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Familiar: A Flash Fiction Short Story

Jennifer Wilber is an author and freelance writer from Ohio. She holds a B.A. in creative writing and English.



“This must be the place.” Willow stopped in her tracks and gazed up at the small brick home. The light from the full moon bathed the worn cobblestone road in a soft, subtle glow. The small black cat licked her paw before heading down the driveway to the house. She still wasn’t used to her feline form. “Yes, this is definitely the place,” Willow said to herself as she silently carried herself closer to the house. Willow knew she had found the right house, as she could feel a faint, yet distinctly, magical energy emanating from one particular room of the home. Though Willow hadn’t yet met the young witch in this plane, the energy felt very familiar.

Willow cautiously stalked toward the porch, stepping ever so carefully to avoid detection from any predators or evil spirits who may wish to do her any harm. Her dark fur blended seamlessly into the black velvet cover of night. There was no need to hurry as her young charge wouldn’t awaken for several more hours. The young girl sleeping inside the house didn’t know it yet, but her life was about to take a magical turn, and Willow would be by her side to guide her every step of the way as she learned to use her powers. Willow curled up under an old lawn chair that had been long forgotten in the corner of the porch to wait for morning. The night was still, save for the soft chirping of crickets and the occasional cry of an owl in the distance.


The darkness eventually moved on to make way for the brilliant rising sun. The dawning of a new day had finally arrived. Willow stood up from her spot under the old chair and stretched out her legs and back before approaching the home’s entrance. She carefully scratched her claws against the wooden door to alert the residents of the home to her presence. Several long minutes passed before the door finally creaked open, revealing a young girl of about thirteen in the threshold. Willow instantly recognized the girl, though they had not yet met. The girl wore a nightgown of white cotton and lace and her long black hair was still plaited from the night before.

“Oh look! An adorable black kitty!” The girl knelt to stroke Willow’s head, and Willow leaned into the caress, purring softly. “What in the world are you doing out here all alone? You should come inside with me where it’s warm and safe. I’m sure my mother wouldn’t mind if I brought you in.”

“Mrrrow!” Willow followed the small girl inside. There was still much work to do and this was only the beginning.


What is Flash Fiction?

Flash fiction is a very short short story. While different authors have different opinions of what maximum length defines a flash fiction story, they all agree that flash fiction is much shorter than a regular short story. Some insist that flash fiction is any story under 1,000 words, while others have different definitions ranging from 100, 300, 450, or 750 words.

What sets flash fiction apart from other forms of short stories is that flash fiction stories are able to be told effectively in limited number of words. Flash fiction stories are self-contained but may hint at a larger story. Flash fiction is sometimes more difficult to write than longer works, as authors have a limited number of words to use set the scene, develop the characters, and show the plot.

Familiar is a 450 word flash fiction short story, though my original version of this story was even shorter. This story could be developed into a longer story, though I meant for it to be a self-contained story of a witch’s familiar, Willow, seeking out and meeting the new witch she was meant to train.

Questions & Answers

Question: What is the point of view in this story? What is this story really about?

Answer: My short story "Familiar" is written in the third person limited point of view, because it is told by a narrator who is not a character in the story, but who does provide insights into the main character. We only gain insight into Willow's thoughts, but we do not know what the other character, the little girl, is thinking.

This story is about a witch's familiar spirit who takes the form of a black cat. This very short story follows Willow, the familiar, as she finds her way to a young witch's house. In this story, familiars can be seen as mentors for new witches who help the young witches to learn how to use their newly-discovered powers.

Question: What is the main theme of the story "Familiar"? I'm very intrigued!

Answer: There are several themes in this story. It is about the beginning of a friendship between the cat and the girl. It could also be interpreted as a coming-of-age story, as the girl is about to embark on her training as a witch.

Question: What is the issue in your flash fiction story: "Familiar"?

Answer: Willow has just met the new witch whom she has been tasked with training. The young witch is about to embark on her magical training with her new familiar at her side.

Question: What happened to the other witch in your short story, "Familiar"?

Answer: There is only one witch who appears in this story, though perhaps Willow had trained other young witches before meeting her.

© 2018 Jennifer Wilber

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