Break of Dawn – Flash Fiction

Break of Dawn – Flash Fiction

The cliff soared high above the churning lake below, its face rugged. The jutting rocks were perfect for giving fallen explorers a false sense of hope in their dire situation.

Without help, they had all lost their hold.

The young woman clung with her fingers and feet to the most prominent holds she could reach, sweat trickling down her spine in the cool of the evening. She clenched her jaw and adjusted her grip.

“Daddy…please…”

Of course, it was her fault that she’d fallen. He’d told her not to go anywhere near the edge of this cliff. But he loved her; she knew that. He loved her like no one else would ever love her.

He would come.

She knew he would.

Fingers aching, she glanced down. The moonlight shattered and glinted on the face of the roiling water, mocking. Boasting. Beckoning.

Don’t look down.

Her father’s voice echoed in her ears, and she tilted her face to the sky. Studded with stars, it brought memories rushing back.

“Can you count the stars, sweetie?”

“No, Daddy. I keep trying, but there are too many. They keep going on forever and ever!”

“They do, don’t they? Just like the way I love you.”

She had giggled and snuggled close to him. His beard had been rough and comforting against her cheek, his arms strong and safe around her. “I love you, too, Daddy.”

“I know, sweetheart.”

Tears glistened with the sweat on her face now. Did he still know she loved him? Even as she clung here, fallen from the precipice he’d marked off-limits? What would he think if they found her body in the lake far below? Did he have the same confidence in her love as she had in his?

“Daddy…” she whimpered, burying her face in her shoulder. Her muscles screamed. Her fingers ached. “I can’t hold on much longer…Daddy, please…”

The lapping of the waves on the shore far below was a taunt, loud in the silent night. The waves had closed over many wayward souls. She had shaken her head with her father as the rebels had neared the cliff’s edge, dancing closer and closer to destruction. She had cried and prayed with him for wisdom for the prodigals…

And now she, too, had fallen.

She tried to close her mind to what had led her to this place, but her memory dragged each image before her eyes, refusing to let her drown the past in obscurity.

There had been dancers on the cliffs. Beautiful, skilled, other-worldly. They had caught her up in their dance and drawn her nearer and nearer until she’d forgotten where she was. Finally, she’d gotten close enough to grasp one of them…

Her fingers passed through him like he was a mist.

Ghosts. She’d been chasing phantoms.

By then, it was too late. Her toes were already clinging to the cliff’s edge, and the horror of her discovery sent her reeling. She fell, screaming, over the edge, and mercifully found a hold on its face.

Or perhaps it wasn’t mercy. Perhaps it was judgement, giving her ample time to reflect upon her misdeeds before falling to her death – like so many other fools – into the lake below.

“Forgive me.” Her words were a gasp. “Daddy…”

The world blackened, and the stars burned like beacons. Streams of sweat ran into her eyes…or perhaps they were tears? She couldn’t tell anymore. She couldn’t hold on anymore.

“Daddy…please…”

He would come. She knew he would come. She just had to hold on…hold on just a little longer…

Minutes felt like hours. Hours felt like decades. Her muscles felt like fire.

The night crawled on, agony in its essence. She clung to the rock face, her lips moving in silence.

He loves me. He will save me. He loves me. He will come.

As dawn broke in the east, his voice boomed from the top of the cliff. “I’m coming, love.”

What happened next, she could never remember. All she knew was that she awoke in her father’s arms, in the safety of their castle, with love smiling at her from his eyes.

“It’s all right my daughter.

“It’s all right.”

“God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.”

Psalm 46:5b

Photo by Billy Pasco on Unsplash

Reposting “Beyond a Shattered Past – Flash Fiction and Raw Thoughts”

Reposting “Beyond a Shattered Past – Flash Fiction and Raw Thoughts”

Hello, friends!

