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Walking by the river

More morning speed-writing, and another picture I came across.

He walked out that morning, planning never to come back, wearing his trusty old jacket, boots, holding his walking stick in his arthritic right hand. His old bones weighed too much on his children and he wanted a quiet place to curl up and die, like a tired bear who has slept through countless winters, raided many honeycombs in summer, hunted, feasted and danced under the moon; and now, too tired to carry on, wants a place to lie under his own fur, lay his head on a smooth stone and never wake up again.

He walked down the riverbank with a purposeful stride, as if he knew where this stone would be. Though he longed to hear their chatter, the birds held their quiet before sunrise, and the slow river made no sound as it ambled its way towards the sea. The mosquitoes that buzzed around him every day on his walks had disappeared.

He missed his hound, his hunting companion of many years whom he’d buried in the backyard the month before, wondered if his kids would find him and bring him back to lay beside that old black rascal, alert for a partridge in his dotage, in the very last week of  his life.

He raised his nose in imitation of his hound and tried to sniff the lightening, starlit air, but caught only the fish-like stench of the river. No flowers bloomed this early in spring. He stepped off the beaten path through the woods, and heard twigs crackle under his boots. He took out the hip flask that had ridden in his pocket the last two decades, unscrewed it and took a swig.

He thrashed his way towards the bank and flung the walking stick as far as he could into the river. In the dull light, he watched it float lazily away near the middle. He stumbled on, determined to walk till he either fell down or found his stone.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Damyanti says:

    Shoeacres, as I grow older, I have begun to wonder quite a bit about old age and death, and I guess it has begun to trickle into my writing.

    I found this link, about a lady who started writing poetry at 92, and at 99 is a bestselling poet in Japan:

    So with determination, a lot can be achieved.

    I’m glad you liked the piece. Coming from a stunning writer like you, that means a lot. I have to be more careful about uploading my doodles from now on, knowing you might be reading 🙂

  • shoreacres says:

    So very poignant. I can’t read a piece like this without thinking of my mother, wondering where she is in her journey, and what she is feeling but not saying. At 92, it’s getting harder for her to walk, and harder to be determined.

    Lovely piece!

  • indigobunting says:

    Very nicely done.

  • Damyanti says:

    The romantic in you, I guess 🙂

    I had no control whatsoever over what this chap did, and I don’t know how he ended up. The voice in my head stopped, so I stopped writing. These are just doodles anyway, so I don’t worry much about them.

  • bronxboy55 says:

    I found myself hoping he doesn’t find the smooth stone just yet. I wanted him to meet a woman who would, through simple kindness and attention, rekindle his desire to live just a little while longer.