Lost Gods by Karen Jones
Once I was small, held in another’s palm, running along life lines, diving into fate lines, skipping over heart lines, a horizon beyond eternity my only view.
Now I push the sun a little lower in the sky each year. It doesn’t burn my fingers the way it used to, but it irks that it’s yet another task I’ve had to take on since the others vanished. The constant creeping cold has bent my fingers, brittled my bones, clouded my eyes.
I feel myself fading, mind first, everything I’ve ever learned drip, drip, dripping out of my head. Some memories stay – a blessing and a curse. All the things I’ve done, and not done, universes I’ve saved, and not saved. But knowledge bleeds, drains, and I know its loss is important, though I no longer understand why.
A sleeve takes care of my incessantly runny nose, but what material could absorb this leak of knowledge? I reach my hand down to the sky – no one will miss a tiny corner of that cloth – and my bony fingers catch in jagged stars while a slice of moon cuts into my palm, the wound leaking light I can ill afford to lose. I fall through folds of time.
I meet my first December in solid, human form, on a park bench, staring into a ball of manufactured light. A clump of melting ice in my hand contains a creature who dances on life lines, laughs at fate lines, scorns heart lines. I’ve always hated cold hands and cold hearts. Somewhere, in a shimmering memory, I sense wisdom I should pass on to calm the creature, carve its course. Instead, I smile at the light, its halo lulling me to believe in its warmth. My hand loosens its grip on the ice and something leaps, dazzled by the light, frazzles to the ground, where I stamp on it with these human feet I’m yet to fully control.
A sleeping thought takes form and seeps through my chapped lips: “But I was a god once,” I whisper into the freezing fog. And seven billion voices echo back, “We were all gods once.”
Karen Jones, Special Features Editor for New Flash Fiction Review, is a flash and short story writer from Glasgow, Scotland. She is a perennial long/short-lister – Commonwealth Short Story Competition, Bath Flash Fiction, Bath Short Story, To Hull and Back, TSS 400, HISSAC– and has won prizes with Mslexia, Flash 500, Words With Jam, Ink Tears, and Ad Hoc Fiction. Her work is published in numerous ezines, magazines, and anthologies. Her story “Small Mercies” was nominated for, Best Small Fictions, Best of the Net, a Pushcart Prize, and is included in Best Small Fictions 2019 and the BIFFY50 2019. Her novella-in-flash, When It’s Not Called Making Love is published by Ad Hoc Fiction.