“May I sit here?” I asked as soon as I entered the coffee shop and saw him sitting alone as always. A cup of brewed coffee sat untouched on the table. A paper book lay open beside it. Like always, I was gripped by his vivacious personality, easy to pick out. On closer inspection, he looked unnaturally flawless.
Despite the crowded shop, there was an empty seat next to his. Serendipity offered me a chance. I took it
He looked up. I realized that his attention had been somewhere else completely. He flickered his eyes briefly. For the first time, I realized that his irises are light blue, like an ocean.
“Hello,” he said as if he already knew me vaguely. Then silence again.
I hesitated for a moment, unsure if I should join or not. Feeling ridiculously awkward, I decided to sit down anyway.
The waiter took my order and left. I turned my attention to him, but he was already re-immersed in his reading as if I didn’t exist.
I felt desperate to talk to him and said “A book! These days very few people read paper books.”
He looked back at me with direct scrutiny of his eyes. His mouth betrayed a hint of amusement, “Is there something wrong with reading a paperback?”
“Only old or very rich people read paper books these days,” I answered.
“Which am I?”
“Oh, neither, and that’s why I was so intrigued,” I said.
He didn’t look back at me, instead, he started rubbing his arms, which were muscular and strong. He laughed at me. I waited for him to say something more.
“Do you know I used to have well-built biceps,” he said dreamily. “I was very muscular, a bodybuilder.”
His eyes suddenly looked very unfocused and distant. He looked like a male model with a cosmic smile.
“They seal you in,” he continued without looking at me. “After they got cancer out and replaced all the malignant parts. It’s like a coat of varnish to finish, my wife said.”
He frowned. “I never liked this hair. My real ones were better. My wife chose it, but then after she died, it didn’t matter.”
He smiled sullenly. “It’s an odd thing, to stand by your wife’s funeral after sixty years of marriage — and people standing there think you are her son.”
He looked at his biceps again.
“Building muscles and looking young is easier now, with an advanced exercise regime, technology, and diet. The use of steroids had made it hard to differentiate between real and fake biceps. I just worry about the overuse of steroids to build muscles.”
Suddenly remembering that I was there, he looked up at me.
“Are you married?” He asked abruptly.
“No,” I said.
He leaned forward and patted my shoulder. His is so broad and stacked powerfully.
“You should find a handsome, young man,” he said.
Then he picked up his book and left, leaving his coffee, cold and untouched as usual.
I have always seen in lots of media the representation of vampires and characters like those who live a long life in a human body. The mental state and outlook of those vampires and such never show true changes. In this story I wanted to depict what it really felt like to interact with a person who looked outwardly young, but had a vast life experience and mental maturity of an older person. Long back average lifespan of a human being used to be 45-55 years. We keep our older generation on drugs and ventilators, wheelchairs and other life support devices. The years increase, but they keep living longer with pain, grief and agony of being dependent. This is an issue society will eventually be forced to address. Do our old parents want to live longer on life support or die peacefully without going through suffering? It would be hard to let them go but perhaps we should also question whether living a longer life for the sake of living is truly a desirable goal.
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