Aphelion Issue 279, Volume 26
December 2022/January 2023
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
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A Winter’s Task OR My First Time

by Richard Tornello

They were different, tall
Albino white not afraid of the sun
Elegant in stride
All stood aside, and defiant.
Ancient families was said
Hidden for years in the wooded back
Until the encroachments by the city fleeing,
the infested.
Unlike the animals they fought back
Like the animals the machines of state were too great.
Some claimed they were Dutch.
I had my doubts, confirmed one November evening.

Delivering prescriptions, unknown today.
Was Commonplace yesterday.
A little sick one I was told:
“And with them, BE NOT SO BOLD!”

Rarely traveled, rarely requested I went about my task.

Pond ice beginning to skin, the winter’s evening sun
as planet revolved away, now facing the dark.
Tree lined deep and thick, fortress surrounded home.
I had escort of evergreens leading to the door

My vehicle left running, no one stole, not there.
Strolling under the umbrella of trees, protected.

And from behind a bear of an animal
Hell and death on four legs, no escape.

She steps out and to my side command a freeze. I did not thaw.
A snap three times, a smell of electric burning, ozone
Not a thing I’ve since known.
A thank you son she’s very sick.
Are you okay?

A nod affirmed no more need be said.
They’ve been there for centuries.
Dutch it’s said.

© 2011 Richard Tornello

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