Sunday 7 July 2024

Nerd Church - Short Story: Unwitnessed

Originally published in Promptly Written on Medium, for this prompt by Ravyne Hawke:

Write a ‘moody’ piece around any of the following:

— a fresh perspective
— a lingering thought
— a lost moment in time

implied violence


Silhouette of a lone woman, sitting and looking upwards
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

What is an unwitnessed moment; is it even real? No proof. Nothing left behind.

Nothing to show.

Nothing to show that once this dirt held people. The ghosts of millions upon millions of journeys.

Nothing to say about the woman who knelt here one morning on the cold-compact ground, shawl-wrapped. An awl, dagger-sharp-domestic, clenched in her hand. She prayed to any gods that might hear her — the trees, the birds, the river — that they might guide her hand. That they might grant her this justice.

Her breath cut her own throat, her chest. Impossible warmth against the pressing-in cold. As if she were a blaze, fighting against the drawn-dawn-frost.

Her eyes were clenched harsh-tight, sparking vein-crack pains across her forehead. She felt the smooth tapered tool in her hand, a reassuring weight. It was the best awl she’d ever owned — a fine thing. The finest object she owned.

An awl is a strange and versatile thing — a needlework weapon, a tailor’s shiv, a saddlemaker’s friend, a carpenter’s assistant, something pagan remaining in its shape. Something that suggests a small bone from some far-distant cave, shaved and shaped until it can make holes in the toughest of animal hides.

It had a job to do today. It had holes to make, for sure.

But for now, there was this moment. The woman, gathering her strength from the land, the cold seeping through her wool-skirted knees, praying for this justice.

The only witnesses were the creatures who called the woods their home, and the plants that punched their own holes through the soil, reaching for that far-distant winter sun; and herself, of course, and any gods that might hear her.

What came after might be told — in whispers, in scorn, in awe, in fear, in righteous anger, in tragic respect. But this? This was hers, alone.

So... whatcha think?
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