Published by Aphelion Webzine in May 2017, Forgotten tells the tale of Nana, an ageing member of a River Folk clan. While moored up for the night, the clan runs into those they fear most and the last people they expected to see so far west.
This was one of the first short stories I ever had published, so it will always hold a place close to my heart. I hope you enjoy it!
Here are the first few paragraphs:
Panicked shouting awakened her from sleep. Sitting up in her chair, she found her family and clan standing upon the bank, staring west across the river, shielding eyes from the afternoon sun. Smoke plumed in the direction they gazed, a roiling inky blotch upon the azure sky.
“Shedun Forest’s off that way. Naught there but trees,” she heard Myson say, the oldest of her nephews.
“Be just a forest fire then,” said her son, Patyr.
“Forest fire? Don’t be daft. The rain hammered down the day after last,” said Myson. The clan murmured.
“That smoke’s miles off. Rains probably missed it. You said yourself naught’s there. What else could it be? Stop making everyone nervous with your folly,” said Patyr, folding his arms. You fool, she thought. She loved her son, but he had water for brains. The murmurs escalated into arguing. It seemed to be the norm of late. The lack of fish in their favored stretches of river had forced them west to far removed parts. Rumbling stomachs had worn tempers thin.
At times like these, she missed her husband Dyne more than ever. For years he had steered the clan to safety, all the while maintaining harmony. Her heart ached to think of him now, memories fragmented, like wisps of smoke, an incomplete jigsaw. She could no longer picture his face, but would never forget how his love made her feel: safe, happy. Being the best of friends, they had known each other inside out, lived as one. She longed to see his face again but knew it would never be.
Life she found was hollow without him. The need to support her family kept her going, though as time went by her duties of fishing and foraging grew to be challenging, and now, at ninety years old, they were defeating. Just getting out of bed left her needing a rest.
Once a strong and capable woman, it had taken her years to accept the loss of her independence. Many times she had tried to cook and clean, to prove to her clan, as well as to herself, that she was still able, but being slow and forgetful she made mistakes and her efforts led only to scorn.