Monthly Archives: January 2016

Short Short Story

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What was the moment of no return when you understood you had stayed out too late and you had no way home having spent your last coin on the slots or in a bar or wagered on horses, and the sun was setting in a dirty yellow mist beyond the smokestacks and shifty faces peered out of the shadows at you and you walked quickly with pretended purpose, your heart in your mouth, striding as if you meant it although you had nowhere to go and the last bus left without you and you knew if you stopped moving that would be the end?

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On Being a Crone

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I asked Google to define “crone”.  The top definition is “an old woman who is thin and ugly”.  But there is another.  “A woman who is venerated for experience, judgement and wisdom”.  In other words, an “elder”, one in whom the word “senior” means one who is appreciated for their life experience, not dismissed as “senile.”

So I imagine how I look to others.  I was sitting on the library floor, listening to a young man play jazz piano and another young man sing along.  Two small children were climbing precariously on an armchair beside me, stealing the show.  What, I wondered, would be the reaction if they toppled over onto me, a not unlikely scenario until their father decided to add his stabilizing weight to the chair.  Another time, waiting for the laughing, oblivious young persons approaching me on the sidewalk to ease over slightly so that I did not have to step into a snowbank, or onto ice to avoid them.  Does grey hair and a lined face make one invisible?

I remembered the time I was buying something in an electronics store and I mentioned something, I forget what, and the young sales clerk asked me how I had found out about it.  When I said I had looked it up online he praised me, “Good for you!” and told me about his mother who was taking classes in using the computer.  It was only later that I realized he had been thinking of me as some decaying relic from a distant past who could not really understand technology.  He didn’t mean it unkindly.  It was just the way he saw me.  How could he know that I had spent the better part of two decades using a computer to help other people find information?

Inside, we “crones” and “elders” are the same people we have always been.  The sixty year old contains the thirty year old, or the three year old, and will one day grow to contain a ninety year old, eventually returning to whatever version of infinity brackets birth and death.