He glanced at the open meadow, capturing the surrounding scenery as though he had reached the closing scene of a heartwarming family film. He could almost hear the orchestra waltzing in the breeze.
‘How did I get here?’ he wondered. None of this seemed real. Baseless, even.
Suddenly, a jovial lark twisted itself into his line of vision. Its flight pattern was sporadic; it was as though this creature had no vertebrae.
“Come, and join me,” it said, treading the air temporarily before it continued on its hectic journey.
Just like that, it had gone. The boy was unsure how he could follow this brown bird when it had hardly even given him a chance to catch his bearings.
He sat down in the tall grasses of the meadow, being careful to bend as few stems as possible. His arms were wrapped around his knees as he pondered this present scene.
‘I know this is not a dream, because I know it’s not a dream,’ he thought, realizing the confusion presented by this conclusion. He has an imagination, but his logical side was fully functional at this moment.
Far in the back left corner of his eye, a herd of deer marched out from the trees in a uniform manner. They carried on as usual.
* * *
This is the [potential] start of a short story series I’m calling “Make it Mean Something.” It was essentially improvised and influenced by the classical music we had playing for the dog in the other room. As the music changed, so did the “plot” progression. But of course, writing like that can be sporadic, and it can lead to… well, not really knowing what’s being said.
But maybe we can still get something from what’s presented. Maybe we, as individuals, can grab something from what we read and find a moral, a theme, a lesson from something that, at the surface, seems to be pure chaos–much like the content of this particular story.
Because this story had no meaning when I wrote it, I will maintain the notion that it does not and will never have any official meaning. But after reading it over again, I started to see some themes, perhaps indicative of subconscious responses to our society today, in the content of this short story.
I see a distorted reality in this story (well, duh). The scene is set with a sense of daze. Our protagonist, an ageless child, is conscious, but knows that the situation he’s in is not normal. The scene is populated by this boy, a talking bird (and–I didn’t realize this until I looked this up just now: apparently larks live almost exclusively in dry climates, not meadows); marching deer; and, well, I guess that’s about it.
But throughout the [very] short story, our friend is kind of just taking it in. Not necessarily accepting it, but also not necessarily rejecting it.
Is this indicative of complacency to a changing world? Or shock and confusion in response to it? Is our world normal right now, or has it always been filled with paradoxes?
Really, I think the exciting thing about this general premise (that is, of a meaningless and improvised story) gives us all the opportunity to find a meaning. It doesn’t have to mean what I say it means. But we can still take what is presented to us as it is and use it to create something unique. Maybe something sticks out to other readers than what stuck out to me (even though I wrote it). But I cannot explain the scene, the setting, the character, or the plot anywhere past what we see above. Why is the resolution kind of vague? Why don’t we know how this boy ended up in the meadow, and why doesn’t he even seem to know?
I have intentionally decided to leave the story untouched from the point I decided I’d finished, lest I taint the improvisational and open-ended feel it contains. Of course, being my own worst critic, I am having a hard time not noticing some things about what I’ve written that I wish I could change.
So how about you? What do you find out from this story once you make it mean something?