Wednesday, August 17, 2016

WEP: GARDENS

Well, here it  is, my GARDENS post for Write Edit Publish (WEP) challenges, hosted by Denise Covey and Yolanda Renee. All I can say is, it takes place in a garden. This is something I started a while ago, but haven't figured out what to do with it. I hope it loosely fits the criteria for this prompt despite the lack of beauty.



THE GROWING SEASON
(894 words, full critique acceptable)

I was born twenty six years ago, in Year 133 by my clan’s reckoning. The oldest clan in our territory – those that lived under ground since the end and only came out about 4 years before my birth - counts time back 451 years; the youngest clan marked seventy one from day of destruction. But who, besides Rovers and time keepers, is really counting; and not every clan has time keepers.

Some things from the old world haven’t changed. Hours in a day, days in a week, months that make a year. It is said the Universe did not notice the self destruction of one civilization on the youngest planet in the solar system; time moves on, civilizations rise and fall. People gotta eat, and breed.

Only the timekeepers know the secrets of past and future; those obsessed with keeping and reading journals, making calendars and marking off days, listing events. Time-keeping is a revered skill in our clan, and my parents were teaching me the tradition until my grandfather diverted my education when I was twelve.

He had the courtesy to ask me first, which was strange and exciting at the same time. He said, “Jensa girl, is this really all you want to do with your life?”

I loved my grandpa more than anybody, so I immediately said ‘no Grampy,” just because I knew that was the answer he wanted. Some years later I had occasion to regret my quick response, but only for a fleeting moment. I’ve seen the world outside these walls, fought the living and the dead, tallied the worth of the present, and insured the continuity of the future.

Sitting in the village garden today, listening to the Tillerman Rover’s proposal for uniting our clans, I was glad it was my grandfather’s advice that would sway the Counsil and not mine.

As Rovers, Grampy and I had logged the births, deaths and continuing line of the Tillerman’s, knowing it was just a matter of time before our own distant clan would attract their attention. I felt safe in this man’s presence not only because of my skills with bow, knife and words; but also because I was childless. Tillermans only bred outside their clan with women who had already proven fertility and living children.

I pricked my finger on a blackberry vine and wondered if it was an omen.

The heir, Vigor Tillerman, had been here a year before in the guise of a Rover gathering information. The gloves and long sleeves hid his identifying tattoo on wrist and palm, but he’d left plenty of euphemisms about his true lineage before leaving town. Grampy and I both considered him an arrogant prick, unworthy of even our lowest pure bred.

“I have recorded all births within my clan in the last six months, and none of the women claim to have slept with Vigor during his undercover visit. I have all the names of the fathers.”

“And you question every girl who is actively having intercourse? Do you pry into the private lives of all your citizens?”

“Yes we do,” I answered too loudly.

The gardens were positioned close to the gates to insure tranquility and quiet for relaxation, and introspection. We traded squash, beets, beans, corn, tomatoes, a variety of berries, grapes and other vine fruits, and even some of the flowers; but this community garden mainly fed our clan. Time keepers insured all citizens worked their allotted shifts in either the gardens here, or the orchards to the south; but many of our community preferred to contribute in the gardens and had never seen the outside.

Several citizens looked up from their hoeing and harvesting fearfully, though we hadn’t had an attack in my lifetime.

“Vigor has provided the name of the girl, the date of the assignation, and expects she should have conceived already. He is willing to pay tribute for the bride and to claim the child – providing it is healthy and still living.”

“He should pay for the conception regardless of outcome,” I said, accepting a cold lemonade from Maria, a constant gardener.

“Now Brent,” the Rover began, addressing Grampy and ignoring the apologies for my outburst from Counselor Erve.

“My granddaughter is right,” Grampy acknowledge. “However, if there is proof of paternity, and the girl is willing for the barter, we may come to some arrangement.”

I drained my glass to keep my tongue still. Sneaky, under-handed . . We’d turned Gage Tillerman’s proposals down twice prior to his bastard-heir’s not-so-secret visit. Commodities we had in plenty, as well as arms and a fighting force. What we needed, and Tillerman refused to barter, was an infusion of healthy, male donors. Our counsel was not even demanding long term contracts or support, though it would be greatly welcomed.

Too many female births, too few bartered males, inbreeding. The weakness was becoming noticeable among the other clans. I had an idea which family might be concealing a birth, and why. I picked up a hoe and headed towards the east wall where the new vegetable plot was planned. Slashing at the earth would help settle my anger, organize my arguments, and help the community grow.

The growing season was about to begin, and this year the bumper crop wouldn’t be confined to the soil.
* * *
Leave your comments if it pleases you, and if you'd like to read other participants to this challenge, or submit your own interpretation, click here for the list. Linky closes on Aug 19.

30 comments:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Donna - that was fun ... and now I wonder how both the clans develop and reach out - interesting story telling ... cheers Hilary

katethegreat said...

Very Creative! I enjoyed the feel of the story and your characters.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Too many females, not enough fresh males. Although sounded like something sneaky was happening on their side as well.
And I thought it fit the theme well.
You should write more of this.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I wonder if it was her? I like the post apocalyptic style setting.

