Footprints and Memories.

Footprints and Memories.

A Story by Alexander Z. Anthony

A class assignment I plan on lengthening into a story.

The night was frigid. A light layer of snow covered the ground and a few flurries tumbled down from the heavens above into a natural clearing centered around a large outcropping of rock. At this altitude it snowed almost year round. The moon was shrouded by clouds in the dark night sky. A figure in a light cloak emerged from the darkened tree line, stopping a few steps into the clearing. He wore only a tattered cloth top under his cloak, and thin, homespun leggings, as if unaffected by the chill of the night. His face was caught in a dim beam of light. His eyes were bright blue. Innocent maybe, but troubled. His mouth was turned slightly downward at the edges and wrinkles reached outward from the corners of his eyes. It appeared entirely, as if some great burden or choice lay upon the individual. He was young though, in his late teens, somewhere very near the cusp of manhood.

His breath blew clouds of steam out in front of him that widened, before being caught by the wind and dispersing off into the black night. The same wind caught his hair, blowing it back slightly, revealing it to be a dirty blonde color in the not-entirely-present light of the moon that managed to trickle down through the clouds. He walked further into the clearing, out of the pale moonlight and sat down on an outcropping of rock, black and cold. Yet, he did not shiver. The heat of his body seemed to cling to him, refusing to give way to the tendrils of frost that reached ever towards him. Before him the mountain side dropped off into a dark oblivion, at the bottom of which a sleepy town lay nestled in a forested valley. A sprinkling of snow coated the village. A few yellow lighted windows glowed like beacons in the night. The man’s eyes did not dwell long on these windows, as if they reminded him of some unpleasant memory. Some regret in days long past. Or perhaps, some regret still to come.

As he sat, taking in the scene before him his shoulders slumped slightly, as if a great weight were upon him. His back, however, remained straight, adamant and unwilling to bend, neither for man nor nature. For many minutes he sat, eyes turned towards the village, before he moved them up, to the heavens above. A map was grasped in his hand, ignored. The paper displayed a route leading far off into a foreign land. According to the map, the trip was not yet through, there were many miles still to be traveled. The map blew in a light wind, creating a scraping noise against the rock as if calling out for recognition. Recognition that there was still a journey ahead. Still many travels to embark upon. Little time to waste. But the man did not move. He paid no heed to it, as if he knew in his heart he was exactly where he needed to be.

As he stares at the dark clouds floating above, one can almost see the thoughts rocketing back in forth in his mind. His body language doesn’t show it. It is too neat, too controlled. But his eye do. His eyes show him weighing options, pondering outcomes. All the while, large masses of clouds drift slowly, silently by. The wind whispers through the leafless trees, twisting and turning amongst the many cold trunks, seeming a chorus of voices all speaking quietly of different, but urgent matters. And in this dark, frigid night, amidst a swaying forest of leafless trees, the man stares at the sky unmoving for a moment longer, before making a decision and rising. He steps away from the rock with a renewed determination. His shoulders slump a bit less. He looks, one last time, down upon the village below. As he does his eyes catch the light once more. They are no longer blue. No longer bright and innocent. They are darker. The light has left them. Corrupted? Tainted? Or just, for the first time in his life, a representation of him being who he truly is, doing, what he truly wants. He turns, swift and sure and disappears once more into the dark mass of trees. Behind him he leaves only footprints and memories.

© 2010 Alexander Z. Anthony

Author's Note

Alexander Z. Anthony
Open to all input.

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Thanks a ton for the review! I will fix what you brought to my attention asap!

Posted 13 Years Ago

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I like the evocative language. You do a good job of placing both the setting and the character in the reader's mind's eye. I'd call it the start of a story rather than a story itself, but it's a good start. I think you need to give the readers a few more hints about what the map is about, what his regrets in the village are, why he's leaving etc. It's an intriguing situation, but we know so little about what's going on that it's a bit hard to get into it. They can be subtle hints (you don't have to give everything away at once), but there should definitely be a little more information. At the least, give us a hint about what decision he makes and why--a brief flashback or something.

By the way, your first three paragraphs are in the past tense, then you switch to the present tense for the fourth paragraph. I'd recommend just sticking with the present tense, but it's up to you. If the story isn't going to be very long, then present tense should work fine. It's hard to make present tense work for a whole novel (though it has been done), so if it's going to be long you might want to go with past tense. But the point is to pick one and stick with it throughout the scene, and only switch if there's a good reason.

A few points:

"He wore only a tattered cloth top under his cloak, and thin, homespun leggings, as if [he were] unaffected by the chill of the night." Otherwise, the sentence means his leggings aren't cold. Or maybe you could make it: "Despite the chill of the night, he wore only . . . "

He walked further into the clearing Should be "farther." "Farther" refers to physical/literal distance (He went a few miles farther down the road), while "further" refers to figurative distance (Further, we need to raise new taxes in order to . . .)

His breath blew clouds of steam out in front of him that widened[,] before being caught by the wind and dispersing off into the black night. No comma

But his eye[s] do.

Posted 13 Years Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on September 9, 2010
Last Updated on September 9, 2010
Tags: Adventure beggining start journe


Alexander Z. Anthony
Alexander Z. Anthony

Tampa, FL

Hey. I'd rather not describe myself in a little box. I'd rather let my writing do the talking. "All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost." -The Fellowship Of The Ri.. more..