Old man Tatum had been dreaming of his grandchildren, Sonny and Sarah. They’d all been treading dry pine needles in a huge forest, on their way somewhere. He couldn’t remember where. Then he was aware of pressure on his legs. In an eye blink, he realised someone was sitting on the bed. A young woman, skin as pale as the full moon burning through the curtained window. He thought his heart would pound right out of his chest, then she smiled, and suddenly he was calm.
“Greetings, George,” she said.
It had been a while since someone had called him by his name. It was ‘old man’ or ‘dad’ or ‘granddad.’ “Who are you?” he asked.
She stood up. A tall slim woman, clad in a diaphanous wrap barely covering her pale shoulders. She drew the curtains back, and silver light flooded the room. “I am Artemis.” She gestured towards the moon. “That is my alter ego.”
George cast his mind back. Artemis, a goddess. “Lady of beasts and the virgin huntress,” came out of his mouth.
She sat back down on the bed. “Yes, I have many names. The Romans knew me as Diana, but I’ve left my bow and arrow at home.” She laughed, a sound that reminded him of wind chimes.
“Am I dead, I’ve been so tired?”
“Far from it, you’re alive and kicking. In your dream, you were in my forest with a young boy and girl.”
“Sonny and Sarah.”
“Only I may hunt in the sacred forest!”
“Well, ma’am, I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
Again, she gave her tinkling laugh. “Anyway, Sarah has a great talent, I am come to tell you. A sport at which she can go far, represent her country even. A sport that has a place in my heart – but in miniature.”
But then George was waking up, blinking his aged eyes, remembering the strange dream. As he made his way downstairs, he was startled to see something on the living room table. A long golden arrow. He turned it over, eying dusty trophies in a cabinet, and wondering.
After breakfast, the phone rang. “Hello, Dad, don’t forget it’s Sarah’s birthday next Tuesday. She’s fourteen. Imagine!”
Old George felt a rush of enthusiasm. “Look, I’d like to give her a dartboard. I could put one up in your hallway.”
His daughter laughed. “OK, if you dust your old ‘arrows’ off and promise to come and show her how to play!”
Taken from the book, Flash Friction: To Cut a Short Story Short, vol. III: 72 Little Stories
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