The Archivist

It’s that time of the week again, when a diverse group of writers come together to take on the challenge that is Madison Woods’s ‘Friday Fictioneers’.  The idea is to write a piece of flash fiction (in this case, a piece of approximately 100 words) prompted/inspired by the following image:

Madison’s site hosts the original image along with her story.  Other authors’ stories will be linked in the comments section there.  Here’s the link to follow:

I found this week far more challenging than the previous three.  I had several ideas bouncing around and, as is becoming habit, I let them percolate until a clear favourite emerged.  Normally I write the ‘winner’ in my head.  If it sticks until the next day, it’s probably a story I can be happy with.  No such luck this time.  Re-writes ahoy… tut.  That said, here is my entry for this week.  I hope you enjoy and, as always, your comments and feedback are greatly appreciated 🙂

‘The Archivist’

Beneath a ceiling threaded with veins of bioluminescence, The Archivist sits in perfect seiza and gazes wistfully at the sprawling skyline below. How many more? she wonders, her fingertips absently tracing the facets of a memory stone.

Gems radiate from her in a fractal whirl, each one echoing a life lost. As a tactile empath, she must find a final home for them.  However, the Overseer’s complex coding system irritates, even threatens to diminish the lingering resonance of the souls she encounters. She is weary.

Drawn now to a rubellite tourmaline, her heart swells with a maelstrom of emotion. She experiences the life of a transient with artisan hands, crafting toys from trash for orphans and runaways. This is the life she desires, her final home.  A sigh parts her lips and she succumbs.


44 comments on “The Archivist

  1. Sandra says:

    I learned something when I read your offering last week, and the same again this week. I thought this was an original take on the theme, very enjoyable.

    Mine’s at

  2. Excellent interpretation. Great story.

  3. Dear Andy,

    “Sitting in perfect seiza” is one of my favorite lines and one of my favorite things to do. Never thought I’d see it in a story.

    Your tale was well crafted and well told. You built quite a world, placed us squarely in it, then let us escape with the Archivist to an even better place. Good job.



    • janmorrill says:

      Okay, Doug and Andy. I looked it up and couldn’t find it, so I have to ask — What’s a seiza?

      • Sorry about that. ‘Seiza’ is a Japanese term and translates literally as ‘proper sitting’. It’s pretty much a formal way of kneeling/sitting and involves having your feet tucked in under your buttocks. Fairly uncomfortable for those unaccustomed to it. It’s often associated with meditation, martial arts/formal arts (e.g. tea ceremony) but many Japanese will sit like that on a daily basis. If you google it, the wiki entry has quite a comprehensive article. Hope this helps. 🙂

      • janmorrill says:

        Thanks, Andy. Just thinking about it hurts. 🙂 I’ll have to practice proper sitting more often.

    • Thanks, Doug. As always, your insightful feedback is appreciated. You’re in far better shape than me if you enjoy seiza (although I suspect you enjoy the meditative aspect more than the physical posture…) I’m happy you enjoyed the story. Take care,

  4. The Lime says:

    Super interesting… I especially love this line: “She experiences the life of a transient with artisan hands, crafting toys from trash for orphans and runaways.”

    Thanks for writing!

  5. janmorrill says:

    This is a fascinating concept: “Gems radiate from her in a fractal whirl, each one echoing a life lost.” I’ll never look at a jewel the same way again — instead, will wonder about the life within it. Good job!

    Here’s my link:

  6. Jeannie says:

    This was beautifully and skillfully done! Truly, a complete story. I love how she ‘succumbs’–good! I look forward to reading more of your work. You are a very talented writer!

  7. TheOthers1 says:

    Very cool story. I’m finding that the stories you believe to be awful are the ones that end up being well received. I think this turned out well for you. The last few sentences were my favorite.

  8. Hi Andy,
    Thanks for improving my vocabulary. I couldn’t find seiza in my dictionary, but it sounds like something really cool. You managed to depict a pretty complex concept very clearly in so few words. I wasn’t exactly sure who some of the pronouns late in the story were referencing, but that only added to the riddle.
    Great story!
    Here’s mine:

    • The term ‘seiza’ refers to a Japanese traditional form of sitting (probably why it doesn’t feature in your dictionary). As to the pronouns, thanks for pointing that out. It’s an issue that seems to be one of my proverbial ‘bad pennies’. Apologies for any lack of clarity there. Glad you enjoyed the story! 🙂

  9. elmowrites says:

    Beautiful story, Andy. I thought you built and showed us your world perfectly, not an easy thing to do in 100 words (or 100,000, frankly!)

