A. L. Kaplan is the Readers’ Choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. The winning entry is decided by the popular vote and rewarded with a special feature here today. (In the case of a tie, the writer who submitted an entry first is the winner per our rules.) Without further ado, here’s the winning entry:
by A. L. Kaplan
There’s something I’m supposed to look for. Something I need to do. A chill wind sends leaves swirling as I bite my lip, struggling to remember. The sweet, earthy scent of the green forest carpet does nothing to jog my memory or fill my emptiness.
A granite bolder peaks out from beneath the moss like a large belly wearing a fuzzy jacket. It even has a row of brown leaves to serve as buttons. On one side, a line of sprouts poke through the thick covering, serine in their quiet home. Hunger’s rumble breaks the silence and I try to sooth it with a leaf. One nibble and I spit it out. It tastes like stitching on an old shirt. Food isn’t what I seek.
I rub my eyes and look again. Memories flood back and I nearly choke in the grief. I know now what this is, what I must do. My fingers tremble as they reach for the line of tiny leaves. Into the pocket I place two hazelnuts, each painted with the likenesses of my children. A pair of silver coins join them. Tears soak the forest god’s mossy jacket where I lay my head. The first flakes fall as I drift off to sleep.
“Mama. Wake up, Mama.”
Small, warm hands caress my cheek and last fall’s despair flees. I open my eyes to a pair of faces framed by wavy red hair. They’re taller than before, stronger. Perhaps strong enough to survive winter this time.