Flash Friday – “Withered Youth”

kinderspiel

I met my younger self today…

Oh, I had forgotten what glorious ambitions I had entertained in the freshness of my youth! How I laughed into the wind as I chased my sister through the lush gardens of our estate, enamored with wild dreams. One day, I would make my family proud. One day, I would change the world.

When I enlisted as a soldier, the eyes of my parents glittered with pride. But somewhere in the heat of battle, I lost my way. I allowed fear to overcome me…

And I ran.

Disgraced, my parents cast me out. My name became a curse on the lips of my friends.   Even my sister could no longer bear to look at me.

Now I am but a dry leaf which has fallen away from its flourishing branch – ever drifting, I wither away in loneliness. I have seen many successes in my time, but happiness merely evaporates within the parched soil of my soul.

I searched the bright, hopeful eyes of my younger self for understanding.

“Haven’t I done one thing right?” I cried in desperation.

I met my younger self today… and, without a single word…

He turned and walked away.

 

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This week’s Flash! Friday Challenge was to combine the dry elements of 200 words, the lonely photo prompt above, and the concept of “Man vs. Man” to create a flash fiction explosion. 

Here’s my attempt!

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Photo Credit:  Kinderspiel.  Creative Commons 2.0 photo by Hartwig HKD

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20 thoughts on “Flash Friday – “Withered Youth”

  1. Your narrative definitely evokes the feeling of loneliness.
    It was very clever to spin the man vs man theme to reflect the internal struggle of self-loathing over past failure.

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  2. I had just made a long, detailed comment, and I somehow lost it! Darn! I’ll try to recreate it as best I can. Again, you’ve produced a quality flash piece. Clearly, this is your genre. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you should look for paying markets and enter some contests. The only thing I’ve noticed about your flash is that sometimes you could cut some of the descriptive detail and adverbs to make the writing tighter. Flash has to be very, very lean. I’m not talking about this story; just that I’ve noticed it in some of your other work. You do an excellent job with this story in presenting both internal and external conflict in just a few words. The main character is dealing with his fears and cowardice and knows he has disappointed his friends and family. He has to deal with their rejection and loathing of him as well. As a person who struggles constantly with guilt and beating myself up over past mistakes and sins (some from long, long ago), I can relate to this character. I think many readers can. It serves as a reminder that we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves or our friends and loved ones. Nobody’s perfect, right? Good job on this one.

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    1. Thanks so much, Joyce, for the encouraging words and helpful critique! I’ll work on tightening things up in these stories…and you’re right, nobody’s perfect! If we wanted, I’m sure all of us could find a reason to beat ourselves up…but that wouldn’t be helpful or productive. Better to rest in the fact that God will give us the ability we need to succeed in any endeavor He calls us to and just keep on working! Thanks again for your insight…

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  3. Sigh. You let me see into the feelings of my own son . This must be how he feels. He didn’t run from war, he ran from life’s responsibilities. That’s why I go to Celebrate Recovery. But God made me a promise and I’m holding him to it. Jeremiah 31:16 -17. Only God can heal us.
    Thank you for this powerful story. Pray for us. You touch hearts and minister through your stories.
    http://www.talkingtomyweightlosscounselor.wordpress.com

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