New Flash Fiction  

Posted by Wishwords in ,

We have another story, this time with Leviathan.

Keys
by Chrissa Sandlin

The leviathan’s groaning farewell wavered through her head, shuddered down her arms, and shifted the sand beneath Karina. She pulled at the shawl around her shoulders, a dark-dyed offering from years ago meant to enhance her coloring and now tangled with but darker than her own grey hairs. Another human gift turned goad. She stepped toward the flesh lying above the water, trying to determine if this was the head of the creature.

“How do you speak to it?” The elf-woman called, tending her bonfire of keys. Her fingers tangled in the smoke, seeming to yank at the flames. “What if it will not carry us? What if it is dying and we have to go back?”

“You would stay? With the forest falling around you, axes at every root?” Rough skin slid up and Karina looked into an eye like a cave. She responded to the elf, but spoke to the eye. “I’ve been walking for days with its goodbyes rolling through my gut. It will carry us to the forever seas and I will finally own myself, flesh and soul. Look at me!” She pulled back the shawl. “They’ve made me old, dried and wretched. She came to me, the Queen of the Castle Beyond Breath. She laughed at their shriveling of my skin in thinking of her. She thought I’d be ready…as if I would serve in a dead land, who used to be a goddess in these branches!”

“Your skin is no more real than that creature is visible to those axe-wielders from the villages. The leviathan is leaving, but we don’t know where it will go. And you have become a witch, my girl. We’ve seen them give you flesh. What if they crinkle it to their beliefs?” The elf twisted the smoke again and cast away the fire, burning her fingers on the ashes to tell one last time the houses and families by the carved surfaces dissolving beneath her fingers. “The windfall houses will become as downed trees without our care. We’ve no way to enter them again. You promised that we would have passage.”

“I’ve made new keys,” Karina said, lifting her wrist and tugging two silver shapes from her skirt. One looked like an ornate tap and the other a house key, stone and bone bound with a fine wire. Her elven companion shivered. “One to open my home and the other to unlock a soul. Both cast from moonlight by balefire under the tutelary eye of that pale Queen.” Karina twitched her face over her shoulder, casting away the name as she spoke it. She took the tap and, moving away from the eye, pressed it lightly against the flesh and twisted. A drop of the soul Earth gave these largest of her children fell into Karina’s hand and she drank it quickly.

Words tolled through Karina. The same farewell chant in words the span of hours. She looked into the cavernous eye and made her plea.

Elves ringed the shore, watching the keys to their houses smolder, watching the key-maker caress each one to dust. Karina’s voice and the voice of the leviathan billowed over them for hours, until the sun began to sink. Karina’s voice shrank from sea on which it rode as she addressed them.

“Leviathans become islands. We could find anything on that flesh land.” Karina crested another low wave of sound, finally looking back into the great black eye shot through with the fires of its birth. “Enough magic to remake me.”

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at Tuesday, September 29, 2009 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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