A seemingly ageless man is dying and everyone is shocked
|SONG OF THE BIRDS WC 529
That evening it was on the 7 o’ clock news. Captain Hope was dying. His picture appeared on the screen, dry and shriveled. A number appeared on the screen below his picture, donations were welcome, although what use donations were to a dying man… well, maybe they will go towards helping to fund his funeral. God knew, funerals were expensive.
Messages flowed in, threatening to shift attention from all the major events of the day; like the President’s sod cutting ceremony done earlier that day so that the area previously reserved as a park, a kind of nature reserve in the middle of the crowded city, could be converted into a shoe factory. It made the breaking news. Captain Hope hadn’t. After all, people got sick and people died, all the time. He had only earned a place in the news because the producers felt that they had to do something for him before he died, something to show that they had tried. He had been a regular contributor to the network, usually invited to be on panel discussions. For the first time the fashionistas did not pay attention to the newscaster’s dress, they did not call their seamstresses at that hour, to take a look and have similar dresses ready for them by the end of the next week. All attention was on the tiny message ribbon at the bottom of the screen, where all the ooooohs and aaaahs flowed in.
It was not so much the fact that the Captain was dying, as, his transformation. You see, he was one of those people who never seemed to age although it seemed he had been there since the beginning of time. He never looked older than thirty, although some grandmothers claimed they knew him in their youth, that he had fought in all the major battles of their time. But who would believe the toothless ramblings of an old lady suffering from dementia? “In those days,” the old ladies would say, “He always looked twenty”.
I had met him before, many many years before. Before I met my husband and married him, and ended up with the four little banshees in my home. Then I was eighteen… and he looked thirty. You must know what I am getting at- my secret crush! He was living a quiet rural life writing articles on this and that. He loved birds. In fact, his garden was an aviary with thousands of trees reaching up to the sky. Many times, he sat there quietly, eyes closed, listening to his orchestra of birds. Then, you will see him glow, from within as if a lamp had been lit inside of him.
I had heard that he had fallen on hard times. That real estate developers had taken over his land, built houses, modern houses with paved grounds and no grass, flowers or trees. The city was swallowing up the rural areas until the songs of the birds could no longer be heard.
Now, I remembered, and hoped that I was not too late, that I had time. I went outside, dug a hole and put a seed from the orange I was eating inside. Then I said a short prayer, for Captain Hope to live long enough for the tree to grow; then maybe the birds will come again and save him with their song.