this... this was absolutely magnificent. First of all, cudos for writing such a great story in just 500 words. I could never do that. And even within these 500 words, there is so much detail. You really did well with this one.
This paragraph did me in:
I apparated to the forest for the first time in April, the air heavy and my shoulders hunched from something stuck between despair and denial. The evergreens towered over me ominously like guardians to the Underworld, tiny beads from the rain the night passed greeting me, clinging to my robes as I pushed past the branches. They decorated the cotton, rich like pearls. As the light faded, the great trunks seemed to have clustered together, as though they were cowering under their canopies, children beneath their blankets, hiding from the approaching night.
The description of the forest where she lays was haunting and beautiful, as if the protagonist's entering a new world. There's some sort of fairytaleish, dreamlike sense to the air, of an undiscovered world. It came together nicely with how the protagonist was feeling as he/she visits her resting place for the first time.
Also, the repetition at the beginning and at the end was very powerful:
If I close my eyes and I lay where you lay, we are almost touching.
First off, that sentence is gahh heartbreaking - but it seems that the protagonist has to assure himself/(herself?) that Bertha Jonkins and him are still close, that she isn't totally gone. I loved how you made it the tale of the brother and sister. Of how there was a balance that couldn't be restored. That demonstrates the effects of war perfectly, how family's are affected by war.
I liked how there wasn't that much focus on the protagonist, but more like on the side effects of Bertha's doings - her childhood, her foolishness and eventually her death and how they affected the siblings. There is a bitterness in the protagonist's words, and yet so much love for her as he lies on the ground to feel closer to her. Also, this is the first time he's gone to see her on her travels, on her last travel. That was kind of neat. And the napkin bit... Brilliant.
I loved this little piece, especially the fact that it was about Bertha Jonkins who is probably the last person I'd ever read anything about, but now that I did, I can't see why I ever thought it boring. This was magnificent, dear. 500 words of pure brilliance. Well done!
(This is nearly as long as the one shot... hehe sorry! :D)
Author's Response: Thank you so, so much for such an amazing review! Ohmygosh, just thank you, I am so flattered right now!
I am so glad that you liked this. Of all my pieces I think it is this one I am most proud of, which is saying a lot because normally I hate everything I write :P I really wanted to create like a numb and hollow atmosphere about this, and really make it all about Bertha and emphasise the loss in it. I picked Bertha because there's so much to her that is just never explained and her death has to upset someone, even if Ludo Bagman just scoffs and makes jokes about her... I loved the challenge too, because normally I don't write things that are very long anyway, and it made everything seem very neat and tidy :) Oh god, I'm rambling, because HONESTLY, I am just overwhelmed and so flattered. Just, thank you so much!
AHH. THANK YOU. Laura xxx