Story Contest 2018 #1 - Outstanding Stories (Senior) »

An Ember In The Ashes

“An Ember In The Ashes” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Akshitha Upadyayula, Future Kids School, India.

An Ember In The Ashes

A hiss escaped the old fireplace as the dull, dying embers sputtered, noiselessly. The sparks offered no warmth or the fire any light, yet they reflected in the old man's clear blue eyes and transformed into a dancing orchestra as his eyes crinkled merrily.

As he sat on his rocking chair, smiling at the flurry of clouds racing above him a little knock came at his door, and his pretty little granddaughter raced in. Breathlessly she told him gaily of the morning's events. He told her of how he had just come back from a visit to the newly built Eiffel Tower and his journey to the islands in the vast Pacific Ocean. He told her of how he would travel next to the peaks of Mount Everest. Time passed as they filled the room with the echoes of their thoughts when an old orient wrist watch set in a plate of gold chimed loudly as it signaled the arrival of noon.... The girl chattered on as the old man eased himself out of the chair and with a smile at her antics walked over to the kitchen. He fixed himself a cup of piping hot chocolate, and savored it lusciously with a stroll in the garden under the towering tree outdoors.

Days passed as grandfather and grandchild spoke merrily of everything under the sun. One day she came in holding a book covered with dust ominously titled ' Death's Shadow.’ Her eyes wide she asked her granddad, “You sit in this chair and chat with me about all the books you read and you tell me of your day and many wonderful things, so it seems we are nothing less than best friends.” Yet I had to wonder ...does death not scare you? Already my friends and I wonder when the day will come. For it is unpredictable and we, unassuming. Does it not scare you, the uncertainty? “The old man replied simply...."No, for I keep time." Just then his wristwatch chimed to tell noon. Puzzled she left the room returning with his noonly cup of hot chocolate wondering what her granddad could mean.

Weeks passed as her time with her granddad grew frequent and his ramblings increased. One day he accompanied her on her fortnightly ice cream charade. As she relished her ice lolly he went into the shop next door, a boutique and stepped out with an enormous blooming rose bouquet ringing the bell with a soft smile. As she licked the last of her ice lolly she mischievously asked him whom the rose was for and with a loving smile he said.... "For me of course”. Whatever on earth for? “She asked baffled.....' "My dear, I do believe it's time to walk down memory lane”, he said as his wristwatch chimed.

The next day , as her granddad geared up for his daily walk she gazed out the window, her cheeks red from raking the old couple's yard across town and she was surprised to see the dead tree in their yard blooming and there, under it her granddad, heartily smiling and collecting the pristine white flowers that gracefully fell. Unable to comprehend how that tree bloomed in autumn she ran to her granddad who replied “It’s time, my dear, so the dull dreary branches left."

The next day as she walked through the hallway carrying her granddad’s hot chocolate she was thinking of her granddad’s beautiful watch and how he had stumbled across it in a garage sale and bought it with his own money at the age of ten. Since then he had never taken it off and somehow, miraculously, in all those years it had never failed to chime. Whistling she opened the door to find the fire blazing in the hearth and was rather surprised, for her granddad’s watch had not chimed., looking over she saw her grandfather's watch on the table next to him and his eyes closed with a serene smile on his face.....along with a note saying "There is no need to fear death, embrace it and wear it, and only then my dear it will tell you when it’s time".