Tag Archive | Michael Simko

Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 17: WINNERS

Howdy! color me OVER THE MOON HAPPY–you all rocked the prompt this week. I am absolutely bonkers for the way y’all gave the judges so much to work with in addition to a guy running down a giant Colorado dune. That’s exactly how it’s done, and in STYLE. Really truly wonderful work from each of you. Thank you for sharing your time and magnificent talents here at Flash! Friday. 


Dragon Captains Pratibha/Sinéad O’Hart say

Sinéad: What an assortment of riches to choose from this week. Stories of derring-do amid the dunes, archaeological mystery, otherworldly locales, despotic kings, and imaginings of a land without water – this week’s Flash! Friday entries had it all, and more. As a fantasy/SF nut, I was thrilled by the amount of SF-tinged tales on offer, but the ones which stayed close to home were just as moving. Thanks, you guys, for coming out in force and creating tales of such power and variety this week – but let me tell you, it made our job as judges very hard indeed! Lucky Pratibha and I are such ladies, or the ‘negotiations’ could have descended into fisticuffs…

Pratibha: Like our dragonly hostess tweeted, this week’s tales were out of the box. The great sand mound sent all of you running and sliding in so many directions that it was dizzying, in a good way. All of us in this community have come to expect such brilliance, and sometimes I forget how difficult it is to put a complete story with memorable characters into so few words. All of you do this week after week, chiseling new stories in less than 24 hours. What a talented bunch that attracts and assimilates new writers each week. So without further ado, here are the results.



For Classic Movie Evocation: Michael Simko, ‘Running

Pratibha:  I loved the visual aspect of this story. I also liked the sprinkling of humor throughout the story.

Sinéad: Another great setting (and set-up) and the lines: ‘[S]ome of the locals kept chanting that we were all going to hell. At the time I thought they objected to our bicycle shorts. Now I know better’ cracked me up. But it gets a Special Mention for reminding me of one of my favourite movies, Tremors.

Special Mention for Indiana Jones-ing: Brian Creek, ‘Misread

Pratibha: “The Temple of Doom” indeed.

Sinéad:  Out of several similar stories dealing with the Big Nasty being awoken somewhere in the desert, this was the most memorable. Plus, who doesn’t love a story about hubris? This made me wish it could be turned into a movie, so that I could watch what happens next. Someone get on that.

Special Mention for Hilarity (And Best Use of a Prop): Bart Van Goethem, ‘Uh-oh

Pratibha: This one gets a nod for its brave experimentation.

Sinéad:  Need I say more? Sound effects, visual effects, and making a judge almost choke with laughter, this story had everything (besides enough words).

Special Mention for Use of Seasonal Imagery: Jessica Marcarelli, “Crucifix

Pratibha: I loved this for its somber tone and its religious imagery.

Sinéad:  It being Easter, several Crucifixion/Resurrection-themed stories cropped up in this week’s offerings, too. This one was memorable, and touching, and also managed to make wonderful use of the prompts.

Special Mention for Humour: Phil Coltrane, “Dude, What a Buzzkill!

Pratibha: I loved the lighter touch on the prompt.

Sinéad:  Great setting, great dialogue, great characterisation, and lots of humour, this story was huge fun. It managed both to be completely ‘out there’ and yet totally believable, which was an achievement!

Special Mention for World-Building: Nancy Chenier, “Preventative Measures. ” 

Pratibha: The story captures the human need for intimacy and freedom and one man’s brave attempt to pursue both. 

Sinéad: It stood out for me because, out of loads of stories set on desert planets or in sandy wastes, it focuses on a relationship, and it doesn’t just satisfy itself with finding new ways to describe how hot/inhospitable/horrible the place is. 



JM6, “Running to Samara

Pratibha:  Ever had that caught “in-between” feeling. This story cleverly captured that fear of caught in a life of limbo without the release of death.

Sinéad: I loved the idea of the Between, and the Waykeepers, and the delicate touches with which this story creates its setting. I also loved the closing lines, and the desperation of the narrator to avoid an eternity in a place where s/he can never truly die. It exhibits skilfully executed tension, as well as an engaging voice and well-sketched characterisation.

Emmaleene Leahy, “Poking the Beast With a Stick

Pratibha:  I loved the opening paragraph with its clever and engaging style. The idea of time being measured in tin cans is hilarious. The best (or worst) blunder ever.

