Fiction Inferno: The literary magazine that burns you up


Kristy Legassie


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First Place, Very Short Fiction Contest

he words left gradually; it was such a slow process that she didn't even realize it was happening. She was only eight, after all, and the language was in the process of settling softly into her mind, but it hadn't locked itself in yet, and it was slowly and surely sifted back out again. And she didn't miss them, the words. Not that she hadn't a language, and lived like a savage dumb creature; but it wasn't English, or any language spoken by any other human in the world.

First to go were the abstract concepts- me, you, sadness, happiness, God- and then the words for those things which had nothing to do with her life any longer. School, book, house, family. They fled with the memories. Sometimes she would wake from a dream where there were others like her, and they wore things on their bodies that looked strangely familiar, and they spoke to her and the words made sense, and sometimes there was a woman who held her close, and smelled like flowers, and a man who smiled and laughed and threw her high in the air and caught her again. When she had these dreams she would more often than not awaken with fresh tears running from her eyes. And then there were the other dreams, the terrifying dreams. Storm and fire and a great crash, swimming in an angry sea and being sucked under the salty choking water, being tossed upon the shore, more dead than alive, and digging and digging and digging, though after so many years she couldn't quite remember why (nor what the crude cross of sun-bleached sticks still stuck in the sand on the beach had been for, for that matter). From these nightmares she would wake with a start, and sometimes a scream, and the others would lift their great heads and look at her with their large sleepy feline eyes, and she would lay herself back down upon the soft pile of warm furred bodies and fall back into uneasy sleep. But the words that clung longest and hardest were those that surrounded her: ocean, sand, tree, rain, sun, moon, and a good many others; these she retained even to the end, though they morphed and twisted in her solitude, and spoken to her rescuers, they sounded like so much gibberish.

So after awhile the words left. But the tigers came to replace them.



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