Graduation Day

The sky outside is orange, just as it always has been at sunset. The grass is green, the post-box at the end of the road is red, the gravel in your garden path is grey-brown and your front door is still brilliantly yellow; so what’s different? You’re aware that things are not the same, but you’re unsure of what’s changed. You’ve lived a full life and now at the ripe age of 81 you’ve become a cynical old man. You’ve done the obligatory ‘life’ things; got married, had children, watched them have children, watched your wife die… and turned into a bitter person. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, you’re just much less friendly. You’re in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to start whistling, an evening cup of tea always helps to relax you before sleep.

It’s the day of your death, not that you’ll know, but for peace of mind you prepare on a daily basis for the moment of expiration. It’s something you’ve been doing almost religiously since your 70th birthday. Today, you paid off the last of your debts; it wasn’t much, just the monthly gas and electric bill but you feel that it’s best to be on the safe side now that your life is drawing to a close. You don’t want your family to inherit any of your mistakes so you never borrow money and live a relatively free life.

It’s a Tuesday, a fairly ordinary day too; your grandchildren Ednah, Colm and baby Ferran have just left. Your birthday was yesterday and they had visited with their mum to give you your gifts—a sprouting tomato plant that Ednah had started growing at school and a box of Belgian chocolates. But that’s beside the point, the reason today feels strange is because you’re different. You’re older, a little wiser and a whole lot more inflexible. As you sit at the kitchen table sipping at your tea and testing the bitter chocolate you start to reminisce about your wife, and of the many happy years you spent together.You remember her laugh and the way her nose used to scrunch up when she was mad. You remember how much she loved you and how much you loved her.
A knock on your door stops your thought process, you rarely get visitors and family just let themselves in. Age has made you wary of uninvited guests and you’re in no mood to be entertaining sales-folk either. You shuffle out of the kitchen and into the hall calling ‘who is it?’ on your way, but there is no reply. Your weakening eyes can just make out a silhouette through the frosted glass window panes, but nothing else gives away who your visitor could be.There is an almost inaudible click and your front door swings open as if it wasn’t even locked.

A man stands at your door bearing a resemblance to someone you know you’ve seen before, but you can’t quite place his face. No words are spoken while you slowly take in each other’s appearances.His brown hair is shoulder length, something you’ve never understood the need for. On his torso is a frayed, greying cloth that looks something like a woven potato sack and on his feet are sandals. They are worn at the toes and you reason that he has been travelling for a long time.Finally, he speaks.
‘Do you believe in God?’ His voice is gentle and you are at peace. It’s in this moment the realisation hits you. You watch him run his hands deliberately along the insides of his linen pockets, but you are frozen to the spot. It’s not quite fear, nor anger, nor joy; you are just rooted to the ground. Your body is tense but as you realise this, you relax, not wanting to give this man any reason to hurt you.
‘No,’ you reply quickly eager to get rid of him, but he doesn’t leave. Instead he slides his right hand into his pocket and draws a gun. Aiming it at your face, he gives a calm smile and shoots.




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