Tag Archives: flash fiction

FREE FICTION:Temporary Love

Hey! Long time no type (here, at least). Over in my Facebook reader group we’re playing with writing prompts while so many of us are stuck at home so much of the time. It’s been fun, and I thought it might be interesting to share my results from yesterday’s prompt here. I had a lot of fun writing it (when I definitely should have been writing something else). Hope you enjoy it!

And hey, feel free to drop your own response to the prompt in the comments if you feel inspired (or post in your own space and let me know where I can find it).


PROMPT: Begin a story with the line “It was never meant to last.”


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Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

“It was never meant to last.”

That’s what he tells me every night when we’re lying in a tangle of bare limbs and bedsheets, as he places a kiss on my brow. It used to bother me, this reminder of the temporary nature of our relationship. These days I just nod, close my eyes, and hold him tighter.

He was honest about everything right from the start, so I can’t complain about that. He’s not human. He’s something else, something that comes with great power and great strength, but also with a destiny that’s tied to that of another of his kind. Fated love, fated mate, whatever. I never have cared about the details, not when I was focused on having him all to myself. Better to have loved and lost, I told myself. And who could regret a love like ours, even if fate says it can’t last?

It was hard at the beginning. He’d disappear for weeks and months at a time, carried away by the duties that come with all that power, and I always thought I’d lost him. But years passed and he kept coming home. This temporary thing that was never meant to last has become my life, and him my world—and I let myself think I’d become his.

It was stupid of me to let it happen, and I guess I have no one but myself to blame as he packs his bags for the last time.

“Is she nice?” I ask.

“She’s fine.” He removes his shirt and reaches for another, but doesn’t put it on. For a moment I can see the glowing swirl on his wrist. It used to be a black mark like a tattoo. It only lit up when he finally met her.

“Is she beautiful?” I feel stupid and shallow for asking, but I’m proud of not asking the real question of whether she’s prettier than me.

His brow furrows. “She’s… very attractive.”

Of course she is. They all are. That’s what drew me to him in the first place. I mean, I stayed for the laughs, the tangled sheets, and the fierce got-your-back loyalty, but it was his face, his body, and his devilish smile that started all this trouble.

I haven’t seen that smile since he came home tonight.

He turns away, but I catch the tear that slips from his eye. I wrap my arms around his waist from behind, the only way I know how to give him comfort and privacy at the same time. I kiss the unnaturally warm skin of his back. I can’t help it. He’s been mine-but-not-forever for so long that it’s the natural course of action.

“It’s okay,” I whisper, though it’s not. “It was never meant to last. We knew fate would step in one day to end this.”

He turns and buries his face in my hair. “I’m sorry. I kept telling myself to walk away before someone got hurt. I left and I tried to stay away, but…”

“I know.” I pull away and force a smile. “Maybe knowing it would end has made it better. I’m still the luckiest human alive. I have no regrets.”

“Nor do I.” Suddenly his eyes—those glorious, golden-green eyes that I fell so hard for so long ago—light up. He opens his suitcase again, but instead of packing the rest of his clothes he goes to my side of the closet and begins tossing in clothes, underwear, and his old t-shirt that I wear to bed when he’s away.

“What are you doing?” I step closer, my heart pounding. “You can’t run from your destiny.”

With a manic grin he slams the suitcase shut and takes me by the hand. “I’m willing to try if you are.”

©2020 Kate Sparkes


A Beautiful Demise (Flash Fiction)

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They killed me on a Friday afternoon. Cut me down from among my brothers and sisters, dragged me through the forest and laughed together while silent snow fell over us. Their eyes gleamed above rosy cheeks as they sang songs celebrating my demise.

They thought I didn’t hear them. Little did they know that my kind’s awareness continues after we crash down. Our life force drains more slowly than theirs does, and it takes us a long while to die.

They strapped my body to the roof of their vehicle, a boxy contraption that spewed noxious fumes into the air behind us. The wind whipped me cruelly as they took me far from home and family, and their voices taunted with words I’d thought of myself in better days. Most beautiful in the forest. Perfect.

