Reading back through the archives of my creative writing has been an interesting experience for me. Most of the writings I’ve published on Over Heaven’s Hill were written by me when I was between 15 and 26. A lot of the themes I explored dealt with old age, aging, hardship and lost loves. This weeks Sunday Sit Down is a short character piece on yet again another aging and suffering figure. There are a lot of elements of darkness and shadows. Now that I have a bit of distance from my early writings, I wonder why I was so enveloped in such themes and issues to create characters, situations and stories that are profound and humanizing. Once again I hope you enjoy this weeks piece and if you like, have a look back through the archives for older posts from Sunday Sit Down.
~~~ It Was Late ~~~
It was late. Time had filtered past him through the shadows and the mist of the winter night. The last hour crept upon him and by the time his eyes drifted from the empty glass that sat waiting in front of him, he realised he was all alone. Why would anyone stay with him?
Wait to offer him the crook of an arm to settle his unwavering legs or the warmth of a coat as the rain dropped heavy from the hard sky. He brushed aside the barman, the only living soul in the room, when he was refused another pint.
The hour had long since passed when drinks freely flowed in the overcrowded sanctuary of the Raven’s Head. He had propped up the solid mahogany bar for too long, for years in fact. He was the oldest regular in the town. He was the oldest drunk in the town.
It was simply a matter of fact that he was the man with no friends, the man with no family and the man with no money. He drank what little he earned and the heavy scowl on his hard lined face meant few would attempt to partake in conversation with him.
What did I do to deserve this he thought? Sniffling glances in the direction of young couples who walked hand in hand. Walking out with a woman was a long time ago for him. The women who were widowed and old now didn’t want to know him any more than when they were teenagers sneaking looks across a dance floor.
He was once a good looking man, good looking in the sense that he had a few girlfriends who thought him gentle and kind and a soft kisser, not in the sense that his features were graced with feathered lines and strong cheekbones. He was a gentleman. Once.
The drink stole his pride in whatever good appearance he had, blithered his breath and forced harsh words to cross his lips. Why would anyone wait for him?
His legs withered as he crossed the road without looking for traffic. It was too late for cars. It was too late for most people except the young couples for whom time was never a factor. It was for him. The later the hour, the quicker it would be to sunrise. And sunrise meant a new day. A long blistering new day when he would have to start from the beginning and get to the end all over again.
Geraldine Walsh © Over Heaven’s Hill
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