The Final Visit. Short Story.

As I said previously, I am reading The Shining, it’s really good so far, not a lot has happened but the book certainly builds up a creepy atmosphere. It’s a slow build up, but it is really good. Also reading Game of Thrones, it’s good but strange, I don’t know how I feel about the changing character focus with each chapter. It’s unusual, but so far it hasn’t caused me to put the book down. My only hope is that is doesn’t end on a complete cliff hanger.

A book I read recently, Hyperion by Dan Simmons (which was really good) ends on the worst kind of cliff hanger. The entire book is a build up of this one moment and just as the moment is about to commence, it ends. That pissed me off, but I still really want to read the second book. It would have been worse if there was no sequel, but it does present a problem when the book isn’t readily available from bookshops.

Anyway, on with the show!


The Final Visit.

The rain fell slowly at first, almost sullenly, before deciding to unleash itself. The old grey tree bore the rain in stoic silence, its branches neither creaking nor cracking, the only noise the rains beating a steady, sulky rhythm on the bark. Droplets formed, balanced for a second then fell heavily to the ground, twisting into crystal orbs before shattering. The tree seemed enlivened by the rain, its bark a dusty grey, took new glowing life, painted a rich glossy brown.

The water that soaked through the ground to its roots was greedily drunk, providing sustenance. The air around the tree picked up its scent, both old and new, ancient and alive. The wind began slowly but grew in strength quickly, invisible fingers tearing and clawing at the old tree which broke its dignified silence to shudder and groan. Around it, the weather raged but it would outlast it, it always had.

Tiny pools of water were forming in the crags and crevasses of the bark, thick muddy puddles forming at the base. It was cold but soon the sun would return and with it all the creatures that trundled up and down the bark, scurrying about their business. The sun would warm the bark and dry the rain.

In the distance the sound of rain splattering against an umbrella could be heard moving steadily closer, accompanied by the squelching of mud. The wind died down, leaving nothing but the rain and the tree which fell to silence once more and watched. Nature slowed and calmed, holding her breath for she, like the tree, could sense something was about to happen.

The stranger approached the tree and raised one gloved hand, placing gently on the bark. The tree seemed to shudder slightly, its branches whispering. “Hello old friend.” the strangers voice was old and smooth, each word carefully and evenly pronounced. “it’s been a long time and for that I apologise.” the leather clad hand whispered over the trunk, the tree seeming to bend with each caress. “I hope you are happy here, that you have had time to think. Perhaps you have come to a decision, though that does not concern me. That is between you and the collector. There is so much you have missed. Some of it bad but most good. I am sorry, sorry that you must live like this but I stand by what happened.” The stranger leaned forward and placed his forehead against the cool wet bark. “This will be my last visit. You know I cannot come back. I hope that someday you will forgive me, though I do not deserve it. You were always far more forgiving than I.”

Slowly the stranger stepped back and, after one last caress, he turned and left the tree, never pausing to look back. The tree watched him go and, once he was out of site, the tree began to shake though not a breath of wind blew. the vibration dislodged the rain drops, causing them to fall down its trunk like tears. In the depths of the tree there was an almighty crack that echoed through the clearing, sending startled birds cawing into flight. The branches seemed to droop as a high, thin keening filled the air. The rain began to cease its attack, turning away, respectfully allowing the tree to mourn in private.


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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