Sinéad: This story is clever, and well-imagined, and creates an intriguing world in a tiny space. Some of the imagery was very accomplished, including the ‘guts… like dirty washing’, but it was the idea of the only two people left after a nuclear holocaust being the person responsible, and that person’s boss, which grabbed me, as well as the ‘blunder’ being a slip-up at a nuclear power plant. What a great set-up! (Though my inner pedant won’t let me pass without saying this: it’s ‘desert’ when you mean a sandy place, and ‘dessert’ when you mean a slice of chocolate cake. And here endeth the lesson).


Voima Oy, “Land of Opportunity

Pratibha:  I loved how the contemporary sounding dialogue turns into something quite imaginative and “out of this world.” It is clever.

Sinéad: This one made me laugh, and then it made me think, and then I began to realise how clever and well put together it is. It was wonderfully imagined, slightly bonkers (in a great way), and the last line – when read in conjunction with the prompt image – is very funny. I also loved the idea of a creature in an early stage of evolution being spoken to by its ancestors – that really tickled my funny bone!


Taryn Noelle Kloeden, “A Bad Day at the Office.”

Pratibha: I love how this story superimposes usual office politics on the SF background. Both prompts are incorporated creatively. The writer paints a vivid and painful image: “sprinting down the dunes, microscopic shards of silicon berating my unprotected skin.”

Sinéad: I thought this story was another great imagining of an SF desert planet in a week where they seemed popular! Again, it focused on a person and their individual struggle, which made it so good. It features a very relatable protagonist (who among us cannot identify with their struggle?), it has a wonderful concluding line, and I loved how it sets up an entire history between our narrator and the venomous Calloway, as well as hinting at a future conflict as soon as the character is beamed back aboard the ship. From its engaging first line (‘Trusting Calloway, that was my first mistake’), this one grabbed me.


Mark A. King, “Heart of Glass.”

Pratibha: I loved the creative use of the prompt. The story is touching, and the ending is optimistic and powerful. The somber and introspective tone of the narrator appealed to me. Loved the phrase “infinite land of purgatory.” The title is brilliant too.

Sinéad: From its great title (which set me humming straight away) to its wrenching ending, this was another tale I loved. It made excellent use of the prompts, and I loved how it reimagined the sand dunes as a cityscape, and the picture it painted of the protagonist and his/her struggles. I found it very touching, and I loved the sense of burgeoning self-forgiveness and possible hope for the future – and also the aspiration at the end, that this person will not let their circumstances define them. Such a fantastic way to conceptualise the struggle between the person and their environment as depicted in the prompt image.

And now: for her 2nd time, it’s the very talented Flash! Friday




“A Story Between Me and Thee on the Occasion of Our Shipwrecking”

Pratibha: This is a clever tale of revenge.  The blunders of the enemy are piled a mile high. I liked how the story was told in the tongue-in-cheek fashion. I loved the visual images such as “decidedly not-aflame sleeve.” The imagery in the last paragraph is like a slow-moving camera picking every moment of action.

Sinéad: I think this story has it all. It makes fabulous use of the prompts, it has clever punning, it has a great setting, it’s well written, it’s funny and clever, and it has such a fresh and exciting use of voice, creating an entire character and backstory with such skill it seems effortless. It also has a fabulous title and I love that the ‘baddie’ doesn’t get killed at the end, so the only option for him is to swim to the desert island and spend the rest of whatever life is left to him in the company of the person who shipwrecked him. I also loved the dragon, ‘as likely to breathe fire out the back as out the front’ – I giggled quite excessively at that.

Congratulations, Rachael! Here’s your updated, fiery winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please watch your inbox for interview questions for this Thursday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story!

A Story Between Me and Thee on the Occasion of Our Shipwrecking

I have a blunderbuss on my shoulder and a dragon in my pocket. Don’t believe me? Look. What? I never said it was a real dragon. That’s just what that little firearm’s called. A dragon. As likely to breathe fire out the back as the front, and then you’re in trouble, flames licking up your arm and you searching for a pail of something cold and wet to stick it in. Not that you’ll find any such on a desert island like this.

