2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 24

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to create a new myth.
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As I’m sure some of us have already explored this month, flash fiction doesn’t always mean realistic fiction! For today, let’s dive into the unreal: Create a new myth.

Flash Fiction Challenge

Remember: These prompts are just starting points; you have the freedom to go wherever your flash of inspiration takes you.

(Note: If you happen to run into any issues posting, please just send me an e-mail at mrichard@aimmedia.com with the subject line: Flash Fiction Challenge Commenting Issue.)

Here’s my attempt at myth:

The Ghost Mother

When the God of Death came for her, she would not go.

“I cannot leave my family,” she told him, “and you cannot make me go.”

This was not true, but for once, the God of Death did not argue with the dead. They watched the way this new soul clung to Mary, her youngest child, who was sobbing alone in her bed.

The God of Death offered her a compromise.

“You will remain here in the world of the living,” they said, “but your body will not be seen, your words will not be heard, and your touch will not be felt by the living. You will neither rest nor feel rested. You will be their watcher only.”

“Even one day without seeing my children’s faces is intolerable,” she said.

She took the deal.

Before they left, the God of Death granted her a new name: Eerie.

At first, Eerie did not mind her existence. She watched her husband remarry, her children grow. She rejoiced in their joy, though they could not share it with her. But soon, her family grew old. When the God of Death came for them, they went quietly, one by one. Not one stayed behind, as she had. She followed her children’s children and even their children, but she did not feel the deep sense of love and connection she had with her babies.

She stayed in the home she shared with them until it was abandoned and fell to ruin around her. Then she wandered, seeking out places filled with the living until they became too painful to be around. Then she sought the solitude of the wilderness. Animals were too afraid of her to let her get close to them; they sensed her in a way that people could not. Time grew slow until it might as well have stopped; she finally understood the scope of eternity. She cried out in agony, but no one heard her but the God of Death.

“You chose this,” they reminded her on one of their few visitations.

Eerie wept at their feet. She thought of her family, the memory of her children a weight in her arms. “This is torture.”

“Be patient and wait,” the God of Death told her. “Nothing is purposeless, even this.”

So, she wandered. She waited. She watched.

Eventually, she stumbled across a child. They were knelt in the dirt by a ruined house, gutted by fire and still smoking. When the child turned wide eyes on her, she realized with a jolt that he could see her.

“Child,” she whispered, “what plagues you?”

He wiped at his cheeks, his words hiccuped from his throat: “I didn’t want to go in case they made it out. But they didn’t.”

“Neither did you,” she said gently.

When he reached out to touch the house, his little hand passed through the rubble. He began to cry again in earnest. Eerie gathered him into her arms. His body was almost too hot to touch.

Eerie held him to her chest and she walked. The farther they went, the more children she found. They were lost, afraid, grieving. She comforted each one, took them to herself and made them a part of her family. Sometimes they traveled together, and sometimes the braver souls broke off from the group and found places to stay without Eerie’s constant gaze.

“Why children?” Eerie asked the God of Death.

They hummed, ignoring the way a little girl was pulling at the drapes of their cloak. “Maybe the better question is, “Why you?’”

Eerie gave them a small smile and scooped the girl into her arms. “Nothing is purposeless, eh?”

As they vanished back to the realm of the dead, Eerie swore she could hear them chuckle.

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