The following short story is a flash fiction piece that I wrote back in 2006, which I really enjoyed. It was based on a previous poem that I had written. I had always wanted to combine poetry and prose in some fashion. This piece was also meant to be a sort of vignette, where the images and descriptions speak for themselves without having to have some ultimate meaning. The reader can take out of it what he will. After writing it, I realized that it was kind of like a Neil Gaiman piece.
Nothing in Particular
Rain falls in a diagonal motion, wetting ground, watering plants, falling into puddles, making ripples in the pond. Outside, little boys in blue raincoats are chasing paper ships down the waterway. The elderly Mrs. Chan dressed in white, burns paper houses in a black cauldron for her dead husband. It has been a long night. The crow watches a raindrop slip off the golden leaf and disappear with a plop.
A moment of silence, and then the rain pounds harder, like translucent daggers hammered into doors. The crow flies off into the night, passed the children, passed the wooden house, passed the naked slithering worms, into the cemetery with Gothic gates where people are engaged in a ritual dance. Singing, shouting, dancing around and around, arms in the air, with the beating of drums. Crosses, crosses everywhere, there are angels too, all over the tombstones. R.I.P.
The crow flies off, passed the lovers skinny-dipping in the lake with moonlight glistening on their skin, passed the restless, thrashing waves, passed the fallen tree, occasionally dodging the wire-like thunderbolts, only to land on the sill of a barred window at the insane asylum. With his dark little pupils, he watches, waiting, anticipating … the scream.
The woman has her back to him. Her long black hair falls down her thin nightgown in a tangled mess, until the tips touch the floor. She stares at the granite wall, as if mesmerized. She counts: 1, 2, 3, until she reaches 13, and turns around. She is pale with sunken eyes and high cheekbones. There are cracks in her red lips. Upon seeing the crow, she screams and screams and SCREAMS!
Her voice drowns out the drip, drip, drip of the leaking faucet in the corner of the room. Her face is contorted in pain. Her eyes reflect the flickering light of the candle that sits on the nightstand. The crow does not flinch, but simply stares back.
The screaming stops as the woman brings her index fingers to her lips and kisses it.
“Shh …,” she whispers, “breathe in, breathe out.” Her chest rises and falls, rises and falls. All over the world, awake or asleep, people are breathing a harmonious song of nature. She spreads out her arms, as if to fly, and twirls around in circles at a steady pace.
“This is our moment, a special moment in time,” she whispers. She throws back her head and cackles, jumps up and lands sprawled on the floor. She slowly bites her finger until a trickle of blood appears.
“Shh…,” she whispers, gently putting down her bleeding finger on the cold cement. She writes in the flickering candlelight with the crow perched on the windowsill and the moon shining behind. There are no stars tonight, and she is no van Gogh. When her writing stops, she blows out the candle and the crow flies off. What does she write?
Nothing, nothing in particular.
- Corvids: The Birds Who Think Like Humans (io9.com)
- “42 Flashes at 42″, Drummonds, The Swan With Two Nicks New St, Worcester (garylongden.wordpress.com)
- The Poetry of Prose (speculativefictionwriting.wordpress.com)
- Her Not All Her by Elfriede Jelinek (timesflowstemmed.com)