Flash! Friday Vol. 2.7 Story – ‘No Regrets’

court_of_honor_and_grand_basinFlash! Friday is in its second year! This is my response to the seventh prompt (the above picture) since their anniversary. One hundred and fifty words was the limit (with a ten-word leeway). We were also required to incorporate ‘Destiny’ as a theme.

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‘No Regrets’ (158 words)

His sixtieth had arrived, but Charlie was alone, thinking of 1935, of Pearl. He withdrew the framed picture, hidden in a study drawer, and placed it on the mantel. Looking at it, he felt ill. Estranged daughters, three divorces, and a career spent manufacturing soap, yet this regret eclipsed them all.

The statue stood in all its monochromatic glory. Not an especially romantic spot, but it was where Charlie and Pearl had promised to meet following his tour of duty. His reasons for not showing were trivial at best.

Depleted, Charlie touched a hand to the photo. The image rippled at his touch and he flinched. What was this?

Drawing on reserves of courage, he offered a finger, then a hand, then his entire arm. The portal received him like a body of water.

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This world was colourless. Beneath the statue, an incredulous Charlie surveyed his twenty-something body. Pearl was smiling and waiting for him across the way.


Flash! Friday Vol. 2.6 Story – ‘Möbius Strip’

ImageFlash! Friday is in its second year! This is my response to the sixth prompt (the above picture) since their anniversary. One hundred and fifty words was the limit (with a ten-word leeway). We were also required to incorporate either a tiger or turtle into the story, literally or otherwise. To me, flash fiction is an opportunity to experiment, so this week I let my fantasy freak flag fly.

This piece received a positive mention from this week’s judge, Whitney Healy.

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‘Möbius Strip’ (159 words)

Kurt knew of the legends. Valhalla was the home of the damned, a prison, a footbridge to nowhere. Spurred by heartache, the Goddess had created it. Its twisted design represented her pain, tightly coiled and circling back endlessly.

Approaching, Kurt saw lost souls loitering against handrails, resigned to fate. The portal he’d travelled through deposited him in Valhalla’s centre.

‘Goddess,’ he called. ‘Do you hear me?’

Seeing that the voice belonged to a mortal, the Goddess appeared, pet tiger in tow.

‘Why have you come?’

Kurt looked at the tiger and squared his shoulders. ‘I know of your pain – I’ve heard the legends.’

‘And what of it?’

‘I offer consolation, companionship. You need not go on this way, torturing souls to quell your heartache.’

The Goddess scratched behind the tiger’s ear.

In her toothed grin, Kurt saw he’d been wrong. Valhalla’s twisted design did not represent the Goddess’s pain. It represented her fury, tightly coiled and circling back endlessly.

Review: ‘Doorway’

Image‘Doorway’ is a short story about grief. It features faintly supernatural elements, and has great pacing and characterisation.

There are three things in particular that I liked about this story:

  1. That it explored what it’s like to lose your family, or a parental figure. Even as an adult there is consolation in having parents (or aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc) as a safety net. When Google can’t answer my question, my parents are the next logical step. Morbid as it may be, I’ve often wondered (or more aptly, fretted) about what it would be like if this suddenly ceased to exist. Through Amy’s loss of her Aunt Zara, ‘Doorway’ explores this issue in a substantial and satisfying manner.
  2. The surprise developments that occur later on. Just when I thought I had these characters pegged, things started shifting. For a story about loss, there’s a real buoyancy to the narrative. Aunt Zara, in particular, brought a lot of humour.
  3. The economy of the prose. A lot of ground gets covered in this story, but you wouldn’t know it by its brevity. Zigomanis has a talent for implying where others would overstate. The relationships Amy has with her aunt and husband felt truthful and full of nuance.

I heartily recommend ‘Doorway’, and look forward to reading more by Les Zigomanis.

Flash! Friday #45 Story – ‘Saving Theo’

ImageMy response to Flash! Friday’s forty-fifth prompt (the above picture). Two hundred words was the limit (with a ten-word leeway). This one was tough! I hope you like it.

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‘Saving Theo’ (209 words)

Gretchen found a foothold and pushed herself up. Theo greeted her at the summit. Had he been waiting? Forgetting the stakes, Gretchen drew him in for an embrace.

‘Theo! I’ve missed you!’

Theo tentatively licked her cheek. Then his ears drooped and he pulled away. Gretchen looked up. Ursula the Witch stood across the way, her wrinkled face stretched into a grin. Theo cowered behind his master.

‘Child,’ said Ursula, ‘you’ve come.’

‘I said I would.’

Ursula smirked. ‘Do you have it?’

Gretchen reached into her pocket.

Ursula beamed. ‘Bring it to me.’

Gretchen held out the stone, allowing Ursula to take it. Theo barked in protest.

‘There,’ said Gretchen. ‘Now let us go.’
Ursula closed her fist around the stone. ‘How much do you know about this dog?’

Gretchen glowered. ‘I know he’s loyal. I know he returned alone after my father …’

Ursula held the stone to the light. ‘You think I killed him.’

Gretchen’s fingers grazed the handle of her dagger. ‘He went missing on this very trail!’

Ursula frowned. ‘You insolent shit. You’re not worth saving.’

This was Gretchen’s cue. She gripped Theo by the collar and made a break for it.

Ursula shook her head. Tonight, the malevolent Animagus, Theodore, would claim another victim.

Flash! Friday #40 Story – ‘Kin’

ImageMy response to Flash! Friday’s fortieth prompt (the above picture). Three hundred words was the limit (with a five-word leeway). Again, I composed this entirely on my phone (harder than it sounds!). To challenge myself, I departed even further from realism, which I suppose you would call my comfort zone.

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Kin (305 Words)

She’s here. I can hardly believe it. I always believed she would return, though her absence these last three hundred years had given me sufficient cause to doubt it.

She grips the handrail. Her knuckles are white. She has crossed this bridge before, but has no memory of it. Why should she? It was her choice to become mortal.

‘Kokoro,’ I say. ‘Welcome.’

She stops, braces, reaches for the staff at her side. Even in this primitive new form, her bravery is unparalleled.

‘Kokoro. It is I, the spirit of–’

She raises her staff. ‘The wise man in my village warned me of your treachery. I know what you are, Forest Spirit. I know what you’re capable of.’

For a moment, I am speechless. ‘It hurts to hear you say that, Kokoro. It is clear the mortals intend to use you for their selfish ends.’

Kokoro taps the planks with the tip of her staff. ‘Enough!’ she shouts. ‘I have come, Forest Spirit, to defend my village. Relinquish the Great Orb, or engage me in mortal combat!’

‘This is madness!’ I cry. ‘We’re family! You were born a spirit, like me. Don’t you remember?’

Kokoro lowers her staff a few inches. ‘I …’

‘Yes!’ I say. ‘Remember! You and I are kin. The mortals of your village don’t care about you. They wish to destroy me and take the Orb’s power for their own.’

Kokoro begins to cry.

Her lapse is just the opportunity I need. Taking the form of a strong wind, I blow her right off the side of the bridge. Just like last time, she shrieks and plummets to her death.

For their insubordination, I desecrate the mortals’ village. I expect Kokoro will return to challenge me again in another three hundred years. I wonder what form she will take …