Dust in the Wind

 Chronic indolence finds us pondering the locals who saunter by No. 24. Sometimes daily, perhaps weekly, yet sadly and inevitably, until they no longer do.

About twenty years ago she vanished from our world. A tall, thin,  elegantly dressed, very old lady with a walking stick and a broad-brimmed, round-crowned hat - the sort my Edwardian aunts wore as young women about town.

She edged along very carefully, observing with a tilt of the head, or a hesitation, seeing all. The destination was the local shopping center that still resembled the one from her younger days, that the era of online commerce had barely begun to destroy.

What memorably endeared her to us was a heedful side-eye and wry smile given to each person she passed along the township walkways. To us, too. 

It was not hard to catch her twinkling eye - she offered it to everyone. 

But few saw. Old people are invisible, even while among us. 

She's one I truly miss.


In long-gone summers of youth, squandered in the streets of a provincial city, the local café was a ready stop, its proprietor a tall man of stoic stance, and a face of someone I should like to know.

Life lived, decades spent. 

As newcomers to No. 24 we acquainted ourselves to local foot traffic, one of whom delighted me: an older version of the proprietor, lumbering along. I say lumbering because he's a tall chap who strode with a forward tilt that his ample legs did well to keep in check.

For nearly fifteen years he loped by our door, along the patchwork footpath on whatever mission drove him townwards. And then he was gone. Like so many others of whom we'd grown fond, he sadly wrote himself into that ledger of unknowable fates and joined a legion of the forgotten.

Nine years hence, as The Consort and I drifted past shops, a nearby deportment triggered vague memories. There he was. Incredibly old and, incredibly, still alive. In that crumpled face barely a vestige of someone once readily discerned.

"Was that...?" 

"Yes," she said, eyes lit with the same gladness, that a faded memory should appear alive before us. She too had instantly resonated with little more than an apparition, a total stranger, one of too many crowding the street in a mesmerising flow. 

And it pleased me to know he was still among us.

Another piece of the universe, of my world, our world, wending its way wherever, defying time's cruel errand. A splinter of the universe doing Lord knows what as it's part of the puzzle of life. A fragment whose removal and loss might - you never know - bring the whole place crashing down upon us.

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