Flash Fiction Friday: Suicide, Spoke the Cry

This flash fiction was inspired by the title, which I came across while looking at a random title generator. Such a dark title demands a dark tale, and this story is bathed with a dark motif accordingly. This story comes with a trigger warning of suicidal thoughts and brief mention of sexual assault. If this will be upsetting to you as a reader, please enjoy some of my other flash fictions or book reviews instead of reading this.

Darkness had bathed the world since the day of her birth. No one truly knew what had caused the darkness to fall; no one truly had an answer for why the sun had simply vanished one day, leaving the world in permanent dark. This did not stop people from placing the blame squarely on her shoulders. She was hated. Reviled. Strangers spat upon her and beat her. Even her own family, the people she should have trusted to care for her the most, pushed her away. The memory of her father’s slaps hot upon her face followed her every day.

Most people were convinced that her death would be the only thing to bring the sun back, and to end the twenty years of cold, darkness, and starvation that followed in the wake of her birth. But no one would kill her. No, life was sacred above all things. To take a life was to bring eternal condemnation on the murderer and his family. Thus, none were willing to end her life at the risk of their own. So instead, they chose to make her life a living hell. Men raped her, left her haunted with the memory of cruel hands upon her, made her suffer for no other reason than she had been born.

And every day she raised her eyes to the darkened firmament and asked why. Why she had been chosen to bear this suffering. Every day she thought of taking a blade and plunging it through her breast, to bring about the end that everyone so desperately wanted her to face. But she could not risk it, for even self-murder would bring eternal condemnation to her parents and her brothers and sisters. Even though they spurned her, what else did she have? How could she kill them along with herself?

Nevertheless, her heart beat to the cadence of the word suicide.

Suicide. Suicide. The cry that spoke again and again inside her, begging for answer.

Her fingertips were laced with cuts from where she played with the edge of a whetted knife, longing for death. Over and over again she prayed that all compassion could be stripped from her, so she would not care about hurting her family. But she had been cursed with a compassionate heart as well as a life of suffering.

One day, she sat in the alley behind her house, away from the family that hated her despite her love for them. She wept. She hid herself as best she could, praying that nobody could see her and deepen her suffering. An old man hobbled down the alley, barely visible in the starlight. She shrank back against the wall of her house, fear pounding in her throat. She clutched her knife tightly.

He stopped and fumbled around with something, and a match flared up as he lit a lantern. Soft orange light spilled through the alley like a whisper of days long forgotten. He turned and his eyes fell upon her.

“Ah,” he said. “You’re that girl who was born the day the sun went black.” With his cane, he gestured toward the blade in her hands. “And what do you suppose you’re going to do with that, young missy?”

She pressed her lips together and said nothing.

The man tilted his head. “Perhaps you’re thinking of ending your suffering, for once and for all?”

Slowly, hesitantly, she nodded.

“What good will that do anyone? You don’t really think your death will bring the sun back, do you? Or truly bring joy to anyone?”

“Everyone in this village longs for my death,” she said. “Even my own family.”

The old man smiled. “I don’t. Everyone in this village is so blinded by fear and hate they can’t see ‘twas them blocked the sun out in the first place. Your death would do nothing but condemn your family and bring even deeper darkness on the world.”

“How do you know this?”

“‘Twas I set the sun on its course in the first place, missy. I watched as the people of this village descended into hatred and darkness, bringing this on themselves. They only blame you so they can feel justified in their hate.”

“You…are the Maker?”

The old man inclined his head.

Rage coursed through her veins. “Why did you curse me so that I should be the one born on the day the sun went out?”

“I did not curse you. I gave you life.”

“It would have been better for me never to have been born!”

“And what joy and love would the world have lost for that? You are a beacon of light in the darkness, my most beautiful creation since the sun itself.”

“If I’m so beautiful to you, why have you left me to suffer alone all these years? Why would you do this to me?”

But in a gust of wind, the old man disappeared, leaving nothingness and darkness behind.

She wept aloud, burying her face in her hands. The knife clattered to the cobbles with a cold ring, nothing but the echo of a false promise of relief.

Suicide, spoke the cry of her heart.

Suicide, spoke the cry of the blade.

Life, spoke the voice of the Maker.

“Suicide, Spoke the Cry” copyright 2017 by A.L.S. Vossler.