Deniz Bevan said...

Ooh, I'd like to find out what happens!

Pat Hatt said...

Would sure be a story you could turn into a full fledged book. Something underhanded was sure a foot.

D.G. Hudson said...

I like reading about futuristic clans and what becomes important after a disaster: recovery, eating and health, and breeding. The garden is central to this story it seems, and provides food, an opportunity to contemplate and defuse. I like this story and could see it continuing, telling us who slipped up and who is to be watched. . .I think planned breeding could also help against illness, but it leaves a bad feeling in my gut. Too many females are left to die in many societies who devalue the gender. Not in my world building though. . .very well done.

Pat Garcia said...

Very interesting story. I kept wondering what was going to happen next. Especially at the end, I wanted to read on and find out what would happen next.

Shalom aleichem,
Patricia

cleemckenzie said...

Love the futuristic landscape and so glad that gardens still play a huge part in the lives of those to come. Thanks for your great contribution to the WEP

Olga Godim said...

What an intriguing world you're creating in this story. I want to know more.

Elephant's Child said...

I can only add my voice to the chorus. More please...

Michael Di Gesu said...

This is very different from your other work... I really enjoyed it... Definitely can be continued into a novella or novel... something to think about.

roland yeomans said...

Like Pat and D. G. says: I can see this story morphing into a full-blown novel. It would make interesting reading!

Yolanda Renée said...

Ditto, on all the comments, especially the with continuing the story! I love where this seemed to be going. Your characters are intriguing and the world you've created even more so. I loved the line "fought the living and the dead" and of course must know more!!!!

Thanks, Donna! I'm so glad your job gave you enough of a break to join us this time. We've missed your talent!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I am intrigued...

I wish you a wonderful weekend!

Denise Covey said...

Donna, I love this world you've created. Perhaps it could be expanded into a long short story or even a novel. We'd all like to know more about this clan. Seems a pity to stop here!

Thanks for joining us this month!

Denise :-)

Ann Best said...

Like everyone else, I found this very intriguing. I especially like this line near the end: "Slashing at the earth would help settle my anger, organize my arguments, and help the community grow." The idea of working in a garden as healing. But also this seems central to this story of a "clan" in a futuristic world - as physical sustenance (vegetables); and then the double entendre of the bumper crop wouldn't be confined to the soil.

The story also takes me back to my childhood in the 1940s and 50s here on planet Earth as I knew it - a time when my ancestors were farmers and I witnessed apple picking and vegetable gardens.

This is very well done, and should be continued. You're an excellent writer, and I'm very glad I met you. I'm now a follower.

Julie Flanders said...

Like everyone else I really enjoyed this! Makes me want to read more for sure. So creative and a great entry to this WEP installment. Well done!

Toinette Thomas said...

Cool post-apocalyptic story. I'm interested to know who's messing up. I have a feeling it's an issue in many of the clans. The use of the garden is perfect. It's like an older relative's house. It's the place where the people gather for nourishment, encouragement, stress relief, and a sense of community. Well done.

Nilanjana Bose said...

Your story telling is always flawless. This was an intriguing read, much liked the setting and the direction of the story, it would make a great novel. Reminded me a little of Jean Auel's series because of the 'clans', but of course the chronology there is entirely different. Creative and interesting take on the prompt!

Lexa Cain said...

I love the characterization and the world building. Most of all, I loved the way you revealed the world and the facts of the breeding problem little by little. I was fascinated!

A Beer For The Shower said...

Like many of the others, I could also see this turning into a novel. It's already established some great world and character building, and I love the idea of a garden-based community. Very unique. It'd be a damn shame to have all of these awesome ideas and just end here.

Arlee Bird said...

Nice set up for what could be a very interesting story. This put me in mind of some of the writings of Margaret Atwood. Don't stop here!

Arlee Bird
Tossing It Out

River said...

This is just the sort of thing I like to read and would welcome more chapters please.

Michelle Wallace said...

Hi Dolorah.
You've created an interesting futuristic clan in a world with fascinating elements regarding lifestyle, procreation, births/deaths and chronology.
This would make a great short story/novella.

dolorah said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone. And for your encouragement. This was fun to write; thanks Yolanda and Denise for the challenge.

I think I returned a comment to everyone. Had a week off, very busy doing almost nothing, lol. But now I have to get to packing and laundry. I hope everyone has a good week :)

Sally said...

As with other commentators you have intrigued me with a glimpse of this storyline.

Kalpanaa M said...

This little except, or beginning, is so layered already that it would be a real pity not to carry on. I'm so curious about the story. Do you know what happens next? Very well done and of course, the theme of Gardens and growing things, whether food or the future generation is so relevant.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I'd love to see this expanded on. It reminded me a bit of The Handmaid's Tale mixed with a few other stories.

Beverly Diehl said...

Oooh, fun little story. A little "tell-y" re: the history - if you expanded this into a novel or novella, the back story could be seeded in more gradually. Still, love the setting, the characters, and the premise.