“Splish, splash and ripples spread,
like waves of sound within my head,
Do you hear what I can hear?
Do you feel the ripples near?
I can taste the spring so vast,
and smell the water gurgling past.
But do I see what has been changed?
Or was it always prearranged?”
It's always when I become perfectly relaxed that something interrupts my solitude. Here, floating in the cool water of a brook with the sun on my face and the trees whispering softly in the wind. Cicadas are droning in their unsteady cadence, the hum working its way into my mind and driving all thought away. I feel completely weightless. A pleasing suspension.
That is, until I hear the voice. A blend of notes layered atop one another, the words indistinct but the tune clearly carrying into my forest retreat. It's not a bad voice by any means, but it is different—and difference is distracting.
Despite its distance, I just can't ignore it. It's like a feather in the back of my brain, tickling at the edges of my wonderful solitude. The voice is beautiful, even pleasant, but annoying.
My ears twitch traitorously toward the sound as I rise, water sluicing down my coat and splashing disharmoniously against the sounds of the forest. I frown and cock my head in the direction the song is coming from. Maybe if I was quick, I could ask her to keep it down enough to enjoy my lazy, summer days.
After all, there isn't anything for me to do. Even though I'm a nearly grown mare, I haven’t found that special something I'm good at. But really, what’s the point when I can just be here in the forest, living in its solitude—away from all the other ponies with their haughty attitudes or pity filled whispers.
A sigh escapes me and I rub my eyes. ‘No time like the present,’ as my mother would repeat so optimistically. I start forward, my hooves tapping softly against the grass below me. The grass gives slightly, springing back into place as I cross the forest floor in a swift trot. Wind rushes through the trees and sets to drying my coat, mane and tail. What I wouldn't give to be pegasus right now, immune to chill or heat. Indifferent to change.
Thankfully, the sun is more than enough to combat the tempest's breath as I trot along, following that lovely, interrupting song. Soon enough, I begin to hear the trill of birds accompanying my quarry's melody, adding yet another layer of difference to my otherwise uneventful day. I sigh theatrically to the trees, feeling their ancient weights looming above me as they sway in time to the rustle of the leaves, their creaks and groans whispering the glee of life in my ear.
"Soar as if you feel the sun,
and wander 'neath the endless blue sky,
waiting for the other one,
to take your hoof and be merry.
Dum diddily do da, dum diddily do,
Dum diddy da do da, dum diddy da do,
Hear the laughter 'cross the clouds,
Spend your time racing the hounds,
below and above you see them there,
Whispering, 'love, you're a wonderful mare.'
Doe diddily dee, dum diddly day,
Doe diddy da dee, dum diddy da day.
“Oh, my!” Her lilting voice becomes blissfully silent as the birds trail off. “Little wandering Current. How do you do today?"
I hold back the urge to roll my eyes. “Just... fine, Mrs. Light. I heard your song from the woods and was wondering if you could maybe sing a little softer?”
“Oh, yes, of course, dearie. Suppose I can’t help myself sometimes, prancin’ and floating about as I do. Wherever the wind takes me, I feel the urge to sing.” A rush of air whisks past my face and sets Mrs. Light to giggling away. “And call me Feather, please. We’ve been neighbors for nigh on forever, haven’t we?”
“Yes.” One problem down; now to escape. Another brush of wind slides along my coat like fingers of ice down my spine, the welcome rays of the sun dimming.
“Oh, ‘fore I forget, my husband’s out with Novell and bringing in the next storm. You should trot along home soon. Looks to be a nasty one,” the bubbly pegasus continued, stopping me in my tracks. “Suppose I should lock myself inside, too, ‘fore I blow away in all this wind.”
Despite my wishes, a smile slides out across my face at the very real possibility of Feather Light being whisked to the ends of the earth. Still, the comment gave me a chance to politely leave before I can become mired in her cheerful questioning. “Probably. Thanks, Mrs. Light, and be safe. I’ll head back to Hoofington now.”
“By the way, I don’t suppose there’s a new mark sitting on that little flank o’ yours yet, dearie? I haven’t even thought to look.”
This was one of those questions I was hoping not to be caught in. “No... not yet.”
She was suddenly close enough to run a feather across my face, causing me to twitch away in surprise. “Don’t be so down, Current. You’ll find it soon enough... after all, you’re not the only one with trouble. It just takes some effort to find what you’re meant to do. Oh, my little colt tries so hard...”
