Our Family Tree (Oneshot)

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BlackWaltzTheThird
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Our Family Tree (Oneshot)

Post by BlackWaltzTheThird » Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:20 pm

“Mommy, where are we going?”

“Somewhere special, sweetie.”

“But wheeeere?”

“It’s a secret.”

“Is it far? I’m tired of walking.”

The little girl puffs her cheeks out and lets her shoulders droop, exaggerating her physical state. The man beside her chuckles softly at the gesture.

“Well maybe you’d like to ride on Daddy’s shoulders! Raaargh!”

The little girl squeals in a mixture of fear and delight as her Father lifts her into the air, perching his child astride his shoulders. His wife – the little girl’s Mother – smiles softly.

“No, sweetie, it isn’t far. We’re almost there. We’re just in time as well.”

Having the highest vantage point atop her Father’s shoulders, the little girl is the first to see what lies before them as they reach the crest of the mountain path. A quiet ooh is the only thing spoken by the little girl as she takes in the scene before her.

There lies a small plateau, only a dozen metres wide and half as much out. Bushes, trees, and rocks on the far side prevent further passage up the mountain from this point. The rest of the plateau is clear of obstructions, save for a single, tall tree whose canopy provides shade to a wide, flat, boulder jutting a mere foot and a half out of the grassy ground.

All across the plateau, dotted throughout the soft, green, grass, hundreds of flowers of purple and white hues turn their heads towards the rapidly setting sun. The sunset on the horizon paints the sky in a deep orange hue and bathes both the mountain and the sleepy town at its base in fiery light.

The little girl’s mouth continues to hang open in awe for several minutes as she and her parents take in the beauty of the scene. A little nudge from her Father forces her to look away.

“That’s not all there is to see here, kiddo. Hop down and have a look at this.”

With the assistance of her Father, the little girl climbs down from his shoulders and looks up at him expectantly, twirling her long, dark, hair around her finger. Both her Father and Mother take one of her hands in theirs and lead the little girl over to the tree over the boulder. At first, she doesn't understand, and frowns at her parents’ apparent deception. On second glance, however, she notices what she was led to.

“Mommy! Daddy! It’s your names! In the tree!”

Her parents smile warmly, shifting their gaze from their daughter to each other.

“Your Father and I carved that into this tree many years ago, just after he proposed to me. We thought it was time to add another name to our family tree – yours, sweetie. After all, this is the place that inspired your name.”

“Really?” The girl whispers, fists in front of her chest and bouncing on her toes in excitement. Her Father beams and ruffles the girl’s hair.

“That’s right, kiddo. But I think you might be a bit young to carve it by yourself, so Daddy’ll help you, alright?”

The girl jumps on the spot, with a resounding “Yaaay!” as her Father removes and unsheathes a knife from his backpack. Together they kneel by the tree; the Father’s hand over the knife, the girl’s hand over her Father’s. Slowly, they carve her name into the soft, brown, bark, beneath the carved heart enclosing the names of her parents.

Their work complete, the Father stands and stows the knife back in its sheath, while his wife bends over to pick up their daughter, settling the child on her hip. She tickles her daughter’s nose, eliciting a giggle from the child.

“Maybe one day, when you’re older, you can bring your family up here to carve their names. Our family tree is yours too, now.”


**********


“Mommy, where are we going?”

“Somewhere special, sweetie.”

“But wheeeere?”

“It’s a secret.”

“Is it far? I’m tired of walking.”

“Not far at all. Look, we’re right here.”

The little girl gazes across the plateau, taking in the sight with wide eyes. With a tug on her hand, her Mother leads the little girl over to a large tree with a pair of matching headstones at its roots. The little girl looks up at her Mother with a curious glance, but before she can formulate the question, her Mother answers it.

“Today, we’re going to carve your name into this tree, just as I did with my parents a long time ago, and as your Father did many years after that. This is our family tree.”

