Flash Fiction


Imagine you were strong. Powerful. Majestic. You can wield your strength naturally, as if it is first nature. Your nature. Your muscles bulge under the thick, leathery skin, intimidating and threatening. Your skin is baked red, soft under the softest of touch, hard under pressure with a pattern of Savannah desert with cracks that move with you. You’re decorated with a leather mohawk down your spine from the top of your head to the tip of your tail. Each triangle spike represents all the times others preyed on you; each spike is a defense mechanism against anyone who dares do it again. The tail is heavy but easy to move. Imagine a snout with nostrils open to sniff out anything. Or deep green eyes beautifully surrounded by thick black lashes, eyes that should have been fiercely orange-red. Your breath is hot enough to burn enemies to a crisp. Imagine being part of a fantasy. A good, beloved fantasy. An admired myth. Imagine people believing you’re part of an old past. Fantasy novels in the middle ages: Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and Eragon. The beast is only loved in fiction as an anti-hero. Imagine how the revelation of your existence raises their stakes and threatens their position. Imagine them wanting to kill you for your flesh out of fear of your beauty and dangerous strength. Imagine.

Imagine only being allowed to exist in a place where you’re not part of the same reality: different, excluded, left out. You knew you were different when you were only very young, as the fire was burning in your veins. The Fury. The rage. Your mother, a symbol of societal expectations, would point her finger at you and tell you to be a ‘good girl.’ And good girls are lovely. Your brother is allowed to be angry, throw a tantrum, and turn weak with aggression as he loses control of himself daily. Everyone watched you grow and become the ‘nice’ representation of a woman people expected you to be. A good girl. With red hair tightened into a tight bun, hips pushed into too-tight pencil skirts because you were supposed to be that size. Everyone wanted to be around that version of you. The nice girl, the compliant girl, the sweet girl. They want you without actually wanting you. People want you only when they do not know you. They want you only in their imagination, where they delude themselves of your willingness to obey and your love for them above yourself. The respect should be higher for them than for yourself. A smokescreen you create by pretending to be that image. In the office of a glass skyscraper, with a view making you think you could throw your colleague’s eyes out into the skies as they say mean things, are rude men, disrespecting your accomplishments and hard work. Your female colleagues abuse your kindness to their advantage because they have already grown their claws in bitter poison. Oh, but one day, the smoke will rise into the sky, the screams will be heard at night, how you will shed your human skin and transform into the fire-breathing beast of old folklore, how you will rise in the air, break through the glass walls surrounding us, touched by your own flames because only you can handle your own rage. You breathe, burn, and they catch fire when their beliefs crumble behind their eyes. The air will be thick with black smog, suffocating anyone around you. They realize you aren’t their good girl; instead, you are their nightmare. You don’t apologize because you’re suddenly on top of the food chain. They’ll know and crumble in fear. You make a sound that’s supposed to be some devilish laughter. You fly away above them, above society, free from the burden, free of the misinterpretation of your niceness, their denial of your love of death as you wield a powerful element with grace. Stronger than them. Imagine you were a dragon that no one knew existed. Imagine.

Julia Schnabel was raised in Münster, Germany, before moving to Amsterdam. She completed a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Society at the Free University Amsterdam (VU) and a Master’s in Media Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). She presented her writing at VU Open Mic nights, and in 2020, one of her short stories was published in Expanded Field. She now focuses on perfecting her craft in creative writing workshops in Amsterdam, and is seeking publishing opportunities.