The End of the Day  

By Lefkothea Beletsi

         The old man plodded through the night carrying the dead body of 
his dog.  He was frail and he staggered under the weight, but kept walking 
all the same.  There was no moon to guide him down the winding path to the 
sea, no flicker of light on a troubled sky that was frowning with impending 
storm, but then none was needed.  With practised care the man trudged 
along, avoiding the prickly bushes that fringed his way, his footsteps 
crunching on the soft ground, thick with brittle twigs and dried pine 
needles.  He found the noise comforting, that sharp repeated crackle of 
life holding its own against the stillness.
         He felt the throb of the sea before the heavy scent of resin gave 
way to the tang of the onshore breeze.  He was close now, but had not 
realised how close, when a sliver of moon peeked through the foliage 
overhead and everything around him trembled in a fitful silver glow.  A few 
more steps and he would have missed her, he would have failed her.  As 
always, the sight of her pale face framed with fiercely red hair, smoothed 
away his pain.  She sat on the swing he had made for her, one hand clasping 
the rope, the other resting protectively on the gentle bulge of her 
belly.  She barely smiled, but he could have sworn there was bright 
laughter in the depths of her eyes.
         "Sweetheart," he muttered, aching to share his grief, "Wolf is dead."
         As if those plain words had the potency of a magic spell, her 
image rippled into the amorphous darkness of the woods, but not before he 
saw her eyes, drained now of all emotion, assume the expressionless, vacant 
resignation that haunts the faces of the long-dead in old photographs.  And 
then, as suddenly as she had been summoned by his will to relive the past, 
she was gone.
         He cursed himself.  How could he have been so stupid?  She had 
never known Wolf, the sea had already taken her.  It was the element of 
time, the temporal perspective of inexorable fact stored away in caskets of 
treasured memories, that had so harshly exposed his fantasy for what it 
was, condemning him to acknowledge the present as his one and only version 
of reality.
         The man laid his lifeless friend down at the roots of the tree, 
careful, as he pulled himself up, not to brush against the rope that hung 
limply, frayed and discoloured by the breath of the sea.  He picked up the 
shovel he had left there the day before, when hope had surrendered to the 
anticipation of the inevitable.  The metal blade struck, bit into the 
earth.  And the earth opened up, avid to receive the offering.
         Thunder boomed in the distance and a gust of wind breathed life 
into the night.  The man kept digging, aware of the swirl of associations 
that approached him, embraced him, possessed him.  The soft murmur of the 
waves rose to a groan that engulfed his agony as he was stabbed by the 
memory of her face, its pallor smudged by the bruises of drowning.
         On that same shore, where he had mourned for a newborn love and an 
unborn one, just a few feet away from where he stood and toiled, close on 
twenty years ago, he had found a new friend, or rather, a friend had found 
him.  The abandoned puppy, drenched and shivering with cold and fright, had 
come up to him and eyed him with lugubrious expectation.  A tangle of 
seaweed had covered one side of its head, right down to the eye, and for an 
instant the man, letting his sense of whimsy slip through a crack of his 
apathy, had pictured it as a pirate's eye-patch.
         "You are quite a sea-wolf, aren't you?" he had chuckled.  And had 
welcomed the creature in his life, so that he would not have to be alone again.
         He was done now.  He placed a pine cone on the inconspicuous mound 
of earth to mark closure.
         "Fetch," he whispered.
         When the first thick drops fell, he was standing there still.
         Resolutely, the old man walked down the shore, towards the 
summoning waves.

Lefkothea Beletsi was born in the shadow of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. She holds a BA in Classical Philology & General Linguistics from the University of Athens. She recently moved to the US. Lefkothea writes short stories, poetry, and screenplays

Contact Lefkothea Beletsi at:

March 28, 2002
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