Aidan & Ariel

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The pair of them, born under Gemini in two different continents and yet here they were, together in a tent that was perched quite precariously on a mountainside out in the Cairngorms. The natural darkness of an evening made them sleep far earlier than they would’ve at home in their busy city lives. Ariel suffered perpetually from bouts of insomnia and the sound of the crickets humming kept her awake, even here in the stillness. She crawled out around midnight, leaving her sleeping bag in a shrunken ball, and decided upon a miniature hike up to the crags of their chosen mountain.

Only yesterday Aidan had said to her, By god you’re weird. He meant something about the way she crumbled her food into bits before she could eat it, or how she had to comb her hair 33 times each night, or how she wouldn’t stop singing that old Tim Buckley song, ‘Song to the Siren’ at all hours of the day. Ariel couldn’t help it; it was a damn fine tune and a treat to hear her voice in reverb, soaring out across the valley and shivering in the pines.

They had met at a business conference in Edinburgh only a year or so ago. Aidan worked for an old-fashioned company who made money from burning coal; Ariel for a startup who sold trendy mineral water at what Aidan considered an extortionate price. His whole brand was money to burn, while hers was clean and pure. They’d become good friends by ripping into the hypocrisies of their mutual employers while sneaking coffee breaks behind the corporate screens; after the interval for lunch, they sat next to each other and he’d scribbled funny notes on her ring-binder. When the day was over, they exchanged Outlook accounts and spent the next few months writing hundreds of urgent, enthusiastic emails to each other. They gushed about a mutual love for the wilderness, their craving for air and light and the shelter of mountains beneath sunset skies. Aidan quibbled with Ariel’s definition of the sublime. They argued about music: she was a ballad girl with a heart for folksongs and lost shanties passed down through her father’s radio; he liked fiery punk rock, the kind where the singer had to spit frequently onstage as if the words had congealed in his mouth.

Now they were here. By some miraculous alignment of mystical equations, they found themselves cooking pasta together on a cheap stove and taking long, leg-killing walks over burns and hillsides. The weather had at least been intermittently kind. Ariel and Aiden had gotten on so well, talking incessantly about their respective lives and admiring the scenery; but things had changed as of yesterday, when they visited the Wells of Dee. It was almost dark by the time they found the treasured landmark, neither of them being particularly adept with maps – in the city, you could just trust Google. All afternoon, they had traipsed for hours through boggy terrain, the land around them smelling of coldness and snow and pale sweet heather. It was summer, but they suspected that here it would always smell of snow. At the Wells, the dusk rose its lilac shroud around them as they stood before the river’s source, its outflow splashing off the mountainside in dramatic ripples of silver. There was a deep sense of mystery contained in that lake of water, an opaqueness of grey that would not give up its secret even as one broke the surface with a boot or a stick or a finger. Standing by the water, Aidan observed a change come over Ariel. She shook out her French plait, which had gathered considerable dishevelment from three days of hiking. She pulled off her socks and shoes and rolled up her oil-black leggings and waded into the pools. Come in, it’s lovely. He shook his head and just stood there, watching, an impenetrability suddenly coming between them.

In a sense, this was the zenith of her being before him. She was purely, utterly in her element. She splashed the freezing water on her face, arms flailing playfully. Later that evening, cooking her soup on the stove, he burnt the back of his hand quite badly.

She had felt for the burn in the dark of the tent. Its tender red tissue was swollen; it felt like touching the mulch of a distant planet. She unravelled her body and entered the night alone. The crags found her as if by instinct and soon she was sitting in her night slip and cardigan knit, bearing her body to the moon.

She knew that soon he would wake at the sound of a kestrel bursting from the forest, its firework snap following rumbles that shook the bristled tops of trees and spread like a spell across the mountains, like the promise of some imminent eruption. She knew that he would open his arms and there would be a gaping space where she was supposed to be. Then the igneous lump of his heart would incur its first melting. Until then, what else was there to do but study the constellations?

/ Maria Sledmere

(fff prompt: zenith)

 

A Hidden Spirit

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The children were always making wild claims for the magic of the garden.

“Look, we found fairies!” they gasp, brandishing handfuls of glitter that bounce of the sparks in their eyes. Feigning amusement at such games is one aspect of parenthood I don’t think I’ll ever perfect.

