So, I don’t know how many of these I’ll have, but, occasionally, when the mood strikes me, I’ll post a flash story on (some) Fridays for the enjoyment of them wanting to dip their toes in my fiction.
Today, I give you a story inspired by the Title Writing Prompt Challenge voting results (LINK). Specifically, I felt bad that of the ten titles in the running, one title got no votes at all. Taking pity on it, I decided I’d write a flash piece using that title. It took me a few hours last night, but here it is. I’ve not slept on it or let it sit or let it simmer. It’s pretty much as written, except for any errors I caught during a quick editing session. A few errors probably slipped by, and I’ll correct them when I re-read the story later today or tomorrow.
Without further delay, I give you . . .
Blade of Dreams
Copyright 2022 — E. J. D’Alise (1,120 words – about a 5 minutes read)
Blain woke in a sweat, the dream fading into a chaotic and frustratingly elusive mix of images and feelings, leaving behind an unsettling sense of dread. Like other dreams of late, it made for unrestful sleep and set Blain on edge, as if something terrible had happened
“It’s only a dream,” he said aloud as he stared at the ceiling and calmed his breathing.
“Only a dream…“
Getting out of bed, Blein went through his morning ritual of dressing, making coffee, making the bed, and making breakfast. It was Saturday, so eggs, bacon, and bagel.
These nights of bad dreams were taking their toll. He was irritable, had trouble concentrating, and found it challenging tackling projects, large or small. Worse, his overall job performance was suffering. No matter how sympathetic toward veterans struggling to fit back into society, at some point his boss wouldn’t be able to overlook his struggles. Besides, it wasn’t fair on the other employees who, often, had to take up the slack.
Blain picked up the piece of paper he’d gotten at the last support meeting. On it, the name ‘Drina’ and an address. The gypsy name meant ‘defender of mankind’ and was the feminine version of Alexander.
Shaking his head, Blain put the paper back down. He lost belief in mumbo-jumbo long ago, and he was in no mood to deal with charlatans looking to score a quick buck.
“Promise you’ll go see her,” Laine has said, putting the paper in his hand and closing it around the paper.
He liked Laine and had seen the progress she had made in a short time of attending the meetings. He eventually relented and promised he would go.
“A promise is a promise,” he said. He picked up the paper, shoved it in his shirt pocket, grabbed his keys, and left the apartment.
~ 0 ~
Drina was a whisp of a girl of undetermined age. She could have passed for a teen, but she looked in her thirties when serious. And she was serious now as she motioned for Blain to sit in the chair next to a table full of strange artifacts.
They sat in silence, Blain getting uncomfortable as Drina intently stared at him.
“Look,” he started, “I only came…” but stopped as Drina held up her hand.
They sat in silence for another minute before Drina relaxed and leaned back in the chair, her smile returning, but this time, sad.
“You carry a heavy burden,” she said.
Blain didn’t say anything. The fact he was here would have told her that, so no great insight on her part.
“You don’t remember,” she said.
This startled Blain, but he said nothing. He had few memories of events in his past. The terrible event that he’d lived through, which others had described to him, refused to become memories. A good thing, some would say, but that’s why the therapy sessions were of little help; there was nothing for him to confront, work through, and come to terms with.
“You don’t remember, but it’s always there, waiting to come out,” she said. “You dream, no?”
Blain looked away from the woman, mildly irritated. Laine must have mentioned it to Drina, giving her the appearance of knowing more than she could know.
Drina stood, walked to the table, moved a few items before retrieving a knife made of what looked like bone. It was double-bladed with a cordiform handle, pure white, and with a matte finish.
“Keep it where you sleep,” she said, handing Blain the knife.
She walked to the door and opened it, obviously indicating he should leave.
“How much do I…” he began to ask, but her face darkened, and she made an irritated head gesture confirming she wanted him out of there.
Moments later, he was standing on the street in front of the house at the end of a lane, wondering what had just happened.
~ 0 ~
Blain awoke to Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco” playing softly on his phone. He reached over and picked up the phone. Eight hours. For the third night in a row, he’d slept a full eight hours. Restful sleep, unbroken by nightmares. Swinging his legs out of bed, he looked over at the knife Drina had given him. It sat at the far edge of the nightstand, where he had put it when he’d gotten home on Saturday.
He focused on it. It looked different. Picking it up, he saw the white had dulled. The knife was now a light gray. He hefted it, switching it from one hand to the other. It felt heavier than he remembered.
He put it back on the nightstand and sat there, contemplating things. Except, there was nothing to contemplate. He knew nothing about Drina, and even less about the knife. He’d tried researching gypsy lore and anything related to dreams and knives. He found interpretations regarding dreams about knives but nothing about knives affecting sleep or dreams.
Setting the mystery aside and invigorated from the good night’s sleep, Blain went through his routine and got ready for work, eager to get going on a project he’d just landed.
~ 0 ~
On the following Saturday morning, he once again took note of the knife . . . and stared at it in disbelief. It was now pitch black and polished to a shine. He picked it up and was shocked to feel its weight. It was as if made from marble. As he looked at it, trying to sort through confusing thoughts, he heard a knock at his door.
Still carrying the knife, he went to the door and, through the peephole, saw Drina in the hall outside his apartment. He opened the door, and they stood there looking at each other.
Drina stared at him intently for a few seconds and then smiled. Then, without a word, she held out her hand. Blain looked down at her hand, and then at the knife he was holding. He put the knife in her hand, and she wrapped a red velvet cloth, slipped it in the shoulder bag she carried, and turned to leave.
“Wait!” Blain said, following her down the hall.
She stopped, turned, and waited for Blain to catch up.
“How… I mean… am I….” he stammered.
“You’ll be fine,” Drina said. “The darkness won’t return,” she continued, patting the side of her shoulder bag.
Blain let out the breath he’d been holding before continuing.
“Thank you. You have given me back my life. Can I pay you? Is there anything I can…”
“There’s no need,” she replied. “You have already paid me by recharging the Blade of Dreams.”
With that and a mischievous smile, she turned and left.
That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.
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