In last Monday’s post, I said I would be sharing a recap of the writing retreat I attended last month, but, alas, the week was full of other adventures (such as writing a prologue for my new WIP [!!!] and having my guitar accidentally stolen by a band) and I didn’t cut out enough time to write the post.

So here is a post that I shared in January. I still get goosebumps reading it. If the weight of guilt and desperation is weighing heavy on you, this piece is especially for you. It’s my prayer that it gives you hope and a glimpse of God’s redeeming light. ❤

Beyond a Shattered Past – Flash Fiction and Raw Thoughts

What adventures did this week hold for you? I always love hearing from you in the comments!

-Laurel

If I Were Him – Flash Fiction (written by my sister!)

Hello, friends!

I’m really excited to share today’s post with you all…because I really love it, and because my sister Abby wrote it! I think it’s the perfect piece for Holy Week.

I enter the room. I’m a servant, so I’m allowed in here.

The men at the front draw my attention. There is Caiaphas, the high priest, tall and regal, with a stern face, his hands clenched into fists at his side. Near him are the scribes and elders, and the whole council, all talking in excited voices. But the One I am most focused on is the One who is bound. The One at whom the others cast spiteful looks. There is something in His face…a calmness that I cannot place. They are trying to accuse Him, and I know why. They want to put Him to death because He claims to be the Son of God. They are afraid He will turn the people away from obeying their rules. This is why I wonder at His look. He should be upset, fighting for His life. But He’s not.

They start to bring in false witnesses and I watch with wide eyes as they all try to accuse Him. The Man, whom I’ve heard them call Jesus, does not speak. Then they ask Him a question, and He lifts His head. Could that be? A smile on His face? No, it must be the light. He begins to speak, and I strain to hear, but all of a sudden there is scuffling near the door, blocking out His voice. I turn, irritated. A man enters, breathing hard, and he tries his best to silently move to the fire at the far end of the wall where several servants are gathered. His eyes keep flitting to the arguing group in the front, and as he turns his head, something dawns on me. He seems familiar, like I’ve seen him before…but where?

Oh, yes! I’ve seen him with Jesus in the streets. He is the one that would be pushing the crowds away so there would always be a clear path for his teacher. I’m curious about how much he would know about Jesus, and I edge my way closer. He turns when I tap his shoulder. His eyes are wild, but they calm when he sees I’m only a servant.

“You were with Jesus,” I blurt, motioning at the bound Man.

He glares at me. “No, of course not. I have nothing to do with Him.” Other servants crowd around, but he fights them off, insisting he knows nothing about Jesus. He leaves as quickly as possible, and I wonder about that.

If I were a follower of Jesus and were able to follow Him freely through the streets like I’d seen others do, I wouldn’t have denied Him. I glanced at the front again. No, a Man that speaks such wonderful words and performs such amazing miracles I would surely give my life for.

Little did I know that that very day, He would give His life for me.

Question of the day: What would you have done if you were a follower of Jesus on the day He was crucified?

Empty Reflection – Flash Fiction

Empty Reflection – Flash Fiction

It was the kind of forest to which one fled when one’s soul was full of pain, fear, or secrets. His bore all three.

The wild crashing of his boots through the underbrush calmed as his strength waned. He was not a weak man; muscles strained beneath the sleeves that the saplings’ fingers had shredded, but even the simplest of village doctors knew that losing too much blood could kill the strongest man.

Especially a man who had lost his will to live.

He slumped against the nearest tree and slid to the ground. Twigs and dead leaves crackled beneath him. He closed his eyes and groaned, gasping for the breath that drove daggers through his lungs.

His hair – not trimmed in months – fell across his face in a matted mess. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d combed it. Since…that day…he’d seen no reason for caring for himself.

No reason for living.

He groaned again, almost a scream this time, as the pain intensified and blurred his vision. The trees that filtered dying sunlight gave way to smeared browns and greens, swirling in a dizzying dance. He blinked and the blur cleared into a face.

Her face.

