Making an Escape

I begin to walk. From the lake to the moss forests and the bordering Plains of Wynch, up into the highlands where fog and hills accompany me and reeds grow beside bare paths. A ferry takes me across the Winnow Gulf into small Gasting’s Town.

I do not spend the night.

Down into the Gravellings I carry no water, but what are heat and haze to me? I notice this: no paths, no creatures, no birds.

On the twentieth day shrubs appear, firming the shifting sands beneath my feet. By the 22nd day I walk beneath stunted trees just taller than my person, with thin foliage and acrid fruit. Between them, on the horizon, a tower.

It is abandoned, too long exposed and unmaintained, breaking. Spending the night, I whittle a walking stick from a fallen branch.

This odd, dappled forest spreads into the foothills of a mountain range — following the westering sun I walk upwards; the air chills, the view expands. Beyond this nameless mountain is yet another, and taller, and colder. The horizon, once a smooth line, is now a jagged beast of turmoil I have set my heart upon.

Each night I carve people I’ve known into my stick. My hand is unsteady and untrained, but who would recognise these memories made real even if carved with perfect grace?

Onwards I reach the sea; on the horizon a ship with sails in a foreign, triangular cut. But then I am no sailor — I only guess at their foreignness.

I have reached the sea, and where to now? Behind me so many miles and yet my stick remains incomplete, my memories keen, and the horizon before me still so wide, open and uncomplicated.

I will build a signal fire.

4 thoughts on “Making an Escape”

  1. I really like the reflective, contemplative tone of this, and the beautifully restrained balance of the sentences in delineating both the internal and the external landscapes. The absence of context and explanation – I love the memories carved in the stick – really works in capturing a moment and a mood.

    Minor nitpicks: the italicising of placenames is not a standard convention and really jarred for me, as did “22nd” instead of “twenty-second”. I also think the sentence which starts “This odd, dappled forest” is a bit awkward with both a dash and a semicolon, and disrupts the measured beat of the prose.

    Perfect images: “what are heat and haze to me?”, “a jagged beast of turmoil I have set my heart upon”, “who would recognise these memories made real even if carved with perfect grace?” Perfectly balanced sentence: “I notice this: no paths, no creatures, no birds.” Lovely writing.

    1. Thanks! I have a habit of making sentences full of semi-colons, colons, parentheses and em-dashes, sometimes all at once, and then being completely happy with it all while I’m editing. I should put money into a piggy-bank every time I use something that isn’t a comma or a full-stop.

  2. I enjoyed the sense of journeying and capturing of memories. In a way, it reminds me of the life of people who are always searching for something, never content with the present.

  3. Nice wanderers tale; scrub lands and desert seems classic scenes for introspection. I thought the idea with the badly carved wooden stick is brilliant and it has been haunting me all week (the idea that it doesn’t matter how good the likenesses are because no-one else exists to validate them).

    I liked the many place names rolling past at the beginning but the choice of names and italics made it a bit fantasy-genre for me. Like Doc the 22 really broke it for me and I would prefer it written out in this context.

    Thought ‘a jagged beast of turmoil I have set my heart upon’ rang well in the context.

    I liked the ending (or absence of one) – climax-less and pointless. Seems to carry the whole feeling of his journey for me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *