Life begins?

This week brings with it what is sometimes termed a significant age increment.

Not so bad, is it? Dan has been there, tried it out for me. I get to call him old for a few months, then I catch up. Nothing to it.

After 25, it seems, there’s not much protocol for what birthdays are about. Except the ones that end in 0, and some that end in 5.

This one ends in 0.

Lots of things are said about this one. Some say ‘over the hill’. I remember my mum being given a hat that said ‘over the hill’, and we laughed a bit, and took some photos of her wearing it.

These days, goal posts have shifted on age. You can happily stick with ‘middle youth’ until your 50s, or so the dictionary tells me.

The other classic statement? ‘Life begins at 40’ – though some suggest that that too has been pushed back, almost as much as a decade and a half. (It only mentions men in the article, though.)

So who knows really what you are ‘meant’ to feel at a given age. ‘Life begins at 40’ was meant to suggest financial stability, a certain phase of childhood completed if you were parenting.

But I wonder whether ‘life begins’ can really mean anything I want it to. Like trying out retirement ideas early, for instance.

Maybe it’s a further jump in self-awareness, self-confidence. Others have spoken about it.
I felt it happen at 30, and I wouldn’t mind a further boost for a new decade.

Part of me thinks it’s already begun.

So. Here’s a little present from me to you, in birthday week.

I have been toying with a little bit of creative writing this month. Feeling the flow, enjoying it. Exploring the idea as I went along. All the kind of stuff I want to be doing, really.

I hadn’t planned to write a Christmas story last month. It just happened. I enjoyed it. That’s really what I want for writing, at the moment – to enjoy it. And maybe to find an audience to try it out on.

So here’s a bit more writing – a bit closer to the bone, perhaps. It happens to be an attempt at a science fiction short story – one of the other types of writing I love, and say from time to time that I want to do.

I feel a bit protective of this one – and also less clear on how others may take to it.

Here’s the plan. I’m going to give you an excerpt of it (also in the interests of safeguarding it as my own – still trying to figure out how to write creatively online, and not worry about what will happen to my words).

You can see what you think. If you like it, and want more, send me a comment, with your email address.

(All the comments are moderated, so your email address won’t go live – it just means I’ll be able to see who to send the whole story to.)

Whatever my conclusions about age, or youth, writing is where I want to be right now.
And on that side of things, life is just beginning.

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This light

“This light. See, lady? Try it, lady.

Let it trickle through your fingers. New, see?”

He had been waiting for her, even as she set foot in the spaceport. Had he a sixth sense?

Lone woman, small suitcase, big spaceport. Someone who has had enough of life in this shape and form. Someone who is seeking something new.

“See, lady? Brand new light. Not part of the Big Bang. Latest model. Just for you.”

She had to smile. He was insistent, but touchingly polite with it. New light for old, lady.
Trade me some of your old light, and I will give you something new.

As if he could, of course. And where would she keep this new light? What would she do with it? Being light, surely it would simply move on to the next person as soon as she opened the container, wouldn’t it?

She thought back to the glimmerings of a song someone in the past used to sing. It was back in the early 10s, when bottling memories was all the rage. This one was bottled by a great-aunt or someone, thinking back to a song her parents used to sing:

“…swing on a star,
Carry moonbeams home in a jar.”

In what way could you even think about picking up light? You couldn’t, of course.
She knew that. But yes, she was that lone woman, with her deliberately small suitcase, carry on luggage really.

Omni-recorder, headphones, a few items of clothing.

A secret skein of beads in an inside pocket – insurance for situations where people might prefer something that looked more like hard currency, instead of the universal credit chip embedded in her hand. People who liked to see what they were getting.

She paused. She turned, and looked back at the little man, plying his trade, setting up and resetting and stacking his jars of light.

There wasn’t room in the case. She knew. It had to be this compact for her to keep it with her on the flight, instead of checking it in for the hold (and risking the contents being scanned).

Lone woman, small suitcase. BIG spaceport. A hundred thousand destinations – and a desire for no questions asked. Checking in luggage would only get in the way.

She hadn’t yet decided where she was going, anyway. It wasn’t like she was risking a departure gate closing. As long as she kept her case with her, maintained her citizenly blank expression, all was still going to plan.

She turned back in his direction. Instantly, he picked up on the movement, and started cradling his jars, stroking them, polishing them. For show, he pretended not to see her gaze, but she knew he knew. She was getting interested.

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