He gasped with pain again, and something in him kept him from shaking her image from his mind.

“Gable.” The memory of her voice was gentle, quiet…urgent. Her eyes held onto his, and once again he saw in them their pleading.

Her pleading.

“Gable…you are more than this.”

He clawed for his leather knapsack and dug in the front pocket. His blood-crusted fingers closed around something, and he yanked it up before his eyes, staring. Staring at the piece of himself reflected in the tiny mirror.

He forced himself not to wince. He made himself take in the dirty hair, the beard full of leaves, the young scars, the bloodshot eyes.

He met them with bold recklessness, staring deep into the eyes as though searching for a treasure he’d buried there long ago. Desperate for some affirmation that her words were true…that he hadn’t lost the last hope of being the man she’d believed he could be.

He searched in agony.

He couldn’t find it.

This time the groan was a roar, and he flung the mirror away. It shattered against the rock face that rose before him, and he turned his face away, gritting his teeth.

“You know I was right, Fern. You know I was right.”

Delirium carried his mind away, taking it on a wearying journey through pieces of his past. He saw again his mother, laughing and applauding as she watched him fight off imaginary enemies with his wooden sword. His father teaching him how to adjust his hold on the sword, how to lunge, how to thrust, how to twist the blade just so.

And Fern. Ever Fern.

Laughing with and at him. Listening to his wild stories, his clumsy jokes, his deepest fears. Calming his soul. In the reflection he’d caught in her eyes, he’d seen a hero. A bold warrior. A worthy man.

“This is not who you are, Gable!”

He remembered the flash he’d rarely seen in her eyes. Anger. Righteous anger. It had snapped in her eyes and lit a kindred fire in his heart.

“You tell me who I’m going to be?”

He’d stormed off without her…but a piece of him hoped she was right.

Even in his delirium he tried to shove away the memory that came next. His groaning rose, and he gasped her name.

“I never meant…I never meant to leave you for life…”

The trees swirled into darkness, and miles away, even more years away, he saw two teenagers: young, clueless, blinded by hope.

“I will always, always be there for you, Fern. Always.”

He had never seen eyes so trusting. “I know you will, Gable.” The breeze carried her voice now from years ago… “And I’ll be here for you.”

“Where are you now?” His scream bounced off of the rock face. “Where are you now?”

Screaming at her ghost felt better than acknowledging his own broken promise…for a moment. But silence – as always, now – met his question, and he sobbed.

“But I couldn’t…I couldn’t have protected you. I couldn’t have saved you, Fern…”

Some enemies, he’d learned, could not be fought off with a sword.

I wrote this one from the prompt words mirror, iliad, empathy, blood, toss, and crack. This was meant to be a stand-alone flash fiction piece, but now I want to know more about this story! XD

Photo by Tom Morel on Unsplash

October Memories – 2021

October Memories – 2021

Ah! Finally an October recap!

My blogging schedule has slipped a little bit recently… but I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things here again!

Things worth remembering…

  • Delicious and ginormous tomatoes from the garden
  • Walks with my sister
  • Putting together an aesthetic collage for the novel I worked on this summer
  • Making mini watercolor paintings
  • Seeing one of my poems actually PRINTED IN A BOOK for the very first time!!!
  • Deciding to tackle NaNoWriMo for the first (and perhaps only) time in my life (translation for non-writers: deciding to write 50,000 words on a novel in the month of November)
  • Bible studies and banter with friends
  • How gorgeous a sunrise on the farm can be

Notes on life…

Getting the salt and vinegar kettle chips instead of the original ones ensures that you get nearly the entire bag to yourself.

***

One does not *necessarily* die after finishing a stranger’s pint of gelato.

***

Alan Gogoll has some stellar music.

Recent reads…

Papa’s Wife – Thyra Ferré Björn

This is a good read for those moments when you want a good laugh without exhausting your brain.:)

How to Stay Motivated {Energize, Recharge, Relax} – Allison

All the motivational posts and energetic music in the world won’t get your work done. You have to do that.