With a careful hand, the little girl’s Father removes a knife from his backpack, and etches the most recent addition of their family into the wood. Smiling, he stands back to admire his work as the evening sun sets the sky ablaze with colour. The trio seat themselves on the boulder and watch, arm in arm, as the sun sets. The same thought runs through all of their minds;

Our Family Tree

Masaki + Naoki Ikezawa
Hanako Ikezawa + Hisao Nakai
Michiko Nakai


==========

Taking a leaf out of Helbereth's book. Read the darn story first.

So, I had this idea on the way to Uni this morning. It was originally called Sunset, and was about Hisao and Hanako carving their names into a tree in the mountains as they watch the sunset. It was nice, I guess, but it didn't have a lot of narrative to it. Not a whole lot of meaning. Then I thought, "well, why the heck are they in the mountains carving into trees? Hisao's got a heart condition dangit".
So I decided to add some significance to the tree, by making it somewhere that Hanako's parents took her as a child, shortly before their deaths. Then, she would have a reason for coming up there, and it would also give me a chance to make a mirror story showing Hanako's time and her daughter's time. And, because I'm ever so punny, I came up with the hilarious (read: not hilarious) idea that the tree is literally a family tree. And so the title became Our Family Tree, and the story was posted here.
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it.
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MrDan
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Re: Our Family Tree (Oneshot)

Post by MrDan » Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:48 pm

I like it, short and quite sweet.
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Hoitash
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Re: Our Family Tree (Oneshot)

Post by Hoitash » Sat Sep 08, 2012 10:34 am

MrDan wrote:I like it, short and quite sweet.
I second this most profusely :)
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Scissorlips
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Re: Our Family Tree (Oneshot)

Post by Scissorlips » Mon Sep 10, 2012 3:41 am

Am I just an idiot? Maybe, because I totally did not understand that it was Hanako and her parents in the beginning, I just assumed it was Hisao, his wife, and their child. Even once I got to the names at the end I didn't really get it, I was confused. Man.
I'm not really sure if that's something you should try to clarify somehow, or if it works better like that. Up to you, I suppose. The only other thing I would point out is that there was some repetition with your nouns, the girl, her father, her mother, etc. I know it's hard to vary your word use when you're purposefully being vague, but it's still something to keep in mind. Other than that though, I enjoyed this story, a sweet, if somewhat confusing in my case epilogue.
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BlackWaltzTheThird
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Re: Our Family Tree (Oneshot)

Post by BlackWaltzTheThird » Mon Sep 10, 2012 6:11 am

Scissorlips wrote:<snip>
Nah, you're not an idiot. I'm finding lately that what I write isn't coming out right, and this is a victim of that. When I read it now, I hate it. Same goes for Greater Than The Sum. The frequent use of "the girl", "her father" etc really grates on my nerves too. I think I might rewrite this at some point. Maybe then I won't hate it so much. Gah, why do I hate everything I create? It never comes out as good as I imagined when I started. This must be how Rin feels when she talks. ;_;
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ProfAllister
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Re: Our Family Tree (Oneshot)

Post by ProfAllister » Mon Sep 10, 2012 5:37 pm

Scissorlips wrote:Am I just an idiot? Maybe, because I totally did not understand that it was Hanako and her parents in the beginning, I just assumed it was Hisao, his wife, and their child. Even once I got to the names at the end I didn't really get it, I was confused. Man.
I'm not really sure if that's something you should try to clarify somehow, or if it works better like that. Up to you, I suppose. The only other thing I would point out is that there was some repetition with your nouns, the girl, her father, her mother, etc. I know it's hard to vary your word use when you're purposefully being vague, but it's still something to keep in mind. Other than that though, I enjoyed this story, a sweet, if somewhat confusing in my case epilogue.
I had the same impression, but I feel that makes it better. 'course, I'm a sucker for a subversion of expectations that makes you feel like an idiot and revise your whole paradigm. I still geek out about the color plot twist from The Giver.

As for the use of generic nouns, what bothered me more was the capitalization of "the Father" and "the Mother." Especially considering how often "Mother" and "Father" are used as names for villains. As for frequency of use, I'm at a bit of a loss. Perhaps if it were told form the little girl's point of view?

