The Storehouse Of Days
by R.G. Ryan
This story was first published in Snapshots At St. Arbuck’s Vol 1, available at Amazon.com
I would see him every morning without fail on the patio of a local coffee bar in Barcelona. He sat there in the sun, head back, eyes closed and simply breathing. By his side a battered cane that had seen more miles than many cars I’ve owned.
A sigh, a rattling cough and his head seemed to suddenly come unhinged, dropping first to one side, and then chin to chest only to be jolted back into position as if by tiny unseen men with padded poles who had ringed his chair in anticipation of just such an occurrence.
Sleep finally conquered and he dreamed, snoring softly, pleasantly. And I wondered…what filled his dreamscape?
His lips formed a mysterious little half-smile as if in response to a favorite memory scrolling across his subconscious mind: Perhaps it was when, as a young man, he’d seen his wife for the first time. How the sun had backlit her form as she approached him over the crest of a low hill, the light dancing off her auburn hair.
And that smile radiating from her face—the smile in future years he would realize she held in reserve only for him. His special treasure, his beauty, his lover and constant companion now dead and gone these many years.
Or perhaps he dreamed of holding his first-born in his arms and indulging in a bit of creative imagination as to what life would bring to this red, squalling man-child.
Would he succeed?
Would he find happiness?
Would he find a love like the love his father had found?
Granddaughters clinging to his legs as he “giant-walked” them across the sand and into the surf, their crystalline laughter still ringing in his ears. Long, lazy afternoon siestas spent with lifelong friends at their special place on the promenade where they could talk of younger days as the sea breeze ruffled the hair on their snowy heads, at once cursing and envying the young folk who frolicked in the same sand and surf where they once played.
His eyes snapped open suddenly catching me in my voyeuristic imaginings.
A long gaze, a nod of his head, a raspy, “Bon dia,” and then sleep reclaimed him.
And I wondered, “If I return, old father, will you still be here in your place in the sun? Or will you have followed your beloved; your old friends into the inevitable embrace of eternity?”
I can’t tell you why this particular scene filled me with such melancholy, but it did.
It most certainly did.
And I’ll never forget that ancient, craggy face nor the way he looked at me with the weight of so many years behind his appraisal as if to say, “Live well, young man…live well, for you too will one day come to where the storehouse of your days holds less than the sum of your memories.”
And so I shall.
©2014 R.G. Ryan