Yesterday in town I stopped at the feed store in town for chicken grain. I’d placed my order and was descending the front steps and there, coming toward me, was an old man. Not the same man I wrote about a year ago; this man was stouter, his clothes neater. Clean white tee shirt tucked into jeans. He moved in a stilted way, and slowly, as though in pain.
We exchanged the curt nods men tend to offer one another in greeting, and I continued outside to wait for my grain, standing between my car and his white Chevy pickup. The cab corners and wheel arches were consumed by rust, and the bed was empty but for the top link to a tractor’s three-point hitch. I stole a glance through the truck’s window; the bench seat was uncluttered. The truck had a manual transmission, and I imagined the man’s arthritic hand on the shift knob, guiding it through the gears.
I thought about how the year before when I saw the old man at the feed store, someone had just reminded me how I might yet have half my life to live, and how now, a year later, that possibility was lesser, and becoming more improbable by the day. Last year, I’d have had to live to 90; this year, 92. By next summer, it’ll be 94. At some point, the math stops working, though I guess it’s not really the math that stops working; it’s the body.
I considered waiting for the man to emerge from the store, if only to see what stories might be gleaned, but my grain had now arrived, and my day was full of tasks yet undone. So I got into my car and drove away.