“Y-yeah, I know.” I wince at her troubled tone. “Anyway, I kind of need to go. Sorry.”
The pegasus tsks to herself. “Not without help, I think. Fiere! Follow our little wandering Current and make sure she returns home, swift as the breeze.”
“You really don’t have to—” I start, already knowing it’s useless to argue.
“Nonsense, I insist! As your neighbor and friend, I am responsible for keeping you safe. Besides, you know Fiere, don’t you?” A sharp trill comes from above me a second before I feel tiny bird feet on my mane. Wonderful. “Swift as the breeze, remember!”
Another trill, determined this time, followed by my sigh. “Yes, Mrs. Light.”
“Yes, that. Bye,” I say with a tone of finality, Fiere trumpeting annoyingly in his own farewell. Birds.
Soon enough, I’m on my way, the dusty trail leading to Hoofington packed hard with dirt and small stones. My brisk pace eats up the distance as the heat of day gives way to the blustery storm, the scent of rain sharp in my mind. I crane my neck up at the sky, squinting against the wind. It wouldn’t be long now.
For his part, Fiere kept somewhat quiet, though his chortling warbles every so often were more than enough to grate on my nerves. We did know each other from my time in the forest, so the bird-brain understood I wouldn’t put up with any of his trilling business. Even so, his chirps of reprimand whenever I flag to a slow canter are helpful, I can grudgingly admit, even if we are both miserable with each other’s company.
The first few drops of the storm are just beginning to fall on top of us when my mostly soundless hoofbeats shift into a dull clip-clop against Hoofington’s cobblestone roads. Fiere grumbles melodically through his beak and buries himself into my no doubt frizzing mane.
“Oh, so you get to be nice and warm while I’m the one that freezes,” I grumble right back at him, nearing the first corner that leads to my house. As much as Mrs. Light says we’re neighbors, I live in the city proper, surrounded by everypony else.
Rain begins to fall with a swifter tempo, pitter-pattering against the rooftops all around me in an uneven staccato. The steady bink of rain against metal sounds from my left as I pass a lamppost, bouncing in time with my hoofbeats. It’s a rhythm of nature, so different from the forest ease and sway, yet still pleasant to my ears.
Of course, the moment I become completely relaxed is when things start to change. My nose squishes up against a warm body, Fiere instantly squawking in surprise as I bounce off and fall backward. The sound of clattering eyeglasses accompanies the impact, out of rhythm with everything else. Cold stone and water shock through my flank, a burst of disorientation hitting me as I try to figure out what exactly just happened.
“Oh, haystacks, I’m soooo sorry!” my assailant cries out in a rough, yet decidedly feminine voice. “Are you okay? I didn’t even see you there!”
“Yeah, me neither,” my automatic response tumbles out of my mouth while I try to fling my mane out of my eyes.
“Here, let me help you up,” she says, just before I feel a hoof grabbing and pulling me to a standing position. A faint hint of dozens of mingling perfumes wafts past my nose. “Sorry about that. New in town, don’t know where to look yet.”
“Happens all the time, don’t worry about it.” Fiere’s still in my hair, of course, tangled up in the strands, but mercifully unmoving. He chortles with displeasure as I attempt to help him out. Meanwhile, the rain increases in its frequency, pelting down unforgivingly and souring my mood even further.
“Nah, I feel bad. Really,” the mare continues. “Oh, hey, are you that pony with the missing cutie mark?”
I freeze, bewildered by the sudden change in topic. “I, uh, no. That’s not me.”
“Oh, I just thought... you’re kind of old... er. Anyway, you ever think of music? It’s how I got this little diddy right here, you know.”
A sigh escapes me as I give up on Fiere’s prison of wet locks. “Look, it’s raining and I kind of need to get home before I’m missed.”
“Ah, yeah, you’re right.” The pony chuckles, pitching her voice in a conspiratorial whisper. “Just think about what you like for your cutie mark, though, really. It helps. See ya ‘round, filly.”
“Yeah, thanks.” I smile. Not if I can help it.
The mare’s hoofbeats turn to go, leaving me standing under the sheets of rain with a half-drowned bird in my hair, when I cringe. It’s not your business, Current, just leave it alone. But I’d want someone to do the same for me. She’ll figure it out, just go!
