Lairé (Flash Fiction)


This was my entry to a flash fiction competition. It was my first time submitting and even writing a story this short, and I managed to get first place!

This story honestly came from nowhere. I had a completely different idea to begin with, then this just popped into mind. Whatever the reasoning behind its origin, I’m very proud of it.

As it’s currently the freshest thing I’ve written (as in completely original and unrelated to my first novel), I’m excited to see what directions my increased ability might open for me.



At the sandy shore of a coast, there was a boy who asked a simple question. “Are you a siren?”

And at the edge of a shallow sea, there was a girl who gave a simple answer. “No.”

“What are you then?”

The girl frowned before gesturing to her scaled tail. “A mermaid, of course.”

The boy mirrored her expression. “What’s the difference?”

With hands on hips, the girl eyed him wearily. “Sirens are not born.” And then suddenly, she tugged on his shirt and pulled him close for a kiss, before swimming off into the morning sun.

The boy spent the rest of that day thinking only about the gracious dips and dives of the majestic creature. So, of course, like any enamoured youth, he ran back to the same spot the following day. She was there again, still singing her sweet songs.

This time, he asked her name.

“Lairé,” she told him.

Thus, began the first of many shared mornings for the following decade.

They each told stories of their side of the world, his of land and hers of sea. They laughed at the foolish misconceptions that one thought of the other. They sung together… or at least, Lairé sung. And after Lairé taught the boy how to swim, they sometimes swam together.

And of course, they aged together.

It was only a matter of weeks after his eighteenth birthday when the letter came. As the boy turned man held the paper in his hand, he cursed his fate.

He went to the coast on that morning. He knew what he had to say, but lacked the strength to. Lairé swam over in that mesmerising way she always did, humming a smooth tune that gently swept across the sea.

At first, Lairé’s eyes were bright, but then they dimmed. “You’re going to war.”

“What gave it away?”

“I have felt the change in the currents for a long time. I’ve always known this day would come.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You could come with me,” she says, hopeful. “There is a small island not far from here. Nobody lives there, but you could. I could bring you food from the sea, and supplies from downed ships. We could be–”

“No.” He had spent many hours pondering the possibilities. He even knew of better, more sensible ones than she suggested. But the choice was made. “I have to go, Lairé. Not for king and country, but for my family. If I leave to be with you, I will forever hate myself.”

Lairé gave only a somber look as she said, “Come back to me.”

With all the honesty of his heart, the man said, “I will.”

From then on, Lairé waited for many moons.

She waited.

And waited.

And waited.

As the world slowly changed, so did she. Something within her grew cold and weary. There was a wave of something resentful, a steady increase of ire. Her once-sweet songs became bitter things soaked in spite and vile, and her soft hums became harsh whispers.

On one cold and quiet night, she came across a shipwreck. She dived beneath, scouring for whatever treasures she may find. Most of the crew had perished. Except one.

His face had changed just as hers had. It was clear he was now a man of many battles, not all fought with weapons of war. But beneath that, was that same boy.

Lairé brought him as close to their shore as she could. She held his limp body close to her chest, his gentle breaths a final blessing.

Her kind possessed only one power, one she had forever considered a curse. But tonight, on this first and final night they would share together, she was thankful for it.

Lairé closed her eyes and placed her hand on his forehead. She removed any trace of her existence from his memory. She took these memories not out of anger, but out of her last piece of love.

This was Lairé’s final gift. A chance for him to continue living without the pain of remembrance.

She whispered in his ear. “Sirens are not born.”  She then kissed him one last time. “Because they are made.” She pushed the man she once loved into the sea, letting the currents bring him ashore.

Lairé took one last look at him before swimming away across the moonlit ocean, leaving him to a life of lost memories, as she lived on with forlorn melodies.

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Alexander Thomas

Through the act of storytelling, I strive to subvert your expectations of stories, the world, and maybe even yourself.

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