Day 40 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Describe a city from an outsider’s perspective.
Shannon: Everybody seems so happy in town. Why can’t I be happy like them? I just want to fit in again, like I used to back home. Now I feel so alone. I’m sure the town is beautiful, but it’s hard to see any beauty when you have no one to share it with, no one to point out what you’re missing when you’re looking the other way.
So what have I seen of this city? I’ve seen its quieter places. I’ve found the perfect places to walk, places to think, places to eat, and places to read. I’ve actually spent way too much time reading throughout the city, so much that I know the fictional places more intimately than I know my current home.
I want to be in the crowds. I want to have experiences I can keep with me for a lifetime, and get to know people that will have a huge impact on who a still have to become. I hope something will change, but for now I’ll continue to watch, waiting to join the party.
Erin: When you move to a small town there is very little likelihood that you will ever truly be home. Because even if you fall deeply and madly in love with the city, the city will never fall madly and deeply in love with you. Because, you will never be little Lucy Jean who fell in the well. Yes, that metaphor is dramatic, but so are small towns.
For this all to make any sense you must understand that I grew up in New York. Most people who live there will tell you the people who live there are not as cold as their reputation can be. I’m here to tell you that is all bullshit. We are as prickly as everyone thinks. I like being prickly and the thing about being prickly is that most people are equally prickly to everyone.
If people were cold to me in New York I would be fitting in. But people are cold to me in this middle of nowhere town and that is them being mean. It is not their default demeanor and that makes it so much worse.
For lifers, they will all but sacrifice themselves. But then for me, they won’t even take the time to include me in a mass invite. New York is full of people and I think that a lot of the time everyone feels alone. But in my new home I feel like most people feel satisfied with their relationships and I am in the minority. For whatever reason that makes me feel worse, and I’ve been here for three years.
This was meant to push me to describe settings more, but I am Erin and I avoid that at any cost. I’m sure you can do better.
Bayfairin stands at the precipice of the west coast where the crushing waves meet the hardened stone of the mainland. Even after hundreds of years the whispering spires of the temple can be seen from the lonely dirt road you must take to reach the secluded town; no vehicles are permitted after a certain point to keep out the riffraff. Not that a lot of magickal or mortal folks came this way unless sorely lost, anyhow. The citizens of Bayfairin tended to keep to themselves and didn’t appreciate unexpected guests tramping through their lands; their wards were substantial but not unbreakable.
Shadowy trees swirling in mist bowed under the immense pressures of gravity as finches chirped and flitted between the elder trees. Steps ahead was a solid, shimmering haze full of faintly glowing sigils of protection so old even I couldn’t have begun to decipher them. As I stood in the subtle breeze the wall lashed out with electricity that popped angrily and made the hair on my neck stand up straight.
Somewhere in this beast of an enchantment were the clues to disarming it, but that wasn’t what I wanted to do. All I needed was a minute window to slip through and continue on to the town. I dropped the canvas backpack I’d brought with me and summoned a text from the murky depths as eyes woke up in the trees around me; beady, feral eyes. Ignoring the gathering army I muttered the spell under my breath, pronouncing the Relenzan language with a careful tongue. After a moment practising I took a deep breath and stood before the shivering field, hands planted firmly on my hips and jaw set.
It stared back at me with burning apathy. When I began to recite the incantation, placing my hand so close to the wall I could feel the fiery spell licking my exposed skin, the barrier roared aggressively. Around me creatures were chattering to each other, their instinctive minds knew I was an intruder but they didn’t make a move.
Feeling the spell weaken marginally at this very spot I finished the one I was doing and switched to a powerful curse-breaking enchantment I learned in my youth. The blockade crackled and hissed like pouring water on a campfire and I plucked the athame from my bag’s front pocket as I stepped into the wall. Fractures creaked into the sky as I tapped the frozen ward with my silver blade and it shattered into a million tiny shards around me. When I glanced upward I could see the spell rebuilding itself, the shimmering wall would be airtight in a couple of minutes so I didn’t need to rush.
I stepped across the threshold and any warm, magickal feeling I had before vanished in the depressing, washed-out town on the other side. On either side of the cold trail the bones of burned trees stuck out of the charred earth like warnings; do not mess with Bayfairin. Expecting to see the bright and shining ocean lashing out at the tall cliffs with magickal beasts drifting on the briny breeze I was underwhelmed with the dozy ghost town before me.
But I’d already made the difficult and long journey here and I really needed to speak to a professor whose last known address was here so I hiked up my socks and began the arduous walk down into the village. As I strolled past dead trees shadows streaked through the bare trunks with lightning speed, forcing me to quicken my pace.
When I reached the town center I passed by the Bayfairin sight showing a pirate ship rocking in among tall waves; the sign itself was hand-carved wood and spelled so the ship bounced before your eyes. While it was a simple trick it was rather effective if not for the stationary water. Past that was a short street with rusted streetlights that only lit up when you touched the posts and a string of closed shops. Nothing I could see would lead me to believe anyone lived here; but the official population was sixty-seven. The residents were mainly recluses and people native to the town.
