The Sphinx [Short Story]

She was sitting quietly at roadside with the body of a lion and the wings of an eagle when I chanced upon her.

So silent was her repose that I had no warning of her presence until it was too late to turn back.

Without even a hello she gazed through my eyes and said: “Only mouths are we. Who sings the distant heart which safely exists in the center of all things?”

I wondered what gods she believed in. I knew that no matter the answer I gave, I would be wrong.

My answer was silence. The space between us echoed with my answer’s absence.

“What a disappointing answer,” she muttered, almost to herself, grabbing and devouring me in one bite.

I never got the chance to gloat when a second later I realized that my answer had been correct.

Photo by Karen Khafagy on Unsplash

At DVerse, the prompt today is to write a piece of flash fiction or other prose up of up to or exactly 144 words, including the given line of poetry:

“Only mouths are we. Who sings the distant heart
which safely exists in the center of all things?

– Rainer Maria Rilke

35 thoughts on “The Sphinx [Short Story]

    • The Sphinx just wanted to eat 🤣🤣 I was trying to highlight that we are all so self certain in our immutable truths, like what happens after we die, but no one truly knows until we encounter that truth for themselves

      Liked by 2 people

  1. This is exquisitely drawn! I so love the mythological shades of this prose piece. The detailing here had me at the edge of my seat especially; [“What a disappointing answer,” she muttered, almost to herself, grabbing and devouring me in one bite.] I am quite enjoying picturing the scenario of the persona with the Sphinx 😀

    Thank you so much for writing to the prompt! 💝💝

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, I’m glad you liked it! I figured a character like the sphinx would use riddles to play with her prey, rather than actually giving someone a chance of salvation!

      Like

  2. You hooked my attention with that first line. This was as fun as it was serious. The Sphinx was known for posing such difficult questions – good choice for the prompt!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nicely done, Evan! The Sphinx is a cryptical beast and she has no compassion. You’ve captured both her qualities and the essence of a no-win situation. I love the way you paused everything in ‘The space between us echoed with my answer’s absence.’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Yes I always thought it was strange that in the myth the Sphinx would admit to being outsmarted. I always felt it would be more realistic if she just ate travelers regardless of their answer haha

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Just a little bit too late. A fitting tribute to the poem, which operates on much the same themes of a greater, wiser entity that devours us at the moment of our revelation.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ‘The space between us echoed with my answer’s absence.’ I really liked the phrasing of that. The submission to the inevitable, yet still challenge that dares. An excellent take on the classic myth.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting play of mood to have a narrator narrate after their demise. I find that hard to do in my own writing. Then again, I suppose the deeper meaning of this story is that the narrator isn’t really dead. Leave it to a sphinx to trip me up.

    Like

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