Author’s Note: This is a little something for Valentine’s Day, traditionally a day to celebrate young love. But old love is important and we should celebrate that as well.
The old man sat rocking, clutching his cup of tea. He stared into the fire, glancing from time to time at the old woman who sat next to him. He tried to see the young girl in her, the young girl he’d fallen in love with, the young girl who had made him feel strong and fierce and brave.
He tried to see her dark brown hair that had brushed his cheek when he could get close to her. He tried to remember the bright brown eyes that looked deep into his own eyes as she told him what she wished for their future. He tried to remember how soft and smooth her skin was at night in the firelight.
But that girl wasn’t there. She wasn’t there because the boy who had seen her that way wasn’t there. He was old now, and all he could see was the old woman beside him. The woman who had been there for so many years. The woman who stood and sat and lay beside him for almost as long as he could remember.
He couldn’t remember before her because the time before her didn’t exist. He could only see everything she was, all the years of her, all the pain and joy and anger of her. He couldn’t strip away the days of their lives together to see what she had been before him because all he could see now was all she was to him.
He sighed, sat his tea mug down carefully, and closed his eyes. Suddenly, briefly, as he breathed his last breath, he saw her, the young girl, the woman, the old woman, all the same, all there beside him as she had always been, and he smiled.