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Submitted on
April 14, 2011
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     It began as a very small thing.
     Junior and his dad disagreed on an item made in their silversmithing shop.
     That shop was kept away from the family's houses, set up in an old outbuilding because of noise.
     Silversmithing was always too noisy for the dozen homes on the family's half-section of wood and meadow land.  
     The lapidary equipment alone made a terrible sound.
     Allie, Junior's wife, used that equipment to smooth rough turquoise and coral into stones ready for silverwork. She used a spinning grinder of damp and charcoal gray stone for her main work. When Allie put a stone against that, it sounded just like the machine it was. She used a smaller spinning buffer to polish stones.

     One Saturday, human voices escalated in the little, old shop about who owned a particular design.
     Even Allie, using loud lapidary equipment, heard Junior and his father argue. Naturally, curiosity won and she slowed her work, listening through a thin old wall of warped plywood, an ineffectual sound barrier. She heard Junior first.
     "Allie drew that design and gave it to me!" Junior shouted at his dad. "How can you call it yours?"
     "That's easy," Edward Senior said. "It's mine because I own everything in this shop. You work for me."
     "No!" Junior yelled. "Allie's my wife and her designs are mine! I made the first one! This one! You can't make more and call them yours!" Edward Senior seemed calm. But his was the calm in the eye of a storm.

     Allie listened. She knew which design her husband meant.
     It was the waterbird Allie sketched a few days ago.
     The piece was an inlay design made from chips of the semi-precious stones that flew off the wheel Allie used. The silverwork was intricate. The waterbird had an outstretched neck, open wings and a flared tail. It was really a cormorant. Inside it, bits of blue and red turquoise and coral were separated by tiny silver lines. It wasn't an easy design to make.
     Edward said, "I'll call anything I like in here mine, son. You can like it or leave."
     Junior left, rattling the old door on the shed when he slammed it.
     Allie turned her attention back to making jewelry shapes from stones.

     Junior and Edward had been on tenterhooks for days. Allie sent a silent prayer up that they'd soon forget about it. She knew there was a tipi meeting that night at the homeplace. It was always best to enter those at sundown with peace in the heart. Tipi meetings were solemn events. At least they were until after the ritual was over, when those who'd taken part sat and teased each other, joking after the following dawn. While the little silversmith area stayed busy because Edward and Junior were taking other roles in the tipi, other men prepared the tipi grounds, mostly smoothing the red dirt. Then they put a twenty-two foot high white tipi around it. It was a beautiful tipi. But that didn't help.

     No matter what, the real escalation still took place in the tipi meeting. Only Allie could see all that happened between father and son. Edward ran the meeting and held a position of power that way. Edward had power to spare no matter where he was, but in a tipi it was clearer to those who watched like Allie did.
     Junior was asked to be the fireman for this one, just as his father was asked to run the meeting.
     Junior was famous for making good fires.
     That night, Allie felt unspoken undercurrents between father and son, and soon she saw them.
     Edward began the meeting with Arapaho opening songs. At first the fire burned well, on the opposite side of the red dirt "moon" from Edward. Father and son had to sit on opposite sides of the tipi to do as they were bid. About fifteen men, from young to old, also sat up all night for the meeting, either because they were invited to the tall white tipi or because they'd heard about it. All were welcome, and each sang in turn when the waterdrum and staff were handed one to another inside.

     But then the fire and even the songs began to go wrong. Edward simply made the fire go out. Edward Senior could do it with a thought, so he did. The bad fire made smoke fill the tipi with discomfort and discord. Allie watched her husband struggle to make his fire burn again inside the crescent of the red dirt moon. And because Junior could, he did.
     Over and over before midnight, the fire went out and Junior fought to keep it burning.
     Allie knew this was the "witching" she'd heard older women talk about during the day.
     Junior used his "witch" power to make the fire burn well. Edward used his "witch" power to put the fire out.
     Allie poured her heart into songs she sang. She sang for peace and the harmony all tipi meetings must have. She sang for Junior and his father and everyone there. Some older men left the tipi for fresh air when the fire went out, and they left far too often. Allie and Junior did not. Junior only reached through the tipi door for more wood, stored ouside. Edward never left.
     Edward had to remain, both as chief of the meeting and to put the fire out simply by thinking it should be so. Their fight was obvious to Allie and she wondered if anyone else knew why Junior, a good fireman, suddenly had such trouble.

