Episode #3: The Loop

“Well, well, well. This is new. But I guess there’s a first for everything.”

Startled, Damian spun around to face the owner of the voice.

Just a little further down the river where he stood, a lady was meticulously arranging her shawl so her bare shoulders would be covered; she was wearing a bare-shouldered dress. Raising her head, she gazed directly into his soul. “It doesn’t work that way.”

Damian frowned. “What doesn’t work that way?”

“Your wish. Unwittingly or not, you have found me to grant your wish. But I don’t have the power to rewrite the past, for I have a limit of interference.”

Damian’s frown only deepened before his eyes widened into realisation. “You are who everyone calls ‘The Witch’! The one who grants wishes.”

The corner of her mouth twitched in suppressed mirth. “Legend in living flesh. Although there are some who would call me by less flattering names.”

“If you can’t change the past, then what about the present?” he hedged, his mind already working on a different version of his wish.

“Oh?” The Witch drawled. “Are you sure you won’t regret your wish?”

The resolute look on Damian’s youthful face was enough an answer, but the Witch, with wisdom beyond anyone, let the silence hung between them to affirm his determination.
“No, I won’t! I want to relive that last day I saw my wife! Forever!” Unable to bear the silence, he finally roared.

Unfazed, the Witch lazily raised her hand to point across the river. “There, once you enter the waterwheel house, there’s no turning back,” The Witch warned.

Damian whipped his head in the direction she pointed and saw, for the first time, a waterwheel house. All that time he was there, he had never noticed it before. And he realised that somehow, they were across the river, standing in front of the house. The waterwheel was stationary.

The door creaked open, as if to welcome its owner. It was dark inside.

“As long as the waterwheel of that house spins, you’ll repeat that same day when you last saw your wife. And everything, I mean everything, remains unchanged,” she explained.

“I see.”

“Yet you still wish to go through with it,” the Witch raised her eyebrow. “Aren’t you casting a net into water to fish not for the moon but its reflection?” It was an observation, not a question.

Damian shrugged. “At least I’ll be happy,” he replied with a faraway look in his eyes. “If there is heaven, it will be reliving that same day. Exactly how I want it to be. That’s my wish”

Again, the Witch gazed thoughtfully at Damian. “What you think of as heaven is actually hell.”

Damian did not answer. The Witch seemed to stress on something during their exchange but Damian could not put his fingers on it; he was also too pre-occupied with his thoughts. Before the Witch could say anything else, Damian walked through the doorway of the waterwheel house, into the darkness.

The door swung close and the wheel, without warning, started to rotate. It had begun.

But the Witch shook her head sadly. “I tried to warn you. Time has corrupted you and twisted you in unimaginable ways. You shouldn’t have made that wish.”

It was too late. Damian could not hear her words; he was already experiencing the seventh loop of that day, when he walked into the house only to find his wife with the town’s sheriff.

They were both naked on the sofa in the living room.

In blind rage, Damian grabbed the fireplace poker and started to go after the sheriff, with every intention of killing him. Then he intended to claim his wife as his again, never to be apart. But that day always ended in the same way three hundred years ago - his wife, in sheer panic, grabbed the sheriff’s gun and shot Damian. Twice.

And because he wished to relive that day all over again, he could only watch helplessly from his body as they mutilated him in an attempt to cover their murder and their affair, dumping his body parts into the river.

The very spot where Damian’s spirit and the Witch met.

“You’re indeed still young and hot-headed when you died. That man you wanted to kill so much with your bare hands has been dead for a long time. Even their grandchildren are dead,” the Witch only shook her head before she raised her face to the sky.

“In a world as vast as ours, there bound to be many inexplicable events. They are what we call supernatural events. You could have made a wish to leave behind your anger and be reborn. Instead, your irrational fixation has cost you your chance at redemption,” she muttered to herself.

The Witch then lowered her head to stare at the waterwheel house again before waving her hands, turning it invisible so no one could intrude upon Damian’s space.

Damian’s wish to repeat that fateful day would be honoured.


Originally written for The Junction on Medium.

