Old Age

Two men stood at the edge of bridge, looking down towards the abyss that ended in rocky cliffs. They were alone, the dusty road completely deserted. The hot sun sucked the air like a vacuum, pressing down until you felt smothered by a blanket of thick, wet cloud.
The elder man, who watched the space under the bridge with a calculating, even appreciative air, spoke suddenly.
“If you knew you wouldn’t get hurt, would you jump?”
The younger started slightly at his words, so accustomed had he become to the old man’s silence.
“No.”
“Why?” The old man’s voice remained completely steady, as if neither the question nor answer meant any more to him than the passing wind.
“I wouldn’t believe you,” the younger man replied.
“But if you knew, if you were utterly positive…”
“Still no.”
The old man remained silent for a while, still staring down.
“Would you?” The younger asked.
The old man laughed suddenly, a hollow, racking sound that held no joy. “Heck, boy, I’d jump even if I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t get hurt.” He laughed again, his voice piercing the thick air like a rusty nail. “I’d do anything just to feel something again.”
“Then why don’t you?”
“Don’t what?”
“Why don’t you jump?”
The old man finally turned from the cliff to look the younger man straight in the eyes. His eyes, half hidden behind wrinkles deep with age, told countless stories of untold grief and loss.
“They wouldn’t want me to.”





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