My teeth grit together and I finally relent. “Wait! Hey!”
“Huh?” she calls from the other side of the street.
“You forgot your glasses!”
Even from my side of the small avenue, the sound of a hoof smacking against her forehead is audible. “I’m just bucking zero today, aren’t I?”
You’re not the only one, I think as the tell-tale chime of magic sweeps away the glasses. With that blindingly cheerful thought in mind, I head home and out of the rain to remove my equally annoyed passenger.
“You know, Fiere, if you want to impress a mate, you might work a bit on that dreadful little tune you keep whistling,” I chastise the little bird from my comfortable spot on a grassy knoll.
Fiere is, of course, unimpressed by my words as he flits about somewhere above in the tree I’m leaning against. He sends a sharp whistle at me I can only translate as ‘incomprehensibly rude’ before perching himself on the top of my head. I entertain the thought of batting him away, but a familiar lethargy saves me the effort. Besides, why would I ruin a perfectly good evening with something other than relaxation?
The crickets are out after the rain, sawing a sweet lullaby while the sun leaves for the day, the remnants of its warmth coating the grasses beneath me. Soon enough the night’s breeze would rustle through the plains surrounding Hoofington, sending up a pattern of ebb and flow wherever it blew. Yes, this is where I prefer to be, away from the jarring noise and moving crowds. I just want things to stay put so I can enjoy them.
But is this what I like?
The unwelcome thought drifted into my mind, bringing with it a cloud of doubt. Is this what I like? Relaxing in the midst of nature is enjoyable and I do go out of my way to make sure I’m away from other ponies, but if this is what I like, why don’t I have a cutie mark yet? Obviously doing nothing isn’t my special talent—so what is?
“Why do I care, anyway?” I mumble to myself.
Fiere whistles questioningly.
“Nothing... just thinking out loud.” My ears twitch as a new sound interrupts the night’s symphony. “Hmm. Sounds like the Lantern Festival’s starting up. I wonder what kind of food they have this year...”
Though the subtle tang of plant life has been wafting through my nose and setting my stomach to rumbling, the combined aroma of pie, sweets, and other assorted treats from the festival is only making things worse. I sigh, thinking of the taste of apples on my tongue, the tart crispness in their skin and the sweetness inside.
My stomach groans again, tortured by my thoughts. Would it be worth it to go into town now and suffer through that terribly different music? The beat of the drums that clashed so rhythmically with the keening guitars and plinking pianos were enough to drive me out of my mind, despite their melodic tune. What was wrong with just listening to the night play its song while the townsfolk let their lanterns go, listening in awed silence? It would be so much more... peaceful.
My eyes snapped open as I roll forward gracelessly, coming to rest on my face with my hindquarters securely stationed in the air. Laughter sounds light in my ears from the direction of the tree I had been leaning against, the subtle tone of genuine enjoyment reassuring my wounded pride that the pony wasn’t making fun of me. Even so, my face fills with flame while Fiere scolds the culprit from above in sharp blats and whistles.
“Now that was funny,” a familiar mare’s voice calls out between subsiding chuckles. “I’ve never seen somepony roll away before!”
I recover from the spill and glare in her direction. “Hasn’t anypony ever told you it’s rude to sneak up on somepony?”
“Yup, all the time,” she replies unrepentantly, walking closer to me. “Whatcha doing up here all by yourself? Got a sweet party going on down in town, you know. Lots of decorations, awesome food and great beats.”
I sneeze as soon as I smell those conflicting perfumes again, the heady concoction almost enough to make me faint. “I prefer being alone. It’s quieter.”
“Out here in the middle of nowhere? What’s so fun about this place?”
“It’s not about having fun,” I say defensively.
The mare sighs. “You know, you sound just like someone I know. She’s always going on about how life isn’t about fun, how I need to be more serious about everything.”
A smirk creeps across my face despite myself. “I can’t imagine why.”
“Oh, ho, ho, so clever,” she replies good naturedly before sobering up. “But see, I think she’s wrong and she knows that she’s wrong, too. Sure, there are times when life can be boring and you need to deal with it, but what’s the point in the rest of it if you’re not enjoying yourself? As high strung as she is, even she’s doing something she wants to do.”
“But I enjoy being alone,” I blurt out. “I, uh, I mean, I do like being out here by myself, listening to the crickets and... the wind.” The mare remains silent and I can feel my face growing red. “You probably think I’m weird, don’t you?”
