This World of Gray--A Flash Fiction
Short Stories

This World of Gray–A Flash Fiction

The only thing that kept her grounded was her music. Her earbuds were like an IV, streaming life into her bones. 

When They came, she started sleeping with the carefully shaped plastic pieces in her ears. When the bombs came and the world turned to ash, she turned up the melody to drown out the screams. When soldiers crowded the streets in front of her home, she hummed along. 

As she walked down the dirty streets, she kept her eyes closed and she moved in sync with the rhythm. She let the soft magic of harmony take her away and to a place with green grass and blue sky. Here, the gray ash couldn’t touch her. 

The glass world of music shattered. 

Her eyes flew open. The clash of blue eyes against brown shot staccato bursts of light across her vision. 

Without her music, her ears filled with the sounds of air raid sirens and the screams of the dying. She bent to pick up her earbuds, but found them accidentally crushed beneath the boy’s cracked boots. 

He wore a ragged military uniform and his upper lip bore the soft fuzz of an adolescent. His grimy hand on her arm contrasted with the fairy pink of her dress. He was saying something, but she couldn’t hear him over the roar of planes overhead. 

The blue sky of her dreams turned to gray. The grass turned to rubble. Her dress faded to ash and crumbled in the wind, leaving her in patched pants and shirt. 

“There’s music here too,” he said, his voice scratchy. “We only have to create it.” He released her arm and sprinted down the street, his cracked soles thudding over the cobblestones. 

There was no music here. No light in this world of gray. 

She forced herself down the streets, the bombed out ruins of the skyline casting icy shadows over her. 

There was no music here. No light in this world of gray. 

She passed the bakery where she met her fiancé, now dead. 

There was no music here. No light in this world of gray. 

She watched a few grimy children snatch some rations from the back of a military truck. When the driver noticed, he drove them away with curses. 

There was no music here. No light in this world of gray. 

She saw a mother wrap a shredded blanket around herself and her child. The woman began humming off key. It was an old tune. A song from Before. A song so old, she could barely remember her grandmother singing it over her cradle. 

An elderly man with stumps for legs joined in, his ragged voice scraping against the woman’s song in discordant harmony. 

Somewhere, as black night fell over the world, someone drew a bow across a rusty violin. 

She drew a breath. Perhaps there was music here. There was music in the strength of the refugees. Music in the steady beat of the soldiers’ boots on the broken roads. And music in the quiet whisper of breath in her lungs. 

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