The Old Man and the Ice

by | Nov 25, 2011 | Creative Writing, Short Stories | 0 comments

Lynmouth East Lyn river April 2006 Harry sat on a stone wall at the side of the river Lyn, remembering the first time he had sat here.  It had been August 1952, just before the devastating floods. That was over half a century ago, when he was on honeymoon with his beloved wife, Sally.

Years later, they decided to brave the return to their honeymoon village, and had taken their caravan to a nearby site. They had spent several lovely days exploring Exmoor, putting off the day to return to the scene of the flood that they had so luckily escaped from long ago. They were not sure how they would feel when they saw Lynmouth again, or if the dreadful nightmares they had for years would return to haunt them. However, when they finally saw the transformation of the village, they were charmed by the pretty shopping street nestling amongst the quaint little cottages. The harbour was full of gently bobbing boats again, seagulls were crooning their usual tunes, the shallow river was babbling along over the pebbles, and little dippers were darting about in the glistening spray. It was a magical place again, and more reminiscent of the haven they had enjoyed on the first few days of their honeymoon. The ghosts of the past laid to rest, they had returned to visit many times since then.

Now Harry shivered, pulled up his coat collar, wrapped his muffler closer around his face and pulled down his hat further. He arose from his seat on the wall to walk tentatively around the icy village. The holiday season over, none of the little shops were open. The sea was grey and hostile. Giant waves were crashing angrily over the rocks. Harry sighed sadly, turned inland and followed the path alongside the river which was a dark raging torrent now. He remembered how it had been like this the day before the flood. There were no little dippers darting about in the shallows today, no peaceful babbling from the stream.  This swollen river was livid. January is a grim month out here. Harry would not have been here but for Sally’s dying wish three weeks ago, that her ashes should be scattered in the river Lyn, from the little bridge near their honeymoon cottage.

Harry took out her casket and kissed it, remembering how happy they had always been together. His life was nothing now she was gone. He stood on the bridge and gently sprinkled her ashes into the river below, softly whispering farewell to the love of his life. He imagined that he heard her gentle voice call “Harry”, or was it the wind? Tears streaming down his cheeks he started back towards the village. Snuggling down into his muffler again, he took off his misted glasses to wipe them, oblivious of the frozen puddle on the riverbank. As he slipped on the sheet of ice he cried “Sally!” and then as his head smashed down onto the stone wall, with his dying breath he gasped “Sally, my love, I’m here”. 
N.B.This work is entirely fictional, and was written by me as homework for my Creative Writing Group – a short story of about 500 words called “The Old Man and the Ice”.