Stacie Haas is the Readers’ Choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. (Lance’s piece was 278 words, and therefore disqualified.) The winning entry is decided by the popular vote and rewarded with a special feature here today. (In the case of a tie, the writer who submitted an entry first is the winner per our rules.) Without further ado, here’s the winning entry:
by Stacie Haas
Her perfect desert landscape, with its panoramic views and tiny bursts of fall color, clouded at once with a flock of winged birds descending as one great blanket from the sky. The call of the birds wasn’t loud, but it penetrated unwelcomingly into Sadie’s reflections on life.
Coming or going? Or was this just a stop along the way? Sadie had come to Phoenix needing to escape the inflexible views of the east and the stingy ones of the Midwest. She’d craved respite, solitude, and well, something more. Something her own.
Why, Sadie wondered, do the birds travel in such a large group? They reminded her of New York, where everyone follows the views of the few without individual thought. Or the Midwest, where the kids trace the footsteps of their parents even while asserting their independence? Sadie was starting to think that true diversity of thought didn’t exist anywhere.
Sadie had always felt alone, even in a crowd. Principle meant she couldn’t go along, but she lacked the courage to express her dissent. And so she’d left, all of them, all of it behind.
It was a sad fact that Sadie’s migration hadn’t led anywhere except to loneliness, a fact the birds made painfully aware. Sadie didn’t know if she could be herself within a gaggle that big, but one thing was sure: they were headed somewhere together and the comfort of family would buoy them against changing winds. For the first time, Sadie regretted leaving home without hers.