The Slow Journey - REVISION

Leaves crunch underfoot. A damp, earthy scent penetrates the air. Hazy and cold. Another October morning. The path winds through the trees. Red brick. Broken and worn. A soft tap, tap, tap, tap interrupts the quite morning -- the old man’s shoes. Not walking shoes, but what he wears to walk. The rusty gate squeaks behind them. Opening and closing. Opening and closing. The latch long ago broken. The wind, damp and blustery. The two men pull their coats tighter. The old man walks a pace behind. The other struggles to walk slower. They don’t speak. Their breathe hangs in the heavy air. And disappears.

Beyond the trees sunlight warms the path. A few blades of grass poke through. Here and there. Brown and withered. Mostly dirt surrounds the broken edges of worn bricks. The old man breathes louder. Harder. They walk slower. The younger man watches the older one. He offers his arm. The old man turns it down. The path curves and disappears. Bricks give way to dirt. The tap, tap, tap, tap of the old man’s shoes is muffled. He shuffles on the dirt path. Leaves rustle in the thick brush -- a Fox Sparrow scratching for spiders and grub. Startled, it flies off, whistling loudly at the two men. Their presence interrupting its morning meal. The old man watches it disappear.

Just ahead a lake. A small lake. Its surface veiled by morning mist. Milky white. Wispy. The edges of the trees blur. The dirt path loops around the lake. Curves. Disappears into the haze. A stone bench sits by the lake. Grey. Weathered. Cracks run down the legs into the ground. The old man stops here. He slowly lowers himself onto the bench. The younger man stands for a moment. Stares at the mist over the lake. The old man nods off to sleep. His head bowed to his chest. The younger one joins him on the bench. The sound of the Fox Sparrow in the distance. It whistles. And disappears.

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