Microcosms was slightly different last week, offering writers selected lines from previous competitions to incorporate into their flash. My story was Runner-Up and included the following line:
#85 She grieved for the girl for whom the song was written
The Butterfly Collector
The key turned and slowly the dancer pirouetted, boxed in she was a prisoner of time and place.
“She’s beautiful,” said the watcher, gazing at the figurine as it spun to the haunting melody. She knew the song, the words had haunted her since childhood and now she mouthed them in time to the gentle melody.
“I’m glad you like her,” said her companion. “You remind me of her.”
“You talk as if she was real,” said the girl, smiling at the rather grand gentleman who had taken such an interest in her. He was famous for his songs which were sung in music hall and opera alike. He held the key to her future, she was sure of it.
Only when the clockwork finally wound down could the dancer see her audience. This girl was young, an angel; just like she had been once, like she still was even though more than a century had passed. The Devil liked angels. He liked to trap them, hear their wings beating against the prisons he built them—his butterfly collection. He had bated her, promised her a stage that would be hers forever if she would dance for him, sing for him, and so she had. Too late had she realised her danger as invisible chains formed from his words as they wove their spell. Too late did she try to resist their iron. Too late did she understand her flesh and blood had turned to ivory, made her the figurine which now entranced her audience. She grieved for the girl for whom the song was written—such a long time ago now—and for the girl who watched, another butterfly about to be caught.
This story was the Judge's Pick for Microcosms 90 and incorporated the elements: hunter, lake, horror. I also linked it to the site's reference to Native American Day. Enjoy.
“Tear Drop Lake,” said the guide. “Formed from the tears of my people.”
The hunter stared at the mirrored expanse, ignored the myth behind its origin. Still and silent, nothing rippled on its surface, it showed no sign of sustaining any sort of life in its depths. Yet appearances could be deceptive. Tom prepared his line.
“You won’t catch anything that way,” said the guide, handing over a small spear. This is how it’s done. Try it.”
“It’s too deep,” said Tom.
“No, look again. Can you see how the incline makes it shallow along this shore? My people ate well here.”
My people. The man certainly had his faux Native American Indian act down to a tee. He even claimed they were following the Trail of Tears, the forced march where over four thousand had died.
Tom walked towards the water’s edge. The spear felt light and flimsy. “You sure this is up to the job?” he called. But he was speaking to thin air. He shrugged. The lake was beautiful, peaceful; just him and Nature. He waded in, splintering the glassy surface. The water lapped at the intruder, turning its attention from the shore. Soft slivers crawled over his trousers, mercury rising. Tom did not notice, too busy trying to see the fish he had been promised. A shadow moved. He readied himself.
Somewhere, someone was sobbing but that too he dismissed, a bird perhaps. He refused to break concentration. The mercury climbed higher until—too late—he noticed the cold creeping over him, the wavelets becoming tendrils as they pulled him down, his screams muffled by unbodied lamentations.
His guide watched from the shore. Others had joined him. They cast their lines to reel Tom in. After all, he had said his people ate well here.
A writer - I think that says it all.