The Isle of the Dead – microfiction for Jane Dougherty.

“The Isle of the Dead”, Lucy announced, looking up from the guidebook, doubtfully. “It looks rather gloomy”

“You were the one who didn’t want to spend another day at the beach”, Richard reminded her, as they watched the water-taxi depart. The driver shouted some kind of warning at them, but their Italian wasn’t good enough to understand him. Something about drinking?

“I wouldn’t drink the water here, anyway. Disgusting”, Lucy said, flatly. “Pass me the bag, though, I’m so thirsty!”

But Richard didn’t have the bag. Somehow it had been left on the boat, and Richard wouldn’t take responsiblity for that, and so they argued, raising their voices in the baking air, and then storming apart, looking for shade and solitude.

The island wasn’t big, but Lucy seemed to walk an awfully long way before she came to a stone bench in the shade. An elderly lady was already sitting there, looking out over the water. When she saw Lucy she smiled, and patted the bench beside her, and Lucy accepted the invitation. She felt dusty and dehydrated, so she gratefully accepted the sticky peach juice, and even the rather dry biscuit that the lady offered.

“Are you here for the day?” Lucy asked, making conversation.

Ah, no, I live here” the lady replied. Lucy looked round, nonplussed. There was no sign of any kind of house. She must be a caretaker of some kind, Lucy decided. After that, she must have fallen asleep. It was terribly hot.

She didn’t wake up until the cypress shadows had lengthened, and the sun was low in the sky. She seemed to hear someone calling her name, but very distantly, as if in a dream. She saw a little boat pulling away from the jetty, but it held no meaning for her.

“Where am I?” she murmured to the old lady who stroked her hair gently off her face.

“You are home, my darling, home”, came the whispered reply.

Poor old Lucy. I think she only fancied a bit of light shopping. Anyhow, this is for Jane Dougherty, who gives us this rather gloomy picture as a prompt. File:Arnold Böcklin - Die Toteninsel III (Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin).jpg


8 thoughts on “The Isle of the Dead – microfiction for Jane Dougherty.

  1. She certainly came to the wrong place for shopping 🙂 I like this one, good pace and perfectly reasonable. Even the old lady with the suspect peach juice. Nice one. One thing you could do is instead of telling us she was a kindly-looking old lady, show us. Like she smiled and nodded, something along those lines.


  2. I like this idea, of being swept up by a kindly old lady with peach juice, though I wonder what the boat man was doing letting them on the island if he knew there was a shify old lady living there? Taking advantage of the dim tourists! A nice, mystical atmosphere and so much more cheerful than my own spin – it’s those gloomy cypress trees I think. Oh, and the title of the painting of course 🙂


  3. Pingback: Microfiction challenge Isle of the Dead: the entries – Jane Dougherty Writes

  4. Good story! I liked the allusion to Charon the boatman and the subtle way you suggested that if you eat or drink anything there, then you remain. I liked, too, that the old woman was kind, rather than spooky, but still you know Lucy has to remain there.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s