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Monday Micros–“Last Dryad” and “In the Loop”

Let’s dust this thing off and get rocking with some free fiction. These were last weeks entries to Flash! Friday. (I encourage everyone to check out the entries–some stellar examples of flash in there.) The photo prompt by Hartwig HKD was particularly evocative:

kinderspiel

The required element this week was conflict: man vs. man, and I went fantasy with one, SF with the other:

The Last Dryad

It was selfish of me to think he’d settle his footsteps into mine. My son strides his own path across the blanched land. Away from our tree.

I entered labor at the base of my laurel. Her slim yet steadfast trunk doulaed him into the world. I cradled my seedling babe. His reedy cry made the leaves shiver.

Afterbirth and acorn sown together, I opened his fiddlestick fists and guided his palms to pat the soil. The petrichor still makes him sneeze. I sang lullabies to his roots, coaxing them deep that they may find fleeting moisture in bedrock.

I nursed him into a sapling, a wiry joy reaching for the sun. His tree flourished while the grove dwindled around us. I let mine go, too, planting my hope in his. I made myself believe that the earth would hold onto its magic a little longer.

He untangles himself from the shade and moves toward a horizon busy with cloud. It was foolish of me to think he’d settle. My son strides across the waste. Away from me.

In green shadows, I pack his case: seeds and cones and what is left of my hope. Someday, may he hear the lullabies echoing from the earth.

———-

In the Loop

“The things one does for love,” Terrance sighed.

The younger man snorted. “Yeah, Terry–“

“Don’t you call me Terry,” he snapped. He didn’t remember ever being that smug—or his hair being that thick.

His time’s Carla had warned him about paradox. Terrance tried to resolve her warning with the solitary tree piercing the wasteland, with the light crackling on the horizon like TV snow.

“You did this for ego.”

Now it was Terrance’s turn to snort. This guy only knew the university-Carla–hiking shorts and midnight enchiladas. Older Carla had since wound herself so tightly in the Aeon Project that Terrance could hardly touch her. So, he’d detoured the test flight a little, to a time before he went into the air force instead of following her post-doc—and ended up here instead.

“Ever consider, Terry,” the younger man said, “that she knew what you were planning?”

“She would’ve–“ Terrance swallowed.

The light along the horizon stretched upward fuzzing out the sky.

The man stood. “When I get back, no military for me.”

From the stuttering shade, Terrance watched his younger self disintegrate into a monochrome blizzard.

Terrance’s reality had to win. Terrance stepped away from the tree. The loop of time closed around him like a noose.

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