… with the entreaty to include a politician. And the imaginations of the writers over at Flash! Friday soared. The winner’s circle included two of my personal top three: the agonizing “Hourly Arithmetic” by Emily June Street and tense “Death Reversed” by recent winner Carlos Orozco.
My imagination, though, sort of hobbled in the shadow of these eagles. I dove into history for inspiration. What a tangled fishing net of history it was. So, I crafted “Ragasa”. Ragasa is the old name of the city. I wanted to make an allegory of her past, the various conquerors posing as lovers, but I wanted it to be a story on its own as well. I’m not sure if anyone picked up on the allegory-part. I blame my choice of title. Were I to go at it again, I would have referred to the city more clearly.
The Adriatic breeze curls around Ragasa and caresses her bruised cheek like an old lover.
So many lovers in those days, flush with flirtation. The accidental brush of a knuckle against a bare shoulder, a smoldering glance across the ballroom.
It didn’t last. Tenuous alliances needed tightening. She believed she’d chosen well: Francois’ charm over Danilo’s braggadocio.
Ragasa winces as the old injury pinches her side. Francois was a cruel husband, his tongue coated in honeyed promises, his silken glove concealing a cudgel. She traded her ball gowns for black weeds—every day of their union a day of mourning.
His death freed her, yet gone were playful seductions of youth. The suitors have traded romance for rapacity. Savo worst of all. His kisses end in teeth. He forces himself upon her, strikes her without contrition. “If I can’t have you, no one can.”
Ragasa limps the length of the sea wall and casts her love over the constant sea.
The second one plays on the shifting tides of rulership and shoots it into SF.
“Just a Taste”
Poppa whistled as he hauled up the traps, his hands turtled in salty callouses. Mare fumbled to coil the slimy rope. She scowled at the brine dribbling into her sleeves.
They’d been out for hours and barely filled a bucket with runty shrimp.
“Who needs fish?” Mare’d complained to Nanna.
The Custodians supplied earthlings with manna, a substance that could become whatever you wanted. Even a stinky monkfish.
“Go with him,” Nanna said, her quilt-soft voice edged in steel.
“Poppa,” Mare huffed.
He drew a puck-shaped weight from the trap. “I brought you here for this.” With a deft twist, he popped it open. The golden disk within bore ancient embellishments.
“The family crest,” he murmured.
Mare’s fingers shook. The Custodians forbid nobility.
Warmth somersaulted in her chest. She gripped Poppa’s weathered arm. He grinned at her understanding.
That night, Nanna stewed up the bucket bits. Despite her aversion to fish, Mare relished each bite.
It tasted of autonomy.