Nightgale Challenge Week One: A Cure for Death?

5 Jan


Today is the first day of  Stevie McCoy‘s #Nightgale Challenge, a four week creative writing challenge based on immortality and Romanticism. Today’s prompt was this:

Through Hemlock

Keats: “That I might drink, and leave the world unseen, And with thee fade away into the forest dim:”(Ode To A Nightingale)


A Cure for Death?

She is in the woods when I catch up to her, sitting cross-legged on the dusty ground, completely relaxed despite the scene that she has just caused. When she is in one of these moods she cares little about anything but her own disjointed thoughts.

“What are you doing?” I ask her, knowing already that the answer will be far from satisfactory but needing to ask regardless, desperate for even one small glimpse into the bizarre workings of her mind.

“Thinking.” She responds dreamily, her eyes fixed on some far off point in the distance, on something only she can see. “About death. It seems such a waste, doesn’t it? There must be some cure for it.”

“A cure…for death?” Even for her this is strange. Strange and even more unwarranted than usual.

“Yes.” She is impatient now, as she so often is when others fail to understand her. “Something right under our noses, no doubt. Probably a plant.” She pulls a leaf absently from the specimen beside her, twisting it between her slim fingers.

“Well, not that one!” I snap, impatient myself, tired of her inability to reside on the same planet as the rest of us. “That’s hemlock. It’s poisonous.”

“Oh?” She shrugs, unconcerned, and the leaf spirals to the ground. “No matter. Another one perhaps. There must be thousands of plants in here.”

And then she takes off again, a blur of dirty smock and unravelling pigtails as she disappears into the gloom. I sigh and sit on the ground in her place, picking up the discarded hemlock leaf. My sister, my wild, impulsive, untameable sister, may have a point. If there are plants in here which can kill, why should there not be some which grant eternal life?


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5 Responses to “Nightgale Challenge Week One: A Cure for Death?”

  1. glitterlady January 5, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    The elixer of eternal life made from a plant on Earth, I see the begining of a quest/ adventure. Great character building in this, hopefully they stick around for the next challenge as well!

  2. Charles W Jones (@ChuckWesJ) January 6, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    What a wonderful thought, the cure for death. Sometimes it would be very nice. Thank you for this story.

  3. Emilia Quill January 7, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    I like the idea and logic, also the characters. I agree with glitterlady, the quest for the Plant of Youth would be interesting to read.

  4. David A Ludwig January 9, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    Fascinating, this almost felt like a dramatization of real events (though I have no idea what events those could be). Almost sounds like a dawn of medicine, with the first doctor and his crazy little sister/muse.

    I love the relationship and how he has to try to understand her even though he knows he’ll fail. And on top of that her frustration at being misunderstood–as it seems quite possible she’s more lucid than those around her with all involved just unfortunate victims of the discrepancy.

    Wonderful characters, though I notice I assumed the narrator was male and had no grounds for that other than it matching my gender.

  5. Nellie January 9, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    That is an interesting concept, where a girl would go on an adventure to find perhaps the one plant that would grant life instead of death.

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