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The Three Boulders -- flash fiction by Matt Hsu

She skated over brittle patches of brown and green. Stomping with straw sandals and smoking the sunlight from a cattail pipe. Dress made of polka dots and jujube candies, leaving a technicolor trail. Her elbows chopped the horizon into triangles as she ran beneath a flock of geese.

Today the old oak at the top of the hill was fluffier than yesterday. Tomorrow it would burst even further. It would continue in the same pattern, until its robe grew red, and later, it would don pearly shawls. She skipped to the trunk of the tree and withdrew a cape fashioned from three orange shirts: one large, one medium, and one extra small. She brushed the bits of leaves and chewed-up twigs away and tied the cape around her neck.

A dove perched on her shoulder.

She wore a pair of glasses, made from twisted saplings and dusted with baby powder, golden feathers spreading from the ends like angel wings. The lenses were tinted in a way that made everything shimmer, as if the world around her was about to peel away like fraying wallpaper. Everytime she moved, the glasses began to slide down her nose, and she pushed them back up with her finger.

Three boulders loomed beside her. She patted each on the head and kissed each on the nose. Then she sewed a jump rope from blades of grass and began to play with them. They couldn’t jump very well, so she took their turns for them, hopping higher every round even when the rope lay motionless on the floor. Her glasses jiggled as she jumped, so she held them in place with her thumb.

She yanked fistfuls of dandelions, poppies, bluebells, and snowdrops from the ground and painted the boulders with the petals. She told stories to the largest one and played patty-cake with the smallest one. She was offended by something the third said, but became calm when the others reassured her. She poured them cups of evergreen tea and they watched as the mountains swallowed the sun.

Once dark had swallowed the sky, she stood up, arms and legs covered in scarlet tattoos. Her face was smudged with moss and moonbeams. She secured her glasses and tumbled down the hill. Tomorrow she would return.

They all wondered what she was doing up there. Skipping across the thatch and thorns amidst the torrid wind. Cradling the barren logs in her arms and dousing herself with the dirt within. Squawking at the flock of ravens that eyed her hungrily. Pulling weeds and wild mushrooms and flinging them in the air like confetti. Speaking to three tombstones: one large, one medium, and one extra small.


Matt Hsu is a junior at San Francisco University High School in San Francisco, California. He has received a gold Scholastic Arts medal for creative nonfiction and has been published in the Cathartic Youth Literary Magazine. Currently he's working on a new adult novel about a lonely assassin.

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