They sat together on the grainey grey rocks, only the space of her leaning hand between them, a hand twisted and gnarled, blue veins like tiny mountains erupting from the brown spotted surface of her skin. He reached out and put his hand over hers – a half sized hand, flush with young skin, no wrinkles to rough it’s youthful perfection – a movement that angled his eight year old body closer to hers.
The cool touch of mountain fresh air swirled lightly around her face as she lowered her head and turned to look down at him. Her hair, more silver grey than the granite on which they perched, floated lightly about her shoulders with her subtle movement and she smiled at the pulsing warmth from his touch. In turn, he looked up, blue eyes edged with impossibly long lashes, sending a silent question underscored by the downward curve of his tiny mouth and the furrow of his barely there brow.
“What’s it like to grow old, Gigi?” he asked, his voice, an innocent quizical tone, almost drowned out by the rumbling roar of the tributary that snaked it’s way among the boulders and submergec logs of her favorite alpine stream. His earnest face tilted up towards hers, his close-cropped hair unaffected by the breeze, allowing her an unobstructed view of this beloved boy child – a boy whose quicksilver mind and questing heart often challenged her ability to answer his seemingly endless series of questions. She didn’t answer right away, allowed her own gaze to search his earnest expression before directing her eyes towards the rushing water.
“Growing old,” she murmered, looking to her left, away from where the rocks hugged the shore in front of them to where the water slowed its frantic pace, spreading wide where no granite barriers were lodged and the aspens could bow out over the glistening flow.
“Growing old,” she repeated, “is like this river in front of us.” She pointed to the frantic water on the right. “Here it is young, busy, moving over obstacles, jumping and shouting just like you often do. But over there,” she said, pointing to the left, “the river gets deeper but quieter, no longer needing to push and shove its way through the world, but content to spread in comfort and accept life as it just floats on by.”
He nodded in understanding, not needing any other explanation, his gaze sweeping from right to left and back again. He swayed even closer to her arm, his head nestled against her skin, his soft small hand squeezing her fingers in a silent loving benediction.
Carol Lynn Mathew-Rogers
October 30, 2018