I am almost a hundred years old; waiting for the end, and thinking about the beginning. There are things I need to tell you, but would you listen if I told you how quickly time passes?I know you are unable to imagine this. Nevertheless, I can tell you that you will awake someday to find that your life has rushed by at a speed at once impossible and cruel. The most intense moments will seem to have occurred only yesterday and nothing will have erased the pain and pleasure, the impossible intensity of love and its dog-leaping happiness, the bleak blackness of passions unrequited, or unexpressed, or unresolved.
I'm sorry I started all this by trying to fly and I'd take it back if I could but I can't, so please think of it from my point of view: if you die I will have a dead brother and it will be me instead of you who suffers. Justin thought of his brother on that warm summer day, standing up on the windowsill holding both their futures, light and changeable as air, in his outstretched arms. Of course, Justin thought, I'm part of his fate just as he's part of mine. I hadn't considered it from his point of view. Or from the point of view of the universe, either. It's just a playing field crammed full of cause and effect, billions of dominoes, each knocking over billions more, setting off trillions of actions every second. A butterfly flaps its wings in Africa and my brother in Luton thinks he can fly. The child nodded. A piano might fall on your head, he said, but it also might not. And in the meantime you never know. Something nice might happen.
On the warm stone walls, climbing roses were just coming into bloom and great twisted branches of honeysuckle and clematis wrestled each other as they tumbled up and over the top of the wall. Against another wall were white apple blossoms on branches cut into sharp crucifixes and forced to lie flat against the stone. Below, the huge frilled lips of giant tulips in shades of white and cream nodded in their beds. They were almost finished now, spread open too far, splayed, exposing obscene black centers. I've never had my own garden but I suddenly recognized something in the tangle of this one that wasn't beauty. Passion, maybe. And something else. Rage.
And still the brain continues to yearn, continues to burn, foolishly, with desire. My old man's brain is mocked by a body that still longs to stretch in the sun and form a beautiful shape in someone else's gaze, to lie under a blue sky and dream of helpless, selfless love, to behold itself, illuminated, in the golden light of another's eyes.
He was a peculiar sight. Tears rolling down his face, shouting to drown the sound of the singing rabbit; he said he needed help, pointed to a chicken, handed over some money, grabbed his parcel and bolted out the door in panic. Boys, thought the butcher. Drugs, thought the woman. Justin Case, thought Dorothea.