By: Anthony Ward
The aged man sat aloft in his chair looking towards the fireplace. Flames danced ritually, stretching into the air, before being swiped by the wind that whirred down the chimney.
The words his daughter uttered were not unusual. But what was unusual was how familiar they were. As familiar as the adagio from Beethoven’s seventh that was playing upon the phonograph.
Those words suddenly brought it all back. That strange feeling he experienced as a small boy, on a night similar to this, had come upon him like a severe dose of déjà vu.
He recalled that night when he first visited what was to become his home for the rest of his life. It was late one winters evening that he found himself wandering down a tenebrous corridor. Passing a neglected grandfather clock which had gotten ahead of itself. He became increasingly transfixed by a kinetic ambiance arguing aside the potency of the dark -made all the more intriguing by the fact he thought the house was meant to be abandoned. Yet a fire flirted beyond the inclemency of the door, complimented by a conveyance of sound that drifted towards him, entrancing his attention with its lethargic tones. The source of which he was to discover eddying under a needle, rendered precariously upon the vinyl ripples of the past being reproduced upon the present.
It was here he noticed before him, a brown leather armchair. A forearm caused a dusky russet aura of auburn to cascade over clear solid crystal, while another remained suspended in the air, a trail of smoke disintegrating with aspirations of defiance and reciprocation.
Feeling as if he was both intruding and being beckoned at the same time, he was compelled to orbit the chair, where he was to discover the physiognomy of a man stratified by incertitude and disparity. It bore a countenance that appeared to have faced many hardships and remonstrance’s through the ages. A man who had clearly been washed upon the shore but had gotten there from being an exceptional oarsman rather than lack of ineptitude.
He could still sense the awkwardness of the silence in those expectant expressions, as the aged man leaned right into him until he could see himself reflected in his eyes, taking the seemingly misplaced opportunity to forewarn him about getting on in life.
“You ought to watch out for yourself.” The aged man told him. Then went on to tell him how he would become his own worst enemy. That he ought never to be led astray by his feelings. Going on to explain how he had not become anything he had wanted to become. Gone anywhere he had wanted to go. Nor achieved anything he had wanted to achieve. That if he could do it all again, he would do it all differently.
He told him how much he saw of himself in him when he was his age. Yet to meet the love of his life. Yet to justify his choices. Before he’d succumbed to the limitations of age.
After the old man had told him all this the boy heard disembodied footsteps coming up the staircase and thinking it to be his mother who would tell him off for disturbing the old man, hastily left the room.
“I have to go now,” said the boy shuffling back into the corridor as somebody who looked like his mother from a distance came walking up towards him. But when she came up close, he saw that it was not her at all and she continued passed him without acknowledgement. As if he wasn’t there.
“Who were you talking to?” he heard her ask the aged man as he began descending the stairs. When he reached the bottom step he turned to find his mother standing at the main door.
“Where have you been?” she inquired as she opened it, allowing the cold November wind to spiral with sound. “I thought I heard you talking?”
“No,” replied the boy thinking he’d be in trouble, “I was just talking to myself.”
“You shouldn’t talk to yourself.” said his mother taking out her keys. “People will think you’re not all there.”