The Walk Home
Written by Paul Landis
The old man steadily
plods along. His back is bent, his sight dim,
his hair grey.
Each step takes effort as he clutches tightly
the cane that steadies
him. His feet hurt and his joints ache, yet
no complaint is spoken by
his lips. His breath rattles in his throat
and his stomach groans.
The old man stops and
his eyes look upward to the sky. He sees the
blue expanse that has beckoned and inspired
him since his youth, since
as long as he can remember. The sun feels warm
upon his face as he shuts
his eyes and remembers a memory that is so
old that it seems like a
dream that never really happened. And in his
heart, a flame begins to
The flame in his heart
is fed by a memory, the memory of a young
womanís smile. He remembers her dark eyes and
hair. He remembers the
breadth of her shoulders, her lithe, trim legs,
the way she carried
herself. But most of all, he remembers her
smile, the smile that filled
his heart with wonder and his mind with delight.
A warmth comes over
the old man. Strength, vitality begin to gush
through his veins. His step gains a spring
to it. His stride lengthens.
His shoulders square themselves with his head
lifted high. A song comes
to his lips as his face breaks out in a broad
grin. He throws his hat
into the air and yells like a banshee with
He stops to step upon
a log, dancing a jig from one end to the
other and back again. He stoops to pluck a
handful of wild flowers and
breathes deeply their sweet fragrance. Noticing
a nest in a nearby tree,
he stops to watch a young bird try to fly for
the first time. It falls
haplessly to the ground, so he gently picks
it up and places it back in
its nest. After more effort the small creature
flutters high into the
air and out of sight.
Passing by a clear
pond, he stops to skip some flat stones across
the shiny surface.
He takes off his shoes and socks, rolls up
his pant legs and wades into
the cool water as a flock of ducks noisily
scold him. Slipping upon a
slippery rock, he loses his balance and falls
backward into the water
with a splash, while chuckling to himself.
Soon he is back on his way.
The old manís gnarled
hand reaches for the door to his modest home.
Odd. His way home seemed to take no time at
all today and the details
passed in a blur. It even seemed enjoyable.
What is that tugging upon
his thoughts? Glancing up at the blue sky,
the smile that charmed him
in his youth once more passes before his eyes,
before fleeing from his
thoughts into the blessed realm of happy memories.