by thefourpartland

This evening’s flash fiction piece. I rather like the first and last lines, and how the piece has a sense of balance to it. As before, comments are appreciated.

The city sank into the autumn of its life. Glory had passed it by, a phase from its youth, and now it had settled into middle-aged expansion, growing fat and weary. Each day saw new construction, a new theft from the land around it as the city grew and grew. But as it grew, it turned inwards, eyes once focused upon distant shores now locked firmly to the gossip of the markets, and the sordid happenings in squalid apartments.

As the city turned away from the world, so too did the world turn away from the city. Trading vessels from other ports no longer called, overland traders found their way to distant markets, and even farmers began to find doing business with the city dull and unsatisfying. They wondered why this was so, and could find no reason for it that sprung instantly to mind, and so the farmers, being of stolid stock, returned to their tasks and their seasons.

Life continued on, and the leaves fell from the autumnal trees, leaving the city cold and unprotected from the fierce north wind. Fat, wealthy, and unprotected, the city was swept aside and into the winter of its existence by a barbarian tribe. The inferno lit the sky for many nights, a brilliant funeral pyre for a city and a people now dead or gone. And so the city hibernated through the winter, like so many other creatures, hoping to wake in the spring.

Unlike others, it did not find relief with the coming of spring. The city slumbered on, and greenery arose, sheltering the ruins from the harsh rays of the sun. Time passed, and many winters turned to spring, and the city had become a forest, with only piles of rubble to remember where there had been buildings. To those now alive, the city had become a mythical place of great wealth and long forgotten stories, magnified beyond its former status by the fog of lost knowledge.

Another age rolled by, and still the city slumbered on. But this was an age of great importance, for the world had changed around the sleeping city, and the devastation that had come to it came to many of its fellows. People fled from their ancestral homes, and struck out into the wild to find a new place to live, and at the end of this age, the city shook away the tendrils of long held sleep, and was born again, young and vibrant.

It was a city in spring, a city growing into the fullness of its life, and people uncovered more and more of the old city that lay beneath the ground, and used those stones and those tiles to build a new city. This new city did not remember the old, for too much time had passed, but it honoured its ancestor even so, built along the same lines and using the same stone. And so the city grew and grew, and moved from the urgency of spring into the full life of summer.

In summer the city flourished, and trade spread out from it like runners from a plant, placing many new seeds across the land. Throwing doors wide in welcome, the city enjoyed the passage of many foreigners and luxurious goods, and became renowned for the pageantry and cheer of its citizens. But seasons turn, whether wished for or not, and the city sank into the autumn of its life.


  1. Gracie on 09.17.2010

    I can just feel the turn of the seasons and the unspooling of time. Beautiful descriptions. This is surely a place of power, that people are drawn to build here over and over without remembering why.

    Excellent tale, and I love the repetition of the first line. Poetic piece.

  2. John Wiswell on 09.17.2010

    Cities are too grey for me. If this is overgrown, even in its autumn, I’d like to visit. It’d be a refreshing change from supposedly healthy concrete jungles.

  3. Alison Wells on 09.17.2010

    Beautiful writing as usual. Nice way of aligning the rise and decline of place with the movement of seasons.

  4. Deanna Schrayer on 09.18.2010

    I love the poetic feel of this and the way you tie the first and last lines together. Beautiful.

  5. Rachel Carter on 09.19.2010

    This is fabulous and contains so much in such a small piece. I particularly like the romanticised vision of the city many years later despite its history – because of the ‘fog of lost knowledge.’ This could be a chronicle of a city almost anywhere in the world.

  6. The Four Part Land on 09.19.2010

    I’m currently near the end of a well done story (Courts of the Sun) that by and large takes place in Mayan times, and this piece and that book seem quite interrelated. How people see the ancient cities through a prism of hundreds of years of development, and how they build a fog of knowledge and of things that once were and are no longer.

    @John I’m not a city person either. I only got to them when I have to. Otherwise, give me the country and the greenery.

    @Alison I can hardly take credit for the idea of seasons to represent stages of life, but thank you.

    @Deanna/Gracie For whatever reason, I seem to like having the first and last lines be the same. I’ve done it several times, and will probably continue to do so. I suppose history repeats itself, in writing and otherwise. And there are certain spots, be it because of wind, current, water, or otherwise that humans come back to over and over and over again, until they have been inhabited for a thousand years or more. I like to think this was one.

    @Rachel I suppose this is my history background coming through. How if you poke around a bit, you find that many of the great tales of a city or a nation’s founding were added later down the line to rebuild the image of a once great idea, or to glorify an ignoble beginning. Building atop a massive graveyard by stealing the headstones would be one of those.

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