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The Fall

by on August 22, 2010

Sunlight glinted off the feathers, which sparkled brilliantly, iridescent in the morning air. In this light, their colours were shot through with dancing threads of silver. The light also glinted off the metallic shaft of an arrow as it sped through the sky towards its target.

The arrow pierced the bird just below the heart, close and violently enough to be fatal. The bird faltered in the air. Its flight which had, moments before, seemed effortless and elegant became awkward; wing-beats increasingly agonised and out of sync. Then the bird plummeted.

The force of its fall pulled its wings and body into grotesque shapes, brutally moulded by the air currents which the bird had previously mastered. Its limbs twisted as it tumbled chaotically, corkscrewing around the foreign shaft on which it had been broken. Its feathers, ironically, seemed more animated as the life convulsed out of the bird. They bounced, extended, swirled, and pitched about as if individually motivated.

When its body first brushed the treetops, the bird was already dead, its neck broken from the violence of its catastrophic fall. It came to a final halt on a rocky mound, wings half open as if in embrace. There was an odd elegance in its final position despite the broken bones and scattered feathers.

Sunlight glinted off the feathers, which sparkled brilliantly, iridescent in the morning air. In this light, their colours were brought to life by the silver threads which bound them to the cloth, and they seemed to dance.

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8 Comments
  1. This is about a bird that has just been hunted; struck by an arrow it falls to the ground.

    Lovely, descriptive piece. I enjoyed the repetition in the first and last paragraphs. It ties together the circle of a bird hunted for its feathers by an arrow with (I assume) feather fletching.

    I was slightly unsure whether the description of the feathers (the ones laced with silver) was the bird’s feathers, the arrows feathers, or β€” as I like to think β€” both, in the different paragraphs. Also, in the last paragraph, cloth is mentioned: I’m not sure what the cloth is in relation to 😦

    > The force of its fall pulled its wings and body into grotesque
    > shapes, brutally moulded by the air currents which the bird had
    > previously mastered.
    Great sentence πŸ™‚

    > Its feathers, ironically, seemed
    I don’t think that “ironically” adds much.

    Cool piece. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    • cbraz permalink

      Thanks for the comments. I actually only meant the first feathers description to be about the bird. Now I see that it can be about both the bird and the arrow, and I really like that duality. Thanks for pointing it out πŸ™‚

      I meant the last paragraph to be the bird’s feathers now sewn into an article of clothing; hence the cloth. On re-examination, it isn’t as clear as I would like it to be.

  2. Really like the wordy descriptive bits – especially the second and third paragraphs. Also the description of the still bird lying on the ground gives a clear visual image.

    Like the connections between the beginning and the end and the repetition/comparison between the deadly feathers on the arrow, the feathers on the living bird and feathers sown onto something in the last paragraph. Love the dancing threads of silver in both contexts.

    I have a logical problem with this sentence:
    When its body first brushed the treetops, the bird was already dead, its neck broken from the violence of its catastrophic fall.
    How did it break its neck before brushing the treetops? Its not the fall that is violent only the stop :).

    • cbraz permalink

      Thanks πŸ™‚

      Re the logical problem: I had thought that if air currents were strong enough, and there was the force of the arrow shot and the bird fell badly, that its neck could be broken and the fall would be violent before the stop. Couldn’t this possibility happen?

  3. parfles permalink

    This is a very evocative (hush, Max!) description of the death of a bird. It is beautiful and some of the language really captures the moment:

    the air currents moulding the body
    the feathers acting independently (but adverb watch!)
    the repetition of the first and last paragraph.

    There are a lot of adverbs: violently (if you replace with violent, the meaning changes slightly but I think actually works), ironically (I would just take out), brilliantly, increasingly, brutally (actually works for me), individually (ditto).

    There were also sections where more economy of language could have worked:
    In this light, their colours were shot through – could work as “in this light, they were shot through… ” – but like the shot as anticipation of the actual shot!
    Then the bird plummeted – could just be: “The bird plummeted” – then is implied as the order of the story?

    There was an odd elegance in its final position despite the broken bones and scattered feathers. – how about “There was an odd elegance in the final position of the broken bones and scattered feathers.”?

    These are just suggestions and MY way of viewing the language. I think most of them are the “take it or leave it” kind – just trying to spark ideas and different ways of expressing stuff!

    I thought it was a very heart-rending and beautiful piece, thank you!

    • cbraz permalink

      Thanks for the comments. I’m glad that you found it beautiful and evocative.

      I looked again at my adverbs and agree with you on some of them – the piece would have been stronger without ironically or brilliantly, and I prefer your violence to mine πŸ™‚

      I also appreciate the economy suggestions as I have a tendency to be long-winded. The only one I don’t agree with is β€œThere was an odd elegance in the final position of the broken bones and scattered feathers.” I wanted to focus this paragraph on the bird (in contrast to the next sentence where it is no longer and only the feathers are there) and the change removes it from focus too much.

  4. This was beautifully observed, one of those significant moments rendered in amazing detail – the slightly clinical detachment works well to highlight the pathos of the event.

    It may simply be my ‘flu-ridden brain speaking, but I cannot stop myself from reading the whole thing as an arrow bringing down a flag with an embroidered bird on it. I think it must be the phrase “the silver threads which bound them to the cloth”, which isn’t quite clear in context – I suspect the effect might have been more coherent if you’d simply focused on the bird’s broken body rather than the ultimate fate of the feathers.

  5. Very nice, really enjoyed it. πŸ™‚
    The circle created by the opening and the ending are particularly sweet.
    I got great decisive moment / slice of life vibes from this. Like catching a view of something important that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

    +1 for dropping “ironically,” for personal preference and flow.
    I also had problems with the logic of violence of fall vs stop, but it’s a minor quibble.

    You’ve swirled the beauty of the feathers and the grotesqueness of the death together very well.

    Kewl!

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