Microfiction: Avalon


When the tempest blew in the big picture windows, spraying the customers with broken glass, the tea rooms emptied in a gale of screams and the undignified flurry of black coat tails. Within moments, no one was left except the big man in the fur-collared cloak who seemed to find the whole scene amusing. She was transfixed by his gaze, the laughter in his eyes, and was ready to cling to his huge frame as to a life raft. He beckoned to her and strode outside to where the ocean swept over the promenade and the boulevard was just a memory.

At the door, she blanched and leapt backwards, waves curling over her shoes. A sharp cry escaped her. “It’s coming, just like the prophet said it would. Nothng can stop it. The world is ending!”

He laughed, a rich, deep laugh that drove back the night, the fools and the monsters. And he took her hand.

“Come with me,” he said and stepped out into the foaming, swirling flood. She hung back in fear and shook her head. The horizon was barred by the jagged white mountains of icebergs and they sailed, frozen battleships, closer and closer. No human voices were heard over the whine of the wind. The world had disappeared beneath the raging waters. Mute, she shook her head again until his laughter worked its magic. His face was red with the cold, and his lips, pulled into a brilliant, white-toothed smile

“Is this a dream,” she asked.

“Perhaps,” he said. “Who knows? Shall I show you where the black pearls grow and starfish light their lamps?”

This time, she laughed with him and took the offered hand. Together they stepped into the flood and he led her to where the waves became wild white horses and the icebergs the misty shore of a green island.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

32 thoughts on “Microfiction: Avalon”

  1. Oh I love this! Especially the ending: who doesn’t want to see where the black pearls grow, and watch the starfish light their lamps? Beautiful work 🙂

  2. This may be naff, but I always think of the Bryan Ferry song (Avalon) because whilst it’s modern I absolutely love that song, (and the entire album) have you heard it? This is covered with WIN because you chose such a gorgeous and timeless subject matter, one we all wish to inhabit and become part of (again). I am convinced it existed in many forms, and that our fairytales and myths are not simply metaphors but often truths. Didn’t they say King Arthur was based in what is now modern-day Wales? Gorgeous work Jane.

    1. I love Avalon! I think it’s my favourite Roxy Music album. It drives everybody else mad I play it so often. Did you know that Avalon means isle of apples in Gaelic? It was one of the isles of the blest in Irish mythology, like Tír na nÓg. If there had been a King Arthur I can see why he’d have wanted to go there 🙂

      1. YES! I’m so glad you like it too it is probably among my all time favorite LPs EVER it just transports me into another world, it’s incredible how they did that with that album but they did, especially that song. I did not know that! Isle of Apples? mmm so does that mean the elusive Avalon can be located where apples a-plenty grow? gosh – I find Ireland and Wales my favorite parts of that part of the world over Britain and Scotland (though the latter is gorgeous I just have a yen about Wales and Ireland)

      2. The apple tree was symbolic and sacred to lots of peoples, not just the Jews who passed it onto the Christians. The Irish thought that there were islands in the Atlantic to the west where life was sweet and where the heroes and various fairy demi urges sailed back and forth to. And of course, Atlantis was just off the coast of Ireland…

      3. Interesting as I read a book that is mostly set in Ireland, by a writer called Tim Severen about the Vinland Map and the connection between the Hebradees, Ireland, the Nordic lands and then onto colonizing Iceland and Greenland and the Vinland explorations. Brilliant books if you can find them – in real life he built Viking boats and actually physically re-created the voyages. I like to think the Vikings were over in Canada/America though I find it sad they didn’t last. Atlantis was off the coast of Ireland? Really? I heard Malta (though that hardly sounds appealing) and/or Greece?

      4. If you’re Irish you tend to lean towards the North Atlantic variant 🙂
        Tim Severen! I went through a phase when I was pregnant with one of them of reading his books. Husband mocks them in résumé—We sailed and we sailed, and then we sailed a bit more…
        When I was a kid I loved the Henry Treece books about the Vkings. The Viking Trilogy in particular I read over and over,

      5. ha ha ha! the sailing part yes I can see that! Oh I haven’t read Henry Treece, you realize my reading list is utterly out of control and it’s all your fault! 😉 (in a good way)

      6. He’s probably terribly dated now. When I read books written in the fifties and earlier, as a child I never noticed how weird the fictional kids spoke and it didn’t matter that they lived in big houses and went to boarding schools, had horses and other exotica. I think kids these days would just say WTF! and dump it.

      7. True, except The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe endures and I believe it has boarding schools, big houses, horses (witches!) … I agree with you because I read some early Roald Dahl for adults (Kiss Kiss, My Uncle Oswald) they age but they don’t age badly though i doubt a kid of twenty would enjoy it. Those who can carry the atmosphere of the past into the future are in my estimate, great writers.

      8. That(‘s so true. If a child can’t let her imagination take her from the non-trendy words into a world her experience can understand, then she has no imagination and would be just as happy reading the business pages of the newspaper.

      9. Exactly. It shows a true author/writer to be able to do this and so often I read books that are lauded and highly thought of and you can see the transparent life of the author amidst the pages in such an obvious way I feel embarrassed for them and scratch my head over the judges of such books ..

      10. And the transparent life they transmit to their characters who will be so dated in ten years as to be laughable. The ‘awesome’ ‘kickass’ language is a case in point. It’s ugly, has no wit or humour, nor originality, and no merit that I can see, and will be dead and buried when the next TV series produces new cult phraes.

      11. Oh this is true and if you ever see me say ‘awesome’ which I am liable to do occasionally, please kick me in the head and remind me to not sound like a moron. (Utterly agree about the new TV series and how it produces ‘cult’ that really is nothing more than how CocaCola invented Santa).

  3. Wow! Jane I absolutely loved the ending. I also love all the paintings that go with your stories. A rather different approach than the photos that we normally see. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Norma! A good photograph can tell a story, but often they’re not taken with that in mind. A painting is a story as interpreted by the painter. The spectator can then interpret it another way. I think it gives more scope to the imagination than a straight snapshot.

      1. Gorgeous imagery. Love the way you’ve built such believable temptation in such few lines – that winning smile of his, the promise of magical knowledge. Deftly done

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