“I wish you wouldn’t come in with muddy boots on,” I hear myself echoing my mother, her voice querulous and knackered, coming from long ago; a dusk-lit kitchen, the smell of shepherd’s pie.

“But Daddy, fairies!”

Samantha is tugging on Tim’s arm so hard it’s difficult to tell if he’s enthusiastic or just wincing. I concede to the whole performance and find myself led up the path to the back of the garden, noting the places where serious weeding needs to be done. When was the last time I ventured in this far? Ever since Emma left there seemed no point to mowing the lawn; the children love the grass when it’s long. Sometimes, washing the dishes at the window I’ll watch them, pushing each other and laughing. Tim’ll come in like clockwork, ten minutes later, eyes streaming with hay-fever.

“Right kids what is it I’m supposed to be seeing?”

“Fairies, you big oaf.”

“Fairies, huh? What do fairies look like then?” Wearily, I crouch to their level, the old knees stiff from last night’s squash match (Michael swamped me with that backhand of his).

This time, Tim pipes up. “Lights. They’re lights.” It’s dusk and the garden is full of shadows. When they were tiny, I used to take them up here, hand in hand with the torch. We’d have a fire and tell ghost stories till Emma called us inside, pronouncing it too chilly to just sit. She wouldn’t even try the fire.

“What kind of lights?” It’s cold enough now. Summer almost over, the promise of autumn frost, school uniforms to iron…

“You have to take a picture.”

“Come on, Daddy’s getting tired now.” I straighten up.

“No really. You take a picture and then the photo shows them up. They’re ever so tiny.” Samantha with her matter-of-fact tone, a hallmark of Emma’s.

Tim scrambles up the ash tree and whips a polaroid camera out of the birdhouse. I marvel at the way he leaps down and lands like a cat on both feet.

“Where’d you get that?” They exchange a glance which I take as suspicious, significant.

“You have to be very still,” Samantha warns me. Obediently I stand there in the dusk, straining my eyes to see. Beyond the garden fence, beyond the slope and the rooftops and chimneys, Emma and I are up at the top of Kildoon Hill, a blanket stretched before us, her face bathed in violet starlight. Or maybe it was the town that was bathed, the way the bluish dusk mixed with all the flickers of those amber streetlamps. We’re eating sugared strawberries, because it’s summer and everything’s ahead of us.

“Daddy! You’re not paying attention!” Samantha snaps.

“OK OK I am now. I’m watching.” After a nod from his sister, Tim creeps forward. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be looking at. There’s a swarm of midges clustering around the nettles, whose ominous stalks are taller than Tim himself. Tim lunges forward at once and takes a snap. The flash floats briefly in the air, like a white glowstick spilt underwater, slowly melting away into nothing. The darkness rearranges. Jackdaws rustle in the leaves above us.

Excitedly, Tim shuffles over to me and holds out the polaroid while the picture develops.

“We saw something about this in a book,” Samantha explains, “how cameras can capture a hidden spirit. Who knew we had fairies right here, in our garden? It’s a remarkable discovery.”

The picture pulls out fully. Tim hands it to me and watches, nose dripping eagerly, while I examine it. There’s the sinuous shapes of the shrubbery, the black slant of the shed. Most of the image, however, is taken up by a cloud of tiny lights, pulsing in my shaky vision like silver orbs, millioning gleefully. I’m not sure if it disappoints me that the children are enraptured by a throng of glowing midges, caught momentarily as fairies in their camera flash. I think about what Emma would say, anxious about the questionable origins of the camera itself, about Samantha’s magpie-eye for shiny things out of reach in shops. Isn’t there a film about this, two girls faking photos of fairies in their garden? What are they trying to prove?

“Well?” The kids are impatient. I’m impatient too, waiting for my own reaction. Samantha rolls her eyes.

“Look, if you’re worried about the camera, it’s just a present from Mum.”

“Oh.” The force of this blow is surprising. I glance over at the midges, still humming away beside us, indifferent to the available flesh of our faces. Tim’s expression was devastating.

“You don’t care,” he whimpered. I tuck the polaroid photo in the breast-pocket of my shirt.

“Aw kids, of course I do.” I draw him towards me, folding him tight the way I’ve seen him hugging the neighbour’s dog, craving that sense of what I’d forgotten. His hair smells of grass and it needs a wash. Samantha looks bemused at our clumsy embrace. She’s pretending to play with the camera now, but I catch her eye without meaning to. There’s a spark there, a flash of something I know is mine. We both smile and I think she half believes me.

