They say you can’t go home again — but in today’s story, making that effort might be Daring Do’s most important adventure yet.
When The Levee Breaks
[Sad] • 6,581 words
Daring Do returns to the Riverlands, the home she left behind years ago. On the road to the farm where she was born, she wonders if you can ever truly escape the past. Sometimes, the river comes up, the levee breaks, and you have no place to stay. No amount of crying can stop its inevitable progress.
FROM THE CURATORS: Many Sad fics tug at the heartstrings, but there’s something special about this tale of a wandering archaeologist returning to her roots. “I literally broke down crying,” Horizon said. “It is rare literature that gets me that invested, but Levee’s sense of place, its rural despair and displacement, just sucked me right in.” We all agreed on its exemplary approach to that homecoming. “It’s a very emotional story,” JohnPerry said. “It’s full of regret and loss amid the core theme of ‘you can never go home,’ but it always feels right in its tone. Never overwrought or sappy, but with a distinct maturity that makes one feel that Cynewulf knows what he’s talking about.”
That power alone would have earned it a feature, but there was even more to appreciate here — such as the story’s tightly-woven presentation. “Everywhere in the story the themes layer on top of each other like fertile flood-plain soil,” Horizon said. “The ambiguity and pain of outgrowing your roots, and confronting it all at once like lancing a boil. How Daring’s childhood made her what she is, and the inexplicable difficulty of leaving that behind. The river that claims ponies, and the cycle of life it creates.”
The author’s “magnificent writing,” as Present Perfect put it, illuminated both the landscape and its characters. “One thing Cynewulf does consistently well is use the smallest hints — a raised hoof, a distant gaze, a wordless glance — to advance characterization,” Chris said. “I was surprised by how well I got to know Daring, and not just through the flashbacks.” JohnPerry agreed: “There’s a nice bit of worldbuilding, and the characterization of Daring in this one is very solid.” Horizon went even further: “This story is Cynewulf at his finest. It reads like something out of Steinbeck.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Cynewulf discusses philosophical waifus, roiling mental seas, and the Hedgehog’s Dilemma.