Open 2020, Short Stories - Craig Dobson


Like in Herodotus

By Craig Dobson  


She looked over her fiancé’s shoulder to where the pine trees covered the near shore and all that could be seen between their bright green foliage were patches of vivid blue water. Into one of these the dark boat shape edged, daubs of white breaking rhythmically at its sides. For a few moments, wondering if it was some trick of perspective, she struggled to make sense of its contours. It wasn’t until it had moved into the centre of the gap between the pines that she could see more clearly its strange design.


It had a high-sided archaic look, with three large hoops linking the bows along its narrowing length. Between the last of these, at the stern, a man was standing, dipping two oars forward of him into the water, whitening it before he leant his whole weight against them to push the craft on. Fascinated, she watched him disappear behind the trees, then emerge again, pushing and pushing his strange boat across the next patch of blue.


Suddenly she placed the image: a memory of a photograph she’d seen showing ancient boats on the Nile. They too had this tapering shape with those distinctive hoops, and the lone figure standing at the stern to row. He carried on, into the pines and out, over the blue again until he vanished for good behind the headland.


She felt the lightness of having been granted some rare thing, a blessing sight, and it still showed on her face when her fiancé looked at her, his brow creased quizzically.



Once Hunted

By Craig Dobson

In the winter the valley flooded. Even now there were ponds and puddles among the marsh grass, though the fields rising up the sides were streaked with combine tracks through the broken gold of harvest stalks.


The old man used to shoot rabbits here, and ducks too if he could get them. He was better with rabbits. The valley would flood and then freeze, thaw and freeze again. They’d walk the margins where goat willows flourished in thick copses. Sometimes a deer would break suddenly from one of these, making for the woods above, setting the old man’s dog chasing and barking.


There was often a mist, and then they couldn’t shoot at all, but would walk the path by the woods cresting the north side and stare into the still, white depth beneath them.


A rabbit crossed in front of him now, dark and urgent until it reach the edge of some weeds fringing one of the ponds. Near the far bank, a pair of mallards eyed him until he passed.


The old man and the dog were dead. He remembered the shock of the old man’s gun in the morning quiet, scattering rooks from the trees, their alarm calls like ragged echoes of the shot itself. He could recall, too, the warm near-life of a rabbit, blood vivid on its soft pelt as it hung, open-eyed, in the dog’s mouth, its eyes and the dog’s both dark but with the sky bright on them, like the nearby water that hadn’t yet clouded, but would when it froze.



Craig Dobson is a writer from UK. He has his poems and short stories published in several British and European magazines. He is working towards a collection of poetry.


Our Contributors !!

Some of our writers!

  • We occassionally invite writers to send their musings. Do send in your work, and we will host it here.
  • Do visit the Submit page to submit your work.