They approached the old bridge silently, hand in hand. They had taken this trip together, knowing it would probably be the last time either would be able to travel this far. It was one of their favorite places. They both had a lot on their minds. He was experiencing the first wave of dementia, caused by another illness. It only cropped up occasionally. It was apparent in his map-reading and directional skills. He was depressed, morose. He knew he would never pass this way again.
An illness was not plaguing her. She was concerned about him. She was also concerned about her age, her level of fatigue. She couldn’t do what she used to do. She was terribly fatigued from this trip and had become increasingly introspective. She wondered where you crossed from middle age to being old. Everyone liked to quip that age was only a state of mind. If they could feel how she felt right now, they would know better.
She also liked to think, most days, that the crossing was in your head and she felt young almost every day. Maybe 30. Some days even younger. That was in her head. When she looked in the mirror, she wondered who was looking back at her. Surely that couldn’t be her. Someone must be standing behind her. Some days, her body failed her and she knew she couldn’t be the 30 years of age she felt in her head. She must be that chronological age number that she hated so badly. When she felt like that, she felt guilty. Many didn’t ever have the opportunity to live as long as she had.
She wondered if, in today’s world of modern medicine, the crossing occurred at 50? Maybe 60? 70? Older? Perhaps it was specific to the person. The same mysterious feeling that always arose grabbed her. She was determined that her crossing had not yet occurred. She was still middle-aged, not old. She was going to fight the forces in her body that told her otherwise. She was going to keep her mind sharp and healthy.
She had to do this. For herself and her husband next to her. He could no longer do it for himself. As women have done for eons, she had to do it for both of them. She would stay young. Her crossing would not occur until the last second of her life.
Thank you to Sue Vincent for this incredible prompt.