Flash Fiction No.4 …Sort Of.

This piece of flash fiction is actually a short story a friend (Louise Murray) asked me to write for her Beltane festival piece. It’s just over the 1000 word margin hence the flash fiction 1000 tag, but I hope you enjoy it.

Ephemeral Elemental Echoes 

Rain shimmered in the air, weeping down over the grey bay. The tide rolled and burst over the melancholy sands, whipped into a furore by the angry wind. Rocks cowed beneath the pressure of the rabid spray, flayed to sand by the water’s temper. All about the bay howled with the wind’s derision as it crashed against the thunderous power of the sea. Rain skittered over rocks and paths, frantic grasses and crumbling headlands. Gulls screeched, clamouring for warmth and safety from the battle.

The sound of war had rattled on for three days, now.

Then, with a final sweep of defiance, the wind dropped.

The rain continued to fall in a soft slant, sizzling as it smattered the sodden silver sand. The sea smugly rolled in and out, pride glittering on its dark face. It rumbled to itself in delight. Each rumble was a quiver of self-congratulation. The figure on the shore sparked a match. The flame flickered in his face beneath his baseball cap. It illuminated wide, staring eyes and an earnest expression as he lit his cigarette. The match was cast aside. It died quickly in the soaking sand.

He didn’t notice.

He continued staring out to sea with his coat wrapped around his mortal shoulders. He’d been there for three days. The storm meant nothing to him. He didn’t understand it, but he waited. The rain speckled his hat and shoulders. He took a lungful of the cigarette, tossing the crumpled packet to the ground. He had to wait.

The murderous clouds cleared overhead and the rain petered out.

She’d said she’d be back…

He expelled the breath of blue smoke into the still air. The moon had risen and was gazing down over the stilled sea. The water seemed to ache with a longing for the calm orb in the sky, but the man did not notice. He didn’t see the moon. All he could see was the ocean stretching away from him and all he could wonder was when she would be back. His shaking fingers brought the cigarette back to his parched lips. He hadn’t eaten for three days. He needed her. Eyes that had once been green but were now grey, drained of all their vibrancy, stared sorely out over the sea.

She’d said she’d be back…

His hands were so numb that he couldn’t feel them… but he was no longer concentrating on bodily sensations. They didn’t matter when his heart belonged to her.

And she’d said she’d be back…

That was when they started singing…

They sang so softly that you couldn’t hear their voices. Their soft, sweet voices called out over the waters in a silken harmony. The sound of their gentle harps and exquisite violins curled out over the foam. It was a haunting eulogy played out in ephemeral echoes. The ghostly voices continued to sing from way out in the surf.

She’d said she’d be back.

He didn’t know that he heard them. Their phantom voices were too beautiful and too unearthly to be recognised by mortal ears. And yet, the lyrical murmurs twisting with the lullabies of the lyres curled around his heart, squeezing tight.

He stared wide out over the waters, poise still as the voices swirled around him, drowned him. The cigarette fell to the floor, extinguished in the damp sand. He shucked his heavy coat, threw off his cap and tugged at his galoshes. His face was young, but beaten by the weather and vacant from the long hours he had spent staring out at the sea. They had warned him not to look for too long, but he hadn’t listened. They’d said he seemed to be fading away. They’d said it was like he had been cursed. It was like a wraith was draining away the very essence of his soul. He’d barely noticed. Even as he tugged off his socks, all he could see was her.

She’d said she’d be back.

He lifted his fevered eyes up to the sea and hurried, unaware of the soft voices calling out to him and whispering his name in delight and veiled desire. His feet crushed the sand, which made no move to stop him, save him from this madness. The bubbling surf wrapped around his calves as he rushed. He didn’t notice it froth and clamour around his legs. He just strode deeper in, a fever in his dulled eyes as the moonlight glittered over him. He thought he could see her standing in the sea. It was only up to her waist and she was laughing, the wind playing with her pale hair like sea spray in the breeze. A wide smile lit up his lips.

She’d said she’d be back.

The voices grew louder as he drew closer to the image of her, unaware that the sea had reached up to his chest. He kept going, seeing only her, blind to the ghostly figures of ethereal creatures emerging without a ripple from the water. They followed him, singing their soft eulogy.

He stopped, as close to her as he dared.

She turned around to face him like a mirage in the desert. He thought she was more beautiful and more illuminating than the light of day. He was grey and transparent in comparison. Her eyes shone with mirth, her mouth merry and laughing. She took his hands and kissed him lightly on the lips. His mouth curved as he stared up at her.

She’d said she’d be back.

He didn’t notice that he was sinking. He just kept smiling up at her and she smiled back, enchanting him. The ghosts danced around them, their sweet, haunting voices holding the two figures inside their circle, within the trance of their lullaby. The water bubbled and frothed as it slowly crept higher up his body, but he didn’t notice. He continued smiling up at her, not realising that he was slipping further and further away. The sirens swayed and sang.

She’d said…

He continued to smile, his dull eyes disappearing beneath the waves, his arms reaching up to her.

He sank.



Down into the chasm of underwater darkness where rays of light can never penetrate…

The girl moved to face her singing companions. Her skin grew silvery and then translucent as she began to sway with their haunting song, joining them in their song that seeped into the bones of anyone soul sick enough to listen. They waved and danced, slowly dispersing like ghostly ripples.

On the shore, three figures watched.

The young woman closed her eyes. Her hair shivered in the air and she disappeared in a soft gust of wind. The young, dark haired man glanced at his remaining companion before melting back into the earth.

Fiery eyes turned to the maiden still dancing under the moonlight on the surface of the too still sea. He brushed back a flick of his red hair and pursed his lips. She was still dancing. Her sirens had slipped away, leaving her beauty to his gaze. Mortals fell away before that beauty. They bared their sickly souls to be salved by her silent grace. She saw him and stopped dancing, standing bare foot on the far out waves as her eyes followed his. He nodded, flames rippling in his mane. Her eyes smiled in a sad briny way before she continued her haunting steps. He looked down to the side. The water was a mistress that nobody could tame. After a long pause to watch her again, he clicked his fingers and disappeared in a plume of fire.

The young woman continued to dance her salute to the moonlight, delicate feet dappling the water with minute ripples. Her sirens sang their haunting song and worshipped her from the sunken depths.

Far below the surface, the young man awoke. He crawled to the surface to behold the dancer’s beauty. For the first time, he could hear the song of the silver wraiths. The haunting lullaby rang out over the water. He began to sway as they swayed, his grey eyes filled with slivers of moonlight. Before long, he too was singing, softly serenading her with the soulful murmurs of the other sirens. His former life lay forgotten on the bottom of the deep, ready to awaken healed when another soul slipped willing into the sea.

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3 thoughts on “Flash Fiction No.4 …Sort Of.”

  1. You are amazing – I know you don't believe it but seriously you are – amazing and talented. This is perfect 🙂 Can not thank you enough.

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