the old woman

Once there was an old woman who didn’t know she was immortal. She didn’t know, so it didn’t bother her until her one hundred and tenth birthday. In appearance, she was a beat up seventy-year old with a lot of sun exposure and marks of plenty – and privation – carved into her face. Inside, she was a vast realm of forgotten knowledge, for no one ever seemed to listen to what she knew, and she learned that forgetting was easier. Still, she retained something from that realm which flowed into everything she did.

She rarely moved fast, because it bothered the people around her, and then everyone she ever knew died, and she realized the truth. She stopped owning pets. She stopped making friends.

No one cares when an old woman with no friends cries, so when she had to, she would go and cry in the summertime, when the rain was almost hot and the rumbling of thunder sheltered her weeping.

Then darkness came to her planet, and everything around her died. The air changed, the landscape became deadly. She looked at the world and all the dying creatures, and walked until she found a volcanic fissure that was long dead. She crawled and climbed until she found a hole close to the top, and she lay down. She hadn’t slept in hundreds of years, but her body demanded it now, and she believed she should be prepared to sleep for a while.

She woke with icy water flowing over her, and believed for a moment that she would drown, but the tube’s outer layers had eroded, and rainwater was getting in.

The air was better. The grass had come back. And very slowly, she began tidying.