Friday Fiction 100 Word Story #12: Gravestone

Gravestone

I eked my way painfully down the steep tree-covered slope, watching for every root, loose rock, slippery leaf, clutching feebly at each branch. A fall at this age would do me in, though it wouldn’t be the worst way to go, with the damp soil against my face, the rich aromas of pine and cedar filling my senses. That’s why I took the chance.

I wanted to see the place I’d sat 70 years ago, a little boy pretending to fish, dreaming about Indians and bears. And again, later, finding shelter from my family. And again and again: a life.

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29 comments

    • This was a case of wishing there were just a few more than 100 words. I probably would have cited a couple more instances instead of the agains. I didn’t want melodrama, or even a story. When it began I was thinking about one’s memories and the possibilty of them being absorbed by the earth. But I didn’t get that done either. It’s that damned 100 word limit!

  1. Dear Carlos,

    My girlfriend is always asking me why I cry so easily and I tell her I have a big Vagus Nerve. That being said, you should know that your story really got to me. I thought it was very well written and that the title was well chosen. Don’t ever do that to me again. (Not!)

    Aloha,

    Doug

  2. I presume it’s an age thing, Doug… I know it is for me. I recently saw the film Melancholia by Lars Von Trier and I couldn’t talk without choking up for two hours afterward. And they didn’t even kill a dog – which is what it would’ve taken when I was in my twenties. Thank you very much for the compliment.

  3. Wow, Carlos. So many moving pieces today and here’s the cream of the crop. You captured the old man’s viewpoint so well, including his acceptance of the closeness of death and the idea that dying in the forest wouldn’t be so bad.
    I, too, stumbled slightly over the very last words. I liked “And again and again,” but “A life” seemed slightly abrupt. Just a suggestion but maybe, “And later, find shelter from my family, and much later from my grief [ or a crying daughter or something, to give us another point in his life]. Again and again, over the years, the rock a shelter from life, and a life in itself.” or something. You can word it better than I, but I think maybe we need a little more at the end.
    Having said that, what do I know, I enjoyed it right up the the end just as it is!

    • Thank you, Elmo, very much. I agree the ending was abrupt. I’m pretty good at editing, but I didn’t want to lose anything more from the first paragraph (you shoulda seen it before I cut it!) or even the first half of the second paragraph. And in my OCD way, I never go over 100 words, so there it is.

  4. I think this is a great take on the photo and I really related to the old man wanting to recapture a little of the magic of his childhood. I’m not sure about the use of the verb eke, but I can accept it as a very creative use. I also walk down rocky, wooded hillsides all the time and I thought you captured that perfectly. One rock underfoot and you’re on the ground.
    Switching the subject, I’m trying to understand repuesto de la tabla. Got out my Spanish dictionary but what I’m coming up with is “supply of the boards.” You’re probably laughing at my ignorance of Espanol. Can you help me out? Always enjoy reading your story.
    Here’s mine: bridgesareforburning.wordpress.com/

    • Well, it’s a nom de plume and I don’t speak Spanish either! “Supply of boards” isn’t what I had in mind, but it might well be the correct translation. It’s a long story, but it was supposed to be “Spare Table.” Actually, I’m going to visit an old friend soon that speaks Spanish and I’ll try to sort it out. But whatever it is, I’m stuck with it.
      In a related aside, I kept misreading your webname as “Brides are for Burning” which carries a rather dark connotation.

  5. This is a solid piece, Carlos — I really like it because it feels so real and is so poignant.

    Also, I’m a huge Borges fan. That’s probably the best compliment I can imagine. Thank you!

    • I’m so glad. Borges is one of my cornerstone writers. I discovered him in college – a very long time ago – and he has been a model writer for me ever since. He himself greatly admired Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, which are also miraculously economical. Nothing else C-D wrote approached the Holmes stories, but he himself couldn’t see it, an interesting comment on artists’ blindness to their own work.

  6. Carlos, you’ve captured the significance of that rock to me. I’ve retreated there, have meditated over painful impossible decisions there, sit there just because and listen to the water trickle by and will return there when I’m fragile (if we get to keep this place). And that is exactly the way I feel about dying at least while living or attempting to live. No tears, but a grateful nod to someone who relates.

  7. Enchanting piece. My boys are grown now but I see them, through your story, re-living those days when they were young. They had a special creek that they loved to “fish.” I used to smile to myself because I knew there were no fish in it but it afforded them many happy hours. 🙂 Thanks for stirring the memory. Mine: http://vsta.pr/zMx9VT.

  8. Wonderful, I could see him stepping down slowly. And I liked that little aside “finding shelter from my family.” So the story is wound up, but then you notice there are a few loose threads to follow.

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