By Peg Alford Pursell
(In this first installment of a triptych of very short tales, Peg Alford Pursell explores how memory and dreams transform everyday reality. Her work is muted but luminous, full of open-eyed marvel and a quick sort of terror that lingers like candlesmoke. -Editor.)
The stone was green. It may have been moss that made it so. He didn’t know; he picked it up from the side of the road and threw it.
She lay with her eyes closed, mud on her cheek and in her hair, didn’t move when he nudged her foot with his boot. He pushed her onto her side with his black boot. The back of her head now showed. The red blood.
He picked up her pale hand, said, “Get up. Get up now.”
A wren alit on a branch overhead and sang. It swept its glinting gaze back and forth and sang, its breast pumping. The girl did not stir. Dark clouds moved in; far away a dog barked. The wind lifted her plaid skirt.
She must be cold on the wet ground. The red blood was bright, stayed bright in his mind’s eye as he ran for home, though it did fade for him as the years passed.
Peg Alford Pursell is a National Endowment for the Humanities Independent Study Fellow and the founder of the Creative Writing Program at the Charleston School of the Arts. She teaches classes on fiction writing in the San Francisco Bay Area, received the South Carolina State Fiction Award, and is an American Fiction Award finalist.