The Gift by Jane V. Adams

Long listed for the WRITE ABOUT WALKING AND LISTENING competition run in July & August 2021

I’ve lived to a good age. That’s according to Sally, my home-help (lovely lass, pink hair, large tawny owl tattoo on her neck). Considering I’m a grumpy old whatshisname, she’s got the… what do they call it nowadays? knack? when it comes to chivvying me along. I’ve lived too long.

Another regret? I wish I could hear. Sally writes stuff down or mouths words, we manage, but I miss not hearing. The birds mostly. I miss hearing the birds.

This morning Sally’s acting like a demented fairy, skipping round me in her hobnail boots. She’s attached something to my wrist and is mouthing ‘feel’ and ‘birds,’ whilst madly flapping her arms. Daft apeth!

These days we only walk in the garden, since the falling incident when that whippersnapper of a van driver helped me home. It was an uneven curb, not even my fault. I told everyone that at the time.

Sally has guided me outside, and this watch-thing has started vibrating as we walk towards the shed. The vibrations keep changing. One, two, three, four. A pause, then four more slightly longer. We walk along the herbaceous border. Here, there’s one continuous vibration that pulses right through my bones.

“A wren?” I whisper. She nods, grinning. “Before that?” I wrack my brain, “a song thrush?” Another nod.

I’m stunned, I can’t take my eyes off this gadget that’s helping me hear the birds for the first time in years. I glance over at Sally.

“Happy Birthday,” she mouths.


Itching to write something yourself? Submit a piece to our Shorelines project, and invite your friends to read it aloud, for a chance to win a prize. Join one of our creative writing workshops or keep up to date with all our competitions by signing up to our curated newsletter here.

Read more from the Long List of stories submitted to the WRITE ABOUT WALKING & LISTENING competition. Listen to winning authors read their work at a showcase event on Sunday 26 September 2021 book here.

Buy WALKING – the limited edition illustrated chapbook anthology of 15 poems and stories inspired by walking and listening €4.50 + p&p

All proceeds go to support future Sound Walk Septembers

Jane V Adams

Jane V Adams

United Kingdom

Naturalist, photographer and nature writer living in Dorset. My writing has appeared in books, magazines, anthologies and blogs including BBC Countryfile Magazine and BBC Wildlife Magazine. When I'm not exploring Dorset’s lanes and countryside I can be f...

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