Prompt I picked this week:
Using the first-person plural, “we,” write a piece of flash fiction—no more than 500 words—about a fictional city or town. This city/town might be a slightly altered version of a real place or an entirely imagined place in which magical events are possible.
We arrive at the village house in the early afternoon. It’s a very hot summer day. Both Eric and I are fairly sweaty after the little uphill walk. Before that, it took us one hour on the bus and 40 minutes more on a private speed boat to reach this deserted island, where the owner of the house picked us up.
It is a two-story house in a pretty wrecked condition, but very spacious and in a good structure. There is a backyard, with a stone table and some stone benches at the far end of it, shaded under a big tree. They look like they’ve been for forgotten by the whole world. The whole house looks like it’s been forgotten by the whole world, and in some way, that might be the intention of it. A place exists only to be forgotten.
The island we’re at is one of the few little islands around the city that are either completely abandoned or half-deserted since the 80s, due to their small sizes and tricky locations. There are less than twenty households still living on it now. All aboriginal fishermen’s families with their own boats. I only heard of it — the moonlight island — for the first time when Eric told me about the house for rent he found online two weeks ago. It’s quite a romantic name for such an unknown island, I thought.
The owner is a middle-aged local guy, who inherited the house from his late farther two years ago. He lived in the house when he was young but now lives in the city. Take your time, I will take a walk nearby, he tells us and then descends into the woods behind the house. On our short hike, he told us the house was listed online in the past two years and had only had one tenant for six months. Every now and then there came in a viewing request from people like us. He’d receive them, show them around, and eventually never hear from them again. It doesn’t seem to bother him though. He talked about it as if he’s talking about one of his friend’s business.
So? what do you think? Eric breaks the silence after we have wandered round examining the huge house for about 15 minutes.
I love it, I say. It’d definitely take some work. But I could imagine us living here.
Me too, he said. We could have our separate writing areas on the upper level and a shared lounge for hanging out in the evening. Downstairs could be our music zone. You can have your piano there and I’ll have my recording system and drums at the other side. How does that sound?
I look at this Irish man in his late 30s, talking in all seriousness, with beads of sweat still hanging on the side of his face, and start to wonder if he’s any serious at all.
It’s the second time we meet. We talked about going somewhere remote on the weekend. Eric found this place and suggested we check it out. As a game, we’re pretending to be this artistic couple looking for live-in studio space. In fact, I don’t think the owner cares at all about our story. In reality, Eric is an editor in a publishing house and I work in marketing for a company helping to make rich people richer. We both do a bit of writing in our spare time.
It sounds lovely, I smile at him. I will not be the first one to call off this game.
We walk over into the backyard. I sit on one of the stone benches in the shade. Eric is pacing around. He looks back at the door where we exit and spots two big Chinese characters on the beam carved in faded reddish paint.
What does this say? He points to the beam.
Lonely Light. I read-translate for him.
How wonderful, one murmurs.
How wonderful, one echoes.