This month’s flash fiction is called ‘Three Days’. As soon as I saw this photo, I knew it would be a fun flash fiction prompt, but the story had a mind of its own and went in a different direction than I expected. I thought each rock would represent a goal achieved, or maybe a special person, and instead they turned out to be mistakes. It’s okay though – a struggle before a triumph makes the victory even better.
The flat white stone felt smooth against her palm, its rounded edges curling into her fingers. She squeezed it until her knuckles ached, tension straining through her hand. It felt good to let it go, the rush of blood tingling, the faint pulse in her fingertips with the rhythm of her heartbeat. Nestling the rock flat against the sand, she reached for the second one, repeating the process. It dropped into place on top of the first stone with a soothing click. She savoured the final, heavy sound of the third rock settling into place. Her fingers throbbed, but that was fitting. She deserved that pain, and worse. Each pure white stone represented a mistake, something horrible and hurtful she’d said. The first two comments had burst from her fuzzy mouth in a wine-reeking fug, and she’d laughed, only curling with shame hours later, when remembrance stabbed at her temples. The third made her cheeks burn in memory. Sober and desperately hunting through the cabinet for a bottle, and only finding empty ones. Whirling on Tracey as she wandered into the kitchen, pink streaked hair half-covering her confused face. Lashing her humiliation into misdirected anger, the cruel words spilling like the last drops of wine as she knocked the bottles over with a clatter.
That was over now. Three days sober, one for each painful memory. A white stone for each, stacked into one, a tower of change. As she splayed her sore hand over her crossed knee and turned her face toward the sprawl of the sea, the answering leap of freedom surpassed the ache in her knuckles, the nausea flickering through her belly. Three days done, the rest looming as unending and restless as the waves. Just as harsh, just as beautiful.