 

Episode #1: The Perfect World
Episode #2: The Suicide Wish

Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt!

nuclear power plant

Photo by Markus Distelrath on Pexels.com

The council convinced the people that the power plant was for the benefit of the town, generating enough for everyone and a ridiculously low price.

Everyone thought it was for the best so they voted for the construction of the power plant.

When the power plant was ready, everyone rejoiced because it did the job the council promised.

It was not until the plants surrounding the plant gradually receded – fading from green to brown to finally black – that the townspeople realised something was wrong.

Still, the council assured the townspeople that the plant was working fine.

By the time everyone discovered something was indeed wrong, it was too late – the plant exploded, killing plants and people indiscriminately.


If you are interested, the prompt is linked below.

Welcome to GirlieOnTheEdge and Sunday’s prompt word reveal for Six Sentence Stories! At 2:00 am on March 8, 2020, a mere 28 days from now we welcome daylight savings time! It is, for many, the most looked forward time of year. I can feel it already – energy, as it bubbles its way to simmer with each additional minute added to the days. Soon the heavy blanket of winter will get pulled back. And what will we do with this energy? Well, first thing, is write a Six Sentence Story, right?! 😀 Please join us this coming Thursday for another round of Six Sentence Stories. Have a wonderful week, everyone! Write often, write well, write when it suits you…just write.

Rules of the hop:
Write 6 Sentences. No more. No less.
Use the current week’s prompt word.
Come back here on Thursday, link your post…
Spread the word and put in a good one to your fellow writers 🙂

PROMPT WORD:  PLANT

Prompt: Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt!

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #66

People had a habit of corrupting cautionary tales into superstitions.

Trim your nails at night and you will never see your parents again. Or open an umbrella indoors and you will release a stray ghost in your house.

Naturally, everyone thought that Pandora’s Box was just a myth to explain the evil in the world – everyone was wrong on three details. First, Pandora’s Box was not a box but rather, a small castle with an even smaller arc gate; second, it contained Evil but Evil did not escape the moment the gate was open; third, the spirits which escaped were meant to fight off whoever disturbed Pandora’s Box to discourage entrance and to guard intruders from unspeakable horrors.

So when Sir Knight opened the gate and vanquished the spirits, he triumphantly entered the castle to claim his prize.

Only he never emerged after his expedition into the castle.


If you are interested, the prompt is linked below.

Here’s how it works:

Every Wednesday I post a photo (this week it’s that one above.)
You respond with something CREATIVE

Here are some suggestions:

  • An answering photo
  • A cartoon
  • A joke
  • A caption
  • An anecdote
  • A short story (flash fiction)
  • A poem
  • A newly minted proverb, adage or saying
  • An essay
  • A song—the lyrics or the performance

You have plenty of scope and only two criteria:

  • Your creative offering is indeed yours
  • Your writing is kept to 150 words or less

If you post a link in the comments section of this post I’ll be able to find it
If you include Crimson’s Creative Challenge as a heading, WP Search will find it (theory)
by ‘Searching’ in the WP Reader (fingers crossed)

Here’s wishing you inspirational explosions. And FUN.

Prompt: Crimson’s Creative Challenge #66

Saturday Six Word Story Prompt (6WSP) #24 – February 8, 2020

abstract art black background blur

Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

flickering lights, no witnesses – horror awaits


If you are interested, the prompt is linked below.

Welcome to Week #24 of the Saturday Six Word Story Prompt. Click here to read the guidelines for the Saturday Six Word Story Prompt series.

Prompt for Week #24 (February 8, 2020 – February 14, 2020)

Night

Click here for the 6WSP image.

I will do a roundup post each Friday. So please be sure to participate before time runs out!

I can’t wait to read your stories. 😀 I hope that you’ll be back for next week’s Six Word Story Prompt. 🙂

Prompt: Saturday Six Word Story Prompt (6WSP) #24 – February 8, 2020

Episode #2: The Suicide Wish

fire-1899824_1920

Image by HG-Fotografie from Pixabay

“Oh? Looks like there is still a spark of life in you after all,” a lazy voice observed. “Camomile tea?”

