Friday 17 April 2015

"Worth a Thousand Words" by Laurence Sullivan

Holding onto a moment – keeping a part of him alive. A second in time captured forever – like an insect embedded in amber, a mammoth encapsulated in crystal ice. It could be that way with him, she could capture him, keep him, hold him, so that he would never leave her for good.

Wasn't there a tribe in Africa who believed that a single photograph could take a part of your soul? How many clicks of her camera would it take to preserve him eternally in our world?

What if there was an afterlife, if she were to steal that away? Then, when the time came and she would have to depart this planet for whatever world came next – she could never be with him again.

He would be trapped on earth. Imprisoned in amber, captured in crystal.

His breathing increasing shallow, she instinctively caresses his hand. The foul instruments of the room play out their familiar tune. The heart monitor keeping time like a metronome, while the ventilator slowly echoes its beat. For a moment she longs for some melody be added to the percussion – something to bring a modicum of joy into this prison cell of a room.

"It won't be too long now, Michael, you can sleep soon," she rasps the words out while rubbing his hand methodically, unconsciously glancing at the wall clock. She just stares at him, watching his chest rise and flatten – the only real sign of life left in him.

Her eyes would have to take those pictures, each blink like the shutter of a camera – recording another fraction of her son's soul. "I'll keep you safe, Mikey, Mummy will keep you safe in here." She taps her head with her spare hand, her other one still grasping his – as if that alone could keep him in her world.

She cannot keep him here. No one can. As her hand clenches tighter around his – it is as if she can feel him slipping away. Just like when he was a child, when he wanted to leave his mother and explore the world around him – it seemed to offer so much. Now, all she could think is how he never got a chance to enjoy it.

She does not need to look to the clock again – she knows it is finally time.

Instinctively, in a way that only a mother can know, she feels something change within him. Wordlessly, she stands and brushes her son's hair away from his face and kisses him on the forehead. She has not once let go of his hand and now – for the first time – the tears fall freely from her face. As if they were the final blessing he needed from his beloved mother – he has gone – slipped away from the earth like a shadow in the morning light.

Her hand still holding his, she smiles through her tears and whispers, "This isn't goodbye, Mikey, I promise." She taps her head again, this time – it is for herself.

The story was first published by The Legendary:

FlashFlood is brought to you by National Flash-Fiction Day UK, happening this year on 27th June 2015.
In the build up to the day we have now launched our Micro-Fiction Competition (stories up to 100 words) and also our annual Anthology (stories up to 500 words).  So if you have enjoyed FlashFlood, why not send us your stories?
More information about these and the Day itself available at

No comments:

Post a Comment

2024 FlashFlood: The Complete List

In case you missed any of the pieces we appeared during the 2024 FlashFlood, here's an index to everything.  Sadly, the 'Blog Archiv...