Meanwhile, your enemy has sailed away, laughing up his own decidedly not-aflame sleeve, and you’ve one shot left. He thinks you’ll save it for yourself, for that moment when you just want off this island, fast, and if death is the quickest way, bring it on. But there’s his blunder, because there’s not a man alive with arms long enough to shoot himself with a blunderbuss. Be a shame to waste it, though.

You take aim, squinting against the whip of sand in your eyes. His eyes go wide, then he’s lowering the row boat off the side, thinking to escape. Too late. Your shot strikes his gunpowder store and all goes up. All except the row boat bobbing towards you on the incoming tide.


Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 5: WINNERS

Happy Monday, and welcome to the latest #FlashFridayFic results show! I’ve a feeling Joan would have loved many of the adventures you all plotted out for her this week. Or, if she didn’t, she would have loved beating the living daylights out of you to avenge her reputation. Fiery lass, she was, and unafraid of sharing her words with the masses. Not too far afield from many of you, I expect…  


Dragon Captains Image Ronin/Joidianne sayThis week we’ve been regaled with everything from angels to demons. We’ve had the pleasure of reading through tales of heart-breaking loneliness and sorrow while the damned crept across our pages, hidden beneath flowery language designed to mask their true intentions. We’ve listened intently to whispers of mystery and happiness while we tried to unravel the meaning behind your words. Jeanne d’Arc has leapt from our computer screen, clothed in the imaginations of countless authors, bloody yet unbowed, and for that we have to thank every single one of you that participated. It was a marvelous selection of tales and we can’t wait to see what you manage to come up with next time around.



Best Line: Mark A. King, “Construction.” “ … where the builders hung over the edge of the steel bones like handsome angels with hate in their heart.” 

Bravely tackling 3 POVs in one tale: Elizabeth (formerly Dragonsflypoppy), “Gone.” 

Fear inducing line: David Shakes, “Predetermined.” “…and he shall be known as the Prince of Pestilence, the juvenile pariah of nations.”

Most Inspired Use of One Word Dialogue: Josh Bertetta, “A Walk at Night.”

Best Closing Line: Brett Milam, “An Awakening.” “Human flesh was not like wood, but naturally it would be just as stubborn.”



Clive Newnham, Yesterday’s Tomorrow.” 

This tale carries such a haunting cadence that I find myself longing to read more. There are so many questions left unanswered, but I think these questions really bring the story together because the reader is free to interpret it as they will and the story, like Jeanne’s, will live on.

In light of the recent events in Paris it was understandable, indeed moving, that we would find tales wrestling with the relationship between image and society. No more so than in this tale of a dystopian realm where questioning is the ultimate crime. #jesuischarles

Liz Hedgecock, Teenage Kicks.” 

This was such a brilliant glimpse into the life of a young Jeannie. I love her rebelliousness and how the author has managed to show the difference between what her family wanted for her and what she wanted to accomplish for herself in a few witty words.

There were, unsurprisingly, a multitude of tales that took on our fair maiden and her well documented life … though few explored the little known teenage years of Joan D’Arc Aged 13 3/4 … fun, playful and with a satisfactory ending that left one smiling. 

Tinman, Ring of Fire.” 

The artist’s interpretation of Joan is one that made me smile. After all, she did spill forth words like fire, so to be portrayed as a magnificent fire-eater could be said to be her due.

That final line, our heroine, fist braced to ward off another bout of heartburn, made me chuckle in delight. The rest was pure farce, though with the lightest of touches to convey the sense of community and desire that made up this circus troupe. —Oh, and no clowns; couldn’t agree more.

Michael Simko, “Guardianship.”

This take is one that truly managed to embody the idea of the ambiguous phrase ‘For the greater good.’ In the angel’s eyes there is no greater good than to serve the person he is assigned to, even if it means harming someone else in the process. What really hits me is the tiny hint of empathy and sorrow that he feels for his ‘lady’; but not even that is enough to stir him from his task. A lovely look at morality and manipulation is managed in just a few words here.

The notion of power and the question of the true nature or our narrator is skilfully unpicked. The ownership/connection that is hinted at from the outset leads us down one particular path only to find the rug artfully and expertly pulled out from under us at the last moment. 

Clive Tern, “Foul Justice.”

I couldn’t pass this tale up because it has all my favorite tropes… horror, the undead and revenge. I ask you, what’s not to love?