I looked up and blinked, disoriented. “What? Where am…I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude. I was thinking about something and I guess I just wandered into your shop,” I explained hastily to the lady sitting at the table.

“That’s what people do when they have a wish and they are looking for someone to grant it. I’m that someone,” she replied before taking a sip from her cup. “Are you sure you don’t want any camomile tea to calm your nerves?” she repeated as she glanced at the cup of tea opposite her.

I frowned. “I’m sorry, but who are you?”

“Oh? We just met. Surely you haven’t forgotten my name?” Again, she had a knowing smile as she assessed my blank look.

“I am ‘The Witch’. Or ‘The Djinn’. Or ‘Fairy Godmother’. Names, to me, are like clothes. Some are more commonly used, some are used only on special occasions and others you don’t even know how or why you got it in the first place,” she set her tea cup on her saucer with a firm clink. “But you will notice the demeaning ones usually have the article “The” attached to it, for some reason. If you don’t want tea, why don’t you take a seat?” she gestured at the chair opposite her at the table.

I took her advice and sat down. In front of me, besides the offered cup of camomile tea was a crystal ball and a candle. “I’m sorry, but are you a fortune teller?”

“You don’t listen well, do you?” she smiled shrewdly. “I’m not a fortune teller. I’m ‘The Witch’. So tell me, what is your wish?”

“I-I was just thinking,” I stammered, not sure if it was due to her persistence or my insecurity. “I don’t have any wishes.”

“That is itself a wish as well,” The Witch replied. She arranged her shawl before she gazed at me. “Very well. Maybe this will help you in your wish to think.”

She stood up and walked over. Producing a match seemingly out of nowhere, she struck it. The head of the match burst into a bright ball of flame, like all matches do when they are first struck. Then the flame became so small it almost went out. Finally, it settled into a hypnotic steady flame. She lit the candle with that flame before blowing it out.

She set the extinguished match in front of me, beside the tea. The lavender aroma from the candle was relaxing, first soothing my body then my mind. Her movements were practised, like she had done this many times. The match left a wisp of smoke and for some reason, that calmed me even further.

“Relax. Breathe evenly. Look into the crystal ball. The scent of the Old World from the candle will do the rest,” she instructed as she sat down opposite me.

Conscious of her amused expression, I did what she instructed. I relaxed and soon, my wish was granted.


I look over the edge of the block of flats I am standing on. It does not look as high as I thought it would be. Suddenly, I am able to see everything in great detail. The startling clarity of the trees, the squirrels, the birds, the people and the cars lies bare below me. One step forward and it would all be over.

What have I got to lose? At the age of 25, I should be out there enjoying life, not up here debating death. When people face a problem, they attempt to solve it. But when the problem becomes too much to handle, they run. I face a lot of such problems.

Perhaps that is the coward’s way out; perhaps that is a tired soul’s way out. But undeniably, standing on the edge gives an exhilarating sense of thrill. The gentle caress of the wind. The familiar sight of the neighbourhood. The breathing sounds of the city.

I lean forward and fall.

You know how survivors of near-death experience mention that their life flash before their eyes? And they suddenly understand what kind of person they are? And they wish that if they can start all over again, they would do things differently? I do not have any of that experience. Understandable, since I choose to die and do not expect survival.

However, I see things. I see a lot of things. I guess death does open the eyes of the living. On the 12th floor where I live, I see Mrs Gunderson pacing in her living room, worried sick because her drug addict of a son has not come home for 2 days. Through the window next to Mrs Gunderson’s, the model couple of our neighbourhood, the Randys are having a major fight because of Mr Randy’s extra-marital affair.

As I continue my plummet, I notice a single mother outside her flat struggling tiredly with her groceries after a night shift while her autistic son is sitting on the other side of the door, apathetic to his mother’s plight. The mother gives a tired smile and mutters a quick greeting to a young lady who is wheeling her father out. The young lady returns an equally tired smile.

They may live opposite each other but circumstances do not allow them to exchange anything beyond that. They are blissfully unaware of the other’s situation and are hence, envious of each other. The young lady and her father are going to the hospital for another expensive round of chemotherapy session.