Knife image from Openclipart.org.

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Flash Fiction Friday: The Steel Life-Goblet

Polished steel gleamed as bright as a newly forged sword untouched by blood or rust. Perfect in symmetry and artistry, the Goblet was the clan lord’s most prized possession, worth more money than what every person in his domain could produce in a year put together. It was an heirloom passed down from generation to generation, never aging, immutable in shine and shape no matter how many times wine filled it or it tumbled to the floor from clumsy hands.

It was said the goblet had been forged by the gods themselves long ago, that they had imbued it with life, so that any who drank from its brim would have their lives extended. And so it seemed to be true, for the lords of this clan had lived longer than any of the men around them for centuries on end. Many had come seeking to take a single sip from the shining steel vessel, to beg a favor of the clan lord, so they too could enjoy years beyond what had been preordained for them.

None ever touched it. No outsider’s lips sullied the purity of the Goblet. For if ever more than one man in a lifetime drank from the cup, both would die within minutes, their lives curtailed like a bad play. What could grant life could also bring death, a death as swift and certain as a blow from a sword—a secret known only to the clan which owned it.

Serrick stood before the Goblet on its stand, looking uneasily at his distorted reflection. “Father, you mustn’t do this. Killing the other clan lords will only worsen the war and bring unnecessary suffering to the people.”

“Don’t speak of things you don’t yet understand, boy,” his father said. “When I am gone and the weight of this domain falls on your shoulders, you will understand why I must do this. Why I must see the other clan lords dead in one fell swoop, and all will fear the power of our clan and pay obeisance to us.”

“The war has clouded your judgment. What makes you think the heirs will not just as swiftly take their lords’ place and renew their fight against us?”

“Their heirs shall be there, too. They shall all taste death. The heirs of all the clans, save you, my boy. And you shall rise above all the others while the clans struggle for power within themselves—and you will unite them all. You will be king. There will be peace at last.”

“Peace cannot come through deception, nor the dishonorable slaughter you plan.”

His father wheeled around. “You dare to call me dishonorable?” He slapped Serrick smartly on the face. “Watch your tongue. Everything I do, I do for honor, for our people. Now. Bring the Goblet. The other clan lords and their heirs await us in the hall below.” His father chuckled. “If only they knew what awaited them.”

Serrick gritted his teeth and did as his father said. Once they reached the hall, his father’s voice boomed off the ceiling.

“Fellow lords! We are gathered here to negotiate peace between our clans at last. As a show of good faith, my son and I will share the blessings of the Life-Goblet with you.” He clapped his hands. “Steward! Bring wine.”

Serrick watched through narrowed eyes as the steward filled the Goblet with blood-red wine. He wanted peace. He wanted his clan to maintain its sovereignty, and for the other clans to stop warring.

But not like this. Not through deception and usurpation.

He held the Goblet steady as the steward filled it, knowing what he must do.

“Now, my prized son,” his father said. “Pass the Goblet around the room.”

Serrick closed his eyes. “No, Father.” He raised the brim to his lips and drew a deep draught of the heady red wine. He dashed the rest to the ground. The Goblet hit the stone with a cold ring.

His father let out a roar of rage. “Serrick! What have you done?”

“Listen, fellow lords!” Serrick cried. “This cup holds only death for you. My father would have you murdered all. But I have taken this sword of death upon myself. Bring peace to these lands, brothers—but let no more blood be shed. You may think me a liar, but when my body lies cold upon these stones, perhaps you will believe me. The Goblet itself is poison, the cause of generations of war. Will you perpetuate it? Will you…will you…” The world around him grew blurry and dim as he watched his father fall to the floor, livid with rage even in death. “Will you…end…this…”

All went black.

The other clan lords and their heirs stood by, watching with horror as Serrick’s lifeless body fell to the ground. For a moment, none moved, staring at each other with shock in their miens. But then their eyes drifted to the Life-Goblet. Surely all that had happened was that the wine was poisoned. Surely the cup maintained its power.

The Goblet merely lay upon the floor as the lords drew their blades and began to fight over it, this piece of polished steel, gleaming as bright as a newly forged sword untouched by blood or rust.

“The Steel Life-Goblet” copyright 2017 by A.L.S. Vossler.

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Goblet image courtesy of Firkin on openclipart.org.


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