Heaven In The Meantime

Author: Dwimordene

Nominator: Starlight

2011 Award Category: Drabble: Drama - First Place

Story Type: Drabble  ✧  Length: True Drabble

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: There is no news from Minas Tirith for one left behind: between death and heaven lies Pelennor and its detritus.(100 words, written for B2MEM 2011. See notes within.)

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Reviewed by: Himring  ✧  Score: 10

This drabble is part of Dwimordene's "Ailos and Sunny" series about two deserters in the War of the Ring, one from Gondor and one from Harad, which started with "Beyond the Pale". In this drabble they are not named--in fact, they could be any pair of deserters, any that have mothers they might call out for in sleep--for it is asleep they are found by the protagonist, an original female character who does not know them or any of their history. She is clearly a brave woman, although that is not made much of here: many a solitary widow who came across a pair of half-starved desperate men in the fields, asleep or not, might consider her own danger rather than whether or not to brain them with a shovel for their transgression. The series as a whole appeals to me partly because of the choice of characters--there are some near-deserters in the Return of the King, of course, but otherwise I don't think they figure all that much in Tolkien fic, except occasionally those that turn brigands and such and end up putting themselves unquestionably beyond the pale. I also like the narrative style and how Dwimordene uses it. I believe she is referencing some of the background of the Beloved Sons 'verse (although probably not in this particular drabble), but she uses it in such a manner as to enrich and not to mystify. This drabble itself, showing the decision of a woman to spare and even succour those she feels betrayed by as a mother and citizen of Gondor--who does not know yet whether her own sons live or have fallen in the War!--, is a great plea for humanity in spite of pain and loss. I hope Dwimordene continues the series, but whether she does or not, this drabble will certainly remain one of its most moving scenes.

Reviewed by: Starlight  ✧  Score: 10

One of the things I admire most about Dwimordene's work is her ability to see the events from many different points of view, and to show those points of view with such poignancy and feeling. This vignette showcases a crisis moment in the journey of two boys-- two deserters-- one haradrim, one dúnadan, who have stumbled upon each other and, as reluctant companions, undertake a march they themselves don't even know how to end. So many things call to me from their story! I find myself thoroughly fascinated and intrigued by their struggle, both external and internal (where duty, pride, prejudice, curiosity,  humanity, rage, all take a part and dominate at different times)  and how practicality and their survival instinct have seemed to win for a while as they make their way together. Where they will end is still unknown (but I've had a great time speculating about it. I love this series of dabbles!), but, at this point in their wanderings, they are at Morien's mercy. Enter another fascinating character! As a woman and a mother, I find this scene extremely wrenching, and Morien's choice to withdraw a tribute to her worthiness, for she is a heroine who has managed to conquer herself in such a pass. As a human, as a citizen of Gondor, as a survivor, as a woman, seeing those two together is repulsive in every way. But, as a mother, she cannot but walk away and leave them to lie undisturbed. She has held children in her arms, has nourished them, has nursed them. The pain of such a bereavement she cannot inflict upon another woman, and she does not, though she cannot find it in herself to forgive. And that is all right, for now. What a fascinating look at humanity, at life! I love everything about this Drabble, and the series it is a part of. Thanks, Dwimordene, for such thought-provoking insights into the human spirit.

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 9

I should start out by saying that I loved ["Beyond the Pale"]. It was one of my favorite entries in last year's MEFAs, and this sequel takes those wonderful themes from the first story and expands on them. And being that this is a Dwimordene drabble, there are layers upon layers of meaning wrapped up in only a few words. In this case, those layers of meaning find expression in a conflicted widow whose sons have gone to war. And what I like best about this widow is that she embodies a very day-to-day outlook. I imagine many left behind in Minas Tirith would have taken up such a perspective, because to look too far ahead would be dangerous. It would invite painful hope or crippling despair. But that changes for Morien when Dwimordene introduces her to the two children deserters. Initially, she sees the Southron as the enemy she's come to hate, but in recalling her absent sons, she catches a glimpse of that future that Minas Tirith must have been avoiding: some will march home, some will crawl home, and some won't come home at all. To be honest, I would run, too. And I like that she's just as conflicted in leaving as she was upon finding the deserters. A brilliant follow-up, Dwimordene!

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 3

Like the beast of drabbles, "Heaven in the Meantime" has a lyrical quality to it, almost like poetry without the line-breaks. There is hatred, and ample justification for hatred, but also empathy if not quite forgiveness. A lovely addition to the Beyond-the-Pale verse, and a nice look at how war affects the survivors.

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 3

A haunting and troubling look at a woman's discovery upon the Pelennor. Her reaction is understandable, and I love the way the author has portrayed her here--it fits oh so very well.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 3

Morien’s own sons died upon the Pelennor. When she finds two apparent deserters asleep in a corner of the field for her steading she feels fury—until…. Poignant and vivid, as Dwim’s prose usually is. One truly feels with the bereft widow—and the drowsing youths she stumbles upon.

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 2

Startlingly thought-provoking and emotional for a brief tale. This tale reminds us that war affects the ordinary people just as much as it does the great. Nicely written!

Reviewed by: Altariel  ✧  Score: 2

A truthful and bitter glimpse into the aftermath of war, and of those left behind to grieve and to wonder who has lived and died, and how.