Becomes One Hundred Stories #34: Does Not Feel Very Old

This is a piece of short fiction in the style and universe of three of my novels: Becomes the Happy Man, Becomes God’s Silent Prophet, and Becomes the Meaning Blossom.

Does Not Feel Very Old

The old man told his nephew how old he was. The old man said he was sixty-six. The old man said that day was his birthday and he had just turned sixty-six. The old man said he had turned sixty-six, but he did not feel old.

The old man’s nephew said sixty-six was not very old. Not for some people. Not for the old man even though he had always called him an old man.

The old man said the number was not what made an old man old.

The old man’s nephew said the old man was not very old, but he was older than he was, so he called him the old man. He said the old man had been older than him his whole life, and he had always seemed old even when he was young by the number. Young by the number of birthdays he had had. Even when the old man had been much younger than the old man’s nephew was now, the old man had seemed old to the old man’s nephew.

The old man and the old man’s nephew finished eating their food. They finished eating the food they had brought to the mountain to eat on their climb up the mountain on the old man’s sixty-sixth birthday. They finished eating and they continued their ascent. They continued their ascent, walking together up the wide trail.

The old man said he did not feel very old.

The old man’s nephew said he had already said that.

The old man said it was still true whether he had already said it or not.

The old man’s nephew said the mountain was old.

The old man said older than what.

The old man’s nephew said older than them. Old enough to be old without being older than or younger than anything else. Just old.

The old man said the mountain seemed young to him.

The old man’s nephew said the mountain had always seemed old to him and it seem to get older each year when they climbed the mountain on the old man’s birthday.

The old man said the mountain was just the mountain and it would always be the mountain.

The old man’s nephew said so it seemed.

The old man said so it did.

The old man and the old man’s nephew continued walking along the wide trail up the mountain talking about old age and about what seemed and what was. They continued walking along the wide trail until the wide trail became too narrow for two men to walk side-by-side. They took a break and looked at the trees around them.

The old man’s nephew said he remembered stopping at that place when he was very young and being too tired to continue and begging to stop climbing.

The old man said the old man’s nephew had always continued though.

The old man’s nephew said so had the old man.

The old man said he had never been so tired as the old man’s nephew had been when he was much younger.

The old man’s nephew said that was long ago.

The old man said they were both much older now.

The old man’s nephew said they were both almost old.

The old man said almost.

The old man’s nephew went ahead on the trail that was no longer wide enough for two almost old men to walk abreast. The old man followed his nephew up the trail that was no longer wide enough for two almost old men to walk abreast.

The old man’s nephew said he was always too impatient to see the mountain on the climb up the mountain. He said he always thought they walked too long in the trees before they could see the peak of the mountain they were climbing.

After a time, the old man said what. He said he could not hear what his nephew said when his nephew led the way.

The old man’s nephew turned and asked if he could hear him better now.

The old man said of course.

The old man’s nephew smiled and said maybe he should keep silent while they walked among the trees on the way up the mountain.

The old man said his nephew could talk as much as he wanted while they walked among the trees on their way up the mountain, but he should not expect any answer as the old man could not hear his nephew while they walked on the trail that was no longer wide enough for two almost old men to walk abreast.

The old man’s nephew led the way in silence. The old man’s nephew led the way in silence until they broke out of the trees and saw the peak of the mountain they were climbing in the distance at the end of a long ridge.

The old man and the old man’s nephew took a break and observed the peak of the mountain.

The old man said that view never got old.

The old man’s nephew said never. He said that view would remain young long after both of them were too old to live.

The old man said his nephew could say after both of them had died.

The old man’s nephew said he could but he didn’t want to.

The old man said he didn’t have to.

The old man’s nephew said he wouldn’t.

The old man led the way along the ridge and toward the peak of the mountain they were climbing. The old man always led the way along the ridge and toward the peak of the mountain every year when they climbed the mountain together on the old man’s birthday.

The old man and the old man’s nephew thought about that as they walked along the ridge toward the peak. Toward the peak of the mountain they had climbed every year on the old man’s birthday since the old man’s nephew had been very young. They both thought about how the old man had led the way toward the peak and how the old man’s nephew had followed since he had been very young.

When they reached the peak, the old man said the view never got old. He said it never got old no matter how old he and his nephew and the mountain became.

The old man’s nephew did not say anything. He did not say anything, he just looked at the familiar view from the peak of the mountain they had climbed. The familiar view that never got old no matter how old he and the old man and the mountain became.

The old man and the old man’s nephew sang a song. They sang a dirty song that the old man’s nephew had thought was dirty back when he had been very young, and he had been embarrassed to sing the dirty song back when he had been very young, but the song was not very dirty for two almost old men.

The old man said the song really wasn’t that dirty when you think about it.

The old man’s nephew said that’s not what his mother had thought back when he had been very young.

Time passed and they prepared to descend from the peak.

The old man’s nephew said how many more times did the old man think they would climb the mountain on the old man’s birthday.

The old man said for as long as the mountain remained young.

To read more stories in the series, see the Becomes One Hundred Stories page.

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