Peer Review by Writers of the World (United States)

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in and out of the clouds (revised) #Helpme2020 #MagicalRealism

By: Wicked!


my grandmother says that the xarae are the children of fire and water. they live in the turquoise depths of the innumerable yagha in our land, lakes that formed in the hollow craters of perished volcanoes. but the fire of the xarae is all but dead, for it comes, as the tales say, from within their souls.

they are not what you'd call fierce, though they certainly look the part-- sharp claws, large wings, eyes as brilliant as molten gold and whip-like tails with tips that they can ignite in flames at will. as a child, i used to lie down on the soft green grass in the evenings, looking up at the flocks of xarae gliding in and out of the clouds, their lithe legs folded up under their golden bellies. sometimes i used to imagine myself flying with them, graceful, elegant, free.

my people consider the xarae auspicious, and it is believed that if a woman heavy with child sees her belly's reflection in the golden eyes of a xarae, her child will be as beautiful and elegant as one. many make the arduous journey to a yagha, hoping to see a xarae up close, hoping for a child just as perfect.

when she was heavy for the second time, my mother did too. before leaving, she had told me that within a month she would have a small baby, soft and supple, with whom i could play all the time. but she never returned.

grandmother told me that the xarae loved her so much that they kept her to themselves. when i said that i loved her more, grandmother went silent. other people said that she was blessed by the xarae. but i think that going to a volcano whose fire had died made the fire inside her die too.

‚Äčlying down on the soft green grass in the evenings, i still like to imagine her flying in the heavens with the xarae, gliding in and out of the clouds; graceful, elegant, free.

Message to Readers

Republishing for prompt 1 of HelpMe512's #Helpme2020 contest as well as The Great Gabs-by's contest. Go check them out!

Feedback. Please.

Peer Review

This piece is gorgeous and beautiful, bringing tears to my eyes. I love the way you told this story, using flashbacks of the past and events of their present. You give beautiful descriptions that give a memorable impact. I feel as though I can imagine the creatures and characters you give life, but also not quite completely wrap my head around it. There's a mystery behind the creatures. Also, the emotion and feelings expressed throughout the piece are amazing. You have a cause and effect thing going on and your sequencing is incredible.

If you were to expand, perhaps on why the mother didn't leave when she was pregnant with the first child. I feel as though this was the biggest unanswered question I had, that I thought out about through half the piece. For more depth, maybe you can expand on why the grandmother never did leave or follow them. Meaning, you give more background and depth to the grandmother's character.

Reviewer Comments

This piece was amazing! Definitely memorable and experience of its own. You created a new type of fictional culture that I really enjoyed!