The law of gravity continues to exert its influence on me. For the briefest moment, I entertain this idea: Does the law of gravity ever get paid for all the time it is working to keep everyone in place?

Then I spy another neighbour whom I get along with. A cheerful lady, Janet, who never seems to let anything get her down, not even the death of her newly-wed husband. She is bending over the photo of her deceased husband who died in a tragic accident 2 months ago, silent tears making its way down from her eyes to the photo, the only connection they have now.

Embarrassed by this intensely private moment, I turn my head away. At my final destination, Mr Tennyson is sitting on a bench by the road. We call him the old eccentric fellow because of his pugnacious nature. Every little thing seems to set him off.

With a sudden flash of insight, I realise he is trying to get attention. And right now, as he sits alone on the bench, he is looking at the distance, waiting for his son and daughter-in-law to visit him with his grandchildren. He has been alone for so long that any form of communication, even hostile ones, are welcome. I am surprised by my dispassionate observations through this short journey.

Then my journey inevitably explodes into a world of pain. Is it natural? I always believe that it is quick and painless. It feels like that time when I was 11. I ran too fast on the track and fell, twisting my ankle as I went tumbling. Except right now, I do not just twist my ankle. It feels like I twisted every joint in my body.

I can’t breathe! It feels like that time when I was 8. I drank my cough syrup and quickly washed it down with water but it went down the wrong pipe and I choked. I coughed and all was well again. Reflexively, I try coughing, then realise I can only manage a few gasps. I am drowning in my own blood! Is this how the fish feels when it is out of the water?

Dimly, I notice that people are looking at me now. Mr Tennyson who is on the bench opposite me. Mrs Gunderson who is peeping out from her window. Janet who is on the phone calling for ambulance. The young lady who is wheeling her father on the pavement is now holding her father’s hands. The single mother who is hugging and covering the eyes of her screaming son. The Randys who are shocked by the interruption to their fight.

In front of them, my problems fade into insignificance. And everyone is probably thinking, He has such a bright future! What problems does he have to commit suicide? My problem is probably insignificant compared to his.

As they pay more attention to me, I realise: I don’t want to die! I want to live! But now, I can only lie on the ground in world of pain, choking on my own blood - the very life given to me. What a befitting punishment from the divine forces! I try gasping for breath again but it eludes me.


“Oh? Looks like there is still a spark of life in you after all,” a lazy voice broke my reverie. “Camomile tea?”

I gasped for air and starting coughing. “What? Where am…” Disoriented, I looked around. Then I realised The Witch was sitting in front of me, her legs crossed as she sipped from her cup. “A-are you a fortune teller? Did you just…?” I did not continued. For some reason, my lungs hurt, like I had been swimming underwater for too long.

She took another sip before setting the cup down. Then The Witch gave me a slightly amused look. “You tend to ask the same questions over and again, don’t you?” she observed. “Don’t you get tired of doing that?”

I tried replying but only managed a raspy breath.

“Drink some camomile tea. It helps calm the nerves,” she advised. As I drank from the cup, she continued. “So, tell me. You have experienced an inexplicable event, haven’t you?”

I opened my mouth but before I could reply, she raised her hand to cut me off. “You don’t have to explain to me. In a world as vast as ours, there bound to be things that cannot be explained. They are what we call supernatural events. What you have just experienced is yours and yours alone. You can choose to believe it or not. Unwittingly or not, you have found me to grant your wish. And I just did. What happens next is up to you.”

Unable to meet her steady and knowing gaze, I looked down and nibbled the insides of my lip. Unconscious, my eyes settled on the burnt match in front of me and I noticed something I missed the first time. The flame might have died but there was still a steady, albeit faint, glow in the matchstick.


Originally written for The Weekly Knob.

Well, this is a story I wrote a while back for a prompt requiring the use of “match” in the story. I’m now in the process of reviving my passion for a character I created long ago – The Witch. It’s time for her to emerge from the dusty attic to face the world again.

I wanted to explore the idea of “be careful what you wish for”, because I’m fascinated by mythology and fantasy. Slowly, I outlined the Witch’s morally ambiguous personality and decided she would grant wishes whether it is to the benefit of her recipients.

