bonfire, cave, fire, flash fiction, Jennifer Gallagher, shadows, short stories, tear, writing
by Jennifer Gallagher
Their long thin shadows danced across the floor, flickering with the sunlight as they paced backwards and forwards. In the murmuring chorus of voices it was impossible to tell one person from another.
The shadows had been cast for the seventh time, telling me that even a whole week on no one cared enough to come and find me. For a few days I had confusion in my mind, confusion about where they must think I am and why no one had come looking for me. Now I realise it’s because they know. They know where I am and they are not coming for me.
I wonder if the same shapes are still in the sky. Has the world also changed along with those who I thought I knew so well? I lean forward and try to see out of the small entrance way but the binds that tie me pull tight and I sink back in defeat. Will I ever again be able to see the white shapes in the sky that once held my imagination? I am starting to doubt that. I know with more certainty than anything I have ever known in my short life that the last thing I see before I die will not be the glistening of the warm sun. I look at the brown walls with their jagged points surrounding me and accept what my last look will be upon.
The shadows slowed and came to a stop, causing my heart to quicken and my breath to catch in my chest. Seven days the same view with no change until now. This change could only mean the end was near. Silence descended and I could hear the crackle of the fire that had been set nearby. I could hear the sacred words, sung high, beckoning forgiveness for our collective wrongdoings that had caused this drought.
A figure stooped and entered my last room, blocking out the dying light of the day as he came. I never saw his face but I could smell the bonfire on him as he came toward me. I could smell something unusual, unfamiliar, on the rag he held to my face. As he turned his head away from me I could see the sun glint in his eye, a corner lit by a drop, a tear escaping.
Jennifer Gallagher is a librarian by day and a short fiction writer by night. Her first major work, The Day the Book Fell in the River, received commendations from all her primary school teachers, encouraging her to continue writing throughout her life. She can be found on Twitter (@medievaljenga) and at jennifergallagher.co.uk.