The Thistle's Flower: Short, Short Fiction

Updated on February 11, 2020
cam8510 profile image

Chris has written more than 200 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

Source

There is a path into the hinterland that I do not want to follow. The entrance is nothing more than a footpath through thorny brambles that rip and tear at a man until he falls to the ground, a bloody hulk in a miserable waste. Who is it that says all must walk this path? Have they gone and returned to tell us such things? No! No one returns. So how do we know?

I do not want to walk this path. I have seen others step out, unwillingly, but they go, and I hear their screams and see them fall. Then they are gone. No one returns. How can this path be good when it metes out such pain?

Source

But my turn comes. The path is before me, and I have no choice. I must go and see for myself the horrors that lie beyond the hedge. I step forth. The clinging, scratching, cutting, and ripping begin, not only of my clothing but of my flesh, and then, in a matter of time, of my spirit. Let it end here and now. Stop the pain. But it does not end, and I am compelled against my will to go on.

I press on, to where I do not know. Dangers lurk in a dry land where thirst is a constant, unwelcome companion. Slithering, creeping, crawling, prowling creatures lie in wait to poison the body, and unrealized horrors eat holes in the soul.

Source

The grey sky lightens, only a little, and color seeps into the shadows. Further on, blue patches peek through the mottled canopy of black, purple and grey. A beam of light so real, so tangible it could be made of steel, penetrates the thick darkness. It lightens and warms my heart.

I am happy. I walk again among the living, free of the thorny brambles, free of the darkness. I live! I live! No one told me I would survive, that it was not all gloom and despair. I dance in the meadow among flowers, birds, and wild things that mean me no harm. I lie down in peace and sleep without fear.

Source

But on the morrow, the grey skies return. The gloom covers me. Was the joy only a dream? But from where would such a dream come? I wrestle with the mystery. The thoughtless answer is that there are good and bad stretches along the way. If that were true, I would spend half my time wishing I would die. But what if I am simply misreading reality?

I walk more purposefully today through both the flowery meadows and the thorny brambles for that pathway is of a single kind. Both joy and dread are tempered. I find peace in dark places when I stop fighting against the thorns. I move more slowly, tread more lightly, and watch for the berries in the brambles and the beauty of the thistle’s flower.

Source

Questions & Answers

    © 2020 Chris Mills

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      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        3 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Genna, Jo, and Lawrence, Thank you for coming here and reading this bit of creative writing that mystified me as I wrote it. What was I saying? I wasn't quite sure until the final sentence made it clear. Keep doing your thing and seeing the beauty along the way.

      • lawrence01 profile image

        Lawrence Hebb 

        3 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

        Chris

        This was beautiful.

      • profile image

        Jo 

        3 weeks ago

        Wow! That was beautifully written. We often allow fear of the unknown to hold us back, but the path less trodden can be far more rewarding. Just as long as there aren't any snakes in the grass. Nicely work. ;)

      • Genna East profile image

        Genna East 

        5 weeks ago from Massachusetts, USA

        What an interesting title. It pulls the reader in, and the powerful imagery and metaphor keep us there, on that path so many of us have traveled. Just beautiful, thought provoking writing, Chris. :-)

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        6 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Cole, I look forward to seeing what you have to share with us.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        6 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Venkatachari M, Thank you for your comments.

      • coleikerd profile image

        Cole Ikerd 

        6 weeks ago

        I haven't been on HubPages much. I've been busy with life and I'm afraid my writing hasn't been as consistent as I'd like. It's nice to know you remember me, though. I'm trying to get a few things going, if all goes well, I'll get some stuff uploaded before too long.

      • Venkatachari M profile image

        Venkatachari M 

        6 weeks ago from Hyderabad, India

        A very interesting and enlightening story of the struggle between gloom and light aspects of life. I enjoyed your narration of it all.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        6 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Dora, Yes, this is the response I hoped for. Thank you for being in tune with my story. It is not an easy truth to learn, but it is essential if we are to know contentment in this life.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        6 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        This is beautiful, I did not want it to end. "I find peace in dark places when I stop fighting against the thorns." What a blissful thought and an even more blissful reality!

