Descriptive Writing: The Path

Hi there! Please enjoy this little extract of descriptive writing.


A gust of wind rattled through the bare branches that hung low over the path ahead, picking up dead leaves that cavorted in spirals before lying still again on the silent path. The tree trunks creaked and groaned, settling back into their ancient roots as the dust paused for a moment in the air.

It was utterly still.

Just for a moment – or was it longer? An hour, a day, a year. A decade of silence and stillness in the empty moment after the wind, oppressive in its lack of movement, lack of sound.

Do the crickets buzz? Or the cicadas, an angry sweltering of noise on the edge of your sense – you reassure yourself that there must be insects here, in the harsh summer sun that beats down upon you from the beige sky above, an empty expanse, devoid of comfort, or of colour. A single black speck hangs over the horizon; surely it is a bird – but you are not sure. You know better than to stare.

The grey trees stretch as far as you can see to either side of the path, their branches clawing at the sky, stretched out stiffly with only a few withered leaves. You cannot remember the last time it rained in this place – or the last cloud you saw in the sky. You know better than to try.

There is dust on your face, on your hands, in the very air you breathe. Coating you, permeating all, sticking to every inch of your skin in a layer of dry dirt. Everyone you have ever seen, in the old towns, trying to pick up a day of work before you’re off again, has been covered in it. Never stay long, never say much. Avoid eye contact at all costs. Keep moving. It’ll keep you sane, but you know better than to think that it will keep you safe.

Your bare feet scrape against the rocky path. The heat presses down against your back, the sun’s rays weighing on your head and shoulders, keeping your eyes low on the ground as you struggle on down the Path. You mustn’t stop. You don’t know how long you have been walking. But you know better than to question it.

You pause, taking a mouthful more of dust than water, and glance at the sky. The dark smudge in the distance seems larger. You walk on in the blanket of silence, insufferable stillness; there has never been wind here. As you walk, you feel ever hair on the back of your neck stand up, one by one by one. Sweat turns cold as it slowly trickles down your spine. An impossible shadow is expanding up the path, but there are no clouds – there are never any clouds. The dust whirls frantically towards you as you drop down to the scorching ground. You feel the shadow pass over you, cooling the sweat that pools in the small of your back. The cool is not refreshing. It does not soothe you. It does not – does not comfort you.

Do not look up.

Do not speak.

Do not, do not move.

Then maybe – maybe perhaps you will be spared.

You lie still. You can feel the fingers of the darkness that slide over your skin, pale as death. Tracing you in shadows and in despair. You hold your breath as the shadow passes, feeling every muscle locked in place, clenched tightly, holding you still with fear. Warmth returns; and then heat, dry, dusty, suffocatingly still. You relax. Take a deep breath. And lift your head.

Too soon.

It smiles at you.

4 thoughts on “Descriptive Writing: The Path

  1. Very interesting. What technic or approach to description did you have in this piece? I really like the repetition : Do not, do not… it serves to emphasise the stressful situation in which the character finds himself/herself. Great work on the description! You built up the tension well in a short amount of time for the climax at the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! Mainly I was just trying to make it really creepy and concentrate on showing the emotion rather than just saying “you’re scared”. Tension was also something I was trying to create so I’m glad you found it so! Xx

      Liked by 1 person

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