Doorway of No Return

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Photo credit: Rablem22 at Flickr

Kawali squeezed into the palm’s meager shade, staring across the bright street at the door.  It looked the same.  More weathered, like himself.  He tried to brush the road from his legs, but the dirt was a part of him now.

He had no idea if Azal still lived there.

How young had he been, to expect he could make his fortune so quickly?  To promise her such success?  To leave her laughing eyes, for even a day?

Failure is a tumble down a slow slope. A snagged foot becomes a stumble becomes a slide.

Kawali was returning with less than before, with nothing gained except scars.

Failure is a weakening of the will, a shaking of the knees, an aging of the heart.   Each step not taken feeds the fear, until the feared-for result is inevitable, burned onto the soles of his feet.

What if she’d fallen ill, and he was not here to help?   What if she’d gotten sick of waiting and married someone else?

Failure is a series of doors, entered for the wrong reasons, knocking where he didn’t belong. Locking him out, or locking him in.

Kawali pulled his sand-cowl over his face, and limped away.

Word count: 200.  Written for this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge.  Big thanks to Al Forbes for hosting, and to J. Hardy Carroll for providing the original photo prompt, below.  Click on the link to read the other stories written for this challenge, or to add your own!


Photo © J. Hardy Carroll

14 thoughts on “Doorway of No Return

  1. Great descriptions of what failure is. I think you nailed it on the head. I felt for Kawali. I’ve been on such a muddy slope before too. Perhaps now he feels he cannot return? He should try, but I would understand him if he felt he couldn’t. A brilliant characterization.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are many ways to fail, and I think Kawali is ashamed not only that he didn’t make his fortune, but at the decisions he made along the way, and how he let fear keep him from better choices, including the choice to stay away so long that he feels it’s too late.

      Glad you enjoyed it — thanks for the great comment, Eric!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, indeed — I think Kawali is so afraid to learn that she didn’t wait for him, or that she will be disappointed in his failure, that he can’t even bear to knock on the door to find out. Thanks for commenting, James!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I do enjoy coming up with a good last line. 🙂 Yes, it turns out there are many different ways to fail, and Kawali seems to have tried several of them, including not quitting when he was behind, and most especially, not returning to his lady love to admit his failure earlier, when it wouldn’t have been nearly as shameful as it is now that he’s basically abandoned her for who knows how long. Thanks for your comment, C!

      Liked by 1 person

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