I hope you will enjoy this story. I will also release another story of her soon.

Episode #1: The Perfect World

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #65

CCC#65

Dylan could scarcely believe his eyes – sure, the owl had metamorphosed into part of the stone roof, but he could recognise it anywhere; the owl had been following him. He would travel for hours during the day, only for the owl to appear before him the next day. Somehow, it must have followed him during the night.

Irrationally, Dylan wanted to pick up something, anything, to destroy the owl. He was in public though, and he was sure it would not deter them; they would simply send another one.

When his father suddenly disappeared, his mother sat him down gently to explain that their family was very special. All the male descendants in their family had been chosen to complete the task which would consume them for the rest of their lives.

Dylan resigned himself to his fate – he had been called upon to fulfill his duty.


If you are interested, the prompt is linked below.

Here’s how it works:

Every Wednesday I post a photo (this week it’s that one above.)
You respond with something CREATIVE

Here are some suggestions:

  • An answering photo
  • A cartoon
  • A joke
  • A caption
  • An anecdote
  • A short story (flash fiction)
  • A poem
  • A newly minted proverb, adage or saying
  • An essay
  • A song—the lyrics or the performance

You have plenty of scope and only two criteria:

  • Your creative offering is indeed yours
  • Your writing is kept to 150 words or less

If you post a link in the comments section of this post I’ll be able to find it
If you include Crimson’s Creative Challenge as a heading, WP Search will find it (theory)
by ‘Searching’ in the WP Reader (fingers crossed)

Prompt: Crimson’s Creative Challenge #65

Episode #1: The Perfect World

Image from GettyImages

In a world as vast as ours, there bound to be many inexplicable events. They are what we call supernatural events. And I am here to tell you one of them. Whether you believe it is up to you. Who am I, you ask?

Well, some call me “Fairy Godmother”, some call me “Wicked Witch”, some call me “Trickster Djinn” and others call me by less flattering names. How flattering my name is depends on how my clients perceive my services. But my name does not change the nature of my job  –  I grant wishes to my clients as long as Fate allows them to find me.


So tell me, have you ever heard of “Kelbsio”? No? Don’t worry, she is nobody. So let me tell you a story about this woman, Kelbsio. Why do I know her story? Because she was my client. But don’t worry if you don’t know her. Like I say, she is nobody.

“Please! I just want you to grant me the ability to go anywhere I want! You grant any wishes as long as people can find you, don’t you? And I found you!” she begged.

I set my empty porcelain teacup down with a firm clink and looked closely at the lady in front of me. She had no aura, yet she was alive. It was almost like looking at an intelligent walking corpse.

“How curious,” I murmured as my eyebrows arched at my observation. “I can grant your wish.”

Kelbsio’s face brightened up but fell when I held up my hands and continued.

“But that said, I rarely warn people regarding the consequences of their wishes. The last one ignored my warning in favour of her vanity and had me grant her wish of seeing who the fairest of all is. For a while, it was her. She knew and wanted to hear it. However, beauty is such a fleeting and meaningless concept. Her story did not end well,” I paused and picked up my teacup, which was somehow filled with tea, and drank deeply. Kelbsio’s hands clasped together but her thumbs rotated around each other as she waited.

“As with the others, I’ll grant you your wish. It’s a simple wish. But then, simple wishes are often the most complicated,” I set my teacup down with a firm clink again. “Here, take this key. It will allow you to go anywhere you want. Just say where you want to go before you open any door with it.”

“Thank you! Oh, you are my fairy godmother!” she grabbed the key and ran to the door of my shop. “I wish to go home!” She stuck the key in and opened the door. Then she slipped through the doorway.


“I wish to go to my husband’s office!” Kelbsio twisted the key and opened the door. She was having whale of a time. Friends were amazed that she could make dinner for her family and still make it for their gathering; her children were surprised at how fast she could appear in school with their forgotten assignments; neighbours were puzzled at her ability to buy groceries without leaving the house; and she was having more time to herself without the hassle of travelling.

“Oh, Kelbsio! Erm…what are you doing here?” her husband stood up as his secretary jumped away from his lap.

