Flash fiction: Beyond the arch

This short story is for Sue Vincent’s Thursday #writephoto prompt.


She touched the lichen-crusted stoned with a finger, drew it gently over the rugous surface and felt the tingle of time. The first converts built this doorway, now an empty arch, the first Christians in a land where the pagan deities walked the fields. The air must have fair crackled with anger. What did a mournful Levantine who died hung from a tree in a desert know of the brilliance and gaiety of the horse folk, the rain-drenched forests and the long silver strands beneath a sky of scudding cloud?

The chapel had skulked on the cliff top for a while, the passionless words of its androgynous chanting and sexless singers caught by the wind and tossed into the waves. The green meadows would have none of it; the deer bolted at the sound, and on the hill, the hares twitched velvet noses and cowered.

That was then. There was no chapel now. It was long gone, crumbled into dust like the dry prayers of the monks. Though she harkened, she heard only silence and the mocking cry of the gulls. They had gone, followed their po-faced Levantine into the darkness and left the hill to the hare and the gorse. She smiled and lifted her face to the fitful sun. She was Brigid, fire and wisdom, healing and strength. Buds opened as she passed, and the breeze blew warm with a soft sprinkling of rain

Hares leapt with joy about her feet as she stepped through the archway and into the blue misty air of a morning full of larksong, and in the distance, the sounds of horses neighing and laughter round a cooking fire.



The Palais Gallien in Bordeaux, for Sue.



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.

29 thoughts on “Flash fiction: Beyond the arch”

    1. It’s a place I’ve never bothered to visit. Assumed there’s be nothing much to see. In fact it’s a massive structure, rows of arches, right in the middle of the city.

      1. I love seeing the various architectres side by side…something quite homely about that. But the Romans have never really been my favourite invaders.

      2. I think that when they left, things went pretty much back to how they were before. Not exactly, because they left creature comforts the nobles had got accustomed to. But the second invasion, the monks, that was the killer.

      3. Depends on your point of view. It seems generally agreed that Christianity brought down the Roman Empire by putting an end to the ‘all religions rubbing along together’ regime they had before the emperors converted. Maybe that was a good thing.

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