Photo © Kecia Sparlin

When the snake at the crossroads spoke, Arendae was strangely unsurprised.

“Your fortune awaits in the city, Arendae.”

She recited familiar arguments.  “I cannot abandon my mother.”

“She ran the mill alone before. She can do so again.”

“Who will take it over?”

“The mill is her child.  She must raise it.”

“It means leaving Garran.”  She could hardly imagine it.

“If you were going to marry, you would have by now.  Let him find someone who returns his love full-heartedly.”

Arendae squeezed worry through fisted fingers.  “What if I’m not good enough?”

The snake hissed.  “If you have not the courage, stay home.”


Arendae described the dream to her mother, seeking guidance.

Her mother said only: “I see.”

“Is the snake not Dyphental, luring me toward greed and selfishness?”

“Or perhaps Celuturne, Lady of Passages, saying you’ve outgrown this village and must shed your skin.”

Arandae shifted beneath her cairn of indecision.  “Which is true?”

“Only you can tell.”

In the morning, Arendae began peeling off her old life, feeling exposed, vulnerable, and… free.

Word count: 175.  Written for this week’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers photo prompt.  Big thanks to Priceless Joy for hosting, and for Kecia for providing the photo.  Click here to read the other stories or to submit your own.



35 thoughts on “Snakeskin

  1. The cairn of indecision, what an interesting phrase! That’s multi-leveled, makes me think of cairns I happen upon in the wilderness that are often useful, but still make you freeze and kind of debate things. Also the phrase squeezing worry through her fist is good. Tasty, true to form.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a great comment, Bill. I was thinking of the ancient burial cairns, where people piled rocks over graves, presumably to keep predators from digging up the bodies. Which led me to think of indecision this way, where she is piling up stone after stone atop herself, each time making it even harder to move in either direction. Thanks for mentioning the squeezing worry phrase; I fiddled with that one quite a bit until I got it the way I liked it, so I’m extra pleased that it worked.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, I hadn’t thought of that kind of cairn. That’s neat…was lucky, I got to see some of those sites in Scotland on the Orkney Islands once. That’s some “heavy shit,” so to speak…stone by stone. Cool stuff. Bill

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful story, Joy. The description in this piece is amazing: Arendae squeezed worry through fisted fingers…Arandae shifted beneath her cairn of indecision…Arendae began peeling off her old life…Such evocative imagery 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • Would like to hear you riff on how Christianity upended the snake symbol from its predecessors (or competition). That stuff interests me. I also think we have innate fear of animals with different structures than us (snakes, spiders). I like to think they’re wise, informants.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I never remember enough of what history I read to be able to make those arguments intelligently. It’s certainly reasonable to propose that we have an innate fear of animals that can hide in the grass and bite us if we step on them and might be poisonous! But I think you’re right, it’s the structure too: maybe what’s creepy is that they move differently than we do (although we don’t seem to be bothered by that with quadrupeds). And lobsters and crabs sure move funny, but we don’t think of them as sneaky or creepy. Okay, I’m going back to the Hide + Poisonous = Evil argument.


  3. I enjoyed this in the sens that the you didn’t use the snake as we All most typically did, a sight of evil. Rather, the snake dream was about choices for this young woman, of shedding her worries, her past, such as a snake sheds its skin. It’s a very effective comparison.


    • I as deliberately trying to get away from the theme of the evil snake in the garden of Eden, which I expected would be what most people would initially think of. In Eneana, the snake *is* associated with a couple of the evil gods too, but I chose this one instead. I’m so glad that came across — thanks for commenting, Amanda!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A lovely descriptive piece with great dialogue. The comparison between a snake shedding its skin and Arendae ‘peeling off’ her past life is excellent. The fact that Arendae doesn’t know the name and character of the snake is also interesting and begs for further hints in future Eneana stories.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Millie, great insight! Yes, the snake is associated with more than one deity, as are many other animals. So people have to use their best judgement about who they’re talking to in their vision — as well as whether it was just their own imagination in the dream or a “true vision”.


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