Here's a portrait. Let's call it Man, Retired. The bottom has fallen out, the top is nowhere in sight, the edges are a blur. Our hero, floating in the placenta of his labor-ess life, is but a silhouette, a one dimensional avatar of his old self. The only thing he has to worry about is how soon he'll die. Such is the nature of freedom from work.
Still, in those moments when he is immortal, he is joyous. He can sleep in. He can read his magazines. He can drink is de-caf green tea, cup after cup. He can pluck the weeds from his lawn. He can go for long walks, by himself, along the country back roads near the Chesapeake Bay where the land is soggy and the water shallow. He can become a birder, wondering at the mockingbird's many songs sung from atop a telephone pole. He can trust that the robins will raise well-adjusted chicks and know that if they don't it is no longer any of his business. It is all about letting go.
Just this morning, tea in its cup before him, he sat on the back deck with pleasant morning breeze tickling his skin through his t-shirt, and watched his cat playing in the grass with a tiny mouse. While the mourning doves coo-coo-cooed, the cat, his instincts aroused, slowly killed its toy, finishing it off near the lawn sprinkler. A decade ago, he would have shooed kitty away and given the mouse its freedom. Now, on this impeccable spring morning, he was being mindful and could not bring himself to move.
He trusts he will eventually master the real estate of the pasture he has been put out into. After a long winter of retirement-related ailments, the spring is warm and things are healing. He knows where to get fresh croissants on a Saturday morning. Right around the corner, from the tired-looking baker who has been up since 3:00 mixing and rolling dough. When he leaves the shop, bag in hand leaking fresh-baked wafts, he considers the quiet village and trundles homeward.
Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal (http://bit.ly/1mMT6ZC). The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com (http://amzn.to/1j3axVk) and Crossquarter.com. Visit the author's website: douglasarvidson.com