Maybe that’s the magic of the garden.

/ Maria Sledmere

(fff prompts: exposure, <photo>)

Starlight Smoke

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Starlight Smoke

Six packs. He slips them neatly in his pockets, stubs a cigarette out on the concrete, orange tip entering a galaxy of gum and gravel. Stars are incongruous tonight, too much warmth in the air; there’s something about a star that suggests silvery shivers and winter. Pieces of ice, dead shards of light.

No less than ten minutes till the bus comes, but for whatever reason he lets it pass when it does, trundling by in hot dark smog.

He wanders all the way up the high street, cuts down two alleys, across the park and up to the close along near Tesco’s. Takes twice as long. Ash stains on the buttons where folk have stubbed out fags. He can feel the crinkle of their fingerprints as he pushes the buzzer for flat 6/3. There’s always a delay; he pictures her listening to music under the sheets with her legs swinging long in the air. Smell of burnt pizza and marijuana. Sweat. Such a walk up the stairs.

– Hey.

– Hey yourself.

They kiss so casual now. He’s perfected it on the stage of street corners; the quick nip before she twirls away.

The flat’s in total shadow. She hovers in the doorway like a moth, briefly attracted to the light in the hall, before ushering him in. This is the moment he’d like to melt his tongue in the heat of her throat, but they don’t do that anymore. The walls don’t bear their bodies like before. They’re fixed to the ground, a distance between them.

Some kind of lo-fi dub thrums from her room. The vibrations stir in his gut.

– Kitchen?

– Sure.

Whir of kettle steam. Dirt-rich grounds of coffee. He watches her fuss in the cupboards, looking for mugs. Pulls out Silk Cuts.

– Want one?

– I thought you were gonna quit.

– Six more. Packs that is. Jason bought them in duty-free, seemed a shame to waste.

– I wish you wouldn’t in here. The landlady…

He lights it anyway, then lights another one on the glow of the first. Passes it to her. Electric twitch as they brush fingertips. She takes the longer drag.

– Damn.

– It’s been some day.

– I’ll say.

He watches her float by the cooker. There’s a 27% chance she’ll cook rice and chilli if he sits tight long enough. The smoke swirls up in wispish clouds from her mouth as she fingers a bottle of wine in lieu of the forgotten coffee. In ten minutes, the lipstick will dry with a reddish stain and the soft skin will peel and crackle, plastic. She’s prettier that way, a bit of a bee-sting. Later, her hair will drape over the sheets, tobacco scent gleamed with grease. In the morning, by the window, she’ll comb out the aroma. The nicotine mist comes off her as he reads her aura. Under her nails, skin flakes and fridge crystals. Suddenly, he wants to kiss her.

Steam from the kettle. Shuffling of slippers; the flatmate practicing speeches next door.

– Can’t keep her grounded, that one.

– I’ll say.

Her mouth breathes out greyish vapours when she talks. Soon, he’s feeling his hand in her hair, its sticky rivulets. His vision slipping out of focus. Somehow she’s with him on the chair and the candlelight flickers. Tiny particles spill like glitter against the window. There’s a sign on the wine saying ‘Recipe for Lust’. Together, entwined like this, they can only combust.

/ Maria Sledmere

(FFF prompts: galaxy, cigarette)

 

Choose

The brightness filled her eyes, filled her mind, filled her entire being, until she felt full of light, full of a happiness that she’d never felt before. And then it was gone, and she fell to her knees, gasping, from its sudden absence.

“This is what you could have, if you came with us,” the voice said, warm and welcoming, cajoling, promising more light, more happiness, more joy.

“No,” she said, and her lip trembled.

“Very well,” the voice said, and the tone had changed, becoming cold and sharp and brittle. “Then enjoy the dark.”

And the darkness flooded in, pitch black and freezing and terrifying, and she screamed.

-Maura Kenny

[01/02/17: light]

Superlunary

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Superlunary 

“When we die,” he said, curling his fingers in mine, “we are wrapped in a shroud of light.” I thought: here it comes, a chunk of religion he’s kept thus far firmly hidden. I’d have to take it, eat it, accept it. Suffer later the indigestion.

