It’s that time of the month again! Time for a short story,
I just knew you couldn’t wait to read another story from me. I know this isn’t the last Saturday of May, but, it’s only the 2nd day of June (so that’s not too bad).
For first time readers, I post a short story on my blog at the end of every month. You can read my first one here. The idea behind posting a short story every month, is to help me become a better writer. First of all, it gives me a deadline, and secondly, it keeps me writing. In the end, it’s a win-win. You get to read my writing (well, I think that’s a win), and I get more practice with writing (even though I should be writing on a daily basis anyway).
I have to give a quick shout out to my friend Rosalie Valentine! She hosted a flash fiction dash during the month of may. A flash fiction is a very short fictional story. In the case of this challenge, the story had to be 1000 words or less. (Trust me, it’s a lot harder than it sounds.) When I entered this challenge, Rosalie emailed me a picture (the one at the top of this page). That picture acted as my story prompt. The short story you are about to read is what I wrote for this challenge. 🙂
Without further ado, here is the story you’ve been waiting for! (yes, I do realize that most of you aren’t sitting on the edge of your seats in anticipation).
Under the Surface
My fingers tremble in the sub-zero winter air. I didn’t bother to don the proper winter gear before coming to the ice covered pond. It seems wrong to be warm and comfortable at James’ grave. The snow covered ice crunches beneath my feet, and I carefully shuffle over the frozen pond. My knees quiver, and every step makes the journey a million times harder. The further I move away from land, and the closer I get to the center of this death trap, the more violent my trembling becomes. Something warm slides down my cheeks. Its been a year, and I still can’t gather enough strength to get to the exact same spot where it happened.
A jolt explodes through my body when my knees hit the ice. A sob escapes my throat, passing my dry and cracked lips.
“I’m so sorry James,” I cry. “It was all my fault. I shouldn’t have let you get so far ahead.”
My shoulders quake, lips and chin quiver. Head hung low, I weep. If it wasn’t for me, James would still be alive. If I had simply skated a little faster, my brother wouldn’t have drowned. The ice shocks my hand with its temperature. It must have moved to the ice at some point.
I let my eyes wander over my surroundings. A fog covers my train of thought; everything is clear but not in focus. It seems like there is a large crack in the ice a foot away from me, but that can’t be. The pond should be covered in 6 inches of ice by now. I let my gaze fall back to the ice. It’s so cold and harsh. Suddenly something appears beneath the ice, and I scream. The ice is mocking my pain. Showing me the face of my brother. My grief must be so strong that I’m starting to hallucinate. I rub my eyes and peer back at where I saw James’ face. The pale, lifeless stare of my brother still stabs my already shattered heart.
Curiosity overtakes me, and I crouch down toward the ice for who knows what reason. Then I’m screaming again. James’ corpse is no longer lifeless, but laughing at my horror.
The fissure in the ice gets bigger. So I wasn’t imagining it. The line of impending doom races toward me, but I am frozen. Perhaps it is my subconscious reminding me of what I had done, telling me this is how I deserve to die. With an air of finality, the ice splits apart and I feel a surprisingly warm hand pull me under.
I know it’s my brother dragging me to my death—or his ghost. I don’t even try to escape, this is what I deserve. The light above slowly fades away, and I wait for the darkness to take me. My lungs burn until I can’t stand it any longer. I suck in a mouthful of water, waiting to drown. But nothing happens. In fact, I’m breathing. Underwater. How is this possible? I shift my gaze to my brother’s form who is still dragging me deeper under the surface. How is any of this possible? It isn’t. I have to be dreaming. That’s the only possible explanation. And since this is a dream, I mind as well enjoy this time with my brother. Even if it isn’t real.
James looks exactly as he did before he drowned. Shaggy blond hair, gleaming green eyes. Such a young and innocent face. A face that wouldn’t see the light of day again.
In front of me—or below, I’m not sure—a bright light grows in the distance. As we come closer it takes the shape of a kingdom. James abruptly stops, and I float to his side. He remains silent for a moment, staring at the kingdom. I have so much to say, but sense that the quiet is necessary.
“I’m not mad at you.” James breaks the silence.
“But you drowned because of me. I’m sorry.” I blurt.
James turns his face toward me and gives me a queer look.
“Why are you apologizing?”
“It’s my fault that you’re dead.” I whisper.
At that exact moment I can see that James is so much wiser than me. He may still look like a child, but his facial expression is that of a man who has lived a thousand lives.
“This is my home,” he gestures toward the kingdom. “My mortal body may be gone, but I am very much alive. Actually, I came to save you.”
“Me?” I ask.
“Yes. You have the opportunity to live here when you die, like me, but there is something you must do. You have to let go.”
I snort, “Let go? How is that going to change any of what happened?”
“It won’t but,” James pauses. “You feel responsible for my death. The guilt of not being able to save me drags you down every single day.”
“If you want to be rid of that guilt, and live a forgiven life, then you must let go.” James insists.
“It can’t be that simple.” I mumble, and close my eyes.
“But it is! Just let go Alethea.”
I open my eyes, and my room greets me. It was just a dream. Even so, I can’t shake what he said. James is right. Guilt dogs me everyday, some days I can’t even stand to look at myself in the mirror. This may be my only hope. I so desperately want to live in a way that would make my brother proud. This just might be the way. I glance around the room, and sit up in bed. No one is around.
Just let go Alethea.
I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and let go.
What do you think?? I got to say, writing such a short story is really hard. I wanted to add so much more detail but I couldn’t!!!
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