As I wandered toward a book store I glimpsed a streaking figure down the street and jolted. Swearing under my breath I turned back to the shop to read the sign posted on the door, “Closed. If you need a book that badly please call at number twelve, Mark Drive.” I tried to see in through the dusty glass but there was an odd film on it, as though someone didn’t want the contents of the shop to be seen.
Sighing raggedly and pulling out my water bottle I strolled down the main drag reading all the closed signs. Most were just like the first, urging potential customers to call at the owner’s houses, but some simply held short hours. No lights could be seen anywhere or any other sign of life. Every inch was a dingy, grey town with no one to care for its appearance.
I brought out my favorite grimoire and read the note scribbled in barely-legible handwriting stuffed between the pages; the worn linen paper of the letter was discoloured and frayed about the edges. Reading it through a few times I set off toward the other end of town at a fair gait since I didn’t want to spend a night in this creepy place. There was a road sign that didn’t have any addresses listed, instead listing the families living on each street.
The name Cor stood out on the right side and I turned that way, kicking a rouge brick out of my path. Halfway down the road I came to the residence of one Serena Cor and stood gaping at the mansion for a few moments.
The massive home was built in Victorian style with a covered entrance and pointed roofs. Faded white panelling covered the front as stained glass windows were aglow with bustling life within. Spiralling up into the cloudy sky, the temple rose. Dedicated to the beginning of magick in this realm it stood, like a looming god, high above the Cor house; it was like a bolt of pure lightning on earth.
Created to Write:
August walks along with the crowd, scanning the different wares along the aisle. He’s dressed in a brown tunic, with a red and green sash threaded through the belt loops of his jeans. His boots are mostly covered, made of a light weight material. He has a billed hat, with a cloth underneath that covers his neck from the heat. He keeps a hand on his backpack, which masks his sheath for the most part. It isn’t too hard to see the handles of his ninjaken over his shoulder. He also has a knife on his left hip, with the sash in front of it.
He almost blends in with the crowd, but not quite enough, with his lighter complexion and altered clothing. He sometimes stops at a booth, selling either baskets or spices. He’d ask a few questions in their language, then move on. He looks around, seeing a blue turban, bald head, and shaggy blond hair in three different spots in the market area.
August continues, stopping around the corner. He buys a dessert that looks like a Swiss roll from America, only it is caramel inside and the outside is actually coated in crushed cocoa. He surveys his surroundings again. The ceiling of the street is decorated with banners and drapes, making the air below slightly darker. Lanterns are lit, giving a colorful glow to corners and open shops. The cobble ground is scattered with crushed flowers, spices, and bits of fabric. August continues, noting blue, bare skin, and blond hair are in the street, and closer together.
He ducks into an open square bathed in green. It’s lighter there, with stacks and piles of fruits, vegetables, and grains. August takes a zig zag pattern through them, keeping his eye open for anyone following him. He knows he’s more in the open; drawing them out.
He stops at a fruit stand a second, surveying the red apples and green pears. He looks up at the girl managing the stand. She smiles at him. He smiles back. Before he can say anything, there’s a shout behind him. He turns, noticing the guy with blond hair. He turns to the girl, offers a smile that makes her blush, then bolts for the far exit. His pursuers follow him out of the square. He ducks into a rug shop, with more drapes coloring the walls and open space. But August has no time to admire it, as he dashes through, almost knocking a few women and a potential customer over. The men behind him do more damage, not that he turns to look back.
He turns away from the market and the streets become more bare. August slows to a jog, noting the rough stone that makes up the walls. He looks around for his pursuers, just in time to get body slammed by one. He hits the ground, rolling to stand. He turns around and blocks a punch. He kicks the leg of his pursuer in, then grabs his arm and twists it. The second pursuer attacks from behind, but August turns, putting his first opponent in front of him. He gets hit, then crumples to the ground. August hears a sword come out behind him. He knees the stomach in front of him, then spin kicks the second man in the head, drawing his sword simultaneously.
He stands, facing the third man, with his ninjaken out. The man has a curved blade. He observes August. Without a word, he rushes forward. August parries every stroke, but he soon tires. He’s not used to battling the form of his opponent. His sword is locked, then pushed down. August is kicked in the face, spinning to hit the hot cobble street. He spits out blood as he starts to stand up, only to be kicked again. He feels steel cut into his side, and he holds back most of his scream. He isn’t allowed to stand up, with the blade also embedded in the rock below him. His sword is kicked away from him. He tries to reach for his knife, when he realizes that is what is injuring him. His foe still holds his clean sword.
The other two stand up, having regained consciousness. August slowly loses his. He can’t focus on their conversation, so he looks at his surroundings, in too much pain to stand. The sky is bright blue against the tan stone and gaudy drapes. At a far end of the alley, a girl steps out. Realizing it is the same girl as before, August tries to motion for her to go away. A foot steps on him and he cries out. He sees a brown boot in front of his face, stepping towards the girl, as black fills his vision and he blacks out.
(Not really descriptive of the city, but I needed to know what August was doing in one part of a story.)