Yes, the title of this post is supposed to be loaded with meaning — spring-loaded with meaning, if you will: because this post is about spring, and it’s about first lines of stories — which are the spring-boards into the tales.
Before I get into all that and before I forget, just last night I re-watched the movie Hero, starring Jet Li. This is one of those movies that I think highly enough of to endorse here, and it’s one I like enough to own. That’s my highest recommendation. It’s a movie I wanted on my shelf, so that I can periodically re-watch it. Don’t let the casting mislead you: this is no mere martial arts escapism flick. It’s a beautiful and mythic work of art from beginning to end, like a painting that moves. The musical score is haunting, and the film’s theme is epic and of consequence; it’s one of those stories that makes you reflect on how you want to live your life.
It’s not a very long film, and it’s not hard to watch. If you feel like a foray into Chinese history and thought — and into an exploration of patriotism, loyalty, love, and the question of what defines a hero, check this one out.
A couple notes: the Emperor in this film, the King of Qin, is that same real-life historical Emperor who had all the Terra-Cotta Warriors made to be buried with him in his tomb.
Also, pay attention to the opening quotation on the screen. Also, the English translation of the character’s name “Broken Sword” is a bit misleading. His name is made of the kanji for “break” and the one for “sword” — so “Broken Sword” is one rendering, but it can also be understood as “Breaks the Sword” or some such. The idea is that he’s a man who has come to, as the film asserts, the warrior’s ultimate epiphany: that Peace is the best way. So this character has “surpassed” or “overcome” the sword. He has broken the sword and put it away.
Anyway, Hero, presented by Quentin Tarantino, starring Jet Li, Tony
Leung, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi, Chen Dao Ming, and Donnie Yen is an artful masterpiece. Two thumbs up.
Oh! — This is sort of explained in the movie, but when the candle flames whoosh and waver between Nameless and the Emperor, that indicates the waves of fury and hatred that are rushing out of Nameless toward his enemy.
Well, now, on to our main topic!
Spring is always the season when I yearn to do more reading and more writing. It’s a time of burgeoning creativity, with blazing summer just appearing in the distance, trundling down the road under a golden haze. So I thought it would be fun to roust out all the first sentences from my stories and line them up here for our mutual entertainment and especially inspiration.
Look at all these spring-boards into stories! Stories all begin (for readers) with a little string of words that gives us our first glimpse of the things to come. Here are mine, from nearly every one of my stories that I could remember, with a very few exceptions. They’re (almost) all here, published and unpublished.
If any of these stories catches your interest, remember that you can
always go over to my website (http://www.fredericsdurbin.com) and see the specifics: when and where it was published, and if you click on the story title there, you can even read a little thumbnail blurb about it.
If a story isn’t there, that usually (but not always) means it’s not published yet. If you have any trouble, questions, etc., please feel most free to write to me personally, and we’ll talk it over. In some cases I may be able to provide you with the story or direct you to where you can find it.
Ready? Here we gooooo!
Bad things were starting to happen again in Uncle Henry’s basement.
“The Fool Who Fished for a King”:
Alaric, the fisherman’s nephew, was a fool.
The old barn sang to Timothy.
“Ren and the Shadow Imps”:
Ren clutched his vest closed at the neck and shivered, although it was a summer night.
“Murik and the Magic Sack”:
Murik trudged deep into the forest, where roots twisted like slimy stairways.
“The Guardian Tree, Part 2”:
Far beyond the city, where birds still
sang ancient songs, the fey folk listened.
The winding stairway had never seemed so dark.
“The Place of Roots”:
Kirith had not been meant to ride the wind: I was sure of it.
“The Bone Man”:
It was hunger that made Conlin turn off the route.
“The Star Shard”:
Everything changed when the Wall of our world broke; the life we had known ended with the splitting of rock.
The Fires of the Deep:
Strange, Loft thought in the years afterward, that such a day could begin with the calm voice of water, a changeless voice on the day that everything changed.
A Green and Ancient Light:
As the American frontier moved westward, new homesteads blossomed in the clearings of the forests and among the prairie grasses.
“The Enchanted Mountain: A Tale of Long-Ago Japan”:
Another landslide had struck the village of Takakura.
“A Tale of Silences”:
Jii turned the carving in his weathered hands, pursing his lips to blow away a runnel of wood.
The Threshold of Twilight:
Trees outside the white frame house filled the kitchen with a lazy glow of sunlight and dancing green shadows.
Aunt Estelle wasn’t as bad as Shan had dreaded; it was her house that bothered him.
Faint moonlight glowed in the room, though the curtains were drawn.
Wind shrieked over the bleak rise, driving snow that swirled and stung the men’s faces.
The courthouse in Fillmore smelled old.
“Under the Tower of Valk”:
The garrison commander nudged the pale corpse with his steel-toed boot.
“Here About to Die”:
This is the day I am to die.
“The Bones of Oron-Dha”:
Red light flickers on the basalt blocks of the walls, the ceiling, and the floor of this temple of the dread god Arhazh.
“A Fire in Shandria”:
A grand and fearful thing it is to be summoned into the presence of Azanah the Queen: grand, for I am a mere sword-maiden of the Fifth Heilon, those who guard the city’s west wall, specifically the Gate of the Moon; fearful, for all know the Queen’s severity.
“The Last A’Hanti”:
“The Heir of Agondria”:
Fire sang as it surged through the wood-heap, the brilliant flames flowing, consuming, leaping high in the autumnal night air.
‘We are here!’ called Iloni over the ringing of swords.
Drums pounded in the night, the drums of the horse-clans of Hemath.
Quite a whirlwind tour, huh? I hope it’s had the effect of making you want to run to your bookshelf and dive into a good story — or maybe write one — and to enjoy the gifts of this season, when the world is trembling with ancient enchantment and nascent abundance. Petals are opening out there, and tales are to be born! Nurture them! Live them! As Garrison Keillor says: “Don’t sleep. You can sleep in the winter.”
I’m going to steal shamelessly a great concept I heard from Tandemcat
just now: we may write with ink on paper, but we also write in people’s lives, through our interactions with them. I like to use this quote in my classes from Tennyson’s The Princess:
“Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow for ever and for ever.”
I know this is anticlimactic, but an urgent message needs to be conveyed: I continue to hear from readers who have just recently discovered the “comments” aspect of this blog. If you don’t know about the fact that you can read other readers’ comments and leave your own (if you want to — no obligation!), then I’m happy to tell you that your enjoyment of this blog can easily double or triple! At the end of every posting or entry, you’ll
find the word “comments.” Click on that, and you can read what others have said. Leave your own if you feel so inclined! (If you’re doing it for the first time, your comment comes to me for approval, so there may be a slight delay before it appears.) I tell you the truth: if you’re only reading my entries, you’re missing out! You’re only sailing on the ocean’s surface, and you have all the wonders of snorkeling and SCUBA diving ahead of you! Come join us on the seamy underside of the blog. . . .
Happy May Day!