This week we had to write Flash Fiction which is a fancy way of saying “short story.” This week, I have the pleasure of hosting Jennifer Don. Let me tell you a little about Jennifer. Besides her kick ass name (hehe) she entered our shared writing group with a kind, opinionated flare I admired right from the get go. Jennifer is a hard, honest writer who puts it out there. If I had half the dedication she started off with a few years ago, I’d be finishing up Messy Death’s sequel instead of just getting the first draft of Book 1 finished. Without further gushing, here’s Jhonny…wait. Nop. That’s wrong. Here’s Jennifer!
This week, the challenge set before us was a little harder to grasp. The task: To write a Flash Fiction short story based on the photograph we chose. For me, I liked the oddity of the tree branch in black and white.
Dry. Dead. Wasted. Rather than tears, he felt anger slide down his face. But it continued sliding down to the cold ground as he noticed how fragile it was. Then he realized how fragile he was.
To me it spoke of several aspects and several possibly short stories that could run alongside it. But none caught my heart more than the thought of a short that could run alongside Timber Varden, without actually being part of the novel. The image, and the key words that came with it, pushed me in the direction of the story that follows. Death is not the end, falls after the main story has been written, and could feature as a run along novella in the near future but currently stands as a what if feature.
Death Is Not The End – A Short Story.
“Death is not the end. On the contrary it is but the beginning of a new road, a new phase that the soul must journey through. This is hard for you, Christian, I can see that, but he is better off now.” Alvar said as he tried to reassure Christian. “I know you have only recently managed to see him for the person he was meant to be, but it was his time to leave.”
“How… how can you say that? You didn’t know him like I did.” Christian replied as he kept his head low. “Besides, what makes you such an expert on the matter?”
“Christian, have you not yet realised what I am?” Alvar answered.
“I know what you are. You are one of the Guardians of Timber Varden. You told me that, unless you have forgotten already.” Christian clenched his fists as he answered Alvar. In his mind he was split with anger and with sadness mixed with regret. He regretted not getting to know his father sooner before his untimely death and it saddened him to know his son would grow up not knowing his grandfather.
“Christian, I am more than that. Have you not wondered how I can be so near so quick, or how my voice is carried in the wind?”
Christian’s head rose with Alva’s question. “No, it never crossed my mind. But now I want to know, what are you?” he asked as he furrowed his brow.
Alvar didn’t answer straight away. Instead he glanced back to the waterfall from where he first appeared to Christian, a smile grew upon his face in the process. “Do you remember the day we met?”
“Vaguely,” replied Christian. “A lot has happened since then for it to be so clear my mind.”
“Ah yes, the passing of time changes how we come see things, just as it did for you and your father. Christian,” Alvar said as he studied Christian’s curious expression. “I am not a being that is alive like you are. Although my spirit, my presence is here with you, my body has long since walked this earth. Death befell me many years ago. But that has not stopped me from being here right now. Can you see where this is leading?” Alvar asked as he headed to pools edge then back to face Christian.
Just as Christian was about to answer, Sati entered the clearing. The sheer sight of the white wolf always caught Christian’s eye and he could do nothing, or say anything until Sati came to rest at his feet. It was here that Sati looked deep into Christian’s soul. The amber eyes of Sati flickered for a moment in Christian’s mind as images of his father overcame him quickly before they faded once more and were replaced by the immortal memories of Oliver, his son.
Sati had never been far from Christian’s side all through his time in Timber Varden, and it was only now that Christian was truly thankful for his presence. Only Sati knew how to keep Christian’s mind on that which mattered most. He had been a strong presence for Christian during his difficult months spent alone, trying to regain the person he was.
“Life remains even after death, Christian. I know what Sati has just shown you and I know this will take some time before you will truly accept it.” Alvar uttered as he interrupted Christian’s thoughts that arose from the wolf.
“No, I accept it. It’s just, I don’t understand.” Christian confessed to his confusion, but would never confess to the pain he felt inside. For once in his life, he thought he could have everything how he had dreamed. But to have his father back in his life and then taken so quickly from him, was not what he wanted at all. “Why couldn’t I have had more time with him? To watch my son grow up knowing his grandfather, why did the universe see fit to take that from him?”
