At Dawn: Microfiction


Caspar David Friedrich

Caspar David Friedrich: Frau in der Morgensonne G45

Caspar David Friedrich, “Woman before the Rising Sun,” [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Gwendolyn rose early, as she did every day. Sometimes the dogs came with her, but today she left them in a tangled, snoring heap of legs and tails. There were no predators here. She walked up the hill. There she waited as the sky gradually turned pink and orange, and then filled with the resplendent golden glow of the suns. She greeted the dawn like an old friend, and certainly they knew each other, as she had performed this ritual every day for over a decade.

In the distance, she saw the horses grazing. Their coats gleamed blue in the dawn light. She glanced again at the sky. Watching. Waiting. Hoping. Nina and Jin had been gone for many years. Death came, even in paradise. They had been the scouts, the pioneers, the homesteaders. Their ship, the Endeavour, had been well-equipped, and they landed safely here, on Paradise.

She left her morning post. In the evening, she would climb the hill again. Gazing for what? Hope, she supposed. A sign of another ship that had escaped from Earth. A sign that she was not the only human in the universe.


I remembered a title today! This story is in response to Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge.

The prompt is the painting above by Caspar David Friedrich. I totally forgot there were also theme words, which did indeed fit the painting, but I went my own way, ignoring the woman’s appearance. I’m a rebel.


31 thoughts on “At Dawn: Microfiction

  1. I find myself doing a little inward dance of joy Merril with each new micro fiction post. Your themes are often haunting and your characters, compelling. This one too. I’m wondering if these just pop out as is or if you labor over them, rewriting and rewriting, like you might a poem?

    • What a kind and lovely comment, Janet. That made my day! πŸ™‚ That’s a good question, too. Usually I have to think about the painting post for a while, and I wonder who the person is and why they are there? Or what is the situation? Then I ponder for a bit. I usually just start writing the idea, and then after my mind has some time to reconsider, I go back and rewrite/edit. These stories are supposed to be 200 words or under, so I do try to pick the words carefully. I’m very busy with work right now though, so I don’t have a lot of time for polishing. I’m glad you liked it!

  2. Pingback: Microfiction challenge Woman in the sun: the entries – Jane Dougherty Writes

  3. This is great! I love a microfiction which hints at so much back (and forward) story, but tells just enough to let us imagine them ourselves. It didn’t go at all the way I expected it to. Love a bit of post apocalyptic mystery. Fabulous.

  4. Hi Merril,
    I really appreciated your response to the prompt and the lonely intensity of being the only human out there.
    In Sydney’s early days, ship was obviously the only link with Britain and any form of news and people would gather around the harbour awaiting news. One of my ancestors arrived at the time the Crimean War was being declared. It took three months for a newspaper to travel via ship from London to Sydney at the time, which meant that they didn’t know whether they were already at war with Russia or not and were very concerned about the threats of a Russian invasion. I was quite surprised to read all of this because it had all beeen buried in the sands of history.
    Hope you have a great weekend.
    xx Rowena

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Rowena. Yes, it took a long time for news to travel. The Battle of New Orleans was fought after England and the US had signed a peace treaty during the war of 1812. I’m sure there are other instances, too.

  5. Such a uniquely and creatively thought out micro-fiction, Merril. I think Earth’s apocalypse is a great vision for this new beginning. Overall, a barren painting but can see potential in the crops, blue coated Dawn’s horses and new life once the others return. This was haunting and striking with that last final line. Gave me both chills and “the creeps.”

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