FLASH FICTION: A Nightingale


I am a nightingale. I am fairly certain. I enjoy singing, and generally sing in the evening.

When I was still a fledgling, I lived in the city. The machines, and the people… I had to sing twice as loud, for anyone to hear. I am not sure they heard me, even then.

It is an improvement, the country. The air is better. The trees. I live in a tree behind Børglum Abbey. A crooked tree.

Monks are peculiar birds. Their song is melancholy. Brother Geestvaas walked over a cliff. Brother Godslee stopped eating. He shrunk down to the size of a child. The brothers carried him outside. They threw him in the sea. I do not think it revived him.

They are not like the city men, always moving, too busy to wonder whether they are in their hearts content or not. They are still, and sad. Like hurt birds.

Brother Heilig is a poet, of sorts. He will sit with his notebook all evening, listening to me, his pencil quivering. I give him my best songs. He writes them out; he signs his name beneath them. And he walks away.

I watch them all summer, the monks. When the nights grow cold, I fly south and west, with other nightingales. The journey is onerous. So many of my kind grow weary, and fall into the sea. It has happened to me, nearly. It is tempting, when one’s wings are aching, to stop moving them. If only for a moment.

The Warm Country is so hot, it is punishment. There is no joy there. I begin to long for the abbey, the cool nights, and the sad men.

If this is the life of a nightingale, I am not sure I enjoy it.

But there is always a chance…

I may not be a nightingale, after all.





I want nothing more than to smell these roses.

My family. I will never see them, again. My crew. Rescue … is improbable. If I’m recovered at all, it will be frozen. My visor furred with frost. Turning and turning.

The Earth is far away. The Sun. There are no stars here. We had reached the black region, at last. The Mysteries. The journey… It took all our lives.

It took all our lives.

The roses. They’re blackened, and fragile. The petals. They’re crumbling away. One by one. They’re floating away.

The roses. Holding them is something. Some comfort. It’s something. But smelling them. If I could do no more, and in them find a last breath of sweetness…

I want nothing more than this.