Downfall Valley – By @ClancyForrest
By Forrest Clancy
When we turn in our portfolios at the end of the year, many of us will have what’s called a “Side Hustle” at the back of our book. It speaks on behalf of our passions outside of advertising. As a copywriter, mine is writing. I am yet to pin down a specific style, so as we approach portfolio day, I imagine I will put a range of short stories that I have written. Here’s the beginning of one that I hope to put in. It’s a children’s short story, and it’s called Downfall Valley.
My father, William Gray, was a politician. At least that’s what my mother always told me. I never met him. He supposedly died a year ago on his way home to meet me for the first time. I never found out what killed him, but my mother said it was the long journey.
“And that’s why he never, ever visited,” she huffed, a tear rolling down her cheek. “He never should have worked there in the first place. Washington is so far away.”
She was precisely the opposite of a strong woman, which made it gut wrenching to watch this bereavement weigh down on her tiny little heart. But I should have known better back then. Ten years? That’s far too long for a married man to not come home. But that doesn’t matter now because six months ago I found out what my father actually was: a Union spy. That became apparent to me just before Christmas, when an unholy man came to Downfall Valley.
Our house was a lonely, wood cabin standing in the trough of Downfall Valley. It was modestly sized; large enough for a family but it certainly didn’t impose on the land that surrounded it and it was not the kind of place that travellers stumbled upon accidently. Nobody lived in the whole valley apart from my family. It was private land and had been ours for generations. The man who had settled it, a distant descendant of ours, was called Theodore Down and he had once said that all things fell in the valley. Be it the seeds of spring, the rain of the summer, the leaves of autumn or the snow of winter. That’s how the valley got its name, Downfall.
At this time of year, Christmas, it was snow that fell and the valley was full of both darkness and light. Along with some of the most beautiful views in all the Blue Ridge Mountains, came many hidden undulations in the shadowy depths of Downfall. In a hike from top to bottom, one could come across open white flats of snow at the peaks, or dark, woodland sheltered ravines where the slush collected at the bottom of the slopes. The winters here were not too cold, and that’s why there was a constant slide of melting snow from top to bottom, which made avalanches more than common.
Rather characteristically, it was both dark and snowing the night that the man interrupted my life forever.