This is my take on Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #37. The challenge, to write a piece of flash fiction based on the photo below. Thanks to Fandango for organising a great prompt. Like the story? Don’t like the story! Either way, why not pop over and have a go yourself. (~230 words)
No one knew who The Watcher was, or what had led him to be looking from the bridge that fateful morning. It didn’t matter. Long before the cleanup had completed, he’d become a symbol. The man, the bridge, the city, all was now radioactive dust, locked in a glass sarcophagus deep underground. All except one concrete slab imprinted with the shadowy ghost of that final moment. It haunted all who looked down on it.
Where once he’d stared out over a bustling metropolis, now he stood watch over an expansive memorial park. A long avenue of apple trees ran its full length, each tree planted in memory of a former district. Names now lost to most people’s memory, but not to the few survivors who lovingly tended the park.
Every year, on the anniversary, dignitaries would stand beside The Watcher and hold hands in a moment’s silence. They’d look down at their shadows and the shadow of the man who wasn’t there and remember their pledge, lest they join him in his eternal vigil. Long after the dignitaries had gone, long after the school kids had grown tired of their bunny ear shadow selfies he’d still be stood, staring out over that far vista.
And in the twilight, he’d watch the tireless survivors go about their work. The children never would taste the park’s forbidden fruit, just as the seasons never faded The Watcher’s shadow.