End Evil

Old Age

By Simon Hill

Rob opened the curtains and gazed out of the double-glazed window into the street below. There was a thin covering of snow on the road and over gardens, houses and cars, giving everything a pristine look. He squinted as the early morning sun reflected off the white, glaring into his eyes with a sudden intensity. He tramped down the stairs in search of food and upon examination found some cornflakes and some slightly smelly milk. The date was not yet passed but Rob still had doubts about the freshness, however his only other choice was to treck to the shop through the snow. He ate the cornflakes suspiciously, repeatedly holding the spoon up to his nose to smell the milk, as if the smell might disappear or perhaps become so strong he would know not to eat them. He hated ambiguity.

When he was finished he left the bowl on the counter and prepared to brave the outside world, a heavy overcoat, a scarf, some gloves and even a woolly hat were donned. Rob had to venture out today but he knew it would be a struggle in the snow. He glanced in the hallway mirror as if to confirm his ridiculous appearance and satisfied he opened the green front door and stepped out into the cold. He immediately realised he had forgotten both his pension book and his keys and muttering under his breath went back inside to retrieve them. Finally ready, he left, closing the door firmly behind him and giving it a shove to make sure, as was his habit.

The path was covered in snow and Rob slipped slightly as he reached the gate, grabbing the cold iron with one, thankfully gloved hand, he was able to steady himself. Curse my feebleness he thought to himself, Rob hated being old, he hated his body refusing to obey him, most of all he hated having to struggle. He was a determined man though and despite a few skids and slips along the way he soon reached the village square. His breath flowed out in front of him dispersing into the cold air, moisture and heat whisked away. The square was deserted, covered in virgin snow.

Rob had a strong urge to run through it and roll around, a feeling he had always had as a child upon seeing perfect, pristine, virgin snow. Perhaps it was a basic human desire to mess things up and introduce a little chaos. Rob knew it was stupid but the urge to roll in the snow was becoming more and more powerful with each step he took. There was no-one around anyway, what harm could it do, he thought to himself. He stepped off the path onto the snow covered grass in the center of the square nervously. He looked around once more and then began to zig-zag across the snow before falling over on his back and rolling around like a loon. He was roaring with laughter, the cold soaking into his coat and trousers. He felt strangely free, as though he had crossed a mental line that was stagnant. The simple pleasures to be had in life are so very important, especially when you are aware of your own mortality. Rob lay motionless now, staring up at the cloudy sky, a mixture of blue and white with some ominous gray. He was pulled violently from his thoughts, ripped from the sanctuary of his mind, by a loud scream.

"Help! Help! He's had a heart attack" came the scream, Rob recognised the voice as that of Mrs Wilson, the woman who worked in the post office.

It took him a moment to realise she was probably talking about him, and he climbed slowly to his feet, brushing the snow off his back. Mrs Wilson stood transfixed on the path a look of puzzlement across her face.

"It's okay, I was just ...mucking about" explained Rob, embarrassed that someone had caught him behaving childishly.

Mrs Wilson looked furious, a flash of anger replacing her shocked and concerned face. She looked as though she were about to launch into tirade against Rob but never got the chance as young David Ronstad came running out of his house across the road. He was carrying a blanket.

"I've phoned an ambulance" he said to Mrs Wilson "You shouldn't be getting up' he directed at Rob, before sprawling the blanket around his shoulders.

"I'm fine' protested Rob, pushing the blanket away.

"No, I'm afraid you've had a heart attack" replied David in a patronising voice, as though dealing with some one delusional.

Before Rob could explain properly Mrs Wilson interjected."He was just joking" she said with a sneer, adding "The silly old fool".

Now it was David's turn to look annoyed, he folded up the blanket glancing angrily at Rob as he did so.

"That is just stupid" he said to Rob, "Have you never heard of the boy who cried wolf?"

Rob tried to explain that he hadn't been pretending to have a heart attack earlier he had just been mucking about, but David would have none of it and soon disappeared into his house to cancel the ambulance. Mrs Wilson issued a series of tuts before heading up the road to open the post office. Rob followed her at a slow, measured pace. He found it hard to have any fun anymore.


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