The red-gold sky stretches ahead, still as a salt flat,
resting on clouds that obscure the landscape beneath. The rippled granite of
the summit unrolls behind me to the horizon.
I’m halfway, balanced on the edge between the climb
and the fall.
Taking the granite path will definitely bring
pain, though a pain dulled by familiarity. I’m already acquainted with the
endless drone of regret, each day as pewter-grey as the last, until even the
daily acts of washing, eating, breathing have become too tiresome to sustain.
A long dying, followed by a long death.
Stepping into the sky will probably bring pain – my
body a shattered, bloody mess, lacerated by the knives of jutting rocks as I
fall. Or, who knows? I might soar through the sky like a gull, held in the warm
arms of the air. My grandma used to say that, for every demon’s push, there’s
an angel’s embrace.
The only way to avoid either of these pains is to
choose the other.
It is the vernal equinox today. I heard it on the
news. Today there is an equal quantity of light and dark. Here, we’re about to
tip from winter into spring, but elsewhere they’ll vice versa it and move from
spring to winter. The magic is in such borders, they claim. On the brink of
here and there, of sleep and consciousness, of death and life.
My grandma used to claim you could balance an egg on
its smaller end at such times. But what good does that do? Balanced on its end,
it’s still an egg. It still smashes as it hits the ground, or grows rank and
sour from being kept in the same bowl too long.
I’ll choose the red-gold sky.
I’ll hope for an angel.
[297 words, including title]
Came Third in Fosseway Flash Fiction Competition 2022
- Theme: Equinox
Louise Wilford lives and works in Yorkshire, UK, with her husband and an elderly cat. She has been writing poetry and prose since childhood. Her work has been widely published, most recently in Allium, Epistemic Literary, 805, Heartland Review, Last Leaves, New Verse News, Ocotilo Review, Pine Cone Review, Punk Noir, River and South, Silver Blade, The Avenue, POTB, Balloons Lit, Parakeet, The Fieldstone Review, and Black Hare Press, and was nominated for Best Of The Net in 2022. In 2020, she won First Prize in the Arts Quarterly Short Story Competition, and was awarded a Masters in Creative Writing (Distinction). She is working on a fantasy novel.
You can read her blog here: https://louviewsnewscues.blogspot.com/