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Friday Flash Fiction: Her Fall

By Emma on May 21, 2010

There was still a drop of blood on his shoe. He’d clean it later, right now there was the woman to watch, and the wind here near the edge was brutal. He took a step closer to it, standing with feet wide apart to brace himself. Looking down, he was amazed to see that she was still there, clinging on, sobbing. What was she holding on for? It was only prolonging the inevitable.

She must have felt his eyes upon her because she looked up into them, the wind scouring her bleeding back. Her golden hair, now whipped into a thousand tangles, was pulled in all directions as the gusts roiled about her. He could see her tears, the bloodshot eyes, eyes that were once so beautiful to him. Now he could barely stand to look at them. But he held the gaze with her a moment, if only to reinforce the fact that he was safe up here and she was the one clinging on desperately, with no hope, the dull rumble of the city below them.

“Please, please forgive me!” she cried and he shook his head.

“It’s too late,” he said, the wind carrying his words down to her, making her cringe. “You know what you did was wrong, you must accept your punishment.”

“I couldn’t help it!” she screamed back up to him. “It was love! I loved him!”

He examined the tracks of her tears on her cheeks, the blood under her fingernails as her hands gripped the ledge as tight as they could. He imagined her with him, imagined them kissing, imagined her curled around him, wrapped in fresh cotton sheets with the sound of the city slinking in through the open window. He imagined her cry out at the pinnacle of her passion, his filthy hands roaming over her perfect flesh, defiling her. He turned away.

“Please!” she begged, slipping a few inches. “I know it was wrong! I know I shouldn’t have been with him, but I put it right! I ended it, no-one knew about the affair, no-one! Please, help me!” The last words were mangled by her sobs, his anger brought him back to the edge again.

“Selfish beast!” he shouted down at her, making her cringe. “You think that I punished you for lust? Fool!”

“I know it was wrong!” she yelled. “But he’s gone now, no-one will know!”

“Yes,” he knelt on one knee, bringing himself closer to her only to emphasise the distance between them. “He’s gone, because you killed him. You took his life to protect your reputation.”

“No! To protect your reputation!” she screamed back. “To protect all of you, all of us!”

“Us?” he said, his upper lip curling in disgust. “There is no us, you are no longer one of us. You killed a man. Don’t you understand? The punishment isn’t for loving him, for letting your lust overwhelm you. The punishment is for his murder. There is no place in heaven for murderers.”

He saw it in her eyes and in her fingertips; the moment she realised that she had damned herself with violence, not lust. He looked down at her wings, crumpled a few feet away, the white feathers sticky with her blood. He looked at his sword, dropped next to them the moment after he’d cut them from her.

Finally, she fell.

This flash was inspired by two prompts submitted to the Short Story Club! The opening line was thanks to one provided by the most excellent Joanna Paterson  (@joannapaterson) which gave me the POV that unlocked the story trapped in my head. The final line that inspired the story itself was from the lovely Jen Brubacher  (@jen_b) both of whom are simply delightful to chat with on Twitter. Thank you both! A story has never been brought to me in quite that way before.

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{ 24 comments... read them below, or add one }

  1. Walt says:

    Really enjoyed this story. At first I thought all that was going on revolved around infidelity. Towards the end everything came into focus and it blew me away. Again, really enjoyed this piece.

  2. Marisa Birns says:

    Ah, this is an excellent take on a theme of fallen angel.

    It was wonderful misdirection. I thought at first that it was a man committing murder of revenge because of his anger at being cuckolded by the woman he desired.

    Great description and dialogue, Em. 🙂

  3. Sam says:

    Brilliant! I wasn’t sure which way this story was going to begin with, but trust you to so deftly throw in such a great twist right at the last moment. 🙂

  4. Very good Em!
    Love the imagery with the angle with her wings cut off. I have a thing about winged folk, so it was intensely sad, and I like intense!

  5. Oh, haunting Em, really so sad and right. And since I knew my prompt was in there I was dreading it right from the beginning! Poor angel.

  6. Tony Noland says:

    Great twist, Em. I think I knew an angel like that once…

  7. Iapetus999 says:

    Damn those rules are tough!
    It would be nice if they were just laid out somewhere…in a book or something….

  8. Heike Harding-Reyland says:

    Wonderful twist there at the end. Enjoyed it very much, as usual.
    Thank you!

  9. Another wow!! Such awesome stories this week. A fallen angel was the last thinkg that I expected.

  10. Fallen angel indeed! What a powerful story. Great job!

  11. V.R. Leavitt says:

    Great twist!! I literally gaped when I read the bit about the wings. Well done. Nice tight writing.

  12. Gracie says:

    Blew. Me. Away.

    Just excellent, Em. My favorite part was when she realized what she was being punished for.

    What a great story. 🙂

  13. Very nicely done. Despite the fact I should have been thinking about fallen angels, it never occurred to me until the last line, when her wings lay on the ground.

    I like the way the punishment is for the murder and not the passion. That just makes it seem all the more fitting.

  14. Maria Kelly says:

    Great story! What a twist! What at first seems like a lover’s tryst becomes justice among the divine. Suspenseful and sad all at once. Well done.

  15. ganymeder says:

    That was brilliant!

  16. Icy Sedgwick says:

    Wow, I didn’t see that end coming. Very well written!

  17. […] Emma Newman’s “‘Her Fall”. […]

  18. Adam Byatt says:

    A taut and well paced story. Great ending.

  19. Jodi Cleghorn says:

    As always Em you show yourself to be a masterstory teller. The harbringer of the twist. The world of ‘others’ is sometimes more brutal than that of the mortal world.

    Loved it!

  20. Angel huh? Maybe of the Old Testament. It read to me like a parable of the monstrous implacable logic of a certain religious mind-set: ‘you will be killed because killing is wrong.’

  21. Laura Eno says:

    Excellent twist to this, Em!

  22. ami kim says:

    great story.

    found your site via a post on Confident Writing, love the concept and execution of your site, will be following you.

  23. John Wiswell says:

    Love’s not forbidden, but murder is harder to get away with when your boss has perfect records. Interesting take on the Fallen theme – emphasizing why they might deserve the fall.

  24. […] Her Fall by Emma Newman A gritty tale of punishment and vengeance with a sneaky, satisfying twist. […]

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