Days that stretch like rubberbands

January 16, 2012 § 1 Comment

The old man’s popped in for his Saturday afternoon pint, and right now he’s nursing the last of it, tucked away in a corner of one of the back rooms. In his beige car coat and brown trousers, he’s half blended into the background, cocooned by dark wood panelling and gloomy burgundy seats, so it’s no surprise that the young couple who’ve been wandering round with their pints ask if they can share his table, only half-registering his presence as they sit down and immerse themselves in one another.

As he picks his empty glass up, the dog under the table lifts its head. Wherever he is, it is. That’s the general rule. Grizzled, greying, legs too short for a big dog, body too long for a small dog, the old lad’s not up to much now, save for these afternoon shambles down to the local with his owner, the dog checking out every blade of grass as a cover for his failing legs, and the man only too happy to stop and wait. These days only seem to get longer.

The wife? She’s back at home, of course, and since she lost her sister he doesn’t know what to say any more. You’d think he’d have the words – they’ve been together fifty-odd years now – but her grief is so complete that she only brushes him away, wipes her eyes with a  teatowel, shoos him off down the pub to leave her alone with it.

He remembers when they were courting and her smile was so ready. Aye, he remembers that, clear as yesterday.

The couple next to him are cooing over one another, and whilst he’d rather they weren’t making such a fuss, he’s half a mind to lean over and tell them, you know, say that they should enjoy every last minute of it.

Him and his missus, they’d their ups and downs like anyone, but he’d do anything to be back there again, all of it ahead of them. He’d reel every one of those moments in and cast it back out, again and again.

The dog knows it’s home time and he drags himself to his feet, one leg at a time, wobbling slightly as he sets off after his master.

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