#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: S for She stood at the crossroads

As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: She stood at the crossroads

Provided by: Vidya Sury, friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti


#atozchallenge : S for She stood at the crossroads

#atozchallenge : S for She stood at the crossroads

They had walked together for five weeks and four days, but it felt like months, decades.

        As if all they had ever done was walk, him leading the way, her following, a little resentful she couldn’t take the lead, and sending up a prayer of thanks she didn’t have to.

         And now, he’d left her standing in the blinding morning light, on the bridge that would take them to the next town. He’d walked away from the bridge, round the bend, and up the hills beside her.


The first time they met, she felt a spark somewhere inside her clothes, her stomach, and he felt it too. She saw it in his eyes. But they did not refer to that spark, except in the most roundabout of ways like when he asked if she liked the way rain-soaked earth smelled, and what it reminded her of. She told him it depended, and when he asked the obvious question, what, she pretended to have fallen asleep.

          They talked about Socrates in the beginning, and the death of Camus, and how the large hadron collider would fail. Slowly it became about what rations to buy. She paid for bars of chocolates which she could not eat, because of her stomach ruined by weeks of drinking roadside water, but she had to carry them. After a while each bar seemed like a brick inside her backpack.

           He made plans, drew lines on maps by torchlight, lying inside the tent. She’d put up that tent, while he’d sat on a nearby rock slapping mosquito repellant on his neck and arms. She worked so she didn’t have to watch him. She wanted to watch him all the time, each flex of his shin as he walked, the way his perfect, round butt fitted his shorts, so she kept her eyes to the ground instead, and kept her hands busy. She felt overworked, her body hurt, but she kept at it.


Now, she stood at the crossroads, watching the way he’d gone, the shallow slopes that would lead to steeper ones.. He had no time for this he’d said when she complained of backache, wanted a day of rest.

               She could follow him, catch up, say sorry yet again for a tantrum she hadn’t thrown, spend more nights waiting for him to touch her, on his terms, the way he stopped by in the red light areas they’d crossed in the shanty towns on their way. Relieves my tensions, he said, to nothing and no one in particular, when he came back from one of those evening jaunts.

               But she wouldn’t. Nor would she wait for him to come back and find her. When backpacking, you meet people and pay your debts. When the debts get paid off, you part, and that’s that. She flinched at the weight of her pack as she strapped it on. She would walk. Each day, you wake up and walk, putting one foot after the other, he used to say, you make your own way, alone.

               Maybe that’s the lesson she needed to learn. Her back cramped, but she took one step, then another, away from him, towards the lighted bridge.


Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Ever been backpacking? Had a fallout with a friend or a significant other?

48 thoughts on “#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: S for She stood at the crossroads

  1. I write to prompts with my little tiny writer’s group and I told them about your blog and how you write from a word prompt and a photo prompt, how you put them together. We might try that soon. I liked this story because even though I could feel her fatigue, her doubt, I could also feel her obstanance, her self preservation.

  2. A great story. I loved the ending. Sadly, no prince charming for this lady–Is there one for any of us in this day and age?–but it turned out she didn’t need one. She found the courage to saddle up her own stallion and ride off into the sunset.

  3. We do; we make our own way alone. We might share the road at various stages in life – a moment or a decades long marriage, but we still make our own way alone.

  4. Love this story. So much emotion packed into such a small space. This line especially resonated with me “a little resentful she couldn’t take the lead, and sending up a prayer of thanks she didn’t have to” because I too often feel that way. Excellent job capturing and conveying some very complicated feelings.

    Hope you’re having fun with the A to Z challenge,

  5. For me this post was beautiful and spiritually empowering in the way the girl overcame her weakness and decided to move away. And those lines are so true – when the debts get paid off it is time to part ways.
    Thanks for visiting my blog and giving me this opportunity to discover yours.

  6. This story takes an interesting perspective, Damyanti. It’s sensitive and it feels quite real. You’ve given us some amazing snapshots into characters’ mental, emotional, and spiritual lives, bright flashes of humanity. Keep up the good work.

  7. Interesting point and a stimulus for good conversation. Very nice. Sad but not sad in a way. She could have run after him. But, she didn’t. Maybe it isn’t so much about being solitary as understanding that no matter what, you are the one who is responsible for yourself and your journey is your own. Though we may have companions on the way, we must finish the journey ourselves.

  8. Wow! This is so beautiful, touching, and empowering in just a small bit of words. I’m glad she’s stepping out on her own and crossing that bridge away from him. I just wanted to shout, “You Go, Girl!” at the end of your story. Great writing!

  9. Damyanti, it’s such a beautiful and sensitive story churned out. Crisp and emotional. Love the powerful line, ‘When backpacking, you meet people and pay your debts. When the debts get paid off, you part, and that’s that. ‘
    It’s so true about life:)

  10. I like this one! Great intrigue that draws you deeper into yourself by reflecting on her choices… taking first steps away from sameness even in times of need bring deeper wealth to sustain self.

  11. I liked this quite a bit. There are things and people in life that we need to walk away from and it’s inspiring to read about someone finding the strength to do just that. Congrats on another great job during this challenge.

  12. I think after reading such amazing stories from you I too want to try my hand at fiction. But first I need to read lots more of your versatile, convincing and intriguing stuff.

  13. Well, her debt is paid and lesson learnt, coupling with such a callous and unsympathetic character with questionable moral inclinations. He doesn’t help her with the tent, touches her “on his own terms”, visits red light areas in shanty towns, and then abandons her without thought to spare. This union is a mistake from the start, as the evinced by the manner in which she counts weeks and days in terms of months and decades, and avoids looking at him at all cost, perhaps feeling that there is no need to admire him when she has no place in his heart. Eventually she departs from him, which, I think, is the core of this story. In the end, everybody goes alone. We each come here alone, and alone each of us shall depart. We must abandon unnecessary burdens while we still can and never wait until we are completely overcome.

  14. Our stories within your story. This post has reminded me of a time of deliberately walking away from something I thought would defeat me if I stayed, defeat me if I didn’t. I walked, and here I am, older, wiser, stronger and less afraid to use my metaphorical feet. The picture also reminded me of those in ‘The Bridges of Maddison County’ where walking away meant staying exactly where you are. Good stories stir the imagination to wonder what the bigger story is, and also prod the heart and mind to find the metaphor and ponder your own situation. This is a good story.

  15. Such encounters can and have been quite magical at the time, all the more so for knowing they’ll come to an end and you go your separate ways; now of course, with smartphones, Facebook, and the internet, et al, some of the magic has gone. But this story captured the essence of such fleeting encounters quite perfectly…

  16. I am doing the a-z, but never written flash fiction or written from a prompt like that. I do the seekers prompt, which is more about emotions and I don’t write fiction, more real life of what are my dreams/life/fears etc, but it is something I would like to try. I read others works like your though and think am i mad to try? lol

I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet me up @damyantig !

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s