This tale took a different slant to the prompt, taking us into the moments after the burning of Joan D’Arc. The sensation of the aftermath of her fiery demise evocatively captured. The horror tinged ending perfectly bringing closure and hinting at the carnage to come. 

Betsy Streeter, “A Wish, Or a Promise.”

This story was heartbreaking in its simplicity, innocence is woven into every word exchanged between the brother and sister and the ending, with its reference to the inevitable loss that will soon face the two children, is one that will not leave me any time soon.

A simple, elegant, yet heart wrenching tale that toyed with our understanding of the innocence of youth and the fragility of existence.


Grace Black, “Unraveled.” 

The first thing that came to mind after reading this was the punishment of Sisyphus. There is a lingering air of inevitability that makes me ache for the narrator and his/her trials. The final line truly cinched this feeling, and it’s one that will stay with me for a while.

The opening, the imagery of awakening in a world bound around you, was intoxicating, then that line “silence is loudest with the absence of chatter” perfectly sets up the rest of the scene. The tension between silence and chaos, a mind racing against the consciousness of being was artfully captured. Indeed, the skilful merging of the cinematic alongside the interior was what drew me into this realm. The sense of wrestling with oneself, a battle seemingly as old as time itself, wonderfully captured.


Tam Rogers, “Kicking Up Dust.” 

This tale is one that has so many layers that I had to read and re-read to actually get the full picture, and I still feel like I’m missing so many things. What caught my attention first was the flow of the words, but then the meaning behind each line (or my interpretation of the meaning) reached up off the page and I was hit with this feeling of absolute desolation. Such a brilliant piece of work I admit I still haven’t fully managed to grasp.

“Grit sticks to my lips, bones cut my flesh.” As a young man my world was shaped by the lyrics of The The’s dystopian tinged album Infected. That line was as great as any of that fabled touchstone, a line I wished I had written. The sensory laden opening meander, a world of sugar and indulgence slowly sliding into a realm of dirt and grim was just wonderful. The rage and anger, resentment and despair … a work of beauty and challenge and a worthy runner up.

And now: for his second time: it’s Flash! Friday 




“Wireless Echoes”

J: If there was ever an award to be given for wordplay, this tale would deserve it. Just like the computer system, we’re presented with varying levels of processes designed to portray an almost visceral need for companionship and understanding. Beneath it all there is this throbbing ache for the character Faith that really hit me; even as her purpose to heal the narrator fills me with warmth, the question of her own fate is one that lingers.

IR: The opening line hooked me in deep, setting up what felt like a descent into a William Gibson neuromancer inspired maze. The subsequent unravelling didn’t disappoint. With each binary twist we delved deeper into this relationship that the writer captured with lyrical prose. “Vacant bones” that led to “gigabytes of ache,” the intersection of flesh and date wonderfully dissected. Yet the surface of information was peeled back to reveal the pain and despair that lingered at the core of this tale. A majestic ode to pain that left me reeling in a digital realm.

Congratulations, Chris! Below is your gorgeous, comfortingly familiar winner’s badge for the wall(s) of your choosing. Here is your updated winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please watch your inbox for interview questions for this week’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story!

Wireless Echoes

We were birthed from machines. Armed with digital missives and vacant bones, we found one another behind a blinking cursor and gigabytes of ache. No skin. No voice. We yearned and soothed with prose typed from plastic keys.

Faith wasn’t only her name. She believed in soul mates and the fairy tale of true romance. She worshipped at the altar of sonnets and serendipity. Men had derailed those notions repeatedly.

Her poetry spoke of loss. Of fading heartbeats, like a wisp of crimson smoke dissolving in the night air. Her messages, her electrified ink, told stories of fractured encounters.

She lounged on my synthetic lap. I asked for her sorrow and a purging of the loneliness. Her analog heart spilled throbbing blood across my screen. I cleansed it with a sympathetic text.

I was the therapist. She was the savior. Her melancholy ruminations suffocated my own pain. Faith reached through the machine like a replicated angel and healed me.


Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 49: WINNERS

Welcome back! We’re racing faster and faster to the end of Flash! Friday’s second year. Probably you all are quite cool about this, but I’m a manic WRECK. Guest judges of astonishing caliber joining us! Flashversary (Dec 5) parties to plan! Fun stuff lurking in the wings for Year Three! And just WAIT, y’all, til you see who’s on the next FF judge panel. Let me say I may not be the only one fainting.

