Senescence


Jane's whole body was weak and it took a great amount of effort for her to move, one consequence of being one of those increasingly rare few who lived to see well past a hundred years. Oh, how she ached for the strength youth brought physically, emotionally, and mentally...

Lying still and quiet on her plain white bed, vacant amber eyes sluggishly glanced up to where large glass windows offered the sight of the setting sun, slowly darkening the dimly lit bedroom. The old woman let out a soft, weary sigh and tucked behind one ear her long curly hair, silvery-white streaked with a handful of dark brown locks. She carefully sat up and leaned back tiredly, well aware of her silent watcher always behind, patiently waiting.

A child's voice cheerily asked all of a sudden, "You're here to visit me again, grandma?"

"Is it not the other way around?" The old woman lightly furrowed her eyebrows, eyes momentarily glazed, offering a small smile to the little girl standing in front of her. "I did not hear you enter my bedroom..."

The little girl lightly giggled, hugging a raggedy white teddy bear to her chest.

"Nope, silly grandma, this is my bedroom." She laughed and smiled, cutely tilting her head to one side. "Remember?"

The old woman let out a tired sigh, "Oh. Sorry, I forgot..."

"You keep forgetting even though you've been visiting me more and more lately." The little girl smiled wider, cute dimples appearing on her cheeks. "Silly old grandma..."

The little girl curiously watched as the old woman slowly moved to grasp a sewing kit from the drawer of the small bedside table and set it beside her on top of the bed. Old fingers carefully unravelled a white thread and the old woman raised an asking hand, slightly shaking, out to the little girl.

"Even though you've already failed many times before?" The little girl slowly asked as her amber eyes stared directly at the old woman's.

The old woman nodded with a small smile, lightly trembling hand still outstretched.

The little girl carefully handed her the raggedy white teddy bear. She watched as the old woman started slowly sewing and fixing the teddy bear. "I don't get adults..."

"But old people are different from adults." The old woman spoke with wisdom.

"That's true..." The little girl lightly hummed, balancing on the balls of her feet, her long dark brown curls bouncing around her shoulders as she moved. "They understand us kids sometimes."

"Only sometimes?" The old woman asked.

The little girl nodded. "Old people are different from kids as well."

"Is that so?" Never pausing from sewing up the raggedy white teddy bear, the old woman smiled a dimpled smile down at the little girl.

"It's true." The little girl fervently nodded. "Teddy said so!"

Silence reigned for a while as the little girl continued to watch the old woman sew, the only sound being heard being the steady ticking of a clock in the background.

"Time is so mean." The little girl pouted petulantly, pudgy cheeks puffing up with air. "It quickly flies by while I'm having fun and slowly drags out when I'm bored. So unfair..."

"Life is like that, unequal and unfair." The old woman patiently replied, serene voice filled with accumulated wisdom and experience of well over a hundred years. "In fact, life itself is unfair."

"Life is unfair..." The little girl frowned in thought. "Then how about death?"

"Death is also unfair." Answered the old woman. "Unfair, yet it is equal."

The little girl furrowed her eyebrows, not completely comprehending. "So death is kind?"

"To some, maybe." The old woman spoke. "To others, death is meaner than life."

The little girl huffed, crossing her arms over her chest. "Time is meaner than life."

"Perhaps, maybe..." The old woman lightly hummed at that. "Can be..."

Silence enveloped the bedroom once more, accompanied only by the steady ticking of a clock.

After what seemed like a long moment, the old woman stopped sewing. She sighed in frustration, staring down at the still-raggedy white teddy bear on her lap. Its stitched smile looked taunting to her weary eyes. "I'm sorry, no matter what and how hard I try, I just can't fix it..."

"It's okay." The little girl replied with a smile, gently taking back the teddy bear.

"But it's worn and broken..."

"But it still exists." The little girl gave the teddy bear a quick but tight hug.

The old woman let out another sigh.

"When will I see you again?" The little girl asked.

"I don't know." The old woman replied.

"Will I see you again?" The little girl asked again.

"I don't know." The old woman replied once more.

Her silent watcher finally neared.

"Alright, that's enough." The watcher spoke in a soft, stolid voice. "It's your bedtime."

The little girl looked up at the old woman in surprise. "You have a bedtime, grandma?"

The watcher placidly replied, "Everyone has a bedtime."

"Everyone?"

"Everyone." The watcher grasped the ticking clock and turned it off.

"Even Teddy?"

"Even Teddy."

The watcher reached out a long arm over to the light switch.

"Goodnight, Jane Doe."

"Goodnight." The old woman and the little girl chorused, eyes closing.

The watcher quietly turned off the bedroom's dim light.


Symbols and Personifications:

*little girl - Jane's child self; her childhood

*raggedy white teddy bear - Jane's innocence, youth, and sanity

*clock - Jane's heart

*plain white bed, dark bedroom - casket

*setting sun, dim bedroom lighting - nearing death

*silent watcher - Death