Title: At Day’s End
Author: Bryl R. Tyne
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Genre: contemporary, May/December, Bittersweet Dreams
Length: Short story (14 pdf pages)
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: I was impressed by the quality and the richness of this very short tale about a man at the end of his life and his bloom – of – the -youth lover.
The Blurb: Samuel’s not just feeling old, he is old, but he’s not dead… not yet. And the bright spot of his week is spying on his hot new gardener. No one knows better than he does how ridiculous it is to think a twenty-something beefcake would show any interest in a recluse like him; fifty years hasn’t changed a thing, really. Though Samuel feels a connection he can’t explain, he’s stunned beyond words one Friday morning to find the young man knocking at his back door….
The Review: This is a very short story, and yet it manages to create vivid images. The old recluse, seventy – two – years old Samuel, sits at his kitchen table, pretending to read the paper while he longingly watches the young gardener work. His longing is for more than the sweaty, dirt – streaked vigorous young body, though. Samuel muses about his life, his own long gone youth, about old hurts and missed chances. He has regrets, but no self-pity, he is sad, but not maudlin, only an old man taking stock. Samuel always had the ability to sense things others couldn’t feel – he can even hear other people’s thoughts – and Samuel senses with certainty that something important is going to happen today. So he watches, he waits, and thinks lusty thoughts about the young man. How surprised is he when the gardener not only seems to perceive his thoughts, but answers him telepathically! With a dare totally unlike him, Samuel invites the young man in.
Even though Samuel can hear Keith’s thoughts, he barely dares to believe that Keith is seriously attracted to him. But their first kiss wins Samuel over. Keith seems capable of looking past Samuels aged body, which in turn fuels Samuel with youthful virility as they engage in the best – and most meaningful – lovemaking Sam has ever experienced.
I wouldn’t call this a romance, although it’s certainly a romantic story with the affection between the two main characters palpable throughout. Romantic fiction doesn’t often feature main characters this old, particularly not lonely and bitter ones like Samuel. Still, Samuel is a strong character. It was touching to watch him make what turned out the most important decision in his life as he opens the door, and his trust, to young Keith. Although Keith is physically strong, so strong he has no problems carrying Samuel up the stairs, it’s always Samuel who calls the shots. Samuel invites Keith in, he decides what they do, when, and where. Keith makes it clear that Samuel could end everything anytime, if he wanted to, but Samuel clearly doesn’t. In the end, he takes the leap, and Keith catches him, gentle and caring, and loves him with soft caress like the water in the bathtub where Samuel asked Keith to take him.
The writing is clear, taut and precise, and exactly to the point. This story couldn’t have been longer, or it might have become tedious, and it couldn’t have been shorter, since there wasn’t a superfluous word as it is. It was just right, lovingly drawn, with an empathy for the characters that filtered down to me while reading. Sad, serious and nevertheless soothing, this was a thought provoking piece of skilled writing that will stick to my mind.