“Hello. Brent.”

“Hi, Mrs. Tanner! I, er, just have a few documents for Mr. Tanner to sign,” his secretary, Jannah, flashed an awkward smile. “Well, that’s all, Mr. Tanner! I’ll, erm, I’ll just have to submit the papers,” she said as she gathered some papers.

“Those are blank writing papers, Jannah. And at least come up with an original excuse, like pretending to be my little girl sitting on my husband’s lap so he can practise his bedtime story-telling skills.”

“Oh, erm…” Jannah winced and shot an imploring look at her employer. Brent only waved her out.

“So Kelbsio, what are you doing here? Is there anything you need?” her husband started to fold his arms, thought better of it, and leaning on his office table, his hands pressed on the edge on his sides.

“Well, I thought I could surprise you for dinner. Turns out you are in the…heat of things and I got a surprise instead,” Kelbsio replied, her words icy enough to restore Arctic to its former glory.

“Kelbsio - ”

“No, Brent, right now I don’t want to hear your excuses,” Kelbsio cut her husband off. Her hands fingered the key as she turned and left.

“Wait, Kelbsio! Kelbsio?” Brent followed his wife out the office door but for a moment, was bewildered. Except for his illicit lover sitting at her desk near his office door and other office personnel, Kelbsio was not in sight. He turned to Jannah. “Where’s Kelbsio?”

“Huh? No one left your office, Mr. Tanner. You are the only one who came out,” Jannah frowned. “Is everything all right? Is she…”

Jannah did not complete her question. Brent Tanner did not give his answer.


Kelbsio looked at the key in her hand. The key had brought her to many places. Sometimes, she even cheated and went overseas in a blink of an eye for a two- or three-hour holiday. She could have escaped from the madness of her life but she was no coward. She stared down at the problems and solved them. That was what her mother taught her. Her husband’s extra-marital affair was no exception.

She stood in front of her bedroom door and took a deep breath. If she did it right, she would be able to change the lives of everyone. “I wish to go to the perfect world where my husband will not betray me,” she slid the key into the keyhole easily and turned.
Her perfect world was just a step away. She hesitated for a moment. Then she stepped through and closed the door behind her.


The office door swung slightly open. Brent Tanner leapt to his feet, dumping Jannah who was on his lap onto the floor.

“Ouch, Brent, what the hell?” Jannah groaned. “That hurts!”

“You didn’t close the door properly! What happens if my wife walks in on us?” Brent hissed at her.

“Huh? Wife? What wife?”

“My wife, Kel..Kel…” Brent struggled with his thoughts for a while. “You know what? I have no idea why I said that. Let’s lock the door this time.”


Kelbsio tried to go to her perfect world. But her perfect world did not exist in the first place and by going there, she ceased to exist. That is why I said at the very start of her story, that she is nobody and that I was looking at an intelligent walking corpse.

Is this a frustratingly inexplicable event? Do you believe it? Of course not. You don’t know what has just transpired, do you? And even if you do, you did not experience it. So naturally you do not believe it.

It does not matter. What matters is, do you have a wish? Am I your “Fairy Godmother”? Or your “Wicked Witch”? Or your “Trickster Djinn”? Be careful. Tell me your wish and I will grant it. That is, of course, if you can find me.


Originally written for The Weekly Knob.

Well, this is a story I wrote a while back for a prompt requiring the use of “key” in the story. Four years ago, to be precise. Back then, I just wanted to write a ridiculous piece of story about granting wishes.

The character slowly grew on me as I outlined her morally ambiguous personality. I also wanted to explore the idea of “be careful what you wish for”, because I’m fascinated by mythology and fantasy. But I got busy with my masters degree education and later, my day job.

Then Crispina noted that I should finish the stories, rather than tease about them in another flash fiction I wrote for Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge. After another epic bout of procrastination (four months…), I’m now in the process of reviving my passion for a character I created long ago – The Witch. It’s time for her to emerge from the dusty attic to face the world again.

I hope you will enjoy this story. I will also release another story of her soon.

