#131 In a Flash

by Margaret A. Frey

They never saw it coming. Though some boys claimed the tunnels were haunted, Frankie thought the tales daft, wild stories concocted to scare the nippers. Not him. Nearly twelve, he was a tally boy ‘cause he could count and do sums better than most men.

Frankie was tallying the day’s ore and estimated earnings, joking how his father was a layabout when the explosion slammed him against hard dirt and rock. Within moments, his father’s headlamp hovered over him, a pale winking star. Frankie tried to stand. His legs buckled. A terrible roar raged inside his head.

“What happened, Pa?”

No answer. His father scooped Frankie up and started running.

Frankie repeated the question. He couldn’t hear his father’s voice but the man’s chest heaved, pounded against his own. The tunnel was dark and stifling. A smothering sweetness coated Frankie’s throat. So hard to breathe.

Something let go in his father. Slumping, spine braced against a battered coal cart, the man gazed at Frankie. His face twisted with anguish, maybe regret. They weren’t going anywhere, the boy knew.

From the dusty haze, a slender shape twisted up and out. The figment changed, curled into a gentle voice, bypassing Frankie’s ruined ears.

“Don’t be afraid, boy. Close your eyes. You’re almost there.”

Frankie reached for his father. A few deep breaths. They slid into a well far deeper than the deepest mine. The man and boy rode the darkness together.

It did not take long.


Heidi Willis said...

Haunting and somber. Very nice.

Dino Parentu said...

Beautiful language in such a hard tale. Really well done.

Douglas Campbell said...

Packs a punch, Peg. Nice job.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that everyone. I find these ultra-shorties 'very' challenging. Appreciate the comments.

Peg [aka Margaret A.]F.

Anonymous said...

Very nice, Peg. Congratulations.


Anonymous said...

Such intensity in so few words. Amazing! Great job, Peg.

April Winters

John C. Mannone said...

Nice job, Peg. Powerful ending.

Unknown said...

Haunting. I like this one.

Christopher James said...

I was completely engaged throughout... and I'm not entirely sure what happened at the end, but it brought a tear to my eye. Pah! I cry too easily when someone writes as well as this.

Chris James

Anonymous said...

Intensity, a good word for this piece. Depth, literally and figuratively. A story line. Really well done.