Flash Fiction

This week, another redo. I promise to bring you something fresh next week.

But first, I’d like to revisit one of my favorite short stories. It’s simple and quick, with a nice little reveal at the end. I like the punchiness of it.

I made only minor edits to the original. Enjoy.

tender embrace

“You’re mucking it all up,” he said.

“That’s a point of view,” she replied.

“No, that’s a fact.”

She sighed. “I forget how difficult it is for your kind to distinguish perception from reality.”

“Perception is reality,” he said.

“Thank you for making my point.”

He opened his mouth to speak and then thought better of it. After a moment’s reflection, he wagged his index finger and said, “None of that. None of your riddling. I’ll not allow you to turn this into a war of words.”

She smiled benevolently at him. “What sort of war would you prefer, sir?”

He blustered, his hands forming fists and his cheeks turning red. Along the left side of his forehead, just above the eyebrow, the thick thread of a single vein could be seen. It looked ready to burst.

He held a book in his right hand. Reflexively, he lifted it and began to sift through its pages.

“That trinket will do you no good here, sir,” she said casually.

“Trinket? Why, this is–”

“I know full well what it is. I don’t come to your home and insult your intelligence. I’ll thank you to show me the same courtesy.”

“No,” he said. “You merely come to my home and kill people.”

It can be so difficult to explain to a human, she thought. “I don’t kill.”

He hefted the book before his face with two hands as though its weight required a double grip. “I said in the cutting off of my days,” he read, “I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years.”

She made a small gesture and the book lifted out of his hands. He stared at it, awed and terrified. She made a second gesture and the book closed on its own and floated to her.

“What makes you think I’m the one who deprives you?” she asked.

His eyes remained transfixed on the book.

“This,” she said looking down at it. Her fingertips ran along the leather spine. “Yes, this is sacred. This is truth. This is so much more and so much less than your kind understands. What it says about me most of all. Sir, answer me, why do you blame me? Why seek me out? Why try to stop me from performing my duty?”

“You are the enemy of man,” he said. “You must be stopped.”

She smiled at him again, not unkindly. “Let me ask you a question. You say you sought me out?”

“Yes.”

“To stop me?”

“Yes.”

“Under what circumstances would I meet with a man, face-to-face?”

He recoiled in shock. “No . . .”

She moved forward and placed a hand on his shoulder. Looking gently into his eyes, she said, “Yes, my dear, sweet, noble man. Yes. It is already done, else you would not be here.”

And then Death wrapped her arms around him and held him tight in her tender embrace.

Flash Fiction

I’m sorry for the fiction hiatus. It’s been a long month, full of ups and downs. Most weeks I’ve just been too drained. I’ve started a few stories, but finished none.

And this week, I’m cheating. Sort of. I’m dusting off an old story originally published on my site all the way back in 2012. I’d forgotten about it, but I like it. Quite a lot, actually. It’s got a nice sense of balance.

So, with a few edits, here it is. Enjoy it, and forgive the repeat. It’s not like you’ve read the original, anyway.

leaving the fold

“Ester, you must go to The Binding. You must. Jedidiah will be sorely vexed if you do not.”

Ester looked into Rahab’s eyes. She’d known Rehab all her life. Until three weeks ago, she’d never spent more than a few hours outside her company. That was before she wander away from the group in town. They were buying supplies.

That’s where she met Eddie.

“You were named for a whore,” Ester told Rahab. “Have you ever thought to ask your Pa why he named you that?”

Rahab recoiled from the words. “She’s in the geneology of Matthew,” she whispered. “She saved God’s people.”

“And she was a whore.”

Rahab’s lip quivered, her eyes filling with tears.

“The Binding . . .” Rahab said, still reeling.

“I’m not going.”

“But you’re promised to Jedidiah. You’re to be his wife.”

“That’s not going to happen.”

“But the elders have decided it. It is God’s will. It is God’s way. It is –”

“Not my choice. I’m not going.” Ester looked into Rahab’s eyes. Her friend was badly shaken. She sighed.

That first day, meeting Eddie, it had been the same way for her.

“What the fuck you dressed that way for?” he asked.

Her cheeks turned red at the use of the devil’s tongue, but she talked to him anyway. Perhaps her heart was already gone, even before her feet were willing to follow. It certainly hadn’t taken Eddie long to convince her.

She only wanted a few things – a necklace that had been her mother’s, a couple of dresses, just until she could get some normal clothes, and her dowry. It was, after all, more than ten grand. Enough to buy freedom and a new life.

“You can come with me, Rahab. If you want.”

“What? Leave home? Leave the fold?”

“It’s all shit anyway,” Ester said.

“Such profanity!”

“They’re just words. Come with me. Please.”

“I can’t.” Rahab’s tears dried at the idea of betrayal.

“You can and you should. All of this is bullshit.”

“Why do you keep saying things like that?”

“Because they’re true. Rahab, you don’t have to be Bound to Seth. You could make your own choices. Think about it. Isn’t that what you think God really wants? For you to choose? This life – the way we’re forced to live – this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.”

“You’ve become an abomination!” Rahab declared.

Ester closed her bag and shook her head, defeated. She moved toward the door, preparing to slip out into the night.

“You’ll burn,” Rahab said, her voice flat with judgment and finality. “You’ll burn in hell if you leave the fold, and I’ll not weep for you.”

Ester closed her eyes. She wanted to hug Rahab, but she did not. Instead she simply said, “I’ll weep for you,” and left.