250-Word Flash Fiction Competition: First prize – Meghri Sarkissian, ‘The Sound of a Duduk’

An old woman with a weathered face listens intently to the orchestra. Tears pool in her shining eyes, glimmering like jewels in her creased skin. As the alluring sound of the duduk travels through the room, she closes her eyes, allowing it to enter in through her veins. Transformed to a different place and time, her bones no longer ache from age. She does not hear the song as others hear it, for it echoes instead through her memory.

A girl of twelve with a worried face listened intently to the night. Tears pooled in her apprehensive eyes. She hid under the covers—a protective shield against the unknown. For in those war-torn times, her only security lay behind high walls with barbed wire and intimidating soldiers that stood like shadows in the darkness. Beyond the walls…terror. Her fears grew steadily with every passing moment—accompanied by overwhelming thoughts of an assault on their camp. When she couldn’t take it anymore—when panic consumed her—she suddenly heard the sound ease into the night as though she had summoned it in her fear.

The sound of a duduk. The instrument of her people. Swaying through the night, echoing against the walls, rising as smoothly as the dance of a flame’s smoke. And with its serenade, it took her fears and dissolved them into the stars.

The old woman opens her eyes that sparkle with the memory of that night and smiles with the spirit of the child.

Brave. Proud.

Safe.

Meghri Sarkissian

Meghri is a 26-year-old writer and psychotherapist of Armenian descent, with one published novel.

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