Tuesday 2 February 2021

Fantastic Flash Fiction Piece from Will Nuessle


Just Checking


            The azaleas should look lovely this year.

            As Gyrdein swept down the spiral staircase she let her fingers alight on the passing spindles, much like she had done as a girl. Though how long since she had been a girl was a thread she didn’t much care to pull at.

            Carelessly dropped on a table by the landing was the handle of a broken sword; as always when she set eyes upon it Gyrdein remembered the day the blade had snapped. This time, perhaps still fingering the thread of girlhood, she took a moment in passing.

            How many Turns had come and gone since the Dark Lord was o’erthrown, and peace made between man and dragon? Gyrdein considered as she absently fingered the large green jewel set into the hilt. How long since it had shined? It must be forty-two Turns, or was it forty-three?

            Goodness, how quickly life waxed and waned. Smiling to herself, Gyrdein left the broken sword behind. There were azaleas that needed looking after, lovely ones, and such thoughts did not become a Machenne.

            Though could any woman call herself a Machenne who so rarely practiced, hardly ever invoked the awen power anymore? There was hardly call for such things, now that the war was over and most shadows banished from the lands these forty-two years. Or was it forty-three?

            She didn’t have the power she once had, in her youth, Gyrdein knew well. And life demanded so little of her anymore it was easy for months to pass, for the falling leaves of Dryvach to yield to the snows of Isav and now Merin had come again, another Turn gone. Gyrdein found herself standing in the sun-drenched window, watching butterflies chase one another in and out of the light, realizing that she could not remember the last time she had invoked her power.

            Though she would never have declared this to another soul, she felt a most un-Machenne-like flutter of worry at the thought. Like any skill, manipulating the awens had to be maintained; it could be lost. And once lost, probably never regained.

            Well. Worrying in a sunbeam wouldn’t accomplish anything. Gyrdein raised her hand, the sleeve of her simple blue shift falling back—when had her arm started looking old? No matter. She concentrated, feeling that, yes, the power was still there when she focused. With hardly a struggle she pulled a breeze in through the open door, wrapping it gently around the butterflies, stirring no more than the dust on the windowsill.

            Releasing the power, Gyrdein laughed, sounding to her own ears much like that nearly-forgotten girl. “Well, then,” she spoke to nobody in particular, stepping sprightly out the back door.

            The azaleas were indeed very lovely.

Will Nuessle holds a third-degree brown belt in ninjitsu; rides a Harley; primary caregives a five- and two-year-old (with the third arriving in April) and claims to be able to recite the alphabet backwards in less than ten seconds. He also writes occasionally.

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