He sat in a house, surrounded by his own sense of belonging to nothing,
at peace with emptiness, alone with everyone who ever dared be close.
On a patterned chair of high back and tobacco taint, with slippers on feet
aiding the slow circulation that old age brings.
His wind wandered, looking around at photos, trinkets,
even the chaotic patterns of raindrops sliding down the window offered reminders.
The door to the room crept open, and hushed voices spoke of a need to be quiet.
No one wanted to wake their great uncle, but what if he wasn’t asleep?
Small(ish) feet padded in, and smiles leapt onto faces when they realised this old man had some life left within.
Hands reached out, laughter reverberated around, a sound seemingly alien to this place.
The old man was smiling back, of course.. How could he not beam with delight at the sight he beheld.
Seven children, seven little grand-nephews and nieces looking up at him with love.
They filled him with such pride, but also a small tinge of regret, which quickly passes.
He sat with them, telling stories which he had read as a child and remembered all this time,
words he read in a big blue book, tales of fairies, magic with thrills and danger.
A figure stood in the doorway, just out of sight, smiling to himself.
A father of two of these children, a nephew of the old man, someone who had heard these captivating lines before..
Who hadn’t forgotten them, but knew they wouldn’t be as enthralling if he told them himself.
As the children sat, some on the floor, some on the old man’s knee,
the man in the doorway almost succumbed to his desire to walk in, sit with his legs crossed, and just listen.
Light from the world outside began to fail, shadows elongating with each passing minute.
It was time to leave.
Again the door swung open, three men walking in.
Faces hung, and hugs all round.
As they left the old man got out of his chair, walking purposely forward he took the gaze of them all.
He spoke once more, solemnly expressing his desire to have them all back again sooner rather than later,
letting them know how much he cared.
Deep inside he wished he could see them all grow, as he had seen their parents turn from children into men.
From men into fathers, and fathers into uncles themselves.
But he knew his own paternal desires were nothing against the possibility of losing what might have been,
or in his case, having what might have been taken away without a choice.
So he was satisfied.
All he had to do now was try and remember some more stories he read all those years ago.
Steve B 04/08