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CLOSER TO THE TRUTH • by Oonah V Joslin

With the caution of a hunter, Brian approached the diminutive figure standing by the dark tree-line of firs. No need to startle her. She might run for cover. He was close enough now to see her back to him, to hear her whisperings and see the soft, white vapour of her breath rise like a spirit released. She was looking up steadily into the October sky, holding her thin cardigan stretched over her fast at the neck with both hands.   Like a saint at prayer she looked. Like an angel on the grave of a child, her gaze fixed on heaven. She was little more than a child herself.

Brian stepped on a twig.

“Have you come to take me back?” she said without turning.

“Is it me you’re talking to, Mary?”

“Aye, it’s you.” She didn’t move at all–just kept staring up at the cold stars. The wildness had gone from her eyes. She seemed calm now but her face was stained with tears.

“What are you looking at, Mary?”

She pointed to the equatorial plane.

“What is it?” she asked.

“Shooting stars. The Orionids. They happen every year. And that’s Orion, Mary.” He closed a bit on her, crouched and pointed. “Those three bright stars are his belt.”

“It’s a he?”

“Yes. The Hunter. He was a bit of a womanizer, Orion–always out to impress the girls–not a bit like me…”

Mary sniffed and giggled and looked at him.

Eye contact. That was a start, he thought. “So anyway, Orion bragged he could kill any animal, thinking this would get him a wife, but all his tearing about didn’t sit well with the women and their fathers only thought he was a big-head. But he was irrepressible, Mary, and do you know what he did?” With one hand Brian gestured to the other two with him that they could retreat. “He threatened to kill every wild animal on the earth. The earth goddess wasn’t happy about that and she sent a scorpion to bite him on the foot and…”

“He killed it?”

“No. It killed him. But the gods felt sorry for the shortness of his life and put him high in the sky with his two dogs to hunt the bull forever and they put the scorpion far away from him so that it couldn’t harm him ever again and he couldn’t harm it.”
 
Mary wiped her face with a fistful of cardigan. “It’s not true,” she said.

“No. Orion is really a vast region of space covering light years and full of stars and places where stars are born and if you approached it, it would look nothing like it does from here. You would be past some bits of it before you got anywhere near the others–they’re that far apart. It would be like you were inside a giant snow storm frozen in time all around you, above and below, and different from every point of view. But to us he’s the hunter. And it’s a good story, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

He stood up. She wasn’t going to run. “The way I see it, there are as many stories as there are people, Mary. Same star field, different points of view.”

“Do you think we need all those stories?”

“I don’t know, Mary. What do you think? Maybe it takes all the perspectives together to make up the truth, and the more stories we know, the closer we get to it.” He took off his white coat and slipped it over her shoulders. “Shall we go in now? And tomorrow if you like we can come out and look at Orion again and maybe you’ll tell me your story, Mary. Deal?”
 
He placed one hand on her shoulder directing her away from the woods across the frosty grass in her bare feet, towards the well-lit buildings and the warmth and safety of the ward and tomorrow.


Oonah V Joslin lives in Northumberland, England. Winner of the Micro Horror Trophy 2007. Most read in EDF, Jan 2008. Guest judge in the Shine Journal 2008 Poetry Competition.   She has had work published in Bewildering Stories, Twisted Tongue 8 & 9, Static Movement, and 13 Human Souls. She has work coming up in The Linnet’s Wings, The Ranfurly Review and Boston Literary Magazine. You can link to work, follow up-dates and contact Oonah at www.writewords.org.uk/oonah/.

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Posted on September 6, 2008 in Inspirational, Stories
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  • Avis Hickman-Gibb

    A wonderful story. Rich in imagery and with a satisfying ending. A clever link to the star fields of Orion, and individuals here on Earth. Like telling a child a story, but this was providing a link back to sanity.

    I was with Mary all the way. I hope she makes it.

