Crossroads

Use this forum to post short stories that you have written. This is for getting comments and constructive feedback. This is for original, creative works. You must post the actual text, no links.
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DATo
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Crossroads

Post by DATo »

CROSSROADS

by

DATo


This is a true story and is based upon my recollections of experiences of a time long past.

I have worked for a university for many years, and as some of you may know, campuses tend to be hectic places during a school day, but in the very early morning the campus paths are devoid of the teeming masses which later appear and despoil the mystic serenity of early-morning light and shadow. The cacophony of midday noise has not yet swelled. Birdsong trills unadulterated, heralding the dawn of another day - an avian paean of Ode To Joy, heard by only the granite block walls of ancient, wizened buildings as they sit silently in their ivy covered robes ... and me.

It had become my habit to walk the campus paths every morning in the early dawn to betake what had become for me an almost religious experience of quiet solitude wreathed in the gothic beauty that only an old campus can afford. One day I decided to embark upon my daily constitutionals earlier and during my walk, in the very center of the campus where two paths crossed, I saw an older man walking in the same direction along the diagonal path to my left. It was obvious that our paths would cross. He walked a bit ahead of me and he reached the junction some little time before I did. We looked at each other, smiled, and exchanged unspoken nods of good-morning. I mildly resented the intrusion of this bipedal infestation to my otherwise paradisiacal routine which heretofore I had only shared with the occasional rabbit or squirrel. It then occurred to me that perhaps it was I who was the interloper since I had now begun my walks earlier than on previous days.

He was of a bulky, rugged frame and one could envision him in earlier days as a football lineman or a traffic cop. His grizzled grey hair was worn in a flat top style standing straight up and looking all the world like an ashen colored lawn in serious need of mowing. He wore faded, well-worn, light blue denim jeans and coat and I thought it strangely coincidental that I wore denims as well - mine newer and dark blue by contrast befitting, I mused, our difference in years. He had a jaunty step and it was apparent from the look on his face that he shared my love of this time of day, as well as the peace, beauty and solitude of the campus in early morning. The next day I began my walk at the exact same time as I tend to be fixed in my habits and was surprised to find the same man at precisely the same place on the path relative to mine as the day before. Once again we exchanged nods of greeting and this routine was to follow for many years. Sometimes the nod would be returned with a smile and salute and sometimes with a wave but words were never exchanged. I assumed he was a maintenance worker for no professor I knew or ever heard of would be up at that time of day walking the university paths for no reason; also, his consistently worn denim attire suggested manual labor.

There comes a moment in the life of every writer when the pen stands motionless and the ink falls drop by drop upon the page: the writer sits, frustrated to describe the heart’s pain of a small boy whose dog has just died; when there can be found no words to describe the treachery of a dear friend; when there are no words in the lexicon to describe the feeling of holding his newborn child for the first time. The ineffable fascinates the perceptions, the senses and the philosophies of men. The ineffable is the genii muse which inspires, cajoles, tempts and ultimately frustrates, for there exist no words to describe the deepest feelings of the heart. Perhaps this is why we never spoke. A knowing smile was all that was necessary to convey an unspoken understanding between us - the awareness that we both were inspired by the same genii muse.

After awhile he became a part of my morning experience: a comrade who, it was apparent, shared my appreciation of the indefinable preciousness of these early morning sojourns. It became a sad day when I did not encounter my old traveling companion, and I wondered if he felt the same about not seeing me on days when I was either early or late. As time passed I saw less and less of him during my walks, and after awhile I saw him no more.

One day I picked up the local newspaper and the first thing that caught my eye was a picture of this very man. It seemed he had died and the article was about his life and accomplishments. So simple and routine was his life, so lacking in ostentatious public display that I had never known what this campus icon looked like.

I continue my morning walks, and at a sleepy crossroad each morning I smile and nod to an old friend - Howard Nemerov, Poet Laureate of the United States.


/
“I just got out of the hospital. I was in a speed reading accident. I hit a book mark and flew across the room.”
― Steven Wright
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MsH2k
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Post by MsH2k »

This was lovely.
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Kavita Shah
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Post by Kavita Shah »

Beautiful!👏👏
There's a connect without words and a comrade for many morning walks is found one morning. Wonderfully written!
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Post by Mindful Wordsmith »

Would you believe it if I said that I suspected right from the beginning that he was a writer? The way you described him instantly made me imagine him as someone who is always busy in his thoughts and elegantly puts those thoughts on paper.

And what a great story! I loved it. You are an inspiration, DATo! :tiphat:
Imagination is a good servant, and a bad master. - Agatha Christie
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DATo
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Post by DATo »

@MsH2k @Kavita Shah @Mindful Wordsmith

Thank you all for your responses and kind words. I'm happy that you liked my story. All of my short stories involve a twist ending and if this is the type of ending to a short story you like you might check out some of my other stories though I think you'd probably have to dig pretty far back for them in the history of the forum. There are a couple of other true ones, but the majority of them are fiction.

Once again, many thanks! :tiphat:
“I just got out of the hospital. I was in a speed reading accident. I hit a book mark and flew across the room.”
― Steven Wright
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Post by Ra Ka »

A beautiful story with passion and soul. The comparisons at the beginning of the story were good. Thank you for writing
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DATo
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Post by DATo »

Ra Ka wrote: 16 Oct 2021, 03:48 A beautiful story with passion and soul. The comparisons at the beginning of the story were good. Thank you for writing
@Ra Ka

Many thanks Ra Ka! I am very happy that you liked my story.
“I just got out of the hospital. I was in a speed reading accident. I hit a book mark and flew across the room.”
― Steven Wright
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