The Key #haibun #flashfiction

Sometimes, we’re not given a chance to come to terms with the imminence of our death. Something unexpected happens, and before we know it, it’s all over.

I’d parked the car at the sea shore. The waves were getting wilder, and my son pointed out a particularly high one on the horizon. In a panic, I’d started the engine without realising I’d left it in gear, and it shot forward, just enough to tip us down over the edge.

The drop-off is notoriously deep here, and the car is a dead weight. The windows are open, and the water rushes in. ‘This is it.’ I think, and I’m almost hypnotised by the blur of colours: blue aquamarine into the red of fading consciousness.

I’m thinking about the kids, how to get them out, but we’re too deep by then. Time to bale out and wake up, in the same room where my kids are sleeping soundly.

I imagine that all they’d managed to retrieve was a rusty key which had been in my pocket. I hadn’t once thought of leaving them to get myself out.

Love is that lone key
rusting down to iron-red
colour of heart blood

Another failed competition entry!

I submitted this to the first Visual Verse competition, because it sounded like a fun challenge: two hours to write, edit and submit a piece written in response to the featured image for October. This one didn’t make the cut, and when I read it back, I admit the weaving in of the image could seem a bit convoluted. I’ve included the image below.

The story is based on a rather terrifying dream I’d had the previous night. Sometimes it’s good to wake up!

Sharing with earthweal’s Open Link Weekend.

rusting key on blurred background
Image by Nickhil Jain via Visual Verse

38 thoughts on “The Key #haibun #flashfiction

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  1. Wow! What a scary (and sad) dream! I can see why it was in your mind.

    Sorry about another competition. I didn’t enter because it was 4 AM my time, and that’s too early, even for me. 😀

  2. good one Ingrid but they will keep posting over the month … or did they directly say it was rejected? They certainly don’t let one know when they publish, I have to just keep looking. I wouldn’t sleep well either if I had such nightmares 🙁

    1. They will publish some of the non-winning entries over the month, but I don’t have a good record at Visual Verse: I don’t think ekphrastic is really my thing 😅

      1. aha think I’ve got it, but if you want to ‘compete’ for a ‘prize’ you have to do so in the first hour or two? Not seen the details there, I’ll take a better look, thanks Ingrid!

  3. I got their mail too late! In any case, after reading the winning entries, I am sure mine would have been rejected outright! 😅
    But what a terrifying nightmare! Anything that involves the kids would put me off sleep for sure! Your panic and pain is so palpable in the haibun.

  4. I thought it was a lovely piece Ingrid. What a very frightening dream. Some dreams have such an effect on us. Anything with your children involved would be even more alarming. I am also afraid of drowning as I have come close twice as a child. You could also try they have a monthly contest and the art is beautiful. Two winners and 100.00 dollars for each. One picked by the artist and one by the editor. Your poem certainly drew me in. Have a blessed weekend. ❤️

  5. “Love is that lone key
    rusting down to iron-red
    colour of heart blood”

    The piece is splendid. The fact that did not make the cut tells me more about them than the piece per se.
    It’s really good Ingrid.

    1. Thank you Gabriela: every editor has their particular vision and I respect that. But I was happy with the piece so I wanted to share it here. So glad you like it ❤️

  6. Those dreams stay with you.
    Like Merril, the timing was not good for me, but I’ll submit something this week. Even if it doesn’t make the cut, it’s always a good exercise. I’ve been submitting to Rattle for years, both poems and art, with nothing but rejections. But I often rework the poems. (K)

  7. Oh my goodness, I am so glad that was a dream. Terrifying. I love the ending with the key. This is a tight piece of writing. Really good.

  8. Oh I loved this Ingrid!
    I thought it was part of your novel at first! My heart was racing but I also loved the relaxing feeling of the beautiful blue waves of unconsciousness and thought “ oooh that’s how I want to go”.
    The tender love of the key to a mother’s heart to give her life for theirs rings so true. Love your story and poem at the end. I’d a picked you! That can’t be the surprise tho… lol 😂 💕

  9. I do love the idea of the key being the shared image though! I thought it was pretty poignant. I haven’t read very many haibun, but I really enjoyed this piece. <3

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