“What d’you mean?” Magpies were clawing at the windowpane, eyeing us greedily as we lay in our bed.

“Imagine how blissful it is to feel every nerve in your body pulse with lights. For the silkiest muslin to cover your skin. No more pain, suffering, worry. Just softness and pleasure; a life past the prospect of death.”

The religion seemed to sweeten then. I didn’t know what it was, where the incantations were coming from; but it sounded beautiful, the way he said it.

Yesterday, in the garden, he was smoking from the glass pipe while I did my daily contortions. I can twist my body through numerous systems of geometry. I am a star, a polygon; a rhombus, parallelogram. Over time, my muscles have memorised the precise patterns, the necessary relations of limb upon limb. He often forgets I can do this, though yoga magazines litter the flat. I contort until my body is sore. I breathe and whimper in the manner of Bjork, imagining my skin stretching over thick ice.

Sometimes in the bath he helps me with the excoriations. We rub pink crystals of Himalayan salt over my arms and thighs, marvelling at the waxy flakes that drop off in the water. He won’t let me return the favour.

I come home late at night and half the time he’s still high, asking me for another performance. I can make my feet touch the ceiling. He sprinkles stardust on my breasts and there’s a moment when gravity ceases to matter.

Recently, he’s found this new spirituality. I watch him portion white powder for his lashes, flickering in the mirror. He is so pale I could sink into him, inhale his whole being, its celestial vapours of nicotine.

Sometimes, when I am a triangle, he says he wants to bite me like Toblerone. I break off for him, offering a choice piece of my life. We exist like this, my body and his mind. The magpies casting their beaks to the grass where we lay, pecking at the loam as if for treasure. We emanate treasure.

I give him a layer each year to convert into light. At night, we smooth out in circles, going over and over, trying to cheat time.

Eventually, all of this will be just one straight line.

/ Maria Sledmere

(FFF prompts: curtain, light)

An Orange in the Morning

If she stared out at the ocean long enough, she knew that God would drop more ink in; that the colour would flower out to a deep, lapis blue, gathering its darkness in the distant shadows, the lay of the horizon which was, to her at least, the end of the world.

It was easy to forget that she was being held prisoner, with the ocean so close, its ebb and sigh mingling with the sad, weeping birds, sounding like the croon of an oboe across the bay. Lyra had spent many days on the turret, crawling out from her tiny room in the fortress tower to stare out at the vastness of water, whatever the weather. In glittering sunshine, she felt immortal. In storms, she held her arms up to the crackling sky. The rain and wind sometimes buffeted her, soaked her hair, her face, her tunic. The guard warned her, but she would not heed him. He sneaked in oranges from the Eastern cargo ships, and she ate them greedily, kneeling on the high walls, oblivious to the drop into the ocean below.

“Your time will come soon,” the guard once said, watching her as she watched the ocean. He even leaned forward, touching her arm.

“Don’t,” Lyra said. She knew the gulls were watching; that they had their master to report back to, swooping back and forth with their beady eyes. The guard’s hand fell away, dropped like a bird shot from the sky.

He was her friend, in a sort of way. While he slept, she hid out in her room, biding the hours. In the darkness she clawed at the brick walls, feeling for their texture in the way that a child feels the skin of a leaf for the first time. She stopped going outside, hoping that the world would stop turning without her in it. Maybe she could stay in this limbo forever.

One day, an Admiral arrived at the fortress, wearing his royal blue and white suit. Lyra was reminded of her days at sea, the men she used to kiss like rough cut diamonds and the sweet dark mouthfuls of rum. The Admiral conversed with the guard and she heard war and betrayal and whore escape the snatching hiss of their whispers.

“Your time will come soon,” the guard said again that night, closing the door of her chamber. This time, it sounded like a warning. He slipped something into her cold hands.

Two strangers came for her, early that morning. She offered her wrists to them as they bound and dragged her down the spiral staircase, through dimly-lit corridors and out into the pale and waiting dawn. A crowd had assembled, swinging their banners and screaming. Torches were lit on either side of the gallows.

Lyra stood before them, tall and angelic in her white nightgown, soon to be spattered with crimson blood. A fragile shaft of milky light gleamed off the silver blade. Lyra felt for the orange in her pocket. She was glad that she had saved it.

