Horla Flash Fiction (May 2020)




THEY were kind colours. Blue, green, and lemon rippled down to me from the pond’s surface. No cruel reds, browns or oranges transfiguring the human shapes meant no hunters, no trappers—no flushed angry men skirting the forest. I swam near, and, as I closed on the water’s edge, I discerned a male guide out with students. Tall students, of a variety of type and hair-colour. Their carried clipboards rippled.  

Here, students, is a forest branch; here lemon-yellow birdsong of the sweetest nothing.

The instructor gaped, stocky-tall, as I made land. The students scattered, hollering into the white birches. I tried not to take offense; it was the instructor who intrigued me and I pressed ahead. He had thin charming eyes—a promise of tenderness—and a nose with a proud arch. He had rough skin and couldn’t be considered traditionally handsome, but to me, was. “You are most beautiful,” he said. “Woman, what were you doing down there?” After mystification raised his brows, he gazed at my splendid neck and shoulders.

I went for a kiss. I hesitantly grazed his cheek, the way a doe nuzzles rocks for salt. I said, “Your baritone is pleasant O man, and this kiss is only the beginning of what’s in store. Come with me down to the waters. Let us tangle our limbs among the waves of this sad, beauteous nothing.”

The man’s pupils spun. I encased his hand in mine. “Yes,” he whispered. “Your hair…is so lovely…”

He ventured a full look. Fear rolled up his eyelashes in a gust of storm. My fish tail frightened him. My green and scaled lower half, coiled and mighty, which hurt balancing on land. His mouth fell open. “I—have a wife…” he sputtered. “I’m sorry,” was his parting reply, and he turned and quickened into the wood. I sank back into the waters.

I haven’t been loved for over a hundred years.





Heather Sager lives in Illinois, USA, where she writes short fiction and poetry. Her most recent fiction publications include appearances in La Piccioletta BarcaThe Esthetic ApostleThe Cabinet of HeedSweet Tree ReviewLittle Patuxent ReviewAriel Chart, and New World Writing

Title photo credit. Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

Standard Horla disclaimer: the photograph is not directly connected with the content of the above piece of fiction