PC059: On the Banks of the River of Heaven

by Richard Parks.
Read by Barry Deutsch.

On the seventh day of the seventh month as it had for the previous two years, it rained.  And it rained.  The cranes still came at Kaiboshi’s bidding to stand by the shore and form the base of the bridge.  Next came the geese and the ducks and other waterfowl, who fared well enough creating the platform and first few degrees of arc for the bridge.  After that, however, came the hawks and crows and sparrows and smaller birds, and the rain beat down on them incessantly, and their wings became sodden and would no longer support them and a bridge, too.  The cranes held on gamely as the river swelled into flood, but their skinny legs began to tremble.  Kaiboshi reluctantly concluded that the enterprise was doomed, and he dismissed the birds with thanks rather than risk seeing them fall in the river after the inevitable collapse.

Three years now the rains had come on the appointed day.  For three years the Bridge of Birds that was his only way to cross the Celestial River had been unable to form.  Kaiboshi began to wonder if he was cursed, but more he wondered if Asago-hime had started to forget him.  He sat down on the banks of the river and let the rising waters chill his feet as he indulged in a bout of melancholy, since he knew of nothing else he could do.

“Three years is a long time to be apart from the one you love,” he said aloud.  “Even for an immortal.”

Rated PG. Contains anthropomorphization, fish, and stars.

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10 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Travis said,

    July 1, 2009 @ 11:08 am

    “Error opening file” appears when I try to play this episode, and I cannot download it either. Just have to check back later, apparently. Hopefully it will get fixed soon, podcastle stories help me get through the dreary, mundane work week!

  2. 2

    Travis said,

    July 2, 2009 @ 1:12 pm

    Post seems fine now. Another great story, thanks!!

  3. 3

    The Great Geek Manual » Geek Media Round-Up: June 2, 2009 said,

    July 2, 2009 @ 2:03 pm

    […] Free Fiction: Listen to “On the Banks of the River of Heaven” by Richard Parks. […]

  4. 4

    scatterbrain said,

    July 2, 2009 @ 6:14 pm

    Ah, another Oriental fable. A good listen, but whether I’ll remember it in time to come is another subject.

  5. 5

    Rich G. said,

    July 3, 2009 @ 6:08 pm

    I never comment, but had to. I even remembered to come here after listening to it in the car so that says something. I loved this story. It was wonderfully well written and I will listen to it again. Very nicely done. I think this is the first Oriental fable I’ve heard on here, but I’m relatively new so I’ll have to go looking for others. Perhaps I’m just a sucker for the mythos after all.

    Thanks again, very fun story and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.

  6. 6

    BingoRage said,

    July 6, 2009 @ 4:59 pm

    Gorgeous reading, great story.
    It was nice to learn about the early days of Otter,
    before the downward spiral of smoked-fish and ugly divorce.

  7. 7

    Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » New “Podcastle” episode read by me: “On the Banks of the River of Heaven,” by Richard Parks said,

    July 7, 2009 @ 1:25 pm

    […] you like short fantasy fiction, please listen to “On the Banks of the River of Heaven,” written by Richard Parks and read aloud by me. The protagonist, Otter, is (I thought) exceedingly […]

  8. 8

    Dave (aka Nev the Deranged) said,

    July 16, 2009 @ 7:22 pm

    I love Richard Parks’ work, and this was no exception. A nice, cute little story- not as compelling as his Lord Yamada series, but a nice aside.

    The reading was, I’m sorry to have to say, almost poor enough to make me skip it.

  9. 9

    Gwen said,

    August 17, 2009 @ 7:09 pm

    the orientalist trope of this story (which was obviously not written by an Asian of any sort) made me uneasy, and the use of “Oriental” in the comments as if it’s a neutral or good term makes me cringe. I’m all for non-western fantasy traditions; I would just prefer the real thing to a westerner’s view of what the essence of “oriental” fantasy is.

  10. 10

    Re: On the Banks of the River of Heaven « Writing Every Day said,

    August 31, 2010 @ 11:59 pm

    […] the Banks of the River of Heaven,” by Richard Parks gives us yet another variant in a reading on Podcastle that’s just right for a sweltering summer […]

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