A Path

by Stephanie Harbulak


We walked hand in hand, colorful confetti lining our path. I couldn’t name a single flower we passed, but you could name them all.

There was an elderly couple not far ahead, also hand in hand. He bent, pinched a thin green stalk topped with delicate pink petals and handed it to her. She smiled. We were eavesdropping on their unspoken conversation.

You squeezed my hand and said, “How sweet.” I don’t know if I looked confused or if you were caught up in your own thoughts, but you continued, “You know, growing old together.”

I had no response, and you didn’t seem to notice. I didn’t have the heart to ask. Where’s the sweetness in feeling the hand holding mine grow brittle, bony, the skin losing elasticity like an old rubber band? In watching as bodies droop and sag? In having hair turn gray and fall out? In witnessing someone be overtaken by the inevitable?

The time between them and us is as short and narrow as this path. You see decades, a lifetime. I see just a few more steps.

You continued walking; I paused. My hand slipped from yours.

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