Strayed Sign

SarnathPhoto via Google Maps

I shrink farther beneath my hood. Just another pilgrim. Stretching my senses for her, my hope wilts. As though she’d actually be here, unlike the last hundred places.

It was a good guess, though: the temple where it all began.  The original was torn down two centuries ago, and a heathen one built over it, and another atop that. Only the garden plinths remain. I remember the statues of prophets they held, and the last prophet, our Eq.  They leveled his first, when we failed.

I should leave a note. I locate her favorite, the statue she and Urlan used to hide behind. With a glowing finger I sign my current location. My finger twitches, miming the sign for love. With Urlan dead, why shouldn’t I…?

Someone shouts, asks what I’m doing. I shamble away from the seemingly untouched stones.

Maybe it’s best. Something unsaid for so long grows unsayable.

Word count: 150.  Written for this week’s What Pegman Saw challenge.  Thanks as always to Karen and Josh for hosting.  This week Pegman takes us to Varanasi, India. Click on the link to see what other interesting parts of the area other writers were inspired by, and maybe you’ll be inspired to write your own story!

This character is someone from a much longer short story I’m currently revising, with a long and fairly complicated history, only a small slice of which is hinted at here.  I’m curious to see how this is interpreted and how much of his story comes across.


29 thoughts on “Strayed Sign

    • Thanks Louis! In this case I feel like I’m cheating, because there are over 3000 words of “more” in another, longer story. It was fun to imagine a scene that’s only hinted at in that story.


      • His love and pain goes beyond Zara. He’s also lost his mentor Eq, been exiled and reviled by his tribe (falsely) as a traitor, and watched his best friend Urlan die. So for a long time he had a bad case of “best friend’s girl,” then Urlan died (hard to do for an immortal, but he managed). Then while he was waiting for Zara to stop grieving and maybe consider him… she’s disappeared. Which isn’t like her, so he’s worried she’s injured or trapped or worse.


    • Thanks Penny! I rewrote that last line several times, so I’m glad the final version worked. In the longer story this is based on, he still hasn’t found her yet, so he hasn’t had the chance. But now I am considering writing more stories about him — that’s what happens when you get so sucked into a character’s life. So who knows?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know what you mean about getting sucked into a character’s life. I feel quite sad now I’ve finished the first draft of my novel “The Owl on the Pergola”, and won’t have the pleasure of seeing my main character develop further as a person (unless I write a sequel, of course…).

        Liked by 1 person

      • If it’s just the first draft, you’ll still have plenty of opportunity to further explore the character in your revisions and learn more about him or her. But of course, a sequel is a possibility too!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Karen, it’s lovely to hear it evoked that response! I did give a little more info in my comment above, to Crispina. But clearly I’ll have to finish revising the story and get it published so you can see the rest!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Alicia, that’s so nice to hear! It makes me want to know more, too. Maybe I’ll need to write additional short stories for this character, really dive into all these parts of his life. 🙂


  1. Great story, Joy, and excellent use of the prompt image. You’ve managed to pack so much into so few words. The intriguing story line readily drew me in and made me want to know more. I’ve never come across this challenge, but it looks like one i should bear in mind for when I eventually get back to writing flash.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Millie! I feel a bit like I’m cheating on this one, because I already have a 3000 word story about this character and his history, so I had quite the head start.

      I would strongly recommend the What Pegman Saw challenge — it has quickly become my favorite. Largely because it’s so flexible: the location is chosen, but then you can “cruise around” in street view or find individual photographers’ 360 views, and not only learn about the area but also choose just the right image that inspires you. So you can do modern urban stories, or historical fiction, or like me, find a bit of space that doesn’t have any modern or specific indicators and write secondary-world fantasy. Plus I always learn so much more about the area by reading the other writers’ stories and their notes.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A powerful piece crammed with history, naturally. I felt the longing, the shades of regret, the acceptance of the viewpoint character, along with the restrained power held in check within them. A wonderful Saturday early morning read, fresh from sleep. Thank you, Joy, it was a… joy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, exactly. He’s been hiding his unrequited love for her for literally centuries at this point, first when she was with his best friend, and later when his best friend died, and ever since then… All those times he might have said something and didn’t. What’s one more time? Thanks for reading, Jean!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: To Fuel the Fire of Faith | Tales from Eneana

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