“No!” she says, the sound of her hoof scratching her head audible over the faint music from town. “No, I was just thinking.”
I barely refrain from making another snarky comment. “Thinking of what?”
“Thinking of how even up here, there’s a certain kind of beat.” She went quiet for a moment. “Huh. It’s weird, I never really thought about it like this. I—”
Something beeps next to me, causing us both to jump. “What’s that?”
“Oh haystacks, it’s almost time for me to start.” She coughs awkwardly. “Pardon my language. Anyway, hey, I gotta go. Sorry.”
I shake my head, feeling a bit... disappointed? “It’s fine.”
“You know, if you want, you can come with me. I gotta work, but you and I can enjoy the Festival after I’m done.”
“I actually have to go home before my parents start to miss me,” I reply apologetically.
“Oh, okay,” the mare says. “Well, how about this—I’m having a day off tomorrow to do whatever while the Festival wraps up. I could show you a few things that you might—err, I’m being weird, aren’t I?”
I laugh and shake my head. “Just a bit, but that’s okay. I’m a little weird, too.”
“Yeah, so, I’ll be over at the music booth most of the day. Come by if you wanna.” Another beep comes from her direction. “Aw rats, I’m going to be late. See ya around, filly!”
“My name’s Current!” I call out after her as she gallops away from my sanctuary.
“Awesome! Mine’s...” The rest of her words are drowned out by the sudden, crackling boom of fireworks exploding.
I wince away from the sudden noise, a primal part of me begging to put hoof to ground and run as far away as possible. The feeling is one I’m familiar with and I let it go, the fear sliding away like rain down my coat. My mind is suddenly preoccupied with other thoughts, anyway.
Fiere lands on my head, whistling disgruntledly, but I ignore his usual grumpiness as I walk the familiar path back to my house. Trot forward thirty paces, turn left, walk forward twenty, turn right, home, I idly think. A peculiar emotion comes over me—thoughtfulness combined with a strange eagerness. I want to do something other than just relax. But why?
More importantly, why am I humming along to the beat of the newest song?
Hello, I just wanted to let you know that I've swooped in and gave it a first read. I will read it again either very late tonight or tomorrow evening for perspective, meanwhile perphaps you could share details about this technique or which part(s) you feel needs the most help and why ?
I feel I can help with a bit of insight.
The technique I'm using, as I'm sure you've figured out, was writing an entire story without the use of sight description. The main character is blind, hopefully a fact that occurred to you at the middle or end of the chapter. If not, I'd like the moment you figured it out. It's very useful to know these things.
My goal was to make this story about a filly finding a friend, getting out of her lazy habits and eventually attaining her cutie mark. She happens to be blind, but that's neither what defines her or what the story is about, so I wanted to write it in a way that you wouldn't guess it at first. Maybe suspicion, but not outright know until the middle or end.
Any criticisms you can find with the work other than the blindness is also very much appreciated, but my main goal was did I pull the blindness off right?
Interesting, I hadn't realised the main character was actually blind. This is usually why I re-read books or stories but even after a second read, I can't say it struck me. Different authors have different styles and strenghts, yes everything is mostly described as a "feeling" or "sound" but as someone "outside the loop" so to speak, I just chalked it up to that being the way you do things. That you would literally go out of your way to avoid "sight" descriptions is an interesting skill. I feel every description is powerful enough to detract from something that should be... obvious ? Still, if your goal is to pull the reader's attention enough that he doesn't notice, I'd consider this a success as an average, "interested" reader (which is a good thing for commercial success). I actually googled "do blind people rub their eyes when they wake up" after my 2nd read =D Inquiring minds just have to know.
Now that's all well and good but I imagine you're looking for more than just that. If I understand everything right, you may be looking to impress some judge or stand out among your community in the future with such a technique. Although I don't necessarily agree with all of it, I see you have competent help already so I'm not sure what more I can do at this point. If I had to put myself in the shoes of someone familiar with this writing technique looking for rough edges or weaknesses, I guess you could say that in *some* areas it does feel like you're going "out of your way" to *avoid* sight descriptions as opposed to it feeling all natural. I could try to pinpoint such areas (and do a bit of reading on this technique) but it would be so much better for you to simply switch out the ponies and look to your mentors or peers =P