Short Stories


FuriousFiction for January 2021, ringing in a new year! This was a strange one, but I had fun writing it. Please enjoy!

The prompt and specifics are as follows:

  • Your story must begin at sunrise.
  • You must use the following words somewhere in your story: SIGNATURE, PATIENT, BICYCLE.
  • Your story must include a character who has to make a CHOICE.

We begin with a sunrise. The class gathers around the small window and stares in silent rapture as the darkness is slowly leeched away into brilliant reds and oranges and pinks. The ocean is still, only slight waves oscillating and sending winks of colour towards us. As the sun crests over the horizon, I instruct the children to put on the tinted lenses they’d been given. They watch, breathless, frozen in wonder as the sky lightens and crystalises into a clear blue.

Knowing that the show is over, I put on my widest smile and say, “Okay, kids, time to come away from the window.”

“Just a bit longer,” pleads Tom, the most outspoken of the gathered children. The others nod in agreement, all eyes fixed on the black shadows of birds that are now flapping serenely past the scene. Unlike us, they are leisurely, with nowhere they need to be.

My smile becomes strained at the corners. “Tell you what, if you still want to see later then we can come back, okay?”

This compromise seems to satisfy them, because they trail off to the next window with their eyes still lingering on the morning sky they’re leaving behind.

I press a button and the window shutter rises, revealing a different scene. The ocean here is rough: tall waves cresting and crashing onto golden sand. Dangling palm fronds sway and clatter together. The children, thankfully, are just as mesmerised by this scene, flinching back and gasping when each wave breaks upon the beach.

“Where do they go?” asks Paula, my favourite student.

“Back to the ocean,” I say. “The water was always part of the sea, it just wanted to visit land for a bit.”

Suddenly, surprisingly, something glides along the scene. It’s an alien silhouette, all angles and curves in all the wrong places. Like the birds, its pace is slow and sedate, unhurried.

The children are horrified. Most let out some sort of gasping scream, recoiling. Tom, in direct contrast, leans forward, eyes wide and fascinated. I am not surprised when he turns to me and asks, “What’s that?”

Knowing what I’ve been instructed to say, I choose to be honest instead. “A person on a bicycle,” I say patiently. Leaning forward I point out the various forms. “That’s their leg, their arm, their head. These are wheels in a frame, see? In olden times it was a way to get around quickly.”

“Can I have one?” Tom asks.

“No, sorry.” I push the button again and the screen flickers out before the shutter swings closed again. “There’s no room here.”

Tom lets out his signature disappointed sigh. The rest of the children exchange relieved glances. Paula offers, “Can we go back to the sun please?”

I agree. As the kids crowd around the first screen, watching the sun rise again, I look out of the window. Staring into the empty blackness of space that surrounds the ship that our forefathers sent off into the unknown depths.

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