Never Too Old
The air was crisp to the point of freezing, the kind of day when the atmosphere was so still and cold that it seemed as if the smallest noise would bring the whole edifice of the day tumbling down like so much shattered glass. Streaks of pale cloud flitted high across a water-blue sky, seemingly afraid to venture closer to the ground whose coldness crept insidiously through the soles of the man's shoes. He stood immobile, incapable of anything save the essential task of being there.
A thrush sang on the winter-weeping branch of a birch tree, and the man felt a despair bordering on anger well within him that this creature could be so free, so happy, when the world had ended.
He looked to the sky through tear-glazed eyes and sniffed not so much as a result of the cold, but in a desperate battle not to utterly humiliate himself by breaking down in public.
The minister’s words and the quiet rattle of soil on a coffin lid caused a thickening in his throat so complete that he felt as if he would never breathe again, a situation which appealed to him just at that moment.
Walking away from the grave, the leaves crackling in their frosty coats under his feet the last thing he needed, wanted, was comfort, but he accepted his mother's arm more for the form of the thing, her embrace and her shoulder (offered as unconditionally as a mother's always are) for his tears.
You are never too old.
By Penny Dreadful