Beast

The long, black, infected claws of time have finally pierced my carefully constructed armor of youth. They sink deep, slashing quickly and vigorously through my tender innocence. The savage destruction so swift it takes my breath away. A brief moment of stillness following the attack allows me to recognize what has happened. Horrified understanding floods my brain. Intense, searing pain follows, urgently spreading its way along the wounds. Agony radiates out from each point of penetration, following the length of the nerves, blooming each into exquisite awareness of all that has been and is yet to be. In the end, body ravaged and soul extinguished, loved ones will grieve my loss, but time will carry mercilessly on.

I should not suffer alone, victim after victim will succumb to this beast’s insatiable appetite. There will be no survivors, but we, in our misguided efforts to distance ourselves from this monster’s attention, continue to create the fuel it feeds on. Like dandelions in spring, spreading seeds of hope far and wide; each sprouting and growing and blooming before being sliced into unrecognizable pulp by the relentlessly whirring mower blades. We continually deliver new lives into the world, then shelter them from the horror of their fate. We pretend that all is well, even when our fairy tales and nursery rhymes allow the careful observer a glimpse of the hidden truth.

Last week, I was young. Then my armor was pierced, now I am old. I fought the beast for longer than many, but in the end we all fail. Now I bear the crushing weight of all those accumulated years. Age has finally caught up to me and it is very angry. Over the last week it has made truly extraordinary progress.

The brutal onslaught began with a two-word text message. “I’m pregnant.” I was not so naïve that I did not understand this as a possibility. My healthy, independent daughter is considered by current medical standards to be in her prime years for childbearing. What I had willfully chosen not to consider thus far, was that this proved scientifically that I must have somehow become old enough to be a grandmother. Misfires are sparking throughout my brain as I type this; the concept is so foreign to me. It is true, though, no matter how impossible it seems.

Within days, that evil, uncaring, bitch time had reset all mirrors to highlight and reflect back details of appearance associated with the elderly. My middle has reshaped itself into my most prominent feature, rather than my least. Tiny fissures in my skin a week ago are now jagged fractures tearing apart my face. Shiny, golden strands of hair reflect back as ghosts of their former selves. These cosmetic changes are just the beginning.

The battle is lost on the inside, too, as age has its way with me. This past week has been filled with debilitating hip and back pain, contributing to insomnia. I enter rooms and open drawers with no memory of why. That knowledge only returning once I have left again. My elders cackle evilly through their dentures, lipstick feathering out from cracked lips, as I share my sorrows. Oh yes, they knew. They knew all along. They were just watching quietly with their cataract clouded eyes, patiently waiting until time finally discovered me and launched its attack. Now they sit back and watch the show, a brief distraction from their own lost battles.

There may still be years ahead, but the joy, wonder, and carefree exuberance of youth is forever lost to me, another victim to the vicious touch of time.

Author’s Note:

While I did present this in a dramatic fashion, the events and conclusions are true. When did you first realize you were old? Share your story with me in the comments.