On the last day of the month Alice leaves the warmth of her bed in their cabin and walks through the field to the jetty. An early morning sun caresses ice touched grass, the cold dew numbs her feet. The hem of her night gown is sodden as she reaches the jetty but Alice doesn’t notice.
The end of the jetty remains broken, like a dying swan dipping its beak into the creek one last time. With slow measured steps Alice walks to the end, not through fear or caution but anticipation. Her lover is coming back to her, with patience and hope they will be reunited.
Alice feels the suns rays bathe her, the weak heat dissolves the frosty winters breath. The white sun warms her skin but the grey water shuns its favour. She sits and feels the gnarled wood press against the skin of her thighs. The water is cold and she gasps as it ripples around her naked feet. The sensation is both painful and exciting.
Alice has waited for thirty days before returning to the broken jetty. Every morning she fought the urge to return but the words of her lover echoed in her mind.
If it’s hope you want, do not return before the month’s end. I beg you stay away. My words will fall soon enough my love.
Her hands idly stroke the charred boards, charcoal coats her fingers. Alice inhales the musky wet odour. Memories of their last night together swim through her mind.
Fire and smoke.
Masked men with guns.
Rage and anger.
Her lover surrounded, his destiny set by those unwilling to see beyond colour, beyond flesh.
As she plays the water between her toes Alice wonders if it was all a dream. Her lover, her poet, taken from her life, removed from his. Their jetty ruined through malice and ignorance. She stares at the sun with closed eyes. A flame of anger burns deep within her. It is dwarfed by the light of hope.
Alice hears her lovers final words as clear as the moment he spoke them. When the flames ate through the jetty and her lover fell to the icy water, he looked up at her, not with anger but sadness and love. Ignoring the flames that licked at his beautiful ebony face he spoke one last time.
Love is eternal. We are one, the same, entwined for all time. All I know are words. They are all I can offer you now. Do not seek to find me. I am not my body. I am my soul, your soul, your love. If it’s hope you want, do not return before the month’s end. I beg you stay away. My words will fall soon enough my love.
Alice pulls her feet from the water and walks to the very tip of the jetty, where the swan’s wooden beak touches the water. She smells smoke in the air but this time it isn’t a memory. The pale blue winter sky dims as a rain cloud forms overhead.
For the first time since leaving her cabin, Alice realises she is wearing nothing but her night gown, little protection from the rain. But she will not leave. Her lover is returning to her. If that means greeting him washed through then so be it.
The cloud darkens as it draws near.
Alice watches it, willing it to change course, to leave their reunion in peace.
A single dark petal floats down and lands on her face. She flicks it aside. The wind must have stirred up a nearby meadow of winter blossom. Perhaps it is her lover speaking to her, offering flowers as a gift. A reminder that he will always be with her.
Another speck of grey touches her cheek and she pulls it away.
It isn’t a petal but a letter.
From a newspaper?
As she stands on the jetty, seeking reasons for such a thing, more letters float around her. Some land on the grey creek water, others on the jetty and her nightgown. Alice knows this cannot be the result of someone burning a newspaper. The letters are perfectly formed, not charred or crisp, but as if someone has lifted them from a book and tossed them into the air.
Alice is showered in a rain of letters. She snatches them out of the air like snowflakes. The rain cloud soon empties itself of its strange cargo and Alice is left with letters clinging to her skin and gown.
A final flurry of letters fall from the sky. She holds out her hands. A gentle breeze flips them over and they drop gently onto her palm.
She reads the letters with wonder and then astonishment.
On this day, every year, a cloud of words I send to you.
For now until we are reunited.
Poetry for my love.
My soul in my words.
My love in the air.
My love for you.
This short story was inspired by Indigo Spider’s Sunday Picture Press – a challenge to write between 50 and 1500 word piece of fiction using one of 4 photos as a prompt. This weeks prompt was entitled “Future Desire” and came with 3 additional prompts. I loved the quiet solemn jetty and the prompt: A mysterious letter falls from the sky.
Most SPP prompts inspire me to write quite long pieces, well, a few thousand words at least. However, this week I thought about a simple and short piece to go with the lonely jetty. Every week I read so many amazing short pieces by people who respond to Indigo’s SPP. They create amazing imagery and choose their words carefully to bring a story to life in such a short space. I tend to get wrapped up in creating worlds and characters that don’t like being trapped in nothing less than a few thousand words.
This week was different. The story only needed to be short. 840 words was enough.
Excellent picture prompts from Indigo. If you want to join in and write a short piece of fiction clicky-click Indigo Spider’s link above and wrap your imagination around one of the pictures.