'course, writing from the little girl's point of view would require a bit of an overhaul of its own. Then you need to decide if you want the second part from the new girl's eyes, or from the mother's eyes.

From the omniscient point of view, though, I'd be inclined to make the second scene even more of an echo of the first, perhaps dropping "tells" that the assumption that this second set of parents are Hisao + Hanako, rather than the reader's natural assumption of the first set.

Also, I'd be inclined to have made the carving read "Hanako Ikezawa Nakai." On first read, I was wondering why you felt it necessary for Hanako to insist on keeping her name rather than taking Hisao's.

Overall, it was a cute story. I'd give it some time before you try rewriting it, though. Four days is an awfully short time to go from "ready to share with the world" to "crap that I should have burned." Let it cool down a bit, then perhaps age a little before you decide it's terrible. And even when you decide it's terrible, save the original for posterity. Juvenilia are the most instructive and least appreciated samples of someone's work. It may be garbage to you, and to everyone else who reads it, but the best way to not make mistakes is to learn from them - either your own or those of others.

Also, even if you can't be convinced that it's not worthless, take solace in the fact that it's easily less worthless than a whole lot of other writing.
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BlackWaltzTheThird
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Re: Our Family Tree (Oneshot)

Post by BlackWaltzTheThird » Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:27 pm

ProfAllister wrote:I still geek out about the color plot twist from The Giver.
There are people who have actually read The Giver? My God, I loved that book when we read it in Year 7 English; I could never find anything about it on the net back then so I figured it was rather underground.
ProfAllister wrote:the capitalization of "the Father" and "the Mother."
I just find it really irritating to see them not so. It's effectively a name, and names have capital letters. Though, I suppose I would only really be justified writing from "the little girl"'s point of view rather than an omniscient one.
ProfAllister wrote:I'd be inclined to have made the carving read "Hanako Ikezawa Nakai."
I never thought of that. I just assumed that because her name was already in the tree, that it wouldn't be able to change, so she left the carving as is. I'm seeing now why you believe writing should have a cool off period. Duly noted; I'll come back to this some time in my mid-semester break next week.

Thanks for the review, sir. Always good to get feedback.
Cheers, BlackWaltz.
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Re: Our Family Tree (Oneshot)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:42 am

BlackWaltzTheThird wrote:
ProfAllister wrote:the capitalization of "the Father" and "the Mother."
I just find it really irritating to see them not so. It's effectively a name, and names have capital letters. Though, I suppose I would only really be justified writing from "the little girl"'s point of view rather than an omniscient one.
No, they are not names - at least not as they are used in your story.
"Mother" and "father" are nouns like any other. They are only capitalized when they are used in place of a name:
"I will ask Father." but "I will ask my father."
Also when part of an actual name, i.e. "Mother Theresa."
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Scissorlips
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Re: Our Family Tree (Oneshot)

Post by Scissorlips » Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:21 am

BlackWaltzTheThird wrote:Nah, you're not an idiot. I'm finding lately that what I write isn't coming out right, and this is a victim of that. When I read it now, I hate it. Same goes for Greater Than The Sum. The frequent use of "the girl", "her father" etc really grates on my nerves too. I think I might rewrite this at some point. Maybe then I won't hate it so much. Gah, why do I hate everything I create? It never comes out as good as I imagined when I started. This must be how Rin feels when she talks. ;_;
Just one more thing to add is that you shouldn't be so hard on yourself. Sometimes it seems like people who create things, whether they're writers or artists or even musicians, they're always either extremely self-critical or they're narcissistic, there is no in-between. Everyone makes mistakes, but you're a solid writer and time and polish are all you need to become even better. This piece was nowhere near bad enough to deserve being hated, it was nowhere near bad at all.
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Unforgiven
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Re: Our Family Tree (Oneshot)

Post by Unforgiven » Mon Sep 17, 2012 7:55 am

This made me smile.

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