The Rise and Fall of the Ta Ta : Short Story

in #writing4 years ago (edited)

I have entered a short story slam and the heats are on Sunday! HELP! I basically mashed together all my Raven poems and so far have come up with this... yet my Raven poems, I now realise, span different time periods in my relationship with the Raven, so perhaps the stories do not add up so well... Thoughts welcome, as are opinions regarding the ending???? I think it needs a little more meat but I have a few days yet :)


“She stalled him right when he was flying, her Fabled-Phoenix wings of light and gold and purest crimson.”

The Ta-Ta had always been shrouded in legend. Some said he came at night, his gifts in the form of a secret elixir which he would spit down folks’ throats. Others said he wasn’t a he at all but a she, and still others were afraid, and said that any talk of any Ta Ta was to-be, ta-boo. It didn’t matter what they said. The Ta Ta knew who he was, and he definitely wasn’t a she, but that, my friend, is not the point of this story.

The Ta Ta lived in a cave - generally, and he was a raggedy fellow - mostly. To him the earth wasn’t to be hidden away like some mad, old aunt. It lived and breathed! In fact, it was just as much a part of the Ta Ta as the Ta Ta was a part of himself. In fact, quite often his feathers would be so caked in dust and dirt, that you really couldn’t tell which was which and who was who… Which suited the Ta Ta to a tee-tee, because the Ta Ta represented… Unity.

Unfortunately, the Ta Ta had become troubled. You see, the Ta Ta was a proud Ta Ta, but the people were a fickle people, and although it was true that the dirt he spat down throats could hardly warrant the title ‘elixir,’ spit it down throats he did, and that particular state of ecstatic unification that followed, was a profound and sacred gift to humanity and bore them much fruit. But herein lay the problem: There was no dirt under the finger nails of modern man. Mother Earth had all but been forgotten, and, of late, humanity had been refusing to swallow.

“What is a Ta Ta to do do?” The shunned soil had left a bitter taste in his mouth and, sitting on the floor of his little cave, the Ta Ta complained grievously. “These new people are not of the earth. They’re light as feathers.” He thought and thought hard, and became frightened for the answer was clear as day and dark as night: They had a new god.

“And every single barb of them, an immaculate manifestation of all the work that she had put in…”

“I must find this god’s muse,” the Ta Ta declared. “I must pluck her feathers bare so the people forget her as they’ve forgotten me. Peck, peck, peck, he gathered his soil, then, with throbbing dark wings, he cocked his head, and, though it be day, for he did come at night, he took to the skies.

It didn’t take him long to find his prey. Her wings they spanned the heavens and burned like fire. The Ta Ta began to seethe. No wonder his people had forgotten their place! He was shabby as rags and filthy too. He’d been a foolish Ta Ta, yet… He was a cunning soul and she was light and he was dark. So, preening his feathers, he flew higher and higher towards the Phoenix.

“And having soared so very high, so much further had he, To fall… Out of the sky.”

“Well, well,” he said as he flew alongside her. The Phoenix turned, stole a look inside his strangely hued eyes and, smiled. The Ta Ta smiled back, for over the years he had proudly honed and polished his skills, and many a time, even those who were, in every other respect, respectable, had fallen prey to his advances.

“Pray! What brings you to the heavens, my Raven?” The Ta Ta looked at her menacingly before replying, “Prey?” The Phoenix only giggled.

“She tricked him into trusting her, Then as he’d turned to face the sun, she’d swooped on him and plucked him bare, he’d ‘come too light to fend her off, he had no fight, Was not prepared.”

“Oh sweet Raven,” the Phoenix’s wings blazed mighty, “No croak will lay me down on heath soft as butter. I’m older than you, and wiser too, for the sun was begot before the earth began, and so it will go on after the earth has gone.”

“I see you’ve been working hard.” As he spoke, the Ta Ta looked down to where vast valleys pricked as mere goosebumps. “Oh yes,” the Phoenix answered. “The people love the sun. You are…” She turned once again towards him, eyes brimming with fire. “The Ta Ta. Am I not right?” At this, the Ta Ta turned away, for what he was starting to realise, was that the Phoenix was attractive, really very attractive indeedy. As he thought this, he felt the soil in his mouth begin to get hot.

“You wish to fly with me?” The Phoenix spoke again. The Ta Ta turned back, determined to be fierce, but her smile was a basket of moonbeams and he was bathing in her crimson-gold glow. He felt… light. “I think,” he therefore replied, “That if you would let me, then the Ta Ta would very much like to-to.”

“And as he fell, naivety cried, ‘Call out, bring Phoenix to your side,’ But Phoenix, she did not arrive.”

They flew, higher and higher, but as they did, the soil in the Ta Ta’s mouth burned brighter and brighter, the Earth beneath, shrunk smaller and smaller and the sun above became bigger and bigger and bigger… ‘Oh dear,’ thought the Ta Ta. He had to think fast. ‘I know,’ he decided. ‘I must kiss the Phoenix, make her know the power of the dirt I carry, then together we might return to the soil as one…

Without warning, the Ta Ta therefore spread his formidable wings and swooped on the Phoenix’s back, but before he’d even opened his mouth to deliver his gift, the Phoenix turned, a ball of fire to his heart of soil. “Shoo Raven, shoo!” She cried. “Don’t you know? A union that’s formed of the earth and the sun is taboo!” The Ta Ta shrunk away, only to realise his advances had come too late and he’d been tricked, and though he was smitten by unrequited lust for the sun, and so he would be forever more, his wings became as fire. Plummeting down, down, down, back towards his mother, his feathers burnt to dust.

"And all the time, his Phoenix flew away, his Phoenix flew away."

My blog is story telling, often in verse, and some of which includes tales of both living with, and crushing, seronegative arthritis. All work is original.

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This is beautiful and imaginative. It's hard to merge poetry and prose although I try it from time to time. This is a touching allegory and would work as well in prose as in poetry. Milton would use narrative and tell epic stories in verse. It's funny but I could see this working as a colourfully illustrated children's book because there's comprehension on different levels and that's what happened to Gulliver's Travels and Alice in Wonderland. Your tale is mythical and epic - but let me give you one word of caution - not everyone has educated sensibilities and a contest is only as good as its judges. Whether you win or lose don't let it break your heart, because this is good.

Thank you so much for your well considered reply. I've done this contest for a couple of years now and no longer expect to win. The winners always seem entirely random and last year the out and out winner (from An Audience perspective, )only got a second! I've changed the ending a little so it is more well-rounded( as in how the Earth now worships the sun.) I'm also going to try and learn as much as I can off by heart as I always feel that gives it a completely different slant and is better from a performance point of view. I'm just hoping to get through the heats at this stage. The first year I did this context the stories weren't very much but last year they blew me away. I had been foolish and only written mine the night before - I suppose based on the quality of the previous year . Lesson learnt! This is my second major re drafting and I've slept on it a few times :) by the way means a lot coming from you that you like it. I was trying to think who your writing reminds me of and I think it is Lee Child's. I think I am discovering I can only write fantasy :)

I can see that you have good insight into your art - that's important. We all follow different paths and you're right - your lane is fantasy. I didn't know about Lee Childs but after your comment, I read a New York Times article on him. His books look interesting and I'll try to get hold of one. Thank you!

I think from memory lee childs is very punchy with his prose. He's also a mega best seller!!

Oh,well then I'll take that compliment! Seriously though, his series of novels seem interesting and I am intrigued.

great post, full of meaning poetry

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Enjoyed this.. Thanks for sharing!

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