An Author’s Corrections: It’s Broomsedge, not Fescue
When I wrote No Qualms I described the shadeling as having hair that resembled fescue. That’s because I’d always thought the grass I had in mind was fescue. Recently I learned that it is in fact a grass commonly called broomsedge (possibly Andropogon virginicus). It might be a different species. There are several that look similar, but the point is that fescue looks nothing like this grass. And so the image I drew up in my mind and tried to relay to the reader’s mind would have been completely wrong, at least if the reader knew what fescue looked like.
Most likely the average reader won’t know what broomsedge looks like either, but I hope from the passage it’s easy enough to imagine that it’s a grass or weed or plant of some sort that the narrator is referring to. Fescue or broomsedge, it won’t matter to most readers. But to the few who might read it who know, it would. And it matters to me. At least if it’s a different variety of broomsedge, the reader can come close to imagining what I had in mind.
The pictures below are of broomsedge. This is the imagery I drew upon when writing the character Dannae. An excerpt from the story showing where I used the description is below the photos.
An excerpt from No Qualms:
“It took you long enough to stop by,” a voice said.
I froze. Dammit. I hadn’t found even one root yet. I stood slowly and looked around. No one was there. He might not be visible yet, but I knew the vile creature had come already. “Who’s there?” I asked into thin air.
I didn’t have to pretend to be scared. My heartbeats were so loud in my ears right then I wouldn’t be able to hear approaching footsteps. Touching my pocket again to feel for the bloodroots I’d gathered earlier, I reassured myself. Knowing they were there helped me to calm down.
The calm didn’t last.
“Me,” the voice said, causing my heart to leap into my throat again. “I’ve thrown out an etheric hook every time you passed. But did it help? Nooooo. You just kept on driving like you didn’t even feel them.”
Oh, I felt them alright. Not that he needed to know, but I went home and cleansed myself of them every night. “Who are you and what do you want?” It took all of my willpower to make my voice sound calm and confident. My every instinct shouted to me to run, to get away from this place. But that wouldn’t solve anything. This had to be dealt with now.
“I want you to come closer so I can better see you.” A form finally materialized in front of one of the more spindly maidenwoods. He was a short rail of a man busily nodding at me in the dappled evening shade. His gaunt face creased with something sort of like a smile, if you could call it a smile. It might have been a toothy grimace. He stood with his skeletal hands clutched into fists in front of his chest, head still bobbing away. “Some people listen to their instincts. Not you. What took you so long to stop?”
“These hooks you threw – is that what you’re calling instinct?” I asked as I backed a few steps away from the shriveled man. I knew what he’d been doing. Those hooks grabbed my instinct and made it react, but that wasn’t instinct itself. I knew better than that. Only ordinary people made a mistake of thinking it any sort of natural inclination.
His too bulbous head was nearly bald except for a few bunches of stiff yellow hair standing here and there like broomsedge gone to seed. A smattering of brown liver spots danced across the top of his scalp when he raised and lowered his eyebrows.
“Smart one, aren’t you?” He shuffled a few steps in my direction but then stopped short. He cocked his head and looked back at the tunnel looming behind him and then down at the ground beneath his feet. A quick frown passed over his face before he dismissed it and reassumed the fake smile.