Anyway. Thanks to everyone for coming out again this week for another fantastic round of flash fiction. Monkeys and authors? Who could have guessed the hijinks you connived for your longsuffering protagonists.

:hands out boxes of tissues: And now, my darlings, brace yourselves, as today we are forced (FORCED, I tell you) to bid a final farewell to the final judge of this past judge panel. Margaret Locke has long been a respected name here in the lair, a reputation her tenure as judge further confirmed. You’ve done some fine judgery here, Miz Locke. Thank you for bringing your own special brand of spice and flair each round. You’ve been amazing, and your eye will be missed! Thank you so much for giving of your time and heart to the Flash! Friday community.          


Judge Margaret Locke says: The first time Our Lady Dragonness asked me to judge, I turned her down. Who was I, lowly newbie romance and flash writer, to dare comment on, much less JUDGE, the numerous stories people craft each week? The second time, I said yes (I was worried she’d flambé me if I refused again). I’m so glad I did — it has been eye-opening to sit on this side of the bench, really having to immerse myself in each and every tale, having to figure out why certain pieces resonated with me more than others, and having to qualify my choices. I’m sure it’s sharpened my eye when it comes to evaluating my own writing.

The truth is, a lot of judging is subjective. Yes, one can look at spelling and grammar and flow and analyze a variety of things quite objectively, but when it comes right down to it, the stories that have grabbed me the most often have done so at an emotional, instinctual level. They resonate with me in ways not easily explained. I mention this as a reminder to everyone (including me, as I ride yet another wave of agent rejections) that just because I or some other judge or an agent or a publisher doesn’t pick a particular work doesn’t mean that work isn’t worthy of being picked! Amazing stories get passed by every day. Keep writing. Keep writing and honing the craft. Keep going. There is so much joy in the process, as well as in the product.

THANK YOU for this opportunity; I remain humbled and in awe of the amazingly talented crop of writers who show up week after week, weaving unique and entertaining short (short!) stories that exemplify the best in wordsmithing.

Moving on to results: You people are smart. Like, scarily so. I had to spend so much time on the good old Internets looking up literary references and educating myself on various famous authors to ensure I was catching the wicked brilliance of so many of these stories. I’m still worried (and sure) I missed something! We had literal monkeys, figurative monkeys, authors as main characters, authors as references, hilarious tales, and tales of woe. Thank you for making my final week of judging such a wonderful (and challenging) one!

And since it was my last week of judging, I decided I didn’t have to limit my mentions quite so much. Right? Right?!

Monkey drum roll, please….




Geoff Le Pard, “Between Rock and Hard Place.” Great incorporation of authors and quick references to their works made this fun to read, as I tried to see if I caught all of the references.

Mark Driskill, “The Intruders.” In the same vein of “Between Rock,” and yet so badly punny, it was awesome.

UK_MJ“Wild Kingdom.” I enjoyed the very real-feeling encapsulation of sibling rivalry, and that the concept of “wild kingdom” aptly reflects more on the humans in this story than the animal.

Emily StreetVestigial Tale.” Loved the punny title in a well-written story.

Nancy Chenier, “Rice-Paper Battlefield.” For choosing an eastern female author!

Best Title: joidianne4eva“Love Me Tender, Love Me Sweet.” I’m an Elvis fan, so this title immediately caught my eye; but it also renders what follows that much more horrific.

Best Line: Shane Wilson“Treating Herself.” “He gave her everything she ever wanted—except for space.” Oh, how this line hit me.

Best Last Line: Alissa Leonard, “The Things I Do For You.” “I can get you six feet closer to the center of the earth.” Wonderful play on words with Jules Verne!

Best Clever Conceit: ImageRonin, “Red Rum.” I’m sure for those of you more familiar with Stephen King, this take off of The Shining was instantly recognizable. Not so for me, but after Googling and figuring it out, I appreciated the weaving of a fictional character’s life into a small tale that hints at the larger one.



