[Chuck Wendig’s latest flash fiction challenge is to take an opening sentence from his previous challenge and write a story, under 2000 words, based on it. I chose one submitted by Catkins. Like all these flash fictions, I’m writing this without knowing where it’s going, and I’m trying to complete it in half an hour…]
Let’s see, yes, I think this is where it starts.
It starts, as these things so often do, with a promise. A promise I made to a girl, a long time ago.
No, I don’t remember her name. As I say, it was a *very* long time ago.
But she was pretty, as all the girls were back then, or at least as they were in my memory, and she was willing, and she was there.
Blonde, I think. “Golden tresses”. Well, not golden as such, more straw coloured, probably. But the memory cheats.
So there was a promise, and a pleasant spring day in the field, and a few months later a bump.
I’m sure you know where the story goes from there. I take her down to the river, for to wash her pretty hair, and in that lonely river did I drown that maiden fair.
With a too-ra-lally-ay on a bright and shiny day. You know how it goes.
But promises, you see… promises had meanings to her people.
No, I didn’t know she was an elf. She wasn’t even full-blood, just a bit elvish on her grandmother’s side. If I’d known, I wouldn’t have touched her. I wasn’t that stupid, not even then.
I found out that night, in my dreams.
She came to me, that night, and said “My darling Johnny, you promised that together we would be”. I’d kind of expected a dream like that, to tell you the truth. I’m not a… sorry, let me rephrase… I didn’t normally feel very guilty about anything much, but I’d never killed anyone before and… well, you expect *something*, don’t you? I mean, it’s murder we were talking about.
They found the body the next day. I hadn’t gone to any great pains to hide it, after all. There was no real need — there was a gypsy camp not two hundred yards from where I killed her, and they[‘d hanged one of the gypsies for it practically before the body was cold.
I went to the funeral, of course. All the village did. What a tragedy, et cetera.
And again, that night, I had the dream. “My darling Johnny, you promised that together we would be”.
My hair started growing lighter the next day. Not going white with shock, though. Just… a little lighter. But then it *was* the summer, and I was spending a lot of time out in the sun, because there are always more willing girls and more promises. Your hair does get lighter in the sun.
It was when my ears began to grow that I started to worry.
Only slightly, mark you. But there was a noticeable point to them. Much like the one on the girl’s ears, actually.
A few days later… well, my trips to the fields suddenly stopped. There would have been questions. Serious questions.
I started asking some questions myself, in those dreams. But all she would answer was “My darling Johnny, you promised that together we would be”. Nothing else would she say.
Within a week, I was hiding indoors all the time. I looked like her. I sounded like her. I spoke to no-one and saw no-one, except for her, in the dreams. I begged and pleaded for an explanation, and got none.
None, that is, until that night.
That night I dreamed that I was walking down to her grave. I knelt on it, and I said “I made of you a body, so a body you may have”. I dreamed that I lay down, and that I sank into the ground, as I felt something rising.
And yes, I think that’s an end, of sorts.
She comes to visit the grave, you know. Every day. Elves, even part-elves, have very long lives, and she’s been doing it for so long that I’ve lost count completely. Could be a hundred years, could be a thousand. What does it matter?
I think… I hope… that when she finally does die, I’ll be allowed to pass away as well. But how long that will be… well, who can tell, with elves?
And every day she calls me by the name I told her, the name by which I made the promise, the name as false as I was.
“My darling Johnny, you promised that together we would be”.