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Triptych

Janelle stood with her eyes closed in the near-complete darkness. She stretched out with her senses, feeling the cool, slightly damp air of the ancient, underground room. The smell was musty; modern ventilation not able to fully get rid of that old smell.

Welcome to The Word! Either a story beginning, a story ending, a piece of flash fiction, a poem, painting, dance move—inspired by the word, triptych, where does it take me? Where does it take you?

[ TRIP-tik ]

Noun

  1. A picture or relief carving on three panels, typically hinged together side by side and used as an altarpiece.
  2. A set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together.

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** Either a story beginning, a story ending, a piece of flash fiction, a poem, painting, dance move—inspired by the word, triptych, where does it take me? Where does it take you? Learn more about “The Word” here.


Janelle stood with her eyes closed in the near-complete darkness. She stretched out with her senses, feeling the cool, slightly damp air of the ancient, underground room. The smell was musty; modern ventilation not able to fully get rid of that old smell.

An echoing, soft boom filled the hallways beyond and drifted to her ears. The sound she’d been waiting for, the sound of a door closing in the distance. Janelle opened her eyes and flicked on her flashlight simultaneously. 

She’d been in the room a dozen times now, but this was the first time at night. The stone walls seemed more golden in the light of the flashlight than they did from the fluorescent bulbs, drilled into the stone ceiling above. Two framed pieces of art hung on the wall, with a gap where a third piece of equal size would fit perfectly between them. 

The art that hung wasn’t really art, but two pieces of an ancient map to the mythical city of Atlantis. These were also just replicas of the originals that hung in the Louvre in Paris. Together, with the missing third piece, the map would be whole, and a long lost city could be found. 

Janelle moved swiftly to the wall…

…caressing the stone where the missing piece once hung. Except, Janelle didn’t believe that anything ever hung there. She padded to the door on that same wall and entered a smaller room behind it, now a utility room. 

She carefully measured and drew out a large rectangle on the wall. Then, after pulling a hammer and chisel from her pocket, began carving into the stone. Occasionally, she would pause to listen, closing her eyes to focus on any possible intruders to her illegal work. Then, she’d continue. 

Slowly, Janelle removed block of stone, after block of stone. She knew she was right as she worked, but now, finally done, she marveled at her discovery. No one else cared why this one wall was walled with two layers of stone, while all the others just one layer. Janelle wondered.

In the slight gap between stones, hanging on the wall, was the missing piece to the map. Then, a sound piqued her senses, and she froze.


Notes/Thoughts/Ideas

Nothing like a treasure hunt, or a quest for an ancient mythological city! I like the idea of the secret hiding in plain sight, and this woman figuring it out. 

Often, the treasure hunts are about finding the maps, but what if we have the map outright? The rest is about trying to piece together the clues of the map and avoiding others also after the treasure. 

Could be fun!

What do you think of Triptych?

Atlantis is a fun possibility, but what other ancient treasure or city would you like to see in a movie or book? 

Leave your thoughts, your own story beginning/ending, flash-fiction, or whatever in the comments! Where did triptych or my story take you?

If you liked this story, check out my podcast of short stories, More Than A Story.

Today’s word is from WordGenius.com

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