David Borrowdale, “Inspiration is Everywhere.” I was instantly hooked with the play on words between Simian and Simenon (whom I also had to look up; apparently I’ve never read anything). I loved the contrast between what Simenon actually wanted versus what he experienced. I assumed that the Hotel Majestic really IS majestic, and what he will write will be exactly opposite of what he himself at that moment was experiencing. Great contrasts in a well-written, well-executed tale.

Michael Seese, “Falling From Grace.” This story stuck out for its completely different subject matter and approach. I love the irreverent tone, the stark contrast of modern and ancient in exquisite lines such as this: “The psychologists sang hymns of ‘addictive personality.’ The doctors read the scripture of ‘chemical imbalance.’” An ethereal, ageless being subjecting himself to modern drugs/shock treatments? A suicidal angel? The whole premise hooked me exactly because those ideas at first would seem to be opposites.

VB Holmes, “Hotel l’Alsace.” Well-written and moving. I looked up the Hotel l’Alsace to see what author(s) had committed suicide there. Oscar Wilde died there, but of illness, not by his own hand. So I’m left wondering if this piece is referencing a real or fictional author. In any case, the language is beautiful and encapsulates the despairing mood. The simple listing of all the ills that had befallen this man was heart-wrenching.

Marie McKay, “Monkey See, Monkey Do.” Yes, I had to Google Boulle to learn he was the author of Planet of the Apes, and while this story wasn’t the first to reference that book, the repeated pattern in the middle very effectively renders the story that much more terrifying.  


Tamara Shoemaker, “The Story.” I appreciated the unique take of this story, the interweaving of both the famous author and monkey, as required by the prompt, but in less literal ways. The language flows so well, with wonderful, visually evocative phrasings such as “the slender blonde with the army cap tilted at a jaunty angle,” and “his chin wobbl[ing] beneath the years of repressed grief.” My romantic heart broke in the space of a few, short words. The last line in particular frames the whole story and its characters well, capturing the painful dynamic between the central couple.


Michael Simko, “Risk.” I absolutely love the opening paragraph of this story; I was instantly hooked. Hitting upon Passepartout, I had to Google him to learn he was the (fictional) valet to main character Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s Around The World In Eighty Days, and then I had to read enough (see? you people made me work this week!) to know Phileas, at first, is the exact opposite of a risk taker. But even if one took out the paragraph with Passepartout and the references to Verne, the story stands on its own and resonates with me – perhaps because I am not generally a risk-taker, myself. Well-written with wonderful imagery.


Brian S. Creek, “Infinite Monkey Theorem.” Other stories touched on the infinite monkey theorem, the idea that “a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a give text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare” (thanks, Wikipedia!), but this piece, rendered entirely in crisp dialogue, utilized it perfectly. I kept coming back to this one and its hilarious last line: “Well, it turns out it requires only one and it takes about six months.” I’m still giggling.

And now: for her very first time, it’s Flash! Friday 




“Merely This and Nothing More”

Poe is never overtly named in this story, but the language to me invokes his style, even beyond the title and the final word. And yet I had the sneaking suspicion this Story Teller was referencing authors beyond Poe; from Googling “fifteen dead men dancing on a chest,” I learned that phrase hails from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. “Beasts growing listless in ancient temples beneath the waves” made me think of Atlantis. What other references am I missing? The whole tale is rich in imagery. The second paragraph I have read numerous times, basking in its exquisiteness of expression. Thank you, Carin, for this marvelous story! Well done!

Congratulations, Carin! Below is your neon bright winner’s badge for the wall(s) of your choosing. Here is your very own, brand new, super duper marvelous winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me here asap so I can interview you for Wednesday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story!

Merely This and Nothing More

If on a summer’s day a Story Teller was to exit Hotel L–, she would find herself on the road leading to the harbour. If she walked, her mind would drift through centuries of memories. If she remembered, she would colour memories to adventures, hovels to palaces, obstacles to giants. If she stood on the shore she would recall all the memories of all the ages. Cities. Armies. Voyages. Adventures. Sorrow. Love. Fear. Beasts growing listless in ancient temples beneath the waves.

If she was to tell all these memories to the ocean, she would slowly sink into a story herself: her voice caught in sea foam, her secrets bound in a chest on the ocean floor where fifteen dead men danced, her stories travelling through countries, years, and centuries before being caught by ink.

She asked if her own words, those grains of sand, would be remembered.

She did not wait for an answer, lest it was “nevermore”.