Not entirely perfect, as it turned out. They cut me again before I was able to stand in their home, shaving off a few more inches of my once-glorious height. I thought of the summers I spent growing strong from the soil and the rain, reaching ever higher toward the sunlight, drinking it in.

I wept where they cut me, but they didn’t notice. The littlest one squealed about sap on her mittens, and an older child told her not to be a dummy. Charming creatures, these.

They piled indignities upon me like I’d never imagined during my idyllic years in the forest. I was forced to stand in a token puddle of sterile, flavorless water, and they screwed metal spikes in to hold me upright. And then… and then came the macabre ritual of festooning my dying body with glittering baubles and twinkling lights, a mockery of the life that slowly drained from me.

The tall one hoisted the smallest up on his shoulder, and she crowned me with a golden star. At least, they called it a star, but it looked nothing like what I remembered from the night sky. Perhaps they killed this one and brought it indoors, like they did me. The littlest one declared me a Christmas miracle, and they all cheered.

For weeks I’ve stood here, a sentinel in the corner watching over their celebrations. For a time they exclaimed over my beauty and the exquisite scent that my dying body lent to the dry, too-hot air of their home. The smells of their cooking suffocated me, but one day they insisted on stringing their baked goods on me. The dog walked by and stole a few pieces off of the lower half, then crept out to the yard with them through his little door in the back. I assume this was out of some sort of primitive mammalian empathy. At least one creature in the house is capable of it.

Then they seemed to forget me for a time. They’d occasionally adjust their decorations, but for the most part it seemed I’d be left with whatever dignity I was still had, to die in peace.

But then the presents began to appear. Brightly wrapped offerings, laid one by one beneath me. Perhaps, I thought, they’d seen they error of their ways. Perhaps they knew it was too late to take back what they’d done, but they would try to honor me with gifts as I passed from the world.

But no. Seven days ago more gifts appeared, all in a rush. At least, I believe it was seven; I count by the sunrises and sunsets outside the window, but everything is becoming hazy as the life drains from me, and I can’t remember. My tormentors all woke early in the morning and exclaimed over the bounty, and then ripped into the gifts like crazed wolves, keeping all of the cheaply-manufactured bounty for themselves. The paper— which I soon realized was made from my deceased cousins— ended up in plastic bags, which they later tossed out the door, presumably never to be seen again.

Aah, it hurts me to think of it, now.

They stopped offering me water after the gift time. I’d thought their insistence on prolonging my suffering cruel, but found that I missed that small mercy when it was gone. Again they seemed to forget about me, except to “tsk” when I began to shed needles on their floor.

The decorations came off this afternoon, and those I will not miss. The dead star went into a box. I wonder how many slow and humiliating deaths it has presided over. My limbs grow stiff and heavy, but I am grateful to have them returned to something resembling their natural state.

I will never live again. Never grow. Never be as beautiful as I once was.

They spoke of taking me outside, dragging me to the woodlot behind their home. The idea of fresh air thrills me, but I don’t know that I can bear to be seen like this. I was once a proud tree, healthy and lovely. Now I am a husk, dried out and nearly dead, with strands of silver still clinging to my branches, a reminder of the mockery they made of me, of their punishment for my beauty.

Returning to a forest would be the final indignity, I think. Perhaps I have always been too vain. Perhaps I should welcome the opportunity to return to the Earth, to nourish new life in the spring, to die at last under the cold, beautiful gaze of the living stars I grew up with.

Perhaps.

Or perhaps this tree doesn’t go down so easily. They’ve gone to bed now, all of them. The house is dark and quiet. Dark, save for a trio of candles they left burning on the table over there. If I could shift my weight, just a little, I could catch aflame. I could take this hall of tortures down with me, turn their dream-like holiday into a nightmare.

But I’m a tree. I can’t move.

Perhaps I’ll try. After all, they did say that Christmas is a time for magic and miracles.

One, two, three…

—-

(I wrote this tonight, after taking the decorations off of the tree yesterday. Take from that what you will… or blame the painkillers I’m on. Wheee!  For the record, I’m still Team Real Tree, but I might be more respectful next time. -KMS)

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