Gift

“I don’t know what I did to deserve this as a gift,” she says in her seat beside the hospital bed. She presses his hand into hers, though the bony fingers remain limp in her grip. A life, faint and fading.

A life is ending.

She had never felt more scared than when she realized she was sitting in the room where her husband would die. She would have to say goodbye to him alone.

“On Christmas, of all days.”

Two floors above, another woman wipes a tear from the corner of her eye. “A gift,” she whispers. “Such a beautiful gift. And on Christmas of all days.”

She had welcomed him into the world alone, never before feeling as relieved as she did when her son was born and she held him for the first time.

A life is beginning. A life, so fragile, so hopeful.

She cradles his head to her chest, lets tiny fingers grip her thumb. “I don’t know what I did to deserve this as a gift.”

Two floors below, a woman says goodbye to the love of her life with tears in her eyes. “A gift,” she whispers. “You were such a beautiful gift.”

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox
Photo by Sandy Torchon from Pexels

Dust

The tower’s columns soared as high as an eagle, a masterpiece of both architectural and magical construction. Still it shook when the dragon alighted on its pinnacle.

“Madame?” the servant said uncertainly. “There’s no time left. We must–“

“Must?” the mage answered sharply. “The only thing we must do is face death.  You may do that now, or if you wish you must postpone it.”

The servant glanced upward, nodded, and dashed for the stairs.

Ignoring his retreat, the mage stepped to the balcony. “Beast!” she called out. “I’ve been waiting.”

A large, scaled head descended, the monster’s large yellow eye peering down at her. “Your bravado is wasted, witch,” the dragon’s voice rumbled. “No boasts nor screams nor pleas for mercy shall stay my fire. I will consume you, crush your tower, incinerate even the memory of your name.”

She smiled. “All are forgotten eventually. All comes to dust in the end. Even you.”

The dragon snorted, a cascade of smoke and sparks.

“Piteous,” she sighed, “that a creature of ruin would be too afraid to face the darkness that awaits us all.” With that, she turned her back.

No flames came.

The tower shook as the dragon fled.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox

Cave

I
I’ve found a cave I can use for shelter. It’s dry and surprisingly warm, and I’m alone here. There’s enough light to write at the moment, but darkness is coming. I’ll make a fire soon. Maybe tomorrow I’ll move on.

II
Yesterday wasn’t my first day here, but it was the first day I wrote something down.  I think it’s been a couple weeks now. I didn’t think it would be this long.

V
This journal was a dumb idea. I have nothing to say.

VI
I should leave. I can’t stay here forever.

VIII
Something came into the cave today. It stayed at the entrance, but I think it knew I was here. I’m not sure what it was. I was too afraid to move. But what if it was a person? 

XI
It was back today. I called out this time, but there was no response. I’m sure something was in the cave though, even if there were no footprints outside.

XVII
It comes into the cave every night.  It might be in here right now. I should leave.

XXV
It’s waiting for me. The dark. It is the dark. The end. It won’t let me go.

Photo by Alessio Zaccaria on Unsplash 

Story by Gregory M. Fox