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        6 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Linda, If you scroll down in the comments to my response to

        Doris James MizBejabbers, I think that you will see that your and my thinking are pretty close on this. It does not have to be the totality of life. It can be one chapter or one scene of life that was dark and forboding. I'm glad you found your way. Thank your for your comment.

      • Linda Courtney profile image

        Linda Courtney 

        6 weeks ago from Bloomsburg, PA

        Many compare this to life which it is, but it took me back to when I was in a dark depression that I would try to fight my way out of. I'd see much darkness and rays of light here and there. I saw much death but fought my way to life. Tough battle but I won in the end. I loved the wordplay here. Really made me remember those bad times turned good.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        6 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Thanks, John. I just got back from reading it.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        6 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Hey Chris, I finished the "kangaroo" poem you requested. It's in Poems From the Porch 22. Cheers.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        6 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Yes, John, Fess Parker played both roles. He was the perfect Boone. Loved the series.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        6 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Haha, right. He might even give the frontier back to the natives, God forbid. But now I'm being sarcastic so I will stop.

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 

        6 weeks ago from london

        By Golly, Paula, you've got it! Oh my! Read about him so much; saw his documentaries and a movie too. Ah well, I'm 68. Haha. Thanks a lot!

        No,no! Mr Bean needs the toughness and courage. God gave him a different talent. But then you're joking, right?

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        6 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Fes Parker played Daniel Boone in the TV series and Davey Crockett in a movie I remember. Oops, how old am I?

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        7 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        I'm thinking Mr. Bean would be a good Daniel Boone. What do you think?

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        7 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        The answer, Paula, is...Yes. How's that?

      • fpherj48 profile image

        Paula 

        7 weeks ago from UpstateWestern,New York

        LOL...Well, Chris & Jodah..if he wasn't thinking of Crockett, thanks to US, he surely must be now! "King of the Wild Frontier!!" I give away my age so freely!! OK, guys, help me now...was it Fess Parker? or did he play Daniel Boone?? LOL Funny I remember these things from a hundred yrs ago and don't recall what I did yesterday We all know what THAT means! Yikes!.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        7 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        It is a tough path, Audrey and I know you are familiar with it. Many blessings on you and your family. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the story.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        7 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Paula, you have a way of making me feel so damn good about myself. Thanks. I need that boost sometimes. Yes, Davey Crockett is who Manatita must be thinking of.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        7 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Manatita, I agree with Paula and John. I believe you were searching for the name, Davey Crockett. There are a few others, but not as well known. So I was a Boone or a Crockett in another life? Maybe so. Or maybe a drunk in the gutter. Who knows? Thanks for visiting.

      • vocalcoach profile image

        Audrey Hunt 

        7 weeks ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        I'll join you anytime, Chris, as I'm familiar with this path. I love your writing, so descriptive and relatable. The photos provide just the right scenery and are perfectly placed.

        My best to you, my friend.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        7 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Davey Crockett?

      • fpherj48 profile image

        Paula 

        7 weeks ago from UpstateWestern,New York

        Manatita....Would you be trying to remember, Davey Crockett?

        Chris....It's clear you have perfected the flash fiction genre. Your stories are most enjoyable and entertaining. Short tales that create a complete picture of human experiences, behavior and wonderful lessons. Thanks, Chris. Hope your day is a good one! Paula

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 

        7 weeks ago from london

        You were probably a great explorer like Boone or the other American guy, what's his name? …. well, let's say the English woman Jane Goodall, only she is still alive, as far as I know and souls do not change their gender, not usually. Lol.

        A lovely piece of writing! Please remind me of the great American adventurer and wildlife explorer. I have gone blank. Daniel Boone and ….

