The sun sets behind the old oak tree on top of the hill, branches reaching long shadow-arms
across grass that is spiky with old nettles and flowering thistles. Michael catches
grasshoppers in his tiny fist and feels them tap, tap, tap against the insides of his fingers,
trying desperately to get away. The barn cat watches from the branches, and the white-and-
black dog lies curled up in the shade, panting with a smile.
The air is colder next to the little creek. Crystal water floods over pebbles, and
Michael’s feet go numb as he sticks them in. A tweet, barely a sound at all, rises like a dream.
At its root, a baby bird, all beak and stuck-up feathers. It cries, crumbled on the ground, no
parents in sight.
Michael remembers the time the dog would not eat for days and how his mum could
fix it. Determined, he scoops up the bird and feels its clockwork heart flutter against his
palms. He rushes through late summer grass and air that smells like thunderstorms, the dog
bouncing happily at his side.
Before he arrives at his front door, the bird is dead.
Flash Fiction by Laura Martens
Image by Adam Strong
Laura Martens is based in London, UK, where she writes things and sells books. She loves skyscrapers, busy train stations, and cafés with window seats. Her writing has appeared in CP Quarterly, the Journal of Erato, and others.
One reply on “What Michael Found that Afternoon”
Such a touching story. Well done.