Flash Fiction Contest Winner 2023- The Huguenot by Danica Torres


The Huguenot

By Danica Torres

Jehenne ran through the woods, uncaring of the twigs and pebbles caught up in her dress, kicking and ducking any obstructions. He was waiting and, in a breath’s-worth of time, he could be killed. For once, he was the fragile one. He was the one that stood in front of God’s mighty blow but she could not take this time to feel anything else other than an all-encompassing fear. 

His time is shortening, she thought. It only made her go faster. 

She had pleaded for mercy with her father and the rest of the noblemen, but they could no longer spare a glance at her, having already decided that they would scorn a maiden, hunting down her true love as if he were a boar.

The big tree that had fallen over long since acted as a hopeful signal: she was close to the clearing. A short straightaway at a horse’s pace would get her there quickly, but she only had her tired legs. 

A blur of pale gold with a dark top and a violet doublet almost had her bowling over in relief. Nicolas smiled, but the grin seemed impaired by an unidentified emotion. His hands, usually sturdy, felt like they were trembling, only a facsimile of security. 

The white fabric held tight within her grasp felt heavier now. They stood in silence. “Nicolas.” Jehenne put a hand on his cheek. With her soft fingers, she prodded and felt the muscles around his jaw tense. Slowly, he shrugged her off.

Nicolas, please. Please, Nicolas. For me?”

She put both hands on his face, focusing on the tender spots on his cheeks that he liked cupped. Jehenne held him like caresses could prevent slaughters and reconcilable differences made worse by idiotic monarchs. Again, he slipped away. 

“I cannot-” she started, but her proclamation was cut short.

Do not say that! You cannot, you say. I won’t give up what I believe, Jehenne!”

A step away from each other, the tense air grew frigid and perfect for bitter fruits to be thrown.

Tears threatened her water line as she weakly tied the knot, knowing he could push her off if he so wanted. Her fists trembled around what might as well have been a lacey rag. One final time, he shut down her advances with a hand. 

Why? Why are you giving up your life? They will kill you!”

The eyes he turned to her were martyr eyes. Is this what the Virgin Saint saw when she raised Jesus? 

An adieu was left unsaid, and as she pulled the fabric off his arm, she squeezed living hands that would soon turn waxy and cold. Her bitten lip smothered wails. 

Jehenne ran westward, looking back almost all the way. His eyes turned from brown coins to specks as the traveled distance increased. 

When she looked forward, it wasn’t because she was ready. She looked forward because once she was in the village, she heard men on horses galloping into the woods.