He trudged into the shadows, his limbs aching, his joints cracking. The ground was dry and brown like cocoa powder, and the trees swished above him. There was no one around, except for nature’s early risers. He breathed the cool air deep down into his aged lungs, and when he breathed out, he could almost see his breath fall amongst the dried up leaves and broken twigs. Wasted breaths. All those years.
He hadn’t appreciated the touch of a child’s hand on his shoulder, the whisper of a wife’s love in his ear, the smell of tea made especially for him by a teenager reaching out. Everything he had ignored, unloved, discarded. He’d worked too much. Always telling himself he was important, he deserved time to himself, and work deserved his time. And then the day came when he was told he wasn’t important anymore. He was old. Useless. Redundant. He had lost his wife to cancer and hadn’t shed a single tear. He had lost his daughter to the world and had blamed her. He thought he had lost his son. Until that morning.
The wind blew through his thin hair as he trudged over to a picnic table and sat down. He took out his old glasses from his warm pocket. The wood was damp under his wrists. He lay them down, snapping out the lenses. He wouldn’t be useless, he wouldn’t be redundant. He couldn’t be, not now. His son’s coarse voice played back through his mind. I thought you might like to know, Dad, you’re going to be a grandfather. Just then, the sun shone through the shivering leaves, and he was out of the shadows.