Quasimodo’s Garden by Donna Shanley

No silver bells for pretty maids in my eyrie of iron-tongued giants. I was molded in their humped likeness, but my voice was a broken clapper, a tortoise’s lurching cough; the music in my ears de-composed to a tin-whistle wind. By night, I crept about, a darker shadow in the crooked-winged shade of gargoyles. I plundered the gutters for companions: cracked cobblestones, walnut shells, wrinkled as time; mildewed potatoes, heels of bread. My hunched and broken heart-mirrors; tenderly, I carried them to my roost. Though I bent to them, nursed them and crooned to them, they festered; glowed in that high place with the unholy light of decay. What vining, what germination was possible in my garden? Then she came, all satin and dancing flame, and something was born there, sun-petalled. We were barley-husk and orchid, but we twined, clinging as dust, faithful as death.

Biography: Donna Shanley studied literature and languages at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, and then (of course!) wild orangutans in Borneo. Her flash fiction has appeared in Vestal Review.

Image: unsplash.com