    I’m over here:

  10. Madison Woods says:

    I interpreted seiza to be a perfect contemplative, meditative state, open to reception. But I haven’t looked up the word yet and it sounds like it won’t be easy to find so I hope you let us know what it means 🙂

    I enjoyed the story and love the concept of an archivist going through stones to find homes for the souls within. My only crit is the line ‘Gems radiate from her in a fractal whir…” because I pictured the actual gems floating in the air around her, but I suspect you mean the light passing through the gems? Or do the gems themselves radiate outwards from her? That’s the only line I had trouble with and I loved the whole story.

    • Hi Madison,
      Sorry for the confusion. I had intended to convey an image of the gems arrayed in a pattern around her, be it on the floor or suspended in mid air (I guess it would depend on whether or not she was showing off!)

      As to the term ‘seiza’, it is a Japanese form of sitting. I gave more details in my reply to janmorrill, if you wouldn’t mind referring back to that.

      Thanks for your input. Sometimes I do have problems conveying ideas with clarity; something I have to work on 🙂 I’m really pleased you enjoyed the story this week, thank you.

      • Madison Woods says:

        I think you portrayed it exactly right then – it was just me second guessing your intention! Thanks for the explanation about the sitting position. Great story to get us asking questions.

  11. Janet says:

    Like you I had more trouble this week, but wow what a story you came up with. I’d also love to hear your other two ideas. I agree with The Lime above as to my favourite line.

    Here’s mine:

    • I wouldn’t have guessed that you had trouble with yours this week, Janet. It read very well and was a unique take on the prompt. I’m glad you enjoyed mine, thank you. As to the other ideas, one was based around the idea of an ‘apprentice’ serial killer having taken over the mantle of his master, now being questioned in an institution, the jewels (as seen by him) were actually eyes, trophies of each kill. The numbers on the bags were co-ordinates to the bodies themselves. Pretty grim stuff and not a great fit for flash, as it turns out.
      One of the others featured hormonal ‘super powered’ teens, the gems being focus-conduits for their burgeoning powers. Again, not great for flash. This one stuck in my head a little better. 🙂

  12. miq says:

    I love that final paragraph, it resonated with me.

    Mine’s here:

  13. Siobhan Muir says:

    Nicely and sweetly written, Andy. I truly enjoyed the ebb and flow of this piece. Thank you for sharing.

  14. Beautiful! Poetic! I’m hooked! My favorite line: “Gems radiate from her in a fractal whirl, each one echoing a life lost.” I would love to read more, more, more….


  15. niiko47 says:

    I always love your incredible use of varied language, Andy. You put my simplicity to shame, haha!
    With the term ‘seiza’ I really did learn something new, which is one of the great things to come from this flash fiction group!

    • Hey Gaz,
      Thanks for your support and kind feedback (and sorry for the late reply!).
      I agree with your comment re. learning from the Friday Fictioneers; there always seems to be new ideas and words floating around.

  16. a.m. murphy says:

    This was really groovy. Loved the imagery of the fractals going around her — that kind of thing is hard to describe but I could see it in my head. The ending where she is sucked into a neat little gem was a nice touch, too. I hope librarian jobs turn into something like this in the future.

    • Hehe, I’m not sure all librarians would agree with you on that last point but I’m with you all the way 😉
      Thanks for such kind commentary and I’m sorry to get back to you so late.

  17. Lora Mitchell says:

    Andy. Your choice of brilliant words stopped me in my tracks. Had to reach for the dictionary…and that’s a good thing. Thanks for explaining the word ‘seiza’…it was the first one to stump me and couldn’t find it anywhere. This reminds me that humans expire but gems live on forever…and your character intends to live on forever in her chosen gem. If you don’t mind reading simple work, here’s mine…

  18. I like this story, though it had a certain strange identity outside normal reality.

  19. Quill Shiv says:

    This is a gorgeous drabble. Within the 100 words, you managed world-building, characterization AND character development as well as a story line. Excellent job! I’d love to see this concept built out further someday!

    My link is here:

    • Thanks, Rinn.

      I’m sorry to respond to your lovely feedback so late. Receiving this sort of encouragement makes a world of difference. When it comes from a writer of your talents, the impact is all the greater. I’m happy you liked this one 🙂

  20. ted says:

    This is the most complex one I have read… I have read your story a few times and am getting some idea… very nice work.

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