One of my goals this year (again) is to write at least 12 short stories, so I’m starting the year off right with the one below. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the #FridayFlash community comes up with for Week 1 of 2013!
HAPPY NEW YEAR
The old man stroked his long beard. He would not let the arthritis slowly turning his joints to stone deny him of this pleasure. It had only been a few months ago that he’d been able to grow a beard at all, and it had taken only a week for it to turn from a rich auburn to its current snowy white. In the last few days, it had grown down to his knees, but he knew there was no point in cutting it.
He stared at the little writhing thing across the threshold. Had he ever been that young? He refused to believe it, though he knew in his heart it was true, and not so long ago. He’d been in that same spot only 365 days ago, waiting on the decrepit man to die — that wizened fellow had stood in the same place where the old man now stood.
Even in his bitterness, he knew it wasn’t the thing’s fault. It was simply the way things were, the way things had always been. He’d had no sympathy for the man he’d ousted, and he expected the little one had none for him now.
He suddenly wished he could warn the child, that he could tell him that his grand visions would only bring sorrow sooner than he could imagine, that their legacies were hammered into the pages of time long ago. He opened his mouth to speak, willing his wisp of a voice to reach the baby’s ears. But then the baby smiled. And the old man knew he would give the child the gift of hope, just like the decrepit man before him had done. He backed away from the threshold and sat down, and the ache in his knees told him he would not stand again. The weight of the world had been upon him for such a short time, and yet it felt like eternity. Somewhere, a clock began to chime. He closed his eyes, took one last breath, and left the burden at the door for the next in line.