Crossing the Sands of Time: Reflective Flash Fiction by cam

Updated on February 2, 2018
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Chris has written more than 150 flash fiction/short stories.Working Vacation took 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

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Sand squeezes between my toes and washes away in a retreating wave. Wet stones, glistening in the sunlight, display a rainbow of features while dry counterparts, farther from the water's edge, seem dull in comparison. I am no stranger here. I've walked this beach many times firmly grasping a hand though it wasn't always the same hand. The memory of tiny fingers and small voices brings an awkward smile that feels out of place as though I've forgotten how to use it.

The grip of a larger hand, still smaller than my own, causes me to draw my empty palm up toward my face. Was it all a dream? Had there been such a time? Such a life?

I resume my walk as the sun sets with a blazing trail over cresting waves until twilight wanes and darkness reigns. In the distance, the orange light of fire burns a hole in the black curtain. I approach slowly, careful not to startle the children roasting hotdogs and marshmallows. A young woman laughs with a clear voice that announces she has lived with few regrets. Beside her, an empty beach chair lingers unclaimed.

I wait at a distance, mesmerized by the concept of family. It was once a part of me, although a strange loneliness wells up within. Is the empty chair for me? Might my laughter join theirs in a song of praise for the gift of life?

I pass by, out of reach of the beaconing vision.

Source

I walk until morning twilight breaks the spell of the night and brings silence to the constant singing of spring peepers. The sun climbs and shadows stretch out as they flee its piercing gaze. I return to the site of the previous night's beach fire. The only sign that it was real is a ring of stones and a blackened piece of wood, now as cold as my own heart.

I walk until I hear the voice of the laughing, carefree woman, unmistakable to my ears and turn to discover she is following behind me.

I wait.

Source

She bends down, picks something from the shallows and holds it in front of her face that glows with the smile only the pure-hearted can manage. She slips the stone into her pocket and resumes her walk.

She passes by without a word.

I glance back in the direction from which both of us had walked across the sands of time.

The sight of only a single set of tracks drives me to my knees where I drown in the overwhelming reality. I will wander this world forever as a wraith, a shade with no home, no love, no life.

I turn to catch just one more glimpse.

She is gone.

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    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 4 days ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Hi Chris,

      I love this story. It is very well written, emotive, and a pleasure to read. Wonderful piece.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Not everyone can process their thoughts the way you do here. I really like it. Been blessed with some actual views of Lake Michigan. Thanks for the memories.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 weeks ago from Missoula, Montana at least until March 2018

      Thanks, Larry. That short statement holds a lot of meaning for a writer, doesn't it?

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 weeks ago from Oklahoma

      As always, you kept my interest.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 weeks ago from Missoula, Montana at least until March 2018

      Linda, I'm so happy you enjoyed the story. Thank you for visiting.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a beautiful and sad story, Chris. I loved reading it.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 weeks ago from Missoula, Montana at least until March 2018

      Janet, I'm glad the visuals pulled you into the story. You are right. This story offers little hope. Some stories are sad, without a happy ending.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 weeks ago from Missoula, Montana at least until March 2018

      Thanks, Bill. I'm glad to know it pulled you into the story.

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      Janet Ogden 2 weeks ago

      Loved it, I felt I was sitting on the hill watching you, taking it all in through your eyes. But I also felt direct in need of hope.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      The first paragraph is brilliant! What a great hook!

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 2 weeks ago from Missoula, Montana at least until March 2018

      MizB, Your interpretation is interesting. What I actually had in mind is becoming unimportant in light of some thoughts others have shared with me. The interaction of the reader with the story is all that really matters. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 2 weeks ago

      How strikingly sad. It kept me wondering, or wandering in suspense, until I read the third paragraph from the bottom. Could this be an earthbound soul from a suicide victim? I guess we are to draw our own conclusions. Very powerful, Chris. Very graphic imagery.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 3 weeks ago from Missoula, Montana at least until March 2018

      Eric, thank you. I'm glad you feel that way. Nice to see you.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 3 weeks ago from Missoula, Montana at least until March 2018

      manatita, I appreciate the encouragement more than you know. This story was very short, only half of my normal flash fictions of 1000 words. I'll try a longer piece of this literary style when I'm moved to do so. This is not the same as writing genre fiction. More is going on than picking a genre, characters, and plot. Ideally, I would have the two come together.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Man that sure brought in some great visuals. Fantastic.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 weeks ago from london

      Totally awesome and in fact a masterpiece!! I love this so much!!

      You remind me of when I first knew you. You were so good!! You drifted a bit, probably when you started the courses, but I have to bow to it finally and say that it has helped you. Or is that you are better at the shorter pieces?

      Something more. I see so much poetry and sublimity in your writing! You also managed to take me there with you. I felt the flow, the vibrancy ... like an ocean of Light.

      I see the elocution of words; the beauty of language at its best. I do not see why you could not win a prize with this one. We have so many competitions for Flash in London. You must enter one if you haven't. Here's just a fragment of your beautiful Hub:

      "I walk until morning twilight breaks the spell of the night and brings silence to the constant singing of spring peepers. The sun climbs and shadows stretch out as they flee its piercing gaze. I return to the site of the previous night's beach fire. The only sign that it was real is a ring of stones and a blackened piece of wood, now as cold as my own heart." -Chris Mills.

      You show a greater mastery of story-telling here and also with the piece about the sea.

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