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An old man's sadness (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
“Oh God, I look so old,” said George to himself as he gazed sadly at his reflection. He placed his hand delicately on his forehead and gently pushed up the loose skin, straightening the creased wrinkles.

He chuckled, but his blue eyes ached with sorrow.

Wincing through the discomfort of his arthritic fingers, he slowly laced up the buttons of his white shirt and folded his tie into a neat knot.

Easing his arms into his blazer he longed at the framed photograph by the bedside.

He remembered it like it happened only yesterday.

That day, gliding across the hot sand, his arms entwined with his wife’s, brought such joyful memories.

George smiled, and he cupped the photograph between his hands, gently tracing around the image of his beaming wife with his finger.

A tear clouded his vision, and he blinked deliberately so that it rolled down his white cheek and dropped onto the picture.

He brushed it off and stood the frame back onto the cabinet.

Every evening before he would close his eyes and drift into sleep, he would look at this photograph and wish his wife goodnight.

It had been three years since her death, and the pain that persisted had not lessened.

Sometimes he would wake up in the quiet hours of the morning and outstretch his arm to the opposite side of the bed, trying to wrap it around his wife’s shoulders.

But then he would remember she was no longer there, and he would wake up with a startle. Sleep would be impossible to come by for the rest of the night, and George often resigned himself to tiredness and stagger downstairs, making himself a cup of tea, which he would sup in loneliness.

He could never get used to eating meals on his own either, and he longed for his wife to talk with.

George always knew his wife somehow completed him, and her death left a hollowness in his heart that could never be replaced.

Of course he had other loves in his life.

His daughter Mary filled him with happiness whenever she visited. But after the death of her mother, those visits were less frequent and briefer.

He knew why. There were just too many memories in the house, and George had insisted on leaving everything exactly as his wife had left them.

The ashtray was still beside the sunken chair she used to sit in, and her handbag still rested beneath the stool.

Her slippers, still with a firm outline of her footprints inside, laid on the carpet and her hair brush stood on the mantelpiece, underneath the large living room mirror.

But it was how George liked it.

Sometimes he could convince himself that his wife had just gone out to do some shopping and that she would soon unlatch the door and walk in, smiling broadly as she would often do.

But after three years, he was despairingly realising that that door would not open. And his wife would not be there.

George groaned as he tenderly walked down the stairs, gripping tightly onto the handrail, and hoping his creaking legs would not give way.

He made his way into the kitchen and carefully picked up the red rose he had left on the table, caressing the vibrant petals with his faint touch.

For the 33 years of marriage, he would gift his wife a rose every Tuesday to remind her of his everlasting love for her.

And even after her death every Monday he would still buy a single rose and the following day lay it down beside his wife’s grave.

Cupping it between his palms, he walked to the door and opened it, embracing the air as it whipped against his face.

The cemetery was only a 200 metre walk away, and on a sunny day it was quite a pleasurable one.

But age had stung George with ailments, and he grimaced as he hobbled to the huge iron gates.

He went slowly inside, and soon rested beside his wife’s grave.

He kneeled down and picked up the faded rose he had left the week before, and replaced it with the vibrant fresh one.

“My love, I miss you every day,” he said as his face became wet with tears.

He brushed his fingers through his wavy hair and let out a slight sob of despair.

“Why did you have to leave me alone like this? Why couldn’t you stay just a little bit longer?”

George felt a lump gather in his throat and he coughed to clear it. His mouth was thick with saliva and his heart seemed to ache dully.

But then something bright caught his blurred, teary eyes and he looked up to see a brilliantly white dove glide down and sit only a short distance ahead.

It looked so small, so beautiful that George felt a shudder of excitement pulse through his body.

Looking at the delicate dove, as it stared back into his soul, George felt suddenly alive again, as though he was adoring his wife’s spirit.

He hadn’t felt peace like it since that fateful day. And as the dove flew away he knew he would one day be with his wife again, where he would cup his hand forever in hers and embrace her lovingly.

Never to part from one another again.


WF Veterans
The good:

I like this piece much more than the shark bit. You set the stage, and build on the character as you progress, drawing the reader in more. Done well enough that his thoughts seem natural and expected. Of course it's a timeless and sweet story, but you do it justice.

The not so good:

I still have a problem with your style (maybe a personal thing), in that it's like driving down a ribbed dirt road — not jarring, but lacking a smooth, lulling flow.

Hang in there,
Lee C


WF Veterans
I liked it, but I don't understand why you have each line separated by a space. Why don't you make paragraphs?


Senior Member
Yeah, paragraphs would definitely work. Some good material in here, and I gotta say, though I found it rather much the downer, not my usual thing, it's good writing. You definitely set the mood.


Senior Member
I compare writing to chess . The opener must have a BANG . Middle game or middle story must have good dialogue, and the winning end game is by writing and rewriting . Print fix rewrite. Print fix rewrite .


Senior Member
Great voice and pacing. The writing is tight and still has all the emotions. The ending was my least favorite part though. The shift in his mood there felt a little too quick after the slow methodical buildup in the beginning/middle.


I am, right now, scolding myself for reading this. Simply because, I lost my grandmother a little over one year ago and this reminds me so much of my grandfather and how he has been since her passing. It hit home — I love when writing can do that to its reader and you certainly managed to pass over that kind of emotion. Though brief in its length, it spoke volumes of how one must feel when they lose someone so dear to them. As mentioned, with it reminding me so much of someone close to me and how I see him nearly every other day, so down and out and lacking any kind of joy in life, I found this a beautiful piece. It touched me and I'm sure others will agree. Death is such a tragic thing and though we may never understand fully unless we experience such trauma ourselves, we can, somehow, piece together every distraught action, be it verbal or physical and in a way, for further advanced knowledge on how the majority respond and how they manage to cope. I feel so, so sad for George :sad:


Senior Member
I compare writing to chess . The opener must have a BANG . Middle game or middle story must have good dialogue, and the winning end game is by writing and rewriting . Print fix rewrite. Print fix rewrite .

I think it depends on the genre. If it's about the story then yes, you need to open strong. But a lot of literary fiction starts off slow.If it's about character and not plot, then you're dealing with a more patient reader.

I mean, look at Raymond Carver. His stories for the most part start off slow. They end with a bang though.


WF Veterans
You know, even with just the second sentence, I already have a character, face and sentiment, mood, already set. He "longed" sounds like it should be something like "gazed wistfully". I'm not sure what "hot sand" is. That could use a bit of explanation, maybe?

The photo. Oh, this is so sad. :sad: I love the details of this man's love for his wife, the lifestyle that he leads which is all too common. I can imply that by keeping everything as it was that he expects her to come back, so maybe that part could be toned down a bit.

The air "whipped" part puts a harsh reality to life, that life never stops being harsh and will continue even when those who we love pass. I think that is why this is so impactful. We can only compare our losses to other losses, to lost expectations; but nothing is similar to losing one's wife. And for people like me who haven't lost those closest to them, this is necessary drama.

By the "But age" bit, I'm starting to feel a bit frustrated that this character is so old, that he can't help himself, like a baby, a twychild. This is quickly replaced by the fact that, yes, he can do something. The roses! He can celebrate his wife's memory! "Sob of despair" seems a bit melodramatic. I'm thinking, "Yes, nature always has to be beautiful and productive or else it dies. It has to be fit and agile." That is the hope for a new journey for our main character. Maybe he'll get into bird-keeping, who knows? I think the ending is good, but I think you could have described the dove just a little bit more. :)

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