Oh, man, did this post ever pop up in my feed at the right time!! So, so many good ideas in here.

What Darkness Fears: An Anthology

You are the observer, being observed. The people watcher, being watched. You are a rat that doesn’t know it’s trapped in a maze. – from “People Watchers” by Lara E. Madden

If you’re looking for a smattering of short stories and poetry that portray light contrasted with darkness, here ya go! To be completely honest, I don’t care for all of the content… but there are some stellar pieces in here!

Oh, and yours truly may have a poem in this one…:)

From the journal…

Maybe changing the world isn’t suddenly changing the tide. Maybe it’s doing justice. Loving mercy. Walking humbly with our God.

Lord, give me an insatiable hunger for You. Give me the strength to live my life in a way that nurtures that hunger.

God, give me focus… vision… sense of a mission.

Thank You, Lord… that even in my weakest moments, I still have the strength to make decisions and carry them out for your glory.

Scripture gives us intellectual understanding, which then shows us our failures… then it points out how we can correct them, and then live out a righteous life.

I wasn’t born to change the world. I was born to glorify You.

Words of Wisdom

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” – C.S. Lewis

***

“If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?” – Stephen Levine

***

“If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.” – Mother Teresa

***

“He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” – 2 Corinthians 5:15

What made your October momentous?

This Is Over – Flash Fiction

This Is Over – Flash Fiction

Gulping in desperate breaths of air, she slowed her pace, eyes darting across the shadowed forest that hunched along either side of the crooked path.

No moving shadows.

And there was the stump – standing weary guard over long-kept secrets.

Secrets that must be no more.

Her muddied boot slipped on the edge of the spade she’d brought, but finally forced it to bite the earth and turn the mouthful over, damp and clumped.

She dug until she hit metal.

She swiped the back of her hand across her forehead, smearing dirt and sweat into mud. She stumbled to her knees, seemingly careless of her best skirt. She clawed at and broke the fragile chain around her neck, letting its pendant land in her gloved hand.

The key ground in the lock, but it turned.

She pulled out the letters one by one, scrambling them all into one jumbled heap pressed against her heaving chest. As she opened each one, she resisted the urge to let her gaze sweep the graceful handwriting that curled across each page.

This is over.

She threw each one into the mud at the side of the path, coating it with a thin dusting of paper snow.

Her boots worked across the muck, grinding her past into the earth until its filth had become one with the rotting leaves and bloated earth.

She marched back the way she had come.

She never returned.

Photo by Lanju Fotografie on Unsplash

I’ll Hold Him – Flash Fiction

I’ll Hold Him – Flash Fiction

Everyone says he’s too big for me to carry now.

It’s probably true. His legs in his favorite Superman pajama pants (the ones that are way too short and ragged) dangle past my knees when I carry him piggyback, and I can’t run with him like I used to.

But I’ll carry him until he stops asking…

‘Cause I know that one of these days he’ll stop begging to be close to me. One of these days he’ll stop giving me butterfly kisses, chubby arms tangled around my neck, almost choking me. One of these days my shoulder won’t be the one he clings to and bawls on when his little heart gets broken.

One of these days he’ll think he’s stopped needing me.

I’ll hold him while I can.

Photo by Bethany Beck on Unsplash

July Flash Fiction Writing Challenge!!!

July Flash Fiction Writing Challenge!!!

Surprise! A Thursday blog post again.:)

I want to be writing more flash fiction. So… I put together a list of one word prompts – one for each day of July – to use to get my creative juices flowing into some flash fiction pieces. I’ll be writing one piece of flash fiction for each prompt. I thought I’d share the prompts here so you guys can be writing along with me this month if you’d like!

