammar or punctuation wise. Great piece! :"D

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

2 Years Ago

Thank you, it feels great to get all this lovely feedback. I'm glad it doesn't show that English isn.. read more
Emiko Tagahushi

2 Years Ago

Haha yeah rough drafts are always rough. XD You must put a lot of work into fixing your writing beca.. read more
What a delightful little story. If I had been your teacher at the writing course, I would have given you an A+. The story is like a rainbow - full of color and life. And also, I like the way you have build up Suzie´s character - affectionate and sensitive, but strong. You did a great job, Kaliope. :)

J

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

2 Years Ago

Thank you so much J! I was very happy with my grade, indeed it was one of the main reasons I decided.. read more

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Added on June 30, 2015
Last Updated on June 12, 2016

Author

Kaliope
Kaliope

Vienna, Austria



About
Hi, I'm a nerdy IT specialist in my forties, writing for fun and to keep my sanity. Feel free to friend me and to send me reading requests. I'll give you honest feedback and appreciate honesty in re.. more..

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