Writer's Cramp submission for October 17th, 2006
| Walking up to the mirror, an aged man examines his eyes and face with the tenacity of a teenager preparing themselves for their first high school dance, and after a few moments, reaches up without looking and switches on the light above the mirror. The man furrows his brow at the abnormally dim light and looks up. How peculiar: one of the bulbs has gone and burnt out. Once again the man reaches up and turns off the light, deciding that he'll replace it once both burn out, and walks out of the bathroom feeling the deep trenches of laugh lines stretched across his face, intently curious of this new development. He decided he must be getting old.
As this thought crossed his mind, a tentative grin spread across his face which then erupted into a characteristic bellowing laugh: deep yet relaxed, eyes glistening with wisdom beyond his years.
“Put that book down and come sit down with me”, he told a young boy of ten years as he ambled down the stairs to the so-declared “family room” and collapsed happily into the armchair facing the fireplace.
The youth lifted his face from the pages of the novel, one of his favorites having owned it since he was seven, and looked out past the broken television set to where the man was sitting in the overstuffed armchair. The man was staring into a fireplace that has been devoid of heat for as long as he could remember. Now it produced a glow from the frolicking flames, fanning out among the variety of logs. Having sat down next to the man on the right side, facing inward, the youth shuffled to find a position where the warmth would not only be felt on one side, making the other cold, but would spread evenly throughout his body.
“It’s about time for you to choose a name”, declared the man as a smile slid across his face along the well traveled routes he had wondered about so intently not five minutes ago.
The youth’s heart rose, then sank at the thought of only being able to chose one name , just one to keep until he was as old as the man next to him.
“Most likely you have given it some thought by now, what you would like to called”, still watching the flames play and frolic freely amongst the logs, confined within the old stones of the fireplace.
“Perhaps--”, the youth began, but was soon cut off by the man.
“It is better not to say it aloud until you are sure it is yours”
“Then”, the youth hesitated “what do you see me as?”
“A bright young boy with a promising future of course. It would be impolite if I didn‘t think so”
“I mean a name, what name do you see me as?”
“It would be impolite for me to say”
“For the same reason it would be impolite to not think of you as a bright young boy”, and the man looked down to the youth and felt another smile creep onto his face. “You still have time to think and time to live: I think…that this can wait for another day”, the man continued.
“But--”, the man once again stopped the youth.
“Give it a lot of thought, it’s an important decision”, the man hesitated but continued: “Its been 50 years…and I still don’t have a name”