Charon

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

“Neither the ferryman [Kharon (Charon)] nor the comrade [the Hydra] of the cruel beast [Kerberos (Cerberus)] bars the way [to the Underworld] to innocent souls.” —Statius, Silvae 2. 1. 228 ff

As usual, the woman went up to the edge of the cliff and looked out into the sea.

“I’ll be back soon,” her husband had promised. “One last trip and we’ll have enough to open that bakery you always dreamt of.” He laid his hand on her belly bump. “This little one won’t have to worry about money like we did.”

She smiled and laid her hand on top of his as they caressed her belly bump together in anticipation of their baby’s arrival.

That was five months ago.

He was supposed to be back after three months. He promised. So for the past two months, she had been climbing up that cliff behind their village and staring into the horizon, awaiting her lover’s return. Even when she grew bigger and her movements became awkward, she persevered.

While she was looking out into the sea for the ship her husband was on, she overlooked her village’s kindness; a message arrived one month after her husband had left - the ship he had boarded sank.

There were no survivors.

The villagers held council - worried that she would not accept such a blow given her condition, they told her that the day she heard the horn of the ship was the day her husband would return. They gave her a ghostly hope and kept the nightmare at bay. They decided to take care of her on her husband’s behalf - the kindness of the close-knit community.

They kept the secret and she kept watch for a ship which would never return.
Days turned to weeks, weeks to months and months, years. The woman carried the baby for as long as it would stay under her heart, then in her arms after she gave birth to a healthy girl.

Both the mother and daughter kept vigil on the cliff. Still, the promised ship did not appear. And this continued until the daughter was nine years of age. One day, they stopped climbing the cliff; instead, the woman went around the village, buying dried goods and provisions.

Everyone in the village was puzzled but no one said a thing. They continued to keep the secret. “Maybe she’s finally moved on,” everyone thought. It took one nosey fishwife to find out the woman’s business.

“She said she saw the ship! And her husband rowed out in a boat to meet her!” the fishwife revealed. “She even said he is bringing her on a voyage tonight!”

The villagers heard a ghostly horn of a ship and rushed to her cottage immediately. But they were too late; she was already gone.

Only her daughter remained.

“Ma went on a trip with Pa,” the daughter explained as if it were the most natural thing in the world. “They said I’m too young to follow them to where they are going. But they will come back for me when I’m old enough!”

Shaken, the villagers bore the daughter away from the cottage. The villagers held council again and decided to tell her that the day she heard the horn of the ship was the day her parents would return. The villagers cared for her just as they cared for her mother - the kindness of the close-knit community.

The ship did not return and they heard no more of the mother.

The daughter grew up to be a beautiful woman, her gracefulness and kindness captivating the young son of the village head. They got married and she eventually had her own daughter as well. She and her husband did not go back to her mother’s cottage; they had a cottage near a river instead.

But old habits die hard.

The daughter would stand by the river, holding her child with a distant look in her eyes as she stared as far down the river as she could see. Her husband said nothing. He had heard the story from his father and thought it was her way of mourning.

He did not know the secret, for it was still well kept among the village elders.

Days turned to weeks, weeks to months and months, years. The daughter grew older as promised while her girl grew up at the river, learning to keep herself entertained by skipping stones as her mother stood on the river bank. Then they would go home and the daughter would prepare a meal for her girl and husband.

This continued every day for as far as the little girl could remember.

Until the day when the daughter’s girl reached nine years of age. The older villagers heard the ghostly horn of the ship. Distant memories stirred in their minds and they panicked. They had a hand in raising the daughter and had grown fond of her. They quickly got hold of the daughter’s husband and rushed to the cottage, much to his confusion.

The younger generation vaguely remembered their elders’ similar hysteria and they followed eagerly this time, finally able to witness the commotion. They were disappointed, for only the little girl was sitting placidly at the table in the cottage, eating her porridge.

The daughter was not around.

The little girl was surprised at the crowd and mildly irritated when her dinner was interrupted. Under her father and the older villagers’ frantic prompting, the little girl revealed what had happened.

Her words chilled everyone.

“Ma went on a trip with Grandma and Grandpa. They said I’m too young to follow them to where they are going. But they will come back for me when I’m old enough!”
They heard no more of the daughter too.

