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It was there, and then it wasn’t.  A brief smear of light, caught by the corner of her right eye. She lifted her head toward the forest canopy and took in the sun-dappled leaves, inhaling long and slow.  A beautiful morning, indeed.  The pressures of everyday life had chased her to the forest – work deadlines, family obligations, endless to-do lists – and here was her chance to leave that all behind.  Nothing unusual caught her gaze, at least for that moment.  She cast her eyes downward and snorted lightly. My eyes must be playing tricks on me.  Then it happened again.

There it was, a blurry pinkish smear, darting amongst the emerald leaves. A barely perceptible motion, soundless and vague. She blinked twice, deliberately.  What the hell is going on?  Again, it disappeared.  This time she stopped, her boots planted firmly in the leaf litter.  Standing motionless, her eyes darted about, searching for a sign of the mystery object. A faraway sparrow’s trill broke her trance and she whipped her head to the left.  Nothing.

“Who’s there?” she called out, voice trembling. Then, a sharp crack against her left ear, hot and loud. She swiveled and stumbled, disoriented, head abuzz.  Pitching forward to her knees, the racket crescendoed as she made contact with the damp earth.  She rolled to her side, desperately searching for a source of the sound and the pain. There it was – a blush blur, smoky and ethereal, humming mid-air. Were those wings?



by Melissa Krolczyk


250 words or less