In front of everyone, she bit into her orange, savouring the sour bright taste in her teeth. She imagined she was biting into the sun, feeling its heat spread through her as it sunk down into her mouth, down into the strong blue ocean, softly dissolving as she swallowed, feeling the juice go down like the world going down to the darkest depths of the sea, sinking, sinking…

She saw the light beyond the horizon, the glimpse of white, of starry light – and as the blade sunk deep she knew she was free.

–Maria Sledmere

(Flash Fiction February prompts: arm, prisoner, img_0019.jpg)

The Firefly That Woke Up Too Soon

Coco was in shock. Her world had suddenly been turned inside out and upside down, and her many legs clung desperately to the branch while she stared around her. Coco was one of many suns, illuminating the thick darkness of the swamp. She was also new sun, only now learning her route, the dances and the power of her light. The universe around her was a dark mass that she and her kin illuminated every day. Her world was simply made up of light and dark: but not this kind of light.

Coco had woken up early. The cold light around her was nothing like the fire she carried around everyday and the world suddenly seemed so large. Everything around her now stood out in sharp, weird hues that she had never seen before. Crawling forward, still in shock and still dazed, she reached the edge of the branch and looked down. Coco shuddered and her body flickered uneasily. The world spun around her as she attempted to judge the distance between her and that thing called ground. She dared not look up, as the stories she had heard – but never believed – invaded her mind.

The ‘other’ sun. An even bigger sun than they, which shone a very different kind of light on the world, but a sun that never came out during the day. Coco had never really believed it and now she was afraid that if she looked up it would all be confirmed. She closed her eyes for a minute, then opened them again. The world started spinning, the vertigo gripped her so fiercely this time that she had to back away from the edge. Coco attempted to flex her wings, surely in the air she would be safe? – it was her element after all. But only hoovering over the branch proved impossible. Bewildered and scared she crawled back under her leaf and settled down, blatantly ignoring the light and the colours around her. Feigning sleep she waited for the hideousness to go away, for the darkness to return and her day (and her universe) to be restored once more.

The darkness came not long after and it did not take long before Coco started to forget the light and the vertigo. Although the memory never completely left her. It resided as a faint echo in her mind, occasionally surfacing when she touched down on a new branch or settled down to sleep. It was the faint notion that something else, something bigger, was waiting just beyond the darkness and the trees. But even that soon moved into the realm of legend.

Nina Lindmark-Lie
What were your prompts?: Firefly, Vertigo

The Labyrinth

The labyrinth was dark. Dark as a starlit night.

The air was blue and cold, and the mist of my breath clouded before me. I could hear my shallow breathing, almost my frantic heartbeat, but all else was silent.

I turned a corner, I turned a corner for the thousandth time and they all looked alike. But this time, I stopped before a pool as clear as black glass, a mirror to the stars above. From somewhere within, a soft light began to glow, nearing the surface. It took form, took a human shape. Limbs unfolded beneath the still surface of the pool and then ripples appeared. A hand came creeping up through the ripples, a white hand that glowed with cool light, the hand of a young girl.

I took the ghostly hand, though I was gripped with fear. My chilled soul grew warm.

As I pulled, the figure floated, light as air, to the surface of the water and she stood upon the glassy pool as though on solid ground.

“What are you?”

“I am light. I am your reward.”

She led me through the darkness for a while. With my hand in hers, all was illuminated. Though the sky above was black and the stars still shone upon a nocturnal world, within the labyrinth the walls and floors were bathed in brilliant light. I flew through the maze, turning, sure of my goal, sure of my direction, but with the fever of hope I grew careless, and reached a wall with no way out but to turn back. It had been so long since my last mistake.

The light snatched her hand away. Her pale, moonlit glow turned to churning red light, her gently floating hair was whipped up in a storm of flame.

“No.” She snarled. “Wrong.”

“What are you?” I breathed.

“I am fire. I am your death.”

I ran.

Rachel Norris
What were your prompts?: Reward, Terror

Love and Other Visions

Christmas time and the fair had come to George Square again. Alisha went with her friends and watched as they whizzed around on the waltzers and queued for the chairoplane.

“Why aren’t you joining in?” they asked her. She told them she was afraid of heights.

The colours and lights were giving her a headache. Nicki Minaj blasting on a sound system that was illegally concealed in a carousel. The smell of hot chips and donuts and the slobbery breath of too much drinking. Alisha was almost thirty; she was too old for this.

