If disappointment could be measured on a scale from one to ten, today was an eleven plus. I closed the bathroom door and studied my reflection in the mirror. There seems to be some new lines under these eyes and a few more silver hairs making their presence known. I sighed, just a little, and closed my eyes. Who am I now? I used to be so much fun, carefree, full of love and laughter. Opening my eyes the glass was a window into the past. My reflection changed to a youthful me wearing a wide smile and full of hope for the future. I watched the image fade and dissolve and bring me back to the current reality. It wasn’t pretty.
I splashed copious amounts of water on my face in the vain hope it might make me clean. But the dirt I could feel was on the inside. Well, perhaps I can wash away some of the wrinkles. It was not to be. Dissatisfied, I left the mirror of truth and stumbled into the study, the weight on my shoulders almost too much to bear. I have just a few minutes to gather myself before I go back out there. I sank heavily into the desk chair. It squeaked in objection aware of the extra weight it had to bear. I punched some keys to awaken the computer and opened my electronic journal. I paused to take in the date. Has that much time passed by? Thirty years changes a man.
I envy the younger me. I turned my gaze to the living picture beyond the window. The sky was a blend of orange, pink and grey. It was in the process of giving up its light for the day, I can relate. The perfectly round moon was sucking it all up for itself. It freely shared its light to all who gaze upon it. But it’s too far away. It can be seen but not heard, looked at but not touched, much like my former self.
Younger me was excited about the future, the possibilities were endless and joy filled his heart. I really miss him today. He was never weighed down by the things of this world and its empty promises. He was kind and loving and gave it freely away. He hadn’t made that many mistakes yet and was going to change the world, at least his world. I was surprised by the stirring in my belly, a fire, a shudder, then a tear leaked out. I gently touch the wet spot to prove it was real. Hello, my friend, I haven’t seen you in a while. I want to chat and just hang out with the younger me, I need him. In fact, I love him. I do, not in a self-centred or weird way, but in dear admiration for who he was, especially when I consider who I am.
Do my words mean nothing? Today says yes. What is the answer to this pain, medication, therapy, God? Oh yes, seek God and find true everlasting peace they say. I’ve let him down so many times now. And yes, he has let me down too. I can see my younger self so clearly but he may as well be dead. He is far from me. I chuckle at my thoughts. Why am I feeling like this right now? I know how blessed I am. I have people in my life who love me even after today. I thought we gained wisdom as we aged. It seems that younger me knew more about how to do life than I do now. God help me!
I pushed back in my chair and rolled away from the computer, a brief moment of liberty. I’m amazed at the amount of text displayed on the monitor. I pat myself on the back, metaphorically of course. Doing it for real would be ridiculous, or would it? Journaling is good for the soul they say. Do I feel better? I stood up and walked to the window. For some reason movement often gives me answers. Yes, maybe a little better. The moon was brighter now and its light was mesmerising. I looked at it closely and suddenly realise something. It’s not all that perfect. It has dark shadows and rough spots everywhere within it. I know that’s true of my younger self too. Both are far removed from me so it’s all too easy for my prejudices to see only beauty. Is this rather simple revelation worthy of writing down, could be.
I am younger me, I’m him. I’m the one that was filled with love and hope for the future. Time has passed by but so what? I’m still here, still breathing and the future with all its unknowns lays in front of me now as it did then. Younger me was a naive fool and selfish, it’s true. He hardly knew anything about the life to come, he was too young. He knew little about the power of forgiveness and was blind to his people-pleasing prison. But he was better at hoping for a better tomorrow. My family disappoint me at times as I surely do them. Today is a classic example of that. But I still love them and they love me, I know that’s true despite how I sometimes think or feel. So it is with God too. I remember he knitted me together in my mother’s womb. He still loves me even when I disappoint him, thank you, Lord.
I feel remorse over today but I can choose to let it go, love and accept love despite such feelings. Young me had yet to learn he wasn’t perfect and today I had to be reminded. Perhaps there is some wisdom in these older bones after all. I felt a small smirk invade my face. Like the bright moon, I’ll bring forth the light things from younger me and leave the darkness behind. Words do matter, my thoughts matter but my actions reveal them. Looking back can be good to remember important truths and the good things but I must keep moving forward.
I turned away from the window and paused by the computer monitor. I’m impressed by this journaling experience. Sometimes I guess we have to dig for the truth, no matter how close or far away it may be. I put the monitor to sleep. The blue moonlight beamed like a spotlight through the window. It drew my eyes to fix on a very old, tattered pencil case on the shelf. I picked it up and carefully opened the zipper. My faded handwriting was on the inside. Young me gave this to my dear wife when we were dating. It said I love you, forever. Indeed I will.
Smiling, I decided to take the pencil case with me. I’m determined not to make this awkward or corny, just honest. I love my wife, my family and younger me. I love him because he is me and he is amazing and has taught me many things. He made me who I am today and what I will be tomorrow. He reminds me there is hope. I can laugh and I can choose to keep loving no matter what. I am him. I was wrong, I can still hear him.
This short story was inspired by a prompt provided by Reedsy.com. If you’re interested in participating or would like to read other short stories, you can find the Reedsy Weekly Writing Prompts by clicking here.
Prompt Used: Write a story about somebody in love with someone from their past.