  1. firefly
  2. anthem
  3. scratch
  4. sacrifice
  5. melody
  6. ice cream
  7. belonging
  8. shred
  9. balance
  10. thunderstorm
  11. jar
  12. awake
  13. daisy
  14. disintegrate
  15. hoop
  16. soar
  17. sliver
  18. classic
  19. pungent
  20. muddy
  21. euphoria
  22. glass
  23. dwindle
  24. highway
  25. firecracker
  26. unrest
  27. sandals
  28. serendipity
  29. twig
  30. wary
  31. shuffle

Let me know in the comments if you plan to take the challenge so I can be cheering you on!! I’m super excited to do this… and arrive at the end of July with 31 whole new pieces of flash fiction!

Stop Hiding – Flash Fiction

Hello, friends! I have another flash fiction for you today. Actually, it has a very similar theme to this poem I wrote a few months ago! I hope you enjoy it.:)

“Stop hiding.”

The girl stares back at me blankly. Arms crossed, lips resting in a sullen droop. Unconvinced. Waiting for me to say more.

I hesitate, then take a breath. “How can you expect to be understood when all you’ll give them is a false front?”

“It’s safer this way.” She swallows and breaks eye contact, studying the linoleum.

“Maybe.” I stare at her and she stares back, chocolate eyes pooling with tears. “But… don’t you want people to know who you truly are?”

“Yeah, but…” she pauses, and a tear falls from her lower eyelid. Her toe traces circles on the floor.

I wait. I know her well enough to know that she’ll talk when she’s ready. And she does.

“My story isn’t worth knowing.”

“That’s not true… every story’s worth knowing.”

“Mine isn’t.” Another tear splashes onto her dusty foot.

“But… what if… other people have stories like yours? And they need to know they’re not alone?” I wrap my arms around myself. “What if you’re the one who needs to let them know that?”

Silence aches on for several moments. I can hear her breathing… deep, searching breaths facing down near-terror. She watches more tears paint damp circles on her toes.

Finally…

“Okay.” She sniffs and blinks, her fist smearing tears on her face. “I won’t keep hiding.”

I nod and turn away from the mirror.

Alone

Alone

I wrote this flash fic piece from the perspective of one of my favorite characters in the novel I’m writing.

And don’t worry… he’s gonna be okay.:)

The room is warm. Stifling. I would open the window if the breeze wouldn’t carry the scent of lilacs and an onslaught of memories.

I can’t sleep.

I kick off the sheets and stumble to the window, leaning my forehead against the cool glass. Respite from the heat seeps from the smooth pane into and across my forehead, providing a touch of relief from the oppression that coats my body in a thin film of sweat.

I keep my eyes wide, afraid of what my mind’s eye will see if I close them again. Rather, afraid of how my heart would respond.

I suck in a breath and stare through the glass. All I can see is inky darkness – the firm silhouettes of barns and treelines that straggle across a horizon the sun abandoned. These are silhouettes I could trace in my sleep. I’ve lived most of my life to see new skylines… why does the skyline of my childhood so fascinate me now?

It beats staring at the untouched pillow next to mine.

My breath fogs the windowpane and I twist my head to the side, cooling my cheek against the glass while heat burns behind my eyes. I don’t fight the tears anymore… at least not when I’m alone.

Alone.

I clench my jaw against the word. A year ago it meant independence. Freedom to do whatever I wanted to do. Freedom to go wherever I wanted to go. Freedom to choose the future I wanted to live.

Freedom to choose someone who would be taken from me.

It is not good for the man to be alone…

My hands tighten into helpless fists and I slide to the floor, letting my head fall back against the wall. Tears trickle into my ears as I lift my face to the ceiling.

God…

He knows what’s coming. It’s all I’ve been able to say to Him since…

 I bow my head. I’m sick of saying it. I wonder if He gets sick of hearing it. But I have to tell Him. Our lines of communication can’t go down, and so… I whisper.

Why?

Photo by Iván Barcia on Unsplash