Beacon in the Dark: ‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week #31 NEW Image Prompt. Join in the fun! #IARTG #ASMSG @pursoot #WritingCommunity
Hi everyone! It’s that time of the week again …fun flash fiction from Suzanne Burke. This week’s theme gave me a haunting feel. Here’s the short story I came up with >>>
Beacon in the Dark
The snow lays pristine, virgin. The heavy silence holds. The whole world wrapped in a blanket of cold and desolation. Or is that just my heart?
The twin swings hang limp and lonely.
Mocking my empty arms.
Then … a creak. Soft and barely there. My eyes shoot to the play area. But nothing has changed.
Now, the gleeful cry of a child flying high … higher than she’s ever swung before. Am I hearing things? Have I, at last, lost my feeble mind? I blink back the tears and fold my arms to ward off the cold … the horror.
I shouldn’t have come back here.
It’s a mistake.
Gently, the empty swings rock and creak in a breeze … that isn’t there.
Footprints dimple the snow.
Leather shows through a circular thaw—the perfect size for a young girl’s bottom. And the second seat copies its twin. As in life, so in death. Tears stream and sting down my icy skin. Even in my disbelief, my heart warms. Thaws.
Can it be?
Have my dear departed come back to me?
At some point, I find myself on my knees, half-sunk into the soft snow. My bones ache in tandem with the throb of my hurt heart. My thin nightdress clings to my chill-damp flesh. The daylight fades to grey, and a harsh downdraft promises another blizzard. The dead place inside my ribcage calls for the whiteout that the storm will bring. A clean slate … if only I could forget. But, no, how could I ever wish for my memories of you to fade? Oh, such sweet anguish to have known you—loved you—for four glorious years.
Full dark descends, and the snow glistens and glisters in the glow of the pregnant moon. A small hand slips into my left palm, and another on the right. I tighten my grip and hold those tiny fingers. Somewhere in the trees an owl hoots. Effortless now, I rise to my feet and wade through the deep snow, headed toward the woods.
Had I cared to look, I would have seen one set of footprints, not three.
A fresh blizzard buffets and blows. And then …
Behind, the snow lays pristine once more. The heavy silence holds, cocooned in the eye of the storm. The swings stand still, weighted with weather and sorrow.
At the tree line, a hand settles onto my shoulder. Heavy. Warm. The pressure halts my progress. A second hand joins the first, and together, they turn me to face my husband. Jack looks stricken—panicked. Then his gorgeous smile crinkles his mouth and eyes and he pulls me into his arms. Lips buried in my hair, he murmurs, ‘Come home. It will all feel better tomorrow.’
Lost in the wilderness of grief, I cling to my beacon in the dark and let him lead me home.
© Harmony Kent 2021
I’d love to know what you think of this short piece … so please don’t be shy and leave me a reply.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Please put your entry (or a link to it) in a comment HERE or email it to Sooz at her email address. by DEADLINE: 4pm EDT on Thursday, January 14th. Subject: Fiction in a Flash Challenge. If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to THIS page would be much appreciated.
UPDATE: The response to the prompts has been just wonderful. As a result, Soooz be sharing all entries received, and her own contribution on her blog AS SHE RECEIVES THEM. Rather than posting all of them only over a few days.
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