Eagle Turned Sheep

The two men arrived silenced and half-broken, the same morning the world froze. Their quiet stank of rout, and she hated the sound of beaten souls. But not enough to miss the hateful cry of the eagle turned sheep.

She let them into her cabin, but ignored the way their cold bones leaned towards her fire. “Why are you here?” She already knew—the leader of their madness had turned tail, leaving them to feed on lies and snow. She just needed to make sure that they knew it too.

The younger man tried to hold her gaze and failed. “We’ve no place to go,” he said. “And… we’re hungry. I don’t know these lands. And the storm… Please, ma’am, you don’t have to help me. But my grandfather… he’s unwell.”

She watched the old man. They had been neighbors since before the cancer took her mother. She didn’t know his first name. But the blue chilling his eyes was burned into her forever memory the night he paid two teenagers to set fire to her garden. She could taste the smoke, hear screams ripping out of her throat, feel heat biting into the skin of her hands. Old anger twisted her gut. But she wasn’t a heartless beast. “I don’t have much—”

“What did I tell you?” the old man said to his grandson. “This kind of people—”

She continued talking as if his spew hadn’t envenomed the air. “But I have enough to get us through winter, if we are careful.”

“Just tell me what to do,” the young man said. “I’m strong. I know how to listen.”

Lips pursed, the old man walked to stand by her fire.

She let him. But when she saw him eying her rocking chair, she said, “No. Use one of those,” she pointed at a wooden crate, “or sit on the floor.”

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Linked to the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads
(Poetry and Flash Fiction with Magaly: Snow Birthed Tales).

snow-birthed-tale-cabin-in-the-snow-by-jenny-leslie“Snow Birthed Tales”, by Jenny Leslie
(find more of her stunning work on Instagram)

49 thoughts on “Eagle Turned Sheep

  1. I love this so much, especially “she hated the sound of broken souls”. I love that the young man, at least, knew how to listen. And glad she reserved the rocking chair for herself. Cool prompt. Magaly. And a wonderful response.

  2. I like this, but the first paragraph is pure magic.

    It’s tough to treat people well when they don’t treat you well. But most people know when they’re being jerks, and feel bad about it, deep down, I believe. Some even come around.

    • Thank you, Nasreen.

      I hope we can see each other’s “deep down” really soon. Or, at least, in time to fix the wrongs we’ve done to each other… We need to come around, and continue turning towards better.

  3. This reads like prophesy, especially the line “feeding off lies and snow”. Your story makes my heart weep, but I am with her on not sharing the rocking chair. Rocking chairs are repositories of comfort and wisdom and memories shared. Wonderful story! I respectfully give hope to the notion that there is more of this to be told? Hugs!

  4. This is soo beautifully haunting, Magaly❤️ the way you describe the cold of winter (in some people’s hearts) as well as a symbol of difficult and unnerving times is excellent. Especially love; “I’m strong. I know how to listen.” sigh.. beautifully executed❤️

    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

  5. A chilling story, indeed, Magaly – dark and dystopian, with some marvellous turns of phrase. I smiled at the eagle turned sheep and particularly loved: ‘she hated the sound of beaten souls’; ‘ignored the way their cold bones leaned towards her fire’; and ‘the blue chilling his eyes was burned into her forever memory’. I cheered when she wouldn’t let him sit in her rocking chair!

  6. I have always thought that those who have the least, who have known the most hardship and struggle, have the most generous souls–that doesn’t mean they are blind, weak or foolish–in fact, they are stronger and better than the ones who let hate and lies play their chosen music, and who would never give so much as a broken orange crate to a fallen ‘enemy.’ Excellent, concise and illuminated writing, dear Magaly, and thank you for getting my Muse to pop out of hiding for a few brief lines.

    • We wouldn’t want anyone to think that our kindness is silliness or weakness. If we do, then we might find ourselves having to break their necks when they come to suck the last of our blood.

      It was sooo good to read you. Tell your muse your Muse that I’m sending her all kinds of hugs. 🙂

  7. You set the scene very well and force the reader to contemplate forgiveness in less than conducive circumstances. Still, I hope the old man gets his misery repaid in kind.

  8. You’re a great flash fictioner, throwing all sorts of tasty bits into the hasty stew. For the frostbit adventurers, it’s a bitter stew but more than they deserve. Or we deserve, having invited in the wolves. Great stuff.

    • Once we allow the predator into our lives/homes, we must remember that the time will come when we have to choose between throwing them out to die… or kicking it in the teeth in order to keep it alive (and hopefully giving it time to do better).

  9. It always amazes me how people unknowingly (I hope), will push the envelope when kindness is shown. I have been in that position where I have shown consideration and am surprised when they try for more. Or could it be naïveté on their part? Them not realizing they are overstepping? I practice what I hope others would extend to me. Maybe I am the naive one?! Lol

  10. The young man’s “I know how to listen” really is the highlight of the story for me. It makes me believe the old man didn’t kill his spirit – that the young man knows goodness – didn’t inherit the old man’s prejudice.

  11. I’ve been reading everyone’s comments! The way you write is amazing Magaly! I’m so happy she didn’t give up her rocking chair! I do hope, like everyone else said, that this is not a prophesy!!!
    Big Hugs 🙂

  12. this is intriguing! delightful the balance demonstrated, holding a hand out to the enemy, but not too far out. give what they need(fire) not necessarily what they want (rocker)
    and the bitterness of age vs the humility of youth, which themselfs are each balances. this writing is a mobile hanging over my crib…
    very thought provoking

  13. Good, she put his butt on the floor. But fed him and gave him shelter, so her conscience was clear. Do unto others….. or turn the other cheek, or something, hmmmmm? Good one Magaly. 🙂

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