     At midnight everything changed. It wasn't because Edward was tired of his game. It wasn't because of Allie's songs. It wasn't because, besides the brief entrance of the midnight water woman, everyone had to stay in the tipi at midnight.
     It was because Junior won.
     Allie watched him build his fire hot for the midnight water, then make the exact cormorant out of the hot coals around the fire that was the silversmith design. It was amazing. Allie had never seen anyone do anything like it with hot coals before.
     Though she knew better than to watch a fire all night since it damaged eyes the way smoke damaged lungs, she was captured by the beauty of the cormorant in the burning coals and impressed by her husband's unknown skill.
     His father gave up then.
     Edward Senior knew it was time to quit the silent argument. He'd never seen such a thing either.
     After Junior made that midnight cormorant-of-coals, the meeting was harmonious.

    What a contest! Allie thought. And a very stupid one! Don't the men know what the women say? If witchcraft is used by anyone, it always circles back. It shows up either in the user's life, his children's lives or their children's lives, ever spiralling down that way. Why did they do it? Pride is a terrible thing. Creator, please let it stop! Make my plea enough for us!

     It was not.
     Junior gave Allie the only necklace made with that design.
     She put it in a drawer and never wore it. Yet after her happy life, once Allie died it was still there, free to give away.
     Her daughter wore the necklace, and she had trouble to spare.     
There are endless stories to tell, but I wanted to return to the cormorant written about in a (pretty bad) poem.
This is a narrative describing more about how American Indians sometimes do things.

There's little dialogue and more description. Does that work?
Is it easy to picture the small shop, the silverwork, the tipi?
Is the ending too abrupt?

Edits: 11/10/12


:bulletred: - for #theWrittenRevolution critique on 5/28/11 on "Hospital in Montobelluna, May" by ~cogongrass - :bulletred:

:bulletblue: - for #GimmeFeedback critiques on 7/9/11 on "Wanted dead or alive" by ~Timperial - [link] - "Reaper Music" by *CuteReaper - [link] - :bulletblue:
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At first, I really didn't understand what the story was about. Really, I thought it was about someone living in a small town until you started talking about tipis. Even then, I thought you were using tipi as a word substituting another. But once the idea of Native Americans set in, I understood the story a bit better.

The conflict in the story was what drove the piece from start to finish, and I enjoyed the way you introduced it.

You were able to display the arrogance and cockiness of the father in a wonderful way; I immediately knew I didn't like him, which shows that you didn't beat around the bush with your description of him.

I felt that Allie needed a more poignant role in the story. I understand that she held a symbol of peace in the story, and she was the original creator of the design Junior and Edward, so she was part of the original problem. But I think her role needed to be more profound in the story.

The one technical thing I saw was in:

"Allie poured her heart into songs she sang.
She sang for peace and the harmony any tipi meeting must have. "

This should be in its own paragraph, not on two separate lines.

I found the entire story to be fascinating. I'm not very familiar with Native American culture and this is only the second piece regarding Native Americans that I've ever read, mainly because it's usually not something I typically enjoy reading. The first - One Thousand White Women - didn't do justice for this type of story; your depiction of Native Americans did much more for their heritage, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

What do you think?
The Artist thought this was FAIR
4 out of 4 deviants thought this was fair.

It's certainly an original story idea, and not one I've ever seen before. Points for being original with a father/son conflict :D

Dialogue and Description: The dialouge did sound a tad scripted to me, what little there was. But it was so litte, thus it didn't take much away from the story.

