Iron Writer: Lake of Sherbet

The ElementsI need to write more Iron Writer micro fictions. They are quick and a great way to hone those skills into a precise edge that cuts through the fat and lays the meat of a tale out trimmed and ready to be devoured. Yum! Check out how to compete yourself :)

The last contest I entered, Challenge 46, yielded my favorite story so far.  I had to look up what a “haboob” was and the “Birmingham Jail” song had me looking up Gene Wilder videos on Youtube. I love the feeling this story gives me. I think it’s beautiful and nostalgic but I have been told it’s depressing. I’ll let you be the judge.

Lake of SherbetLake of Sherbet

By Angela Yuriko Smith

The horse and rider were not from the desert.  They protested it with blistered skin that cracked under the sun’s relentless onslaught.  They stood at a cliff’s edge, squinting against the horizon, looking for salvation in a glimmer of moisture.  There was none.  Hell was all around, a fiery furnace of sand and pain.

He squeezed his eyes closed to not lose one precious tear to the greedy dust.  As if his horse could read his thoughts, it dropped its head limply and stood, lightly swaying on shaking legs.  “I think this is it, girl.”  His words came out as a puff of moist thought, instantly evaporating against the fiery decent of the sun.  “Our last night…”

Thoughts convulsed in a whir of memory tinged with the unnatural brilliance of hallucination.  His wife waited in Paris for news, his small daughters giggling as they tried to stuff chocolates in his mouth at another sunset far away overlooking a house by a lake.  The rose and gold melted into the water.  They had laughed and said they lived on a lake of sherbet.  He would never again see his little angels dancing on the shore as he sang “Down in the Valley” to them.

Something against the horizon caught his eye.  A black smudge was growing across the horizon, blotting out the sun.  A haboob, he’d heard the tent dwellers call it.  A traveling wall of sand that scoured the desert clean of life, a haboob was something to outrun or hide from.  Neither he, nor his near dead horse, were capable.  He thought back to his last words and his lips cracked into a grim smile.  A last night would have been a luxury.  These were the last minutes.

He looked up in a plea for life, searching the sky for some divine hand that could deliver him.  The sky overhead was darkening as the sun slipped beneath the horizon, a deep and tender blue that beckoned to him with the first glimmer of stars.  How he wished then he could be there, a jetman sailing among the cool clouds, traveling back to his girls.  No more lust for adventure coursed through his blood – dehydration had seen to that.  If only…

His eyes traveled back to the storm, a terrifying behemoth that waited to engulf them.  “Not on your terms, but mine,” he thought, and he drove his heels into the horse’s panting flanks.  Surprised, it started forward, stepping off the cliff and into the air.  For a moment they were sailing the sky, finally free of the sand that had sapped their strength over the last two days.  His eyes turned towards heaven as he fell, his hands reaching out, as his horse used the last of its breath to scream.

“Angels in heaven know I love you…” he sang to the woman and two girls who were lost to him forever as he plummeted past red rock.  Below him, a lake of sherbet waited.

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About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, author, and publisher with over 20 years of experience in newspaper journalism. She is a Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist and HWA Mentor of the Year for 2020. She co-publishes Space and Time, a publication dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction since 1966. Join the community at
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