Flash Fiction: The Heron, by Rachel Elizabeth Ashcroft

The Heron

We’re delighted to say that, following our recent klaxon call for flash fiction submissions (see details and guidelines here), The Skipton Press is publishing its inaugural short story, written by the very talented Rachel Ashcroft.

The Heron

by Rachel Elizabeth Ashcroft

The sunshine glares so brightly you can barely see the path in front of you.  Cold air gently stings your face.  Where is everybody?  You hear the steady crunch of your trainers as they hit the ground, a duck quacking noisily to itself, the distant roll of a car going by.  Water ripples silently in the same direction as you.  All of a sudden, running alongside the canal, you look up and stop.  A giant heron sits on the edge of the bank opposite.

Shoulders back, head pointing down, it calmly watches over the surface of the water.  It looks so majestic, rooted in place, only its feathers ruffling occasionally.  Nobody else is around.  Only the trees swaying in the breeze, straining to get a look at the fisherman in action.  White clouds drift over the both of you.  You stare at the bird in admiration as it continues to stand by the water, unfazed.  Its long, thin neck of black and white; a coat of grey feathers; two legs like narrow sticks.  Then it looks up for a second, studying you, and you feel overwhelmed by this strange, silent creature.  Time stands still, just for a moment.

Suddenly you want to tell somebody, to share this moment with someone else.  A photo will have to do.  As you reach for your phone the heron looks up once more.  It noiselessly flaps away from the river bank and glides up into the branches of a nearby tree, outside the reach of prying eyes.

Now the bank is empty.  You notice some talking shadows approaching in the distance and start running again, slowly.


About the author

Rachel is a third-year Phd Student at Durham University who recently moved to Skipton.  She loves reading, writing and keeping fit by running around the beautiful Yorkshire Dales.  Oh, and a nice pint somewhere is always on the cards too!


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