22nd September 2017

In a Foreign Setting 3.4


Vibrant rich colours stretch across the landscape with yellow and red flowers blooming along the plains. As far as the eye can see huge glaciers mark the edges of the world. Sharp winds whip down from the glacier bringing a bite to the air along the plains. For miles upon miles the young girl could see long lush grasses, so tall that it reached up to her chest in some areas. The heat from the sun bought sweet aromas wafting in the breeze bringing the rich scent of mixed damp and dusty soil. The girl who was sitting in the dirt was the colour of leather, her long toned limbs had been bronzed from exposure to the sunlight since a young age. Close by to where she was sitting, a creek bubbled and murmured as it dashed by. In the palm of her hand a cool dark stone sat, being chiseled away at the edges to produce a small, light sharp blade used as a spear to pierce the flank of an unsuspecting animal. 

She was nervous. Beads of sweat fell from her forehead, her hands shook and her heart was flying out of time. If a girl or woman was to be found hunting let alone holding a weapon she would have terrible consequences. Since she was young she would not be killed but she would be banished from the tribe and forced to live alone, exposed on the open plains. She looked up, sweeping the landscape with sky blue eyes looking for any unusual activity. A lock of thick golden hair fell over her face which she quickly pulled away in fear of missing out on any small detail. A low rumbling in the distance vibrated her very core making her pause and listen. She smiled, she always did. She loved listening to the mammoths and watching them on their journey, from the bitter cold glaciers through the valley and across the plains past her home. Their long curving ivory tusks longer than any man, a long brown shaggy coat and unusual snout that hung down by their feet which they used as hands. The babies she always loved to watch. Their inquisitive nature and eagerness to play at every moment bought a smile to her face and the occasional laugh.

Her blade was slowly coming to life. Swift movements of the hands took out flakes from the edges of the stone to produce a razor-sharp edge, she would often go into a daze, as the rhythmic movements of carving was soothing. The spear head was better than any man’s. She assumed it was due to her commitment to making it as good as possible that it was at such a high standard. The girl also had a sling; which was used with stones to throw and kill small animals. It was also used in self-defense against larger animals like hyena which would inflict pain on the animals and hopefully deter the animal from the girl.

A rustling in the grasses caused the girl to halt. Her ears pricked, eyes darting backwards and forwards across the area trying to locate where the noise was coming from. The blade disappeared inside her summer tunic, a basic clothing item made of several animal hides sewn together. She would rather not have worn it, but it proved to be very convenient such as holding items, which right now held the blade covering any evidence she was doing anything wrong. A small brown prairie dog emerged from the grasses, quick as lightning she threw her sling and killed it with one strike. Pleased with herself she went to retrieve it. As she approached the animal she made swift movements with her hands, wishing the prairie dog off to the spirit world, giving thanks that the hide and flesh will not go to waste. Her mother will be proud. She needed another small hide for the baby she would soon expect. If she treated the hide correctly it would produce a soft desirable texture, perfect for the small infant to be wrapped in.

The girl decided that she had done enough today. Leaving the carving tool behind, she safely tucked the blade in her tunic. Slung the prairie dog over her shoulder, sling in the other hand set out for the journey home. As she walked through the creek the ice-cold water came as a relief from the baking sun. She stood there enjoying the refreshing water, watching the world go by. Listening to the song birds flying high in the sky casting vast shadows over the ground with there sheer numbers and filling the air with their alluring melodies. She had learnt most of the songs, learnt how to clip and extend notes with her tongue. On her way home she would practise and more often than not the birds would follow her. Big, small, many a dull brown whilst the others were beautiful colours of gold and blue, the occasional orange and red here and there, staining the sky in a band of colour. 

It was getting late. The sun was rapidly descending behind with mountain’s, west of the plains obscuring much of the valley and casting it in shadow. She was walking at a rapid pace, not wanting to be caught out in the open. As the girl got closer to her camp, aromas of the woody embers of many camp fires and the scent of fresh meat wafted towards her making her mouth water. Hoping it was mammoth that passed by earlier that day. Around the corner an amber glow illuminated a large group of people, all sitting round the fire exchanging stories from the days events. The girl ran over to a familiar figure, one of safety and comfort. Her mother, she was home.


Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Fiona, this was an intriguing idea to write about- well done for launching yourself as a writer into this new and foreign world.
    In the first week of Term 4, you will be given time to refine your ideas in this piece for your Portfolio submission. Consider strengthening the following areas:
    1) Technical accuracy. Read through your piece out loud and add punctuation in places where pauses and stops are needed. Ensure that your grammar (word choice and expression) and spelling is accurate.
    2) Watch unnecessary repetition. Refine your word choice and sentence structures for purposeful effects.
    3) Consider extending descriptions in places with sights, sounds, colours, textures etc.
    4) Watch a cliche ending. You could end with an image, rather than dialogue.

  2. Final comments:
    This is a clever narrative and the ideas are nicely developed in sections: great imagery (colours, sights, sounds etc.)
    * Key area still to fix: comma pauses and full stop breaks- you need to place the correct punctuation where it is needed. Please read the writing out loud to find where these changes are needed- it must be your own work too, Fiona. Use Tuesday in class if this helps.
    * Look at the paragraph “Her blade was slowly…” and consider why you change tense in the final stages of this paragraph. You may need to make some adjustments here.
    * There are still places where you are repeat words and this repetition seems unnecessary. Again, read your writing out loud to hear where vocabulary could be adjusted to achieve a greater flow of ideas.
    This piece is due on Tuesday at the end of class.


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