The Canal

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
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A man comes back to the village after a long time away and realizes that there is no place like home.

Submitted: May 06, 2017

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Submitted: May 06, 2017

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The Canal

Twenty-two kilometers south of town, there was a fisherman village that stood along both sides of a canal. The canal was long and runny, and it eventually merged with the sea. Over the canal, there was a high arch bridge connecting both sides of the village. The bridge had been in the village for a long, long time. The village was a community of mixed cultures, Islam and Buddhism. On the far bank of the canal, a mosque and a temple stood side by side, and the villagers of both faiths had lived along the canal peacefully together for hundreds of years. The canal was their lifeline, for it was the only way to the sea.

A man, smoking a cigarette, stood on the high arch bridge looking down at the canal. There were fishing boats, big and small, on both sides. The afternoon sun was behind him, so he could also see his mirror image in the canal amid the fishing boats. As the water ran underneath him, he remembered playing on the bridge as a child. It had been so long ago. Everything along the canal seemed the same, but it was not. Many young men had left the village for bigger dream and better life than being fishermen. Now there were mostly just women, elders, and children in the village.  He had also been away, leaving his dream of being a fisherman like his father behind, to look for a better life of becoming an artist in the city. But like most young men, life took a wrong turn, and his dream of being a star turned into a nightmare. Now he was broke and addicted to drugs. He had come back to the village to see his father. Maybe he would have some money for him. His mother passed away when he was just a baby.

He felt hungry but could not eat much, and it had been hard for him to sleep. He felt tired all the time. The last amphetamine tablet in his shirt pocket was calling out for him.

A boy and a little girl ran up the bridge and stop where he stood. They looked at him and gave a curious smile.

“Hi there,” he said to them.

“Hi,” the boy replied and asked “Who are you?”

“Well, I used to live here, and I used to play on this bridge just like you and your sister,” the man said to the boy.

“You mean the bridge has been here since you were a boy?”

“Sure. It has been here for a long, long time.”

“Why did you come back?” asked the boy.

“I don’t know. I mean I guess to visit my father.”

“Oh,” the boy said, not understanding.

“How old are you and your sister?” the man said.

“I’m six, and she’s four.”

While the man and the boy were talking, the little girl wandered off and fell from the bridge into the canal. The boy heard the splash and screamed for his sister. The man looked down and saw the little girl kicking and gagging under his own reflection in the water. It was as if he was standing right on top of the drowning girl. The water in the canal was not deep, but it was deep enough to swallow her. To the man, everything was happening in slow motion, the boy screaming for his little sister, and the little girl struggling for her life.

Instinctively, the man ran down the bridge and jumped into the canal from the shore by the foot of the bridge. The water came up to his chest. He swam to the dying girl, grabbed her, and pulled her out of the water. He carried her on his shoulder and walked back to the shore. The villagers who heard the scream of the boy ran to the bridge. They saw the man place the motionless body of the little girl on the shore. They came to help. The little girl finally came back to life. She would be alright.

The man stood quietly. The amphetamine tablet in his shirt pocket was lost in the canal, but he did not care; he had just saved a life. This made him think of his own life and why he came back to the village. He started walking to his father’s house. As the call to prayer from the mosque sounded, he knew his life and dream had always been here in the canal that lead to the sea.

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The End

 

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2017 Andy K.. All rights reserved.

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