As a child in Stockholm I often rode my bicycle along the cobblestone streets, calling out good morning to the passerby who rarely looked up from the ground to acknowledge me, my breath looking like smoke in the frigid air. I never felt more alive than I did in those moments. Since then a lot has happened to me. I graduated high school, then college, and went on to become a well respected businessman in my field of work. I got married, had two kids, and a nice house in the suburbs, and while I still have the wife, and the kids, and what remains of the broken down house, my former life is unrecognizable to me, as I sit here in my tattered recliner, pondering the meaning of life. Ninety-four years old and I’m still as clueless about that ever important question than I was as a boy of seven. I didn’t give it much thought throughout the course of my life, just blindly accepting the cards as they were dealt to me. I got up every morning and went to work, trying my best to further my career, and oftentimes achieving that goal, but since my retirement nearly twenty years ago, none of that seems important anymore.
I’m not a happy man, the pain starts as soon as I wake up and lasts until I’m somehow able to fall asleep at night. My kids don’t visit me anymore. They’ll call occasionally and when I’m able to get up from my chair to answer the phone, we exchange pleasantries, the kind of small talk you might engage with the local butcher, and then I’ll put their mother on the phone. It’s really her they want to talk to. My wife and I don’t sleep in the same bed anymore, and haven’t for years. Apparently I make noises in my sleep, not the normal snores that are common among people of an older age, but shrieks, as if I’m in pain, and although I’m not awake to feel it, I’m sure that I probably am. Long gone are long walks around the neighborhood, taking in the beautiful scenery of my native country. There are no more fancy dinners at hip new restaurants. There is just me, sitting in my chair, eating the tasteless food my wife puts before me. I tell her it’s delicious, but my face gives me away, and oftentimes I hear her muttering, wondering aloud why she even goes to the trouble of cooking for me anymore.
The only pleasure I get in life is the half hour long gameshow that comes on after the nightly news. I used to be able to get a lot of the trivia questions right, and I would trick myself into thinking that perhaps I would be a big winner on the show one day, but the phone call begging for my participation never came, and as the years slipped away, so did my mind, and I’m lucky if I answer a single question correctly. I would give anything to go back to the time when I was a young boy, riding my bicycle without a care in the world, my whole life ahead of me. There is nothing to look forward to anymore, nothing that is except the sweet release of death.