Short Story – Chapter I – “An Elder’s Springtime” – 8/15/2021

He paces, in support of himself. His footsteps crumble remnants of a previous Autumn, for now the season is Spring. Something keeps his forward direction, though his heart requires a quilt, even as a hand to keep it company. This elder, this man, follows the sidewalk gleams, like it were a pathway of snow for the burial of a crippling load of memories. A true encore, a flutter of wings, press him on this path from the birds, overhead.

It is behind where nothing goes on, though the steps are speaking. Passersby are not telling his tale, though finding amusement in his loneliness. In his gait, there is what can be called the loner’s walk. He strides to the predictable speed of a man his age, without energy in what could lift his legs further. It is this sight, perhaps seen of many elders, that their meaning for being old becomes greater when youth could hold his hand. It cannot be to mean this man is miserable, though memories could not be merely warm when they are hoarded. He falters, not with age, though with the carrying weight for being without much need for a smile. He will not receive the gift of an embrace, nor the kiss upon his crumpled lips, as his eyes can close for a moment more with morbid contentment.

Bittersweet. That must be the word of age. A fulfillment, though never perfection. A forcefulness, it might be, to be stilled of the self where movement cannot overcome another obstacle. The sun is at his back, though there is also the place of his history that will, without his needed approval, repeat itself in the young. This elder, all with grey of temples and partial lameness of back, can feel warmth where both that and coldness reside. His back is warmed, though he cannot stare ahead at sheer uncertainty.

What part of death is certain? There will be the end of a story where many pages are tossed in with a casket. Flowers can adorn death, while voices can scatter to be said of both ridicule and praise to that ending. Bittersweet is the face of death, showing equal judgement with allotted worship to a life having been lived. This elder is the mere lightbulb of many in the street, lighting the way for the youth to walk. Yet, even as the dark encloses upon such streets, no one notices those lit lamps. They are among the usual, as no one points them out. The one time they are spoken of, is when such becomes missing. Then, one can say of this old man, “Where was he? He was just there, walking on that pathway with everyone else.”

Each person, each light, burns out as though a spark, though leave no trail as this was already made for them.

This man can repeat his steps, can walk in this gait of being forced for content to his gaze. He can walk either in earnest or in the mindset of unendurable solitude, since that is to be alone upon a pathway fit for both Spring and Autumn. Upon what raises or what falls, memories shout loudest to his man, being of neither. Distance becomes recollected, since the trail that recedes backwards is the one a person can notice. Now to say that if someone shows signs of confusion, another can come upon their path to aid in the direction. For this elder, his aid is not the co-pilot to his imagination, weaving himself fears for where might be correct to navigate, and nor is it another person to take his hand upon the journey towards a place most unexplored. It is the memory that traverses itself, that he will follow its lead in whatever bitterness, in whatever sweetness, lands as the taste atop his lips and tongue.

Birds still encore, for his presence, and this memory calls him to his own youth. Springtime brings him to enticing moments, though draped in the pleasures that come with being gullible. Instantaneous moments of gratification, that similar to his place of the current time, fizzle and dry out as though drenched with the storm of reality.

“I am, or was, in that age, just someone who felt the urge to discover, even if that meant to shatter my dreams that were only a momentary awareness,” says he, of his mind, continuing to, “I wish I had lived longer in those periods, since I can now speak of life being far too much sheltered from bliss.”

His limbs are old, his walk is stooped, while his voice creaks as though he were in pain, though is not. An oldness, a coldness, while a warmth always surfaces to remind him of that much needed sweetness to belong. On days when kind souls press his hand, taken when he will find himself peering into their eyes, he wonders on the imageries of his youth. As a memory enters his mind of one evening with equal parts grey and also a sublime blue, he is witness to a specific moment for being reminded at what was meant to be lost. A gullibility for being in his youth, that this moment speaks of sadness in its escort to presupposed betterment. Wisdom would rejoin itself with him, on to the conceived ending.

At that moment, he discovered that to love a woman means to first pay attention to her. At first sighting to what strode dashing in comparison to his adolescent self of rebellious outlook, he ignored his manners to behave as a boor. He followed her past sceneries not too shaded, though her instincts compelled her to turn a corner towards an unspecified motel. There, she sat within a chair, hoping for attendance to herself not by her follower. Seated, and thus appearing swept at the green eyes of hers with plain somberness, her follower, now standing at the window of this motel and looking in on her, observed her dipping her head.

“It was upon that moment that I ever saw a grown woman cry,” says the elder, once more, continuing with, “I had never known my mother, always rebelling apart from my father, in earnest. I saw this woman’s eyes, as I was witness to the tears that came clashing against small traces of light beneath where she was seated. I could not help it, as that was when I wept my first time, too. As a a mere toddler, I felt my father’s hand. When it grazed my cheek, its burn meant I could fathom Hell. Though, when I discovered a woman’s tears, it was as if I also could find Heaven.”

What was it to him, that a tear formed by some apparent sadness, could remind him of a chosen destination? As though to route himself, upon radar or GPS, towards a place he would most like to crawl, once more as the curious infant. He grew from adolescent to simple adult of early design, still with an engagement for what is merely wanted. “I want,” said he, being one adolescent in an age budding with neither fear nor certainty. “I want to keep doing this,” continued he, referencing what will be done, until pain is greater the cure until the end of it. Alerted at the sting of life, since fear would grow into him before certainty’s lesser form. Certainty’s lesser form, such being that of confidence, as out of itself he will not ever endeavor to take Heaven apart from Hell. His endeavor to have lived, upon multiple misdemeanors that shape his form of a million particles of dust, still while he, as an elder, knows of nothing certain.

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