Microfiction challenge: Lovers


Death comes

There was nothing they could do, nowhere else to send their prayers. She let his strong arms guide her steps home, heard them echoing against the wall of the domain. She thought briefly of the daughter of the big house and of the physicians from the town they had brought in to try to save her. It hadn’t helped, either way, she thought. The bairn had been born dead and the daughter lost too.

Their steps echoed against the stones, clomp, clomp, clomp, and the leaves rustled like the dry voices of the old ones telling their beads. The night sky was bright with stars and the air was cold. A hunting owl shrieked and she caught back the sob in her throat. He clutched her arm tight and she felt his distress through the wool of her coat. It was over.

Moonlight fell soft over the path. Big house, small cottage, death came just the same. They would leave the son-in-law to his grieving, and they would take their grief home with them. Again, the owl called, and his grip tightened on her arm. Moonlight filled his eyes with glitter and her own eyes were a blur of tears. Death had come to the big house, in a hushed rustle of purples drapes around the door, with black-plumed horses and the sickly odour of lilies. They would not give their daughter and granddaughter to that death. They would send them through the gentle earth to the otherworld where there was no more pain, no sickness, no ugliness, only peace and beauty. And one day, they would join them there.


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.

31 thoughts on “Microfiction challenge: Lovers”

  1. I love everything about this … the right tenor of melancholy, a tightly observed truism and depth of emotion. Exquisitely penned.

      1. No – you are not really sentimental (certainly never in a negative sense) but a keen observation is a form of appreciation always

      2. Ha! Me too! That’s so funny because in many ways I would not have assumed that of you! Go on then, notable tear-jerkers in fiction … which ones? For me the afore-mentioned Madam Bovary which is really silly as she utterly deserves her fate but I still feel sorry for her! Anna Kerinina – in a similar vein – um … Affinity by Sarah Waters and the other aforementioned Sunlight by Cold Water (Sagan) and WATERSHIP DOWN (or anything by him) even thinking of that book sets me off!

      3. Have you read La Storia by Elsa Morante? I couldn’t read the last pages for the tears running down my face. Watership down, Tarka the Otter, Black Beauty, anything with animals in it gets the waterworks going for me.

      4. I have not. I will be sure to and let you know. Oh HOW could I forget Tarka the Otter!? And Yes, Black Beauty you’re right. Did you ever read The Incredible Journey also?

      5. I haven’t read The Incredible Journey maybe because I just know it would have me in tears. La Storia is a terribly hard book to read. Beautiful, really beautiful, but tragic doesn’t begin to describe it. I don’t know how it reads in translation.

      6. Yes you would cry as it’s a wonderful book and very a la Watership Down. I’ve ordered La Storia at the library, they’ve very good about having nearly everything I search for.

      7. I hope you enjoy it. Italy of the Mussolini and post war years is one of my favourite literary periods. Terribly hard to read, but so rich and such beautiful writing.

      8. I have read nothing of it so it will be a very interesting read because I’m woefully ignorant of that time period in Italy TY!

  2. This one is beautiful Jane! You’re killing it with the deep, thoughtful and beautiful 🙂 You really pull out some fantastic lines (in this and all your work, honestly) and the imagery you create is vivid. I love reading your work 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and with such praise too! It’s easy to lose heart and fill up with self-doubt when books don’t sell. Thanks for the boost of confidence 🙂

      1. Unfortunately it is a truth of the world that publishing isn’t always a mark of what’s good and what isn’t -_- Keep going, you’re definitely going to make it 🙂

      2. I’m sorry, that must be really disheartening 😦 I’m sure that the next one you find will be the right one, and you’ll having the publishing experience your work deserves 🙂

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