The more she stood staring, the more her head started pounding. A flush spread over her cheeks and the tingling stung the surface of her skin.

“Oh fuck,” she whispered. It was returning. The screams shrilled louder, merging into white lines of terror in the air. They fired light into her eyes that burned and burned, and she could not stop shaking with the sensation that her brain was swelling, swelling, her skull tightening and the throbbing not stopping. She tried to close her eyes but then the visions came to her: she saw the amoeba dance with all the shimmer shapes coming off of it in trails of hail, needles stuck through bullet holes tattooed along a body…her boyfriend’s body. The boy she had not seen in years…and his mouth was a jagged hole punched in glass; she reached for his cheek but her fingers went through it, felt the silvery liquid pixelate against her skin. People flying through the sky, screaming, falling – the chaos of things colliding. A metallic taste on her tongue and she felt herself falling backwards, her body involuntarily shuddering, slipping down, down to that gaping space below her – a chasm of fiery stars, insects dripping horrid oil  and the putrid smell of cordite that she could not place – not quite – she looked at her arms, trying to find something solid, but they opened up to her – she saw the red flesh of muscle as in a medical textbook, veins oozing and wriggling with the heads of snakes. The ache, the ache, the ache.

“No!” she cried out, but no-one was listening…

Children’s laughter, echoing out, morphing into banshee shrieks. The veins criss-crossed to form a colossal knot that pulsed and juddered like a human heart. She wanted to touch it, to untangle it, but the black slime stuck to her fingers like molasses and now there were shadows coming towards her and her tongue was – she could not feel her tongue! – she felt the clammy swallow of absence in her throat and sank back against the railings. A luminous sun was upon her, bright rays raging over her face. Love, love, love it sang. Love, love – then there was distortion, radio-crackle and harshness…she thought how all she wanted to do was fall back into that starry space…that blackness…

Something strong hauled her up and she felt the world reassemble again. Patches of reality: a pram, a carousel, a string of Christmas lights blinking in her vision. Some terrible pain lurched in her chest and still she could not speak. She waited and waited, struggling to breathe.

“Alisha, what’s wrong?” She recognised, finally, the face of her friend Sarah standing with a security guard in a high-vis jacket. Alisha could not help it; she turned round and vomited over the railings. She felt the disapproving stare of mothers; she was too old for this to be happening.

“Was it the donuts?” Sarah asked, looking concerned. The security guard disappeared to deal with a bunch of teenagers drunkenly trying to kick in the ice sculptures. The sound of glass shattering burst in Alisha’s head.

“N-no,” she stuttered, “it’s just…I…something bad happened here once.” She stared down at the smooth surface of her wrists and felt a swell of relief; the sight of solidity, of her own milky skin – even the gurning of her jaw and gums – that was real, that was love.

(Prompts: fairground photo, accident, flashback)

by Maria Rose Sledmere

Dust and Melancholy

Josef woke up to dust and melancholy. Through the slatted blinds, sunlight shone in regimented lines, each illuminating seas of dead life. He sat up, sluggish and sulky, and when he looked in the mirror he saw that his eyes had melted and hardened overnight, like an unsupervised candle left to wilt. For a moment he was sad, for which reason he did not know, but he had awoken in a state of sadness and chose to sustain it. Perhaps he had dreamt an unhappy dream, perhaps his unconsciousness had pondered some buried, untouched emotion, could it be loneliness? It was not certain. Josef dug no further.

But Josef had been silly, he slapped himself a couple of times and rubbed his eyes. He had forgotten that he has control over his emotions, a sleepy daze occupied him briefly, deceived by his own delirium. And so now, he moved around the room more forcefully: the blinds were hoisted, the window opened, he sprayed the room with air freshener, a springly scent, daffodils on dewy grass, before leaving to work. He looked once more in the mirror as he left, his eyes promised vitality, albeit in a somewhat artificial way, as though they had been repainted, a glooping, watery honey now rather than the pale calcite of minutes ago. With this final glance toward himself, he departed with a new-found smile on his face – a smile that if were to be inspected further would show possible signs of feigning; the quivering dimple, as though held by strings from unsteady hands, and the slow, resistant transition back to stillness. The scent of daffodils followed him down the stairs, but waned as he opened the front door and stepped into the rain.

(prompts: daffodils photo, wistful, deceit)

by Marcus Bechelli