Darkened Path

Armenia 1

Tsaghkunyats Ridge, Armenia via Google Maps, © Roland Yeghiazaryan

While the others re-packed the donkeys, Marra stared at the Illanat mountains, ever-dark now, even on the brightest days.  They seemed no closer than a week ago.  Not that she wished them so.

Her sister joined her, gazing in the same direction.  “We must hurry.  The time grows near.”

Yama’s face was so bright with belief that Marra glanced away.  “How will we find it there?”

Yama’s voice purred with excitement. “It calls me.”

Marra had never experienced god-sent dreams.  She had no right to doubt Yama’s.

She’d felt useless, aching to combat this horror torturing her people.  Maybe this… object… could help.  Marra didn’t have to believe in it.  Only in her task: to protect her sister, as she always had.

Yama seemed to read her shrug.  “Salvation or doom, let us reach it, and know.”

Marra followed her sister downhill, toward the mountains that seemed, suddenly, too near.

Word count: 150.  Written for this week’s What Pegman Saw flash fiction challenge. Click on the link to read the rules and join in!

32 thoughts on “Darkened Path

  1. Oh, I like that. The contrast of the believer and sceptic; acknowledgement that unless you’ve experienced it you can’t really believe it. The darkness of one sister, the brightness. Yep, I like the way you’ve captured these contrasts.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is so mysterious and I love the two sisters – each with her own view of what lies ahead… even though neither one knows what it is. Yin and Yang, positive and maybe not negative, but more realistic…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Dale! And yes, exactly — the two sisters are definitely operating with different beliefs here. But how can anyone be sure that something they saw in a dream is real, enough to send them out on this crazy quest? I wanted both sides to seem reasonable. And also to hint at the role reversal: that Marra has always taken care of her (presumably) younger sister, and been the older and wiser one, yet it’s the younger one who now leads the quest.

      And yep, before you say it, it’s starting to sound like a longer story / possible novel idea to me too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Joy,

    As others have said, I love the contrast between the two sisters. You’ve painted two vivid characters. I sensed Marra’s longing to believe as wholeheartedly as Yama. Yet Marra is too pragmatic. I love the last line that leaves the reader with a desire to know more. Well done.



    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the great comment, Rochelle! I’m glad that contrast came across, and the ambiguity about the situation. I was thinking that Marra is jealous of Yama feeling so certain, of *anything*, but also wary that Yama and the others have jumped to conclusions with no solid evidence, and is leading them all on a wild goose chase, with unknown risks. That last line leaves me with a desire to know more, too; maybe I’ll have to write more!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lynn, I’m especially glad to hear the dialogue works. Yes, definitely a question of faith — and hoping. It’s funny that most of the readers seem to “side” with the believer, but I relate more to Marra. Not so much that she is a skeptic, but come on, if someone told you that they had a dream — and they’ve decided that it’s actually a message from the gods — would you believe them enough to go on an incredibly risky quest because of it? In real life, most people would think she was crazy (or at best, young and deluded).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I was with Marra all the way! But I’m a natural sceptic myself 🙂 She’s keeping faith with her sister, whilst having severe reservations of her own – perfectly reasonable I’d say

        Liked by 1 person

      • Me too. It does make for an interesting character dilemma, and dynamic between the two of them. Once again, I love how these flash fiction challenges accidentally turn into larger story ideas!


  4. You’ve written a gripping narrative, Joy. I would definitely be hooked if this were part of a longer piece. It works very well as a piece of flash fiction, too. As Karen says, the mountains being too far at the start and too near at the end gives a pleasing completeness to the story. Nice work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for the nice comment, Penny! It’s great to hear that it works on both levels. I hadn’t thought about using it as a jumping-off point for a longer story, but all of these flash pieces are necessarily part of a bigger picture, and they so often do inspire longer stories. I wish I had the time to write all of them!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved this story, Joy. My thoughts echo what’s already been said by the other commenters. I like the contrast in the feeling towards distance at the start and the end of the story, as well as the contrast between the sisters. And the mysterious nature of a god-sent dream and an object that could stop the suffering of their people…it all captures the interest of the reader. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the kind comment, Sammi, I really appreciate it! I think you noticed on Goodreads that I’m reading Tad Williams’ “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” epic fantasy series, and that really influenced this story idea, with its weird dreams and the heroes hoping that finding the magic items would *somehow* give them a way to defeat the horrible evil destroying the land. But then, I guess those are pretty common tropes in fantasy epics after all. I’m lad my take on it worked for you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome, and the comment is deserved. I’m always stunned by how you get so much story into so few words.
        I didn’t make the connection with the Tad Williams book, but as you say they’re pretty common fantasy tropes 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the nice comment! I’ve been working on how to express more complex motivations in such short pieces, so it’s very gratifying that it came across this way for you.


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