Flash fiction: Heels and Souls


In the early morning I discover a well-worn path leading away from the house. It takes me towards the woods, across the parkland. Wider than a deer-track, it’s a route made by and for humans; the earth rubbed smooth by heels and souls. The path passes into a stand of yew, beech and oak, but five hundred yards on, it stops; an abrupt dead-end of ferns and bramble. I can’t see why, since the path is so worn. Where did those who travelled it go? I turn to walk back; before I reach the edge of the wood I am running.


This is a 100-word flash fiction story written for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, who has also provided this week’s photo. Click here to read other people’s, or here to write your own story.

60 thoughts on “Flash fiction: Heels and Souls

  1. C – I could feel my heart beating when reading this. I get the same feeling as the Rhododendron of Manderley in Rebecca. I get a feeling of disaster waiting around the corner.. the pivot point of the stop of the path could perhaps be enhanced even more by picturing the beauty of the path leading up. Some flowers or butterflies.. or maybe a smell. But that would probably require even more words.


  2. Dear Claire,

    I could feel the tension slowly build in this atmospheric piece. I also liked the subtle use of “heels and souls” as opposed to soles on the path.

    As for the extra words…I was three short this week so we can call it even. 😉




  3. C – What ceayr and Rochelle said. I’m intrigued by why she’s only now discovering the path, since it’s so worn. Adds another layer of ominous-ness. Excellent word choice in “abrupt,” too. Gave me shivers.


  4. I love how specific your descriptions are, in terms of the types of trees etc. I’d be pushing to try and come up with constructive criticisms.Contracting phrases like “I am” and “It is” would give you extra words and it feels a bit oddly formal not to in this particular story.

    Fantastic and intriguing story.


    • Thank you. This morning I started reading The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane, a lovely book about walking the footpaths of Britain, so I suppose paths must have been in my head just as I saw the picture.


  5. This was an extremely compelling and beautiful read, Claire! There is mystery and magic, and perhaps some super-natural, or natural danger there, where the path stops abruptly. Love the vivid visualization of the entire walk into and the run out of the woods.


  6. I love the mix here of the refined and precise with the build up of the sinister.
    For me it feels very much in the tradition of Daphne du Maurier (as mentioned already). I can hear Vivien Leigh reading this in her most English of accents with a slightly edge.


  7. Fascinating piece; for me it refers to the anxiety posed by facing paths ahead in life that are unclear. Things are all right when you’re on the accepted path, but not when it dead ends ahead. Makes you want to turn around and run back where it’s safe.


  8. Loved the heels and souls line – not only clever, but also foreshadowing something mysterious; perhaps supernatural?
    It’s straightforward and simple language throughout this, which I think works with the unusual situation and unreality (the heavily trafficed road, the suddenly terminating path, etc)… it’s subdued.
    And I agree on that last line – again, its simply put but quite dramatic.


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