Wilson Koewing ~ In A Flash

On a per­fect sum­mer day in Annecy, France, Valerie rides a bicy­cle down a wind­ing path toward Lake Annecy’s azure waters.

She reach­es a patch of grass by the beach and pulls a baguette from her pack.

A boat pass­es pulling a water ski­er. Children splash near shore. A sail­boat glides by.

Valerie’s gaze fix­es on a cata­ma­ran anchored offshore.

Alphonse, rugged with tou­sled hair and broad shoul­ders stands on one of the catamaran’s hulls fish­ing. He yanks the rod and pulls up a ten-pound Arctic Char.

Alphonse leans the rod against the jib and scans the shore.

Valerie chews on her baguette, fix­at­ed on Alphonse. She snaps out of it when she real­izes he’s wav­ing in her direction.

Alphonse dives in with­out a splash. He comes up swim­ming for shore. His chis­eled arms make quick work of the distance.

Valerie watch­es Alphonse walk up from the lake.

She starts to walk towards Alphonse, stops, spins to hide an embar­rassed smile. When she turns back, he’s close. Eyes locked on her. She musters courage.


Alphonse walks right by.

Valerie spins to watch Alphonse greet a group of friends.

Alphonse glances back at Valerie.

Valerie walks to the water’s edge.

She bal­ances along the shore with her arms out.

She focus­es so intent­ly she doesn’t notice Alphonse casu­al­ly strolling beside her. When she notices, she stum­bles into the lake.

You fell in.

Valerie smirks and shrugs.

Valerie glances at Alphonse’s cata­ma­ran. Is it yours?

It’s my home.

Valerie puts her arms behind her back and keeps walk­ing. After a moment, she real­izes Alphonse isn’t keep­ing pace.

He’s stand­ing with his hands on his hips. Would you like to go for a ride?

Valerie tugs on her shirt. No suit.

Alphonse turns to his friends, I’ll see you lat­er! Just before div­ing in, he turns back to Valerie. You only live once!

Valerie watch­es him go. He doesn’t look back. Valerie takes a deep breath and dives in.

Alphonse pulls him­self onto the cata­ma­ran. In the dis­tance, Valerie strug­gles. She pulls up and treads water.

You can make it.

It’s too far. Come help. Hurry. With a devi­ous smile on her face, she sinks.

Alphonse laughs, waits for her to come up. She doesn’t sur­face. He laughs again, unsure. Finally, he pan­ics and dives in. He swims to where she went under. Dives.

Not far away, Valerie eas­es to the sur­face and treads water. Alphonse comes up for air. All he hears is Valerie cackling.

That’s not funny.

Valerie pokes her bot­tom lip out.

Alphonse swims over.

Valerie jumps on his back. Take me to the boat!


The cata­ma­ran slices across the water. Alphonse behind the wheel. Valerie beside him wear­ing a but­ton-up shirt that’s way too big. It flaps in the wind.

Alphonse looks at her and smiles.

She’s too busy watch­ing the sun set behind a mountain.


Valerie and Alphonse are mar­ried on the porch of a grand château high above Lake Annecy. Alphonse slides a ring on Valerie’s fin­ger. They kiss.

Alphonse pulls away from a kiss. He looks proud. Valerie sits up in a hos­pi­tal bed hold­ing a son. She stares into baby Peter’s eyes.

Valerie, preg­nant and beam­ing again, watch­es a four-year-old Peter chase Alphonse around the yard. She stands on the porch of their farm­house. The house is sur­round­ed by fields, then lake, then mountains.

Valerie yells for Peter. He stops chas­ing Alphonse and runs over. He jumps into her arms.

Valerie hugs Peter.

Alphonse holds one year old Isabelle. They are out­side of a school. They watch Peter dis­ap­pear inside.

Valerie exits the farm­house. Alphonse heads in from the fields, tired and dirty. They kiss. He pats Peter, 8, on the head and scoops up Isabelle, 5, into his arms.

The fam­i­ly eats din­ner. The chil­dren act up. Valerie smiles at Alphonse lovingly.

Valerie and Alphonse walk hand in hand towards the lake. The sun­set blooms behind it.

Alphonse stands by a car. Peter, 18, exits the house car­ry­ing a bag. He’s dressed in a French Army uni­form. Valerie fol­lows. Isabelle, 14, is behind her. Isabelle leans against the porch rail and watch­es, bored.

Peter hugs Valerie and Alphonse. He nods to Isabelle. He gets in the car and dri­ves away.

Valerie and Alphonse hold each oth­er and watch him go. Isabelle joins the hug.

Valerie and Alphonse stroll hand in hand toward the lake. Isabelle trudges behind them walk­ing a black poodle.

Valerie waits near a closed door. The door opens and Isabelle steps out. She’s wear­ing a sweater with Université de Genève (University of Geneva) writ­ten on it. Valerie’s eyes well with tears. Valerie fol­lows Isabelle outside.

Alphonse works on a trac­tor. He sees Isabelle and shoots her a grim look before return­ing to work. She frowns and approach­es a wait­ing taxi. The dri­ver puts her bag inside.

She hugs Valerie then looks to where Alphonse still works on the tractor.

He glances up. Face still angry.

Isabelle gives him a pouty look.

He breaks and a grin cross­es his face.

Isabelle holds up a fist and breaks into a smile. She runs to Alphonse and jumps in his arms.


Valerie and Alphonse enter the emp­ty house. Alone again.

Alphonse and Valerie eat qui­et meals together.

They stroll through the canal-lined streets of Annecy.

They eat can­dle-lit dinners.

They shop at local markets.

Alphonse and Valerie walk towards the lake hand in hand sil­hou­et­ted by the sunset.

Alphonse stops, holds his chest, and falls to the ground.

Valerie shrinks to her knees and screams at the sky.


Wilson Koewing is a writer from South Carolina. His short sto­ry col­lec­tion JADED is avail­able from Main Street Rag/Mint Hill Books. His hybrid col­lec­tion QUASI is forth­com­ing from Anxiety Press.