Sunday Photo Fiction: March 30th 2014- The cairn

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200 word flash-fiction challenge based on a photo.

Note: this piece is related to my first photo flash-fiction, as well as a couple of the abandoned fragments I’ve previously posted. This character keeps coming back to me, demanding his page-time.


It’s my fault.

I should have been there. The battle was won, but the bastards who killed you didn’t know that. I assumed you were safe. It’s my fault.

Your father looks at me as if I wielded the sword that cut you down. I have nothing to say to him, because there are no words strong enough to dissolve this hurt.

The priest– how many times now has he gone around your cairn, bathing it with incense? I’ve lost count. I need him to finish.

I’ll build an altar here. Your family will do their rites, and then I will do mine. A sacrifice and prayer to the Unchanging, that’s what needs to be done. So He will find you in the shadow-lands and take you home. You and the child who never got to be named.

I can’t bring a proper offering. I should burn bullocks and rams, feast your family, make a song about you and the little girl. Instead all I have are two doves. A poor man’s guilt offering.

They say I need to live on. That there’s work to be done. I don’t know how. I don’t know why.

Help me to see.


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