The description though, I'd like to see more of and makes a nice walkover to your next question - is it easy to picture the settings? No, not really. I have no idea what a silversmithy looks like :XD: I don't know what the characters look like either for that matter. The only clear image we have is of the inlay design.

Before I get into the tipi meeting, there were two lines that confused me: "Some older me left the tipi for a breath of fresh air" and "everyone had to stay in the tipi then whether they liked it or not." Bit of a contradiction there.

The meeting itself though; I'd like a little more clarity concerning this power father and son seem to have. What is it? Are they the only ones that have it? Why did the father simply give up? I get that there's some sort of battle of wills going on, but those questions are very distracting.

The ending was a little abrupt, but not that much. I really do like the last line though, and the implication that the story goes on :)

What do you think?
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5 out of 5 deviants thought this was fair.

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Crazythewaytobe Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I think the small amount of dialogue and lots of description worked:) Pretty much everything was easy to picture and from the necklace`s passing on to the daughter after the death of Allie I don`t think the ending was too abrupt, to me the story itself seems like something people would tell around a camp fire.
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2013   Writer
DamonWakes Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012   Writer
I've been really trying not to get distracted from NaNoWriMo, but once I read a little bit of this I found I had to keep going. :XD: I think that's the main quality all writing should aspire to, so well done there.

With regard to your questions in the description, I didn't really think about any of those things. I might have liked some kind of mention of the tipi at the beginning (since it seems to be very important to the story), but I don't think it was missing, necessarily.

One thing I would suggest changing is the phrase "very evident." As well as being kind of clunky, it seems to me that it's not particularly meaningful: I feel like things are either evident or they're not. :shrug: I can't find a dictionary definition that supports that, but connotation is often just as important as literal meaning.
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012   Writer
Great advice. Just a word or two can make a lot of difference.

As for the tipi at the beginning of the story, I didn't think about mentioning it because it's pitched that day by other people.
I guess I should write that in the story.

You're doing NaNoWriMo again?

I wrote a new vignette in the past five days or so. Um. *shuffles feet*
DamonWakes Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2012   Writer
The tipi thing definitely sounds as though it would be worth including. Just a small mention near the start would help to build up the setting a little more, and I think it would round out the story in terms of structure.

I've never done NaNoWriMo before. I'm guessing you might be thinking of Flash Fiction Month, which was actually the main thing that persuaded me to give this a go. To begin with, I wasn't sure I could finish either one of them. ^^;
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2012   Writer
I added more after reading your first comment...but not until the fourth paragraph. And yep, I was thinking of FFM. And now I see you are trying NaNo. The two endeavors go together in my head, even with their differences.
DamonWakes Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2012   Writer
It's hard to remember exactly what you had before (and hard to read it as though it was totally new to me), but the tipi seems to be introduced a little more gradually now. You might like to have another look at that fourth paragraph, though: there's one typo ("littel"), and I think the fourth sentence could possibly do with some minor re-working. Something about the comma before "at least" doesn't seem quite right to me.

FFM and NaNo do seem to involve much the same sort of thing. I initially assumed that NaNo would be a lot harder, given the word count, but in practice they seem to be about even. :p It's nice to work on just one story, rather than thirty-one.
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2012   Writer
Made the fourth sentence two sentences, fixed the typo.

I ought to read some of your work if it's posted each day and see if I can help you as well. I feel slow tonight and dinner's ahead, but will asap. Okay with you?
DamonWakes Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2012   Writer
That reads better to me. :-)

If you want to, sure! It's not exactly polished, though: today I discovered that I'd misspelled the main character's name three times. Also, to avoid spamming people's message centres with chapters, I've only posted the first four on this site. Everything else is on Smashwords: [link] .
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2012   Writer
I'm sending you a note on what I've read on Smashwords so far. I'll keep the link, no fear.
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