Under Purple Clouds

Chapter One of “Walking Through the Past”

One of the sites I write at, Vocal.media, is running a contest in which you write the first chapter of a hypothetical magical realism book, starting with an assigned sentence. Below is my entry. It’s not a long read, maybe 5 minutes.

I’m not expecting to win the contest or anything as this is my first real try at writing fiction, but I would appreciate any comments or guidance in case I decide to try writing more.

Every night at midnight, the purple clouds came out to dance with the blushing sky. It was a stunning sight, on par with seeing the Aurora Borealis in person, and evey month, hundreds of people came to Elk Grove just to witness it. Initially, some townspeople wanted it fixed, but no one could figure out how. Then many started to find the display quite beautiful, and when it became a tourist attraction, everyone agreed to leave it alone.

There was an old high school tradition that each year, students would create some kind of a sky-show to celebrate graduation. Most classes went for animated writing, virtual fireworks or something to that effect – a display that could be seen from the ground – but one year, the students decided to try transforming the sky itself. The effect was only supposed to last for one hour that night, but it returned again the next night, and the next, and so on for the last 10 years.

Still, it generally made Janessa smile. The colours were beautifully harmonized, and the movement of the clouds was fluid and graceful. Tonight, however, she was finding it hard to smile. She snuffed out her cigarette in an old flower pot, pulled her cardigan a bit tighter around her and went back inside to a waiting N’Davi.

“Honey,” he started, quietly, “I know its hard on you, but we’re just not getting anywhere on this case.” His soft blue eyes pleaded with her. “Since we lost Brett, we haven’t…”

“I know,” she interrupted. “You haven’t been able to find another past reader.” She sighed and sat down next to him on the couch, it’s burgundy leather creaking with the movement. N’Davi put a comforting arm around her shoulder.

“We even brought in a spirit speaker, hon, but the spirit couldn’t help us. He hadn’t seen his killer, so he couldn’t give us any clues.”

Janessa took out another cigarette, created a small flame in her hand to light it and took a long drag. “You know I’ll do it,” she sighed. “I’m not going to let a killer get off just because it’s hard to watch a murder. I just would like…” she paused to take another puff. D’Navi nodded to her, encouraging her to finish her thought. “I’d just like to feel like I had the option of saying ‘no’… that… I don’t know, I just…”

“You just wish it wasn’t always you, right?” he asked, pulling her over closer and kissing her gently on the temple. He brushed her long blonde hair back from her face.

“Yeah,” she agreed. “We do it in the morning.” Janessa looked at her husband. You’d never know he was a cop, she thought. His blue eyes were kind, his broad smile gentle. Even his hair had a soft look to it, numerous black strands creating a frame around his face, the rest somehow managing to look casually windblown and perfectly sculpted at the same time.

“I’ll just send the boss a text so he knows to expect us first thing, ok?”

She squeezed his hand as he stood up, then pulled him toward her for a quick kiss. “Yeah, ok.”

She wandered into the bedroom and snuggled down into their large soft bed. A few minutes later, she felt her husband join her, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her close as the skies faded back to black.

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