Alvar watched intently as Christian’s face concealed the pain he truly felt. But no matter how hard Christian tried to hide it, Alvar could always see it in him. “Christian….”
Christian didn’t respond. His thoughts raced around those what if questions that formulated in his mind. The scene’s he had once painted in is thoughts flashed before him in despair as he fought hard to not show his emotions.
“Christian…” repeated Alvar. “I don’t have those answers for you. There is nothing that I can say to you right now that will ease the burden of death. There are no words for the tears you hold so tightly and there are no words for the thoughts that cross your mind. What you hide from me now, I can see but know that I will not reveal that to anyone else. Not that I can really. Only you have been able to see me here. Come, let me show you something.”
Christian cast a quizzical look in Alvar’s direction as he signalled for him to come and stand beside the water’s edge. Curiosity got the better of him as he rose to his feet. At the water’s edge, Christian couldn’t hold back his question. “What am I supposed to be looking at Alvar?”
“Your heart,” whispered Alvar.
“My heart…? What does that have to do with what I’m going through?”
“Stop questioning, Christian. You think too much to see what I am trying to show you. Look into the water and open your heart, allow the memories to step forward and see your father once more.”
Christian did as he was asked and stared somewhat distantly into the ripples of water before him. Stare as he might, he couldn’t see anything that matched what Alvar said he would. “Alvar, this isn’t going….” He stopped midway as the water before him transformed into an image that reminded him of an old photograph. An old tree, stood tall and alone in what looked like a garden, his garden from his childhood. A rope hung down from one of the stronger branches with a tyre tied firmly to it. The ground below was well worn from countless fun upon the swing and leaves danced in the gentle wind.
Through the wind, he heard his name being called. “Christian….” He turned in the direction it came, but no-one was there.
For once, he thought he heard is father and with it, a single tear slid down his cheek and dropped into the water below, erasing the one single image it had to hold for him. As it faded, Christian collapsed down onto his knees; no longer could he withhold the loss of his father any more. No more did he care for who would see him in this way as the tears fell one by one.
As Christian released what he had held so tightly, Sati cautiously approached him and nudged his face. A small whimper escaped the wolf as he seemed to grieve along with him. Even in the depths of his fear, Christian marvelled over the wolf, and his trust. Even when Christian wrapped his arm around Sati’s neck and pulled him closer, the wolf didn’t growl or snarl as he could have done. Here he buried his head into the soft thick coat and allowed his tears to escape him freely as he found a small measure of comfort.
Together, they huddled on the ground and became as one, both in grief and company, the bond of wolf and man forever eternal with the hearts of Christian and Sati. Nothing could shatter that now, not even death as Christian was beginning to realise.
Now that you’ve read my flash fiction short story, would you care to share your thoughts upon it?
When you look upon the chosen image as a prompt to write with, what images does it conjure up in your mind? What stories would you have written with it?
About Jennifer Don
Jennifer spent many years without daring to lift a pen, without writing a word that wasn’t forced. But 2008 arrived and with it, her love of writing. She began with poetry which quench her thirst to begin with but soon that wasn’t enough to satisfy her. 2011 arrived with a dream to write her first novel – Awakening, which is on-going. November saw her attempt her first NaNoWriMo, and so Timber Varden was born, with the bulk of it being written within that month. Now she finds herself aiming to re-write that draft and turn it into her first published novel.
While she aims to work through the edits needed, updates on her progress can be found on here –http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJenniferDon
To find out more with regards to her other projects, then check out her blog here – http://thoughtsgowild.blogspot.co.uk/
And should you wish to follow her on Twitter, or ask her any questions please see here –https://twitter.com/#!/Voice_Of_Spirit
You can also add and follow Jennifer over on Goodreads. You will find that link here – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6155054.Jennifer_Don
Jennifer will be more than happy to answer any questions you have for her. You can contact her at any of the links posted above. Or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org