Flash Fiction, Shorts

First It Sets

Whipcord muscles bunched under leathery, wrinkled arms. Another stroke. Lift, push, pull. Another stroke. The canoe listed across the glassy surface of the lake, drifting toward the shore.

He was too close. The man in the canoe switched his paddle to the other side. The aged arms showed years of this work, and he made the motion seamlessly. The vessel altered its course, heading to the center of the reservoir.

The man let his gaze wander across the small body of water. He could make out the dam, that massive slab of gray the only smudge on the picturesque view. Sugar Maples and Dogwoods bordered the lake, coming down to stop at ridges of limestone and shale. The light from the slow-setting sun splashed hues of red and orange across the mirror-like surface of the water. A family of geese floated along the nearby shore, the fuzzy goslings pecking and snipping at reeds while the protective parents eyed the canoe suspiciously.

The man lifted the paddle from the water and set it down in the bed of the canoe. He then lifted a metal container that had been wedged safely between his legs. He hefted it up and caressed the smooth surface. The metal was shiny and caught the rays of sunlight in blinding, flashing ways. Now it had served its purpose.

The man smiled with shimmering eyes as he dumped the contents of the receptacle into the murky waters. Swirling dust and remnants floated and dispersed.The ash matched the dam in color, but rather than smudging the image of the water, it blended and became it, merging with the murky quality beneath the surface.  It was done.

The man watched as the sun concluded its day-long journey. The light faded and cast a purplish glow over the reservoir. A slight chill crept in the edges of the air.

The man knew that come the morning, the sun would rise, as it always does…

But first.


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