  • K.C. Ball

    Oonah:

    I liked this; it has a gentle directness to it that I found enchanting. I gave it a five, even though I do have one small quibble. The story seems to be from Brian’s POV, but in the fifth paragraph we get a look at Mary’s face, even though her back is to Brian.

    K.C.

  • http://sarah-crawl-space.blogspot.com/ Sarah Hilary

    I remember this one well, Oonah. It deserved a great home and I’m glad it found one.

  • Fionnuala

    This was a beautiful well crafted poignant tale.

  • http://www.tommybsmith.com Tommy B. Smith

    An excellent piece. From start to finish, I enjoyed the setting and the dialogue.

  • gay

    “Do you think we need all those stories?”

    Yes, and we need more Oonah stories too. Lovely.

  • http://canyonsofgray.blogspot.com dj barber

    A nice little tale. Good voice and flow.

    –dj

  • http://www.writewords.org.uk/oonah/ Oonah V Joslin

    Thank you all for reading. Gay, :) Sweet of you. I’m sure we need every perspective too.

  • Mark Dalligan

    Beautiful read.

    Cheers

    Mark

  • Robin

    Ooooh, excellent, Oonah, I loved it.
    “Maybe it takes all the perspectives together to make up the truth, and the more stories we know, the closer we get to it.” – Beautiful. Keep telling them.
    Robin

  • http://www.writewords.org.uk/oonah/ Oonah V Joslin

    Thank you Mark and Robin.

  • http://gretaigl.blogspot.com/ Greta

    Lovely, Oonah. Beatiful imagery with a brush stroke of tenderness. Thanks for sharing it.

  • http://www.seahorse-design.com/wordpress Frank O’Connor

    Very nicely constructed and a good blend of complex themes. A memorable read.

  • http://www.writewords.org.uk/oonah/ Oonah V Joslin

    Glad you enjoyed it Greta.

    Frank, thank you. That makes it all worthwhile.

  • http://www.shamelesscreations.com Kevin Shamel

    Very nice, Oonah. Loved all the stories of it. Well told, beautiful, warm and cold, and a little frightening for poor Mary.

  • http://thepygmygiant.blogspot.com Mel

    Oonah, I was grabbed from the first few sentences, before I’d even noticed your name! This is compelling and beautiful. Thanks ever so much. Mel x

  • Nicholas

    Five star story, Oonah. A memorable story-within-a-story, told with the brevity of a fine poem.

  • http://writewords.org.uk/bill_west/ Bill West

    A five star read for sure!
    Poetic and beautiful.
    Well done.

  • http://www.writewords.org.uk/oonah/ Oonah V Joslin

    Kevin, Mel, Nicholas and Bill, – what can I say to that? You honour me. Thank you very much.

  • http://www.rumjhumbiswas.com rumjhum

    As always, a beautiful and poignant story, and as vivid as a picture. Thanks Oonah!

  • http://www.MadelineMora-Summonte.com Madeline Mora-Summonte

    It’s told with such a gentle voice that even the darker “surprise” ending comes with tenderness. Great work, Oonah!

  • Gerard Demayne

    Liked that.

  • http://www.writewords.org.uk/oonah/ Oonah V Joslin

    Rumjum, Madeline and Gerard, thank you for reading and for your appreciation. I also had an e-mail from Jason who said
    Hi Oonah – My comments always end up in EDF’s spam filter – so wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your story. It was one of the best on EDF in a good long time. Sweet and endearing and touching.

    Good luck with EDP

    Jason
    Thank you Jason too. My blogspot is OONAHVERSE if you want to leave a message there at any point or just browse.

  • http://www.theperfectblogtitle.blogspot.com/ Rena Sherwood

    Thanks, Oonah. Well done, as usual.

  • http://backspace.blog.me.uk Sylvia

    Touching. I wish he’d waited for her answers but then, he’s already very patient for a man in a white coat. I like them both. I wonder … will you be able to tell us her story?

  • http://www.writewords.org.uk/oonah/ Oonah V Joslin

    Thank you both. I’m glad you liked the characters.

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