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        7 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Cole, I have not heard from you in a very long time. I will visit your profile to see what you have been up to. I appreciate your words. Thank you.

      • coleikerd profile image

        Cole Ikerd 

        7 weeks ago

        Great work! It was predictable in all the right ways and beautifully described some of the deepest, oldest truths of humanity.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        7 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Bill, but there are ways to make the journey more difficult. Thanks for the encouragement.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        7 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Sean, yes, it is a parable of life or about certain times in our lives. Thank you for understanding and for your support.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        7 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Liz, This story, and many others I've written have been the same for me...like a one shot film. I see it happening and write it down. Others require much more work because I'm just making it up. Glad to hear that readers can sometimes pick up on this.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        I've been on that same path, my friend. The walk is easier today for sure,and will continue to be easier as long as I am vigilante.

        Superb writing!

      • Sean Dragon profile image

        Ioannis Arvanitis 

        7 weeks ago from Greece, Almyros

        Absolutely amazing writing, my brother, Chris! A masterpiece, another one! A parable of life and not only with a gripping word-crafting! I am so blessed learning from you, my brother, though I have started to feel the first signs of addiction! Ha!Ha!

        God bless your talent!

        Sean

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        7 weeks ago from UK

        You write with such a great choice of words that it feels like a one shot film. This style of writing takes your readers with you on the path. On another level, we're left all trying to figure out how our lives fit this pattern at times.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        7 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        MizB, I'm not sure where the path I wrote of begins or ends. Your description of your friend's experience is one place to apply this. It is interesting. This could also be any path we consider horrible. I've known people to learn they have stage 4 cancer. They were horrified. As they went along, they began to see beauty and experience joy that seemed to me to be unnatural. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here.

      • MizBejabbers profile image

        Doris James MizBejabbers 

        7 weeks ago from Beautiful South

        Chris, this is a perfect description of life. Could we all have this feeling as we enter earth just before our births. I don't know. I can't remember it, but I had a friend who claimed he did and felt this way.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        7 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Ruby, it could be life or any part of life. The beauty is always there, but as you said, after the downs, we see it once more.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        7 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Bill, and you are one of a kind. Thank you for reading this piece with understanding.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        7 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Shauna, that's life in a nutshell, isn't it? Ups and downs, knowns, unknowns, fears, strengths...all in a few, short...years.

      • always exploring profile image

        Ruby Jean Richert 

        7 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

        Could this be the ups and downs of life? Then we survive and see beauty once more. Chris I love the way you write about life in a most unusual way!

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        You are simply a very fine writer,Chris! Superb work here.

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        7 weeks ago from Central Florida

        Chris, you've managed to capture life's ups and downs, knowns an unknowns, fears and strengths in a few short paragraphs.

        Brilliantly written!

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        7 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Eric, it is good to hear from you. Thanks for reading this reflective and subjective piece. I'll zip over to your profile to see what you are up to. I hope all is well.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        7 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Really good. A little thorny I might say ;-) I love picking blackberries and don't mind the cuts so much. A thistle flower rubbed just right is as soft as could be. Never gave them much thought along these lines. Thanks for a great read.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        7 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Pamela, I think it is helpful to view life as a journey. Pilgrim's Progress was one of the classics. We can visualize the beauty and the hazards along the way. Thanks for taking the time to read.

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        7 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

        This is an unusual story. The path sounds frightening, then it is not. The comfort level gets better as he walks the path I think. This reminds of making peace with our fears or maybe our demons. This story is thought-provoking, Chris.

      • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

        Chris Mills 

        7 weeks ago from Green Bay, Wisconsin...for now

        Sometimes the reflective part breaks through, John. When it does, whatever I am writing flows and seems effortless. As for the content of this one, I suppose it speaks of every tough spot anyone might encounter in life. This offers a different way of processing the hard times.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        7 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        This is something rather different from you Chris. Who knows what awaits along an unknown path? You described it well. Wonderful images by the way.

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