The father was heartbroken at his wife’s disappearance. Despite his insistent pleas to understand what had transpired and their prescient warning, the older generation of villagers refused to reveal their knowledge, still bound by their oath of keeping the secret. And now, horror.

The little girl who was left behind by her mother and grandmother grew up and had her own baby girl too. The long kept secret finally turned into a true secret, as her father and her husband had no idea what would happen. When the baby girl turned nine years of age, the ghostly horn of the ship sounded again.

Memories stirred but everyone was still too late.

The disappearance was inevitable.

The ship would come.

Always.


Originally published here. This is a free link to the post on Medium.

I published this story a while back. But apparently, Medium hates this story. There are not many readers and it got buried so I am posting it here.

I personally like this story. Charon is possibly one of the most, if not the most, silenced character in Greek mythology. His job is to ferry souls across River Styx as long as he receives the payment in the form of a gold coin.

When I first read about him, I wonder who he is, what his backstory is and why he wants payment of a gold coin for every soul he ferries.

This is the result of that.

I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing it.

Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #51

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Cottonbro at Pexels.com

It was his tenth anniversary. Ten years since her husband died from an unexplained gunshot.

Janice stared fondly at the negatives of her and her husband that fateful day. They were having a picnic with a few of their friends when her husband, out of sheer mischief, decided to force feed her a dish she hated – sashimi. One of their friends, Dennise, was an avid photographer and she thought it would make a memorable photograph.

She whipped out her SLR camera and took eight burst photos of Janice’s husband chasing after Janice. The first seven were Janice escaping from her husband’s outstretch hand holding the sashimi with chopsticks. The eighth was him falling forward without warning, right in front of Dennise’s camera.

Everyone were laughing at his antics and Janice’s helpless screams of “Get away from me!”. At first, they thought he had tripped over himself – he had a knack of tripping over flat surfaces – and they laughed even harder at his awkward fall to realise something was wrong. By the time they realised there was too much blood from a simple fall and he was not moving at all, he had stopped breathing. There was a nasty exit wound on his chest.

Tears immediately welled in Janice’s eyes and she put the negatives away. The police never found the murderer and Janice still did not understand why anyone wanted to kill her husband. The police did not have any suspect at all – both Janice and her husband were just an average couple and well liked by neighbours as well as colleagues. The only suspicion they had was, the murderer had used a silencer.

The series of photographs would only serve to remind Janice what she would never have so the photographs were never developed. Dennise still passed the negatives to Janice, in case she changed her mind one day.

If only Janice decided to develop the photographs, it would reveal, at the far right of the photograph, a woman firing a gun. Not at Janice’s husband, but at Dennise, for having an extra-marital affair with her husband.


If you are interested, the prompt is linked below.

Welcome to “Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge.” Each week I will be posting a photo I grab off the internet and challenge bloggers to write a flash fiction piece or poem inspired by the photo. There are no style or word limits.

For the visually challenged writer, the photo shows a woman holding up to the light and looking at a strip of film negatives that seems to show images of two people outdoors.

If this week’s image inspires you and you wish to participate, please write your post, use the tag #FFFC, and link back to this post. I hope it will generate some great posts.

Thanks to all of you who have participated in these challenges so far. Your posts have been very creative. Please take a few minutes to read the other responses to this photo challenge.

Please create a pingback to this post or manually add your link in the comments.

Prompt: Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #51

Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

He told her that her feelings reached his heart and tugged his heartstrings, that he had never been so moved before.

All the promises he made to her under the moon.

So she decided they should fulfill those promises he made when she discovered the kind of person he was after a few months.

She reached for his heart and tore it out before moving his corpse to the edge of the mountain and threw it off.

He was right.

He would die before he could hurt her feelings and she made sure of that when she found him cheating on her with her best friend.


If you are interested, the prompt is linked below.

Rules of the hop:
Write 6 Sentences. No more. No less.
Use the current week’s prompt word.
Come back here on Thursday, link your post…
Spread the word and put in a good one to your fellow writers 🙂

PROMPT WORD:  REACH

Prompt: Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt!