August. Time to sit back, drink some lemonade, and enjoy the dog days of summer. This month, we have an assortment of subjects and styles, a great mix of flash fiction certain to entertain. Enjoy.
By Eileen Granfors
All the days of days ripple behind us with eternity’s oceanic tides pulling us ahead. We dance in the street making a joyful noise unto the gods, enter our house.
Our congregation of blessed elders is ready, our white gowns flaring in the spring twilight like calla lilies in bloom. Two hours remain until we ascend. Without our pets, the house is too quiet. We miss their percussion to our songs and conversations, our prayers to our gods.
After arguments and threatened mutinies, Avenna formed a plan among the unsaved to care for our animals. The kindest of the unsaved are many in our suburban neighborhood north of Sebastopol, California, but the goodbyes tested our faith.
Square-jawed and austere, Avenna stands, raising her long arms, the white drapery of her robe flowing like wings. “We have done all that has been asked of us and more.”
“Taking the animals to the best of the unsaved, truly this was a message that flew from The Mother’s tongue to your ears,” Coeur answers. She cups her double chins as she leans her elbows on the table, her chair pushed back to accommodate her girth.
“Orintho and Lupine, the patrons of the animals, spoke to me. We would not wrong our furred or feathered beloveds by leaving them with no one to tend their needs.” Avenna smiles a pious smile.
“How I wish animals had souls, for the Leaving should take all of the innocent.”
“Coere, blasphemy! The plan is perfect. You sully your soul with selfish desires,” says Avenna.
Only the horse challenged the relocation, refusing to board his trailer, shuffling back, neighing, bucking. His resistance threatened to unsettle all, and a cacophony of protest broke out. Avenna spoke into her gray stallion’s ear, running her fingers through his silver mane.
“Shadow, you are loved. Go now.”
Shadow nickered and tossed his head, nuzzling Avenna’s lifted hands.
Soothed, Shadow boarded the trailer. A stern man in a blue puffy coat drove Shadow and the trailer away. Congregants waved and wept as they rounded the corner.
Now, sleep calls to them. Avenna and Coeur urge the parishioners to join hands in a circle of faces alight with hope. They say their favorite prayer, “We are the sacred hearts, we are the believers, take us to your home, Great One.” The service ends.
Each swallows a thimbleful of the sacred opiate for sound sleep. They open the drapes and the skylights to experience the orange aura of the Leaving. Farewells ring out as they settle.
“I will welcome you in the next life.”
“Our gods’ love for believers is eternal.”
“Farewell, my brothers and sisters.”
Soon earthly time will disappear as will their souls, leaving on their pallets in the White Room only their mortal raiments. Ocean fog has moved in, blurring the cooling night. The room quiets with the regular breathing of deep, drugged sleep.
In the morning, a burst of sudden sunlight scorches their eyelids. They tremble in joy until they awake fully. Realization bludgeons their beliefs.
They are still in the White Room. They wait. The sun dips behind a cloud, and the room grows dark. Hope blinks back into their hearts.
The world outside murmurs with the noise of hundreds of human voices.
Avenna and Coeur creep to the window, followed by the others. They peek out, afraid that they have been judged unworthy. Is the date been wrong once again? Will life go on as before?
Not so. The kindest of the unsaved, those who took in their animals, form a procession in the street. The dour man, wearing his blue puffy coat, approaches the house. He holds across his arms a gray rug with shaggy silver trim, horseshoes glinting in the reappearing sunshine.
Avenna cries out, “Shadow?”
One by one, the unsaved present to us the neatly folded pelts or skins. As foretold, the purest hearts have ascended.
Eileen Granfors lives in Santa Clarita, California. A former army brat who was born in New Orleans and lived in Germany, she and her family settled in Imperial Beach, California, where her mother’s love of body surfing turned her into an avid surfer girl. Eileen is a proud UCLA alumna. She has written three novels and several anthologies. Her latest, Sydney’s Story, is a prequel to A Tale of Two Cities. For more information about Eileen, visit her blog.