Short Fiction ~ Soufyaan Timol
Honourable Mention, Strands International Flash Fiction Competition - 8
You tread towards the shore, bare feet bristling with scabs and blisters, old and new, that send sharp shivers up your legs. The sands shift to allow you pass, scrunches within itself, fine layer into fine layer. Your clothes are torn and blood seeps through the myriad cuts along your back, your neck; drawing patterns over your skin, tracing lines of vicious agony. Your strength is failing, your muscles screaming for clemency, sinews stretched to spasming soreness. Pain lances up your abdomen into your torso, through your battered throat and past the fissured bone of your jaw, into your temples. It flares with your steps, each heavier than the last. You feel none of it.
You walk towards the shore, a little girl in your arms. Her eyes are half-closed—half-open no more—the listless black irises lolling amid the reddish white. Beneath your fingers, her flesh is soft and scarce, her bones too gaunt, the shadow of a pulse still alive against your fingertips. Unmoving, her gaze is turned to the stars. Dirty dark hair flailing in the distraught winds, who offer you not a heartbeat of calm, as if the world itself is aware of the atrocity that walks its edge, is aware and cannot bear it. You failed.
You stumble towards the shore, the night quiet as a storm’s eye, and yet cruel as the most savage of whirlwinds. Left is waterside. Right is waterside. The girl trembles—No. Your arms holding her body tremble. Your shoulders shudder, taken by sudden seizures as you wonder, yet again, why death lives in your embrace. You cannot face what you haven’t saved.
You crumple on the shore, and the waves, roiling with the power of a fury you long consigned to oblivion, wash over your knees and through your blood-soaked clothes. Freezing against your skin, indifferent to the girl’s. The salt breaches your wounds and violates their chill, sets your flesh on fire, a fire immediately beggared by the tempest of your emotions. Tears roll down your cheeks to be instantly washed away. Agony. Woe. Sorrow ineffable. Violence confined and violence vain. You feel—nothing.
The girl’s body slips from your grasp and, with a soft, almost muted thud, settles into the submerged sands. The waves pull her back inch by inch, whistling a lament that sounds like a scream as they take her hands and close her eyes, as they accept her sleep as their own, as their dark depth extends its slender clawed fingers and drapes her body into a cloak of starlit black. Still as a corpse, you watch. Empty as one, you decide.
Soufyaan Timol lives in Mauritius and has published a couple of short stories in the yearly anthologies Collection Maurice. He aspires to be a writer and is currently working on an epic fantasy novel titled Killing Gods.
He can be reached through his email address : email@example.com