A Very Long Walk

[a short story by Sha’Tara]

It was another cool, crisp and clear late Autumn afternoon, the kind Krista loved to go walking in. She followed the riding trail down to the edge of the Maskua river as it meandered through the low lying lands of this agricultural community. As she walked she noticed the oaks and maples had less leaves on them and the colours were reluctantly fading. Denuded tops allowed lopsided windows into a pale, clear, blue sky.

Many thoughts flowed through her mind. She knew she had it good as her home-based business only required a few hours a day to keep going and she enjoyed it. The two children, Toby, now thirteen, was in Middle school and Trina was finishing her high school. Both children were quiet as a rule and caused her little problems. Both were somewhat introverted and had few close friends, something she did not mind at all.

Her thoughts turned to her husband Dan on his last year of duty in Afghanistan. One short moment of trepidation, then she reasserted herself. He would be coming back, of that she was certain. She had vowed to herself never to dwell on the possibility that he could become a casualty of war. ‘Not in my reality’ she said often with total conviction. ‘Do you still love him?’ a small, nasty little inner voice taunted. ‘With all my heart and soul’ she replied truthfully. Krista, though still very attractive and not without admirers and opportunities, was the completely faithful partner. She would never stray.

She carefully skirted the muddy pools that remained in the trail all winter in the shadier spots and kept walking. She heard crows cawing but not using the excited voices when discovering a sleepy great horned owl or a red-tailed hawk. She heard ducks and geese on the river but could not sight the stream yet. There was much brush where she passed and one more little rise before she could see the meandering river reflecting the blue sky from shore to shore.

She saw a page from a note book crumpled and stuck in some blackberry brambles. She thought of reaching for it but decided against it. ‘Whatever is written on there, none of my business,’ she said to herself and kept walking. You could say she was observant but not overly curious.

She saw something else in another tangle, a grey and blue baseball cap. ‘That’s a team cap from Trina’s high school! Must have flown off a rider’s head or been brushed off by a low-lying branch and the owner chose not to come back for it. Oh well… her or his loss. Maybe they’ll come back for it later.’

She had topped the rise then and saw the river. She stopped to admire it – her favourite place in the entire walk. She had had many a good mother to daughter talk with Trina on this spot. The current was sluggish now and reflections of dark spruce and bare poplars cast mesmerizing shadows in the waters of the far bank. She moved her head slowly to the movements of the inverted tree dance trying to find a tune in her head to go with it.

Something unusual brought her to look closer to her side of the river. There was a piece of cloth floating down there, of blue and white coloration. It looked like it was caught on a branch. This time her curiosity was aroused and she worked her way to the edge of the water for a better look.

That’s when she realized she wasn’t looking at a piece of cloth but at the body of a drowned person. She saw long hair floating off from the submerged head and a white hand bobbing in and out from the surface. She gave a gasp, but instead of screaming as she wanted to do, she plunged into the stream and waded in the freezing water that came to her breasts by the time she reached the body of a young woman.

She tugged and pulled and finally untangled the body and dragged it to the shore, turning it over to look into its face…

“Oh God, Trina! What have you done? I told you he wasn’t worth it! You promised me it was over.”

19 thoughts on “A Very Long Walk

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thank you, Regis, for that nice comment. I was ‘in a mood’ as I wandered the dark side of my mind these last few days. I won’t admit to depression as I insist I won’t go there – I’ve seen what that can do with my own eyes – but I was definitely walking the edge of this “alien nation.”

  1. franklparker

    Nice one – it never does to be too complacent, does it? And now the recriminations start, the “if only”s and “Why didn’t I”s. She will go over all those “mother and daughter talks” in her head trying to figure what she could have said that might have changed her daughter’s mind. It’s what remains unwritten in excellent stories like this one that give them their power!

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      OK, OK, down Ego, down boy! “Excellent story like this one” – I didn’t miss that comment… but you got that right. Put this into a real life story and the mother’s recriminations would be endless (hence the title). Thanks for the kudos.

  2. Woebegone but Hopeful

    Very powerful and timely reminder of Life’s many facets. Well written Sha’ Tara

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thank you, Roger. These “snippets” of longer, perhaps endless stories have taught me that I am not a writer, I’m a story teller! Hence why I have little or no interest in “publishing” since once the troubadour tells her/his tale, a new tale must take its place. These days story tellers must make use of technology to “hear” their tales told. We can no longer entertain mothers and children at the fair, nor keep the lords and lydies amused or pondering ideas in the main hall of their stone castles. Not that I miss the old ways, it wasn’t all romance… you slept in dry straw and if you were lucky you could draw up to a fire and eat left overs if the dogs didn’t beat you to them. More often than not you bundled up, shivering, under a hollow log and listened to the rain fall. You went hungry, tightening your belt if you owned a belt. There was also the very real risk of offending one of the more powerful nobility and you could be facing a deadly sword, a noose, or a very long time in a dungeon. The way journalists are being treated today, I’m a-wondrin’ if we aren’t returning to those crude and bloody times.

      1. Woebegone but Hopeful

        Last point first Sha’ Tara. There is a constant battle against the mean, venal and hate-mongers. A feature of History. There is no place for complacency.
        Secondly, troubadours. Songs and tales were passed on my word of mouth and once printing was in full swing many was the pamphlet in circulations.
        Thus there is nothing wrong with Troubadour Sha’ Tara collecting their tales together. In Europe we are cheerfully neck deep in them for ages past!
        Strive on you troubadours!

    2. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thank you Roger. Next chance I get, I’ll have you, Frank, Regis and a few others to the pub for a well deserved beer. We serve them cold here in Canada, and not much froth on top as a result. Hope that’s OK. Of course there’s always the option of going into some deep discussion and letting the beers come up to room temp naturally… I noticed recently that I don’t mind my beer at room temp now. Am I evolving, and if so, into what? Scary thought! ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Woebegone but Hopeful

        Enjoy your beers!! I’ll be the one who says ‘No thanks. Can I have a lemonade?’ (and as Bob Hope said in ‘Paleface’….’In a dirty glass!’)

  3. sherazade

    cara Sha ‘Tara
    La brava casalinga la moglie amorevole la madre apprensiva Eppure tutto questo non basta la guerra รจ difficile da governare e i propri figli non smetteranno mai di sorprendere.
    Tantissim sentimentii contrapposti scivolano col fiume.

  4. adamspiritualwarrior

    Hi Shatara. I remember reading somewhere you quit working for the Mennonite housebuilding charity but cant remember why. The organisation will be poorer without you im sure. Those housebuilding photos, it was all so impressive. Are you still building for people with destroyed homes in another capacity outlet? X

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for commenting. I have returned to doing what needs doing on my own. The paying jobs provide $$$ for those that need doing where there is no money. The organized reconstruction, after careful evaluation, was not as legitimate as I was told it was, or as I thought at first. Apart from the massive overdose of religion, it became obvious that “believers” were the ones getting the lion’s share of available resources and volunteer people-power. Much of the work I did, I found out, was farmed out to Christian believers, in many cases, retired or working Christian pastors, etc. Heavy bias, which is fine as long as it’s from Christians to Christians, but is not when the claim is that there is no discrimination. Some would probably say I am being hyper-critical, but I expected a level playing field, and since when has that happened within the confines of organized religions? So that’s it for me, as far as participating voluntarily with any Christian – any religious – organization. Veni, vici… exit!

      1. adamspiritualwarrior

        Hi yes I can see your train of thought logic here and I agree.

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