Two stories: “Sculptures” and “Dancers”

It’s Friday Fictioneers time again.Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this weekly flash fiction challenge.

After agonising for hours to produce a story last week, this week’s photo prompt, courtesy of Doug MacIlroy, has inspired two stories from me. I’m posting both here, below the picture.

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Copyright - Douglas M. MacIlroy

Copyright – Douglas M. MacIlroy

Story 1 – Sculptures

It started with small changes. Not everybody noticed unusual indentations in pebble groundcover, or the angle of a head or limb slightly askew.

Neighbours started talking about vandalism and suggesting nightly patrols when the changes became more obvious. Whole sculpture gardens were rearranged; garden gnomes with their friendly faces and cheerful demeanours disappeared.

Soon, only metal sculptures remained – angular, hard-edged, rust-limned beings with snarling mouths and rows of pointed teeth, a junkyard nightmare.

One evening, at sunset, several thousand metallic monsters turned towards the houses of the humans and began to advance. The screams lasted into the night.

Story 2 – Dancers

‘Hurry, Mai. You’re late.’

‘I’m not dancing any more, Ma. I can’t stand being so close to him, knowing he doesn’t care, that he sees only a small part of me.’

‘Mai, you’re an excellent dancer. You can’t throw away your dream – to perform at the festival in the capital. He’s just a man. There will be others.’

Mai was a dutiful girl. She donned the sensuous, shimmering silks, placed the immense lion’s head over her own, and, bending forward, suffered again that agonising lurch of her heart as Chen positioned himself behind her, his hands warm on her hips.

*****

The sculpture in the prompt has an immense head – right? And while it would have been easier to write about a dragon dancer, the dragon dance just wouldn’t work here. Mai and Chen need to be up close and personal. And just in case you’re still with me, here’s a treat. These dancers are awe-inspiring.

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34 thoughts on “Two stories: “Sculptures” and “Dancers”

  1. Clever stories.
    Love the idea of gnomes disappearing; hate the nighttime screams.
    Love the lion dancing; hate the ‘He’s just a man. There will be others.’ sentiment. Tosh! Maybe she should swap sides with Chen.

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    • I’m glad you found things to love and hate in the stories. That’s a good sign. Mai and Chen swapping positions might work – although that way he’d have his back to her, which I don’t think she’d like. Thanks for commenting, Patrick.

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  2. Two for the price of one! Does seem a like a special is on. Liked the scary science fiction of the first one and the human emotions in the second one. And those dancers in the clip are amazing.

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    • I was pleased to get two ideas, myself. I’m happy that you liked my stories, and the clip. The athleticism of their performances is incredible, I thought.

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  3. Both of these bring visions of defeat. One through creepy metallic monsters, the other through unrealized love. There may be escape for Mai, but I’m not sure about those who had their gardens rearranged. Thanks for posting both your stories. They’re both grand.

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    • Thank you for your encouraging feedback. I think the defeat is inevitable for the humans, but I hold out some hope for Mai – she’ll find the words to say to Chen one day, and things will turn around.

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  4. Dear Margaret,

    A double treat. I’d say that the second story is my favorite of the two. Love the emotion in it and Mai’s dedication to her art despite her heart. Well done–twice.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

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  5. May your inspiration stay with you: it’s great to get two stories instead of one. I love them both, even though the first is more ‘my thing’ genre-wise. Very gritty. Initially I thought these are two stories of defeat: the humans who saw the signs, but didn’t know what was coming, and Mai who gave in to her overly ambitious mum. But then, it all depends on her previous relationship with Chen. Many people are forced to hang out with people they either love hopelessly, or loathe, in a professional environment. As long as Mai isn’t forced into giving sexual favours for her career, she’ll have to find a way between her career and the limits she sets for herself. Limits set by her mother: not so good. My chattering along shows you how much I liked the stories. And the dancers in the video are amazing. 🙂

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    • I also hope inspiration hangs around. However, with me it seems to just pop its head in now and then, and I have to go searching for it between times. Thanks for putting so much thought into my stories. Your feedback is much appreciated. It’s hard to leave characters in ambiguous positions, as one often has to in very short pieces – I’m thinking that Mai’s future could really go in any direction. I’m glad you liked the video. They are very athletic performances – impressive. Cheers, Marg

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  6. Great work!! On both counts! Maybe I should start watching lion dances to get more inspired. Those were some incredible dancers. The last line in your “Dancers” story read as quite sensuous and clever. I can see from the video, it does require a lot of trust and teamwork to do these dances. Your first story is eerie with the your very vivid description, “angular, hard-edged, rust-limned beings with snarling mouths and rows of pointed teeth, a junkyard nightmare.” Wonderful, Margaret.

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    • Thank you so much for your lovely comments, Amy, and your detailed feedback. I’m thrilled that the stories have worked out so well. The lion dances are very exciting to watch – I love the colour and movement of them. Cheers, Marg.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Both well written and entertaining stories. Love your descriptions. I feel spoiled!

    Although I can’t help but fall a little on the side of the metal-toothed monsters.
    Give me anything with a good death or fifty…maybe I have problems 😉

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  8. Two great stories. I’m glad I don’t live on that street – those sculptures sound rather terrifying! And hopefully Mai will shine in her performance despite Chen’ s proximity. 🙂

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    • I think the sculpture in the prompt looks terrifying, so I’m glad my story captured that. Mai will need to take a stand pretty soon, I expect. Thank you for reading and leaving a comment.

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  9. Love both your stories and the video. Your first story reminded me of the conversation with my neighbour yesterday. She thinks there are so many ugly things – meaning our yard. We raised vegetables in raised beds. We have 3 in the front which she thinks is ‘creepy’ and 3 in the back. Your 2nd post and video reminds me of my 2 nephews when they were in Chinese school on Sundays. They performed every year in the the Lion Dance. Good memories.

    Lily

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    • It sounds like you’ve got some neighbourhood challenges – what’s ugly about vegetable gartdens? I can think of creepier things to have in the front yard, such as the sculpture in the prompt. I’m envious of anyone who can make things grow. I just can’t seem to entice co-operation from anything green and organic. How wonderful that my lion dance story prompted such good memories for you. The skill of the dancers is amazing. Thank you, Lily, for your feedback.

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  10. Being a fan of Dr Who, I agree that the first story would make a good episode. I’ve watched every Dr Who episode since its debut screening. Now that says how old I am!
    Your second story is very well written, too, and I loved the vibrant video 🙂

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    • I’m impressed with your viewing record! I’ve been a fan since the beginning, myself, although I can’t claim to have watched every episode. (And that tells you that I’m pretty long in the tooth, too.) Thank you for your encouraging comment, Sarah, and I’m glad you enjoyed the video.

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  11. Although they were two entirely different genres, Marg, they were both great stories. The first was scary and the second heartbreaking. Well done on both. I loved the lion dancers. 🙂 — Suzanne

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