A Good Life-Old Anon and Sonata - by Fife-Niner-Seven
>I couldn't help but feel blessed. >Flipping through the aged paper of our old scrapbook, I could hardly keep count of the memories. >The binding of it struggled to contain the life Anon and I had gone and made together. >So many days had passed, more than I could possibly count. >I sat alone on the couch, soft light flowing through the open curtains of the living room. >Particles of dust floated by as I turned each page. >Everything was chronological. I spent most mornings like this; sifting through memories, taking a walk through the past. >Photos of us when we started dating seriously, vacations with Adagio and Aria, moving in together, pictures of when I was just a fledgling at the social worker's firm... >Time re-winded as I replayed everything in my head. >I could see myself walking down the aisle again. >My sister Adagio leading me to where my soon-to-be husband stood. >The vows, and kiss with Anonymous that led to us being truly married. >The party afterwards, with all of our friends celebrating with us. >My heart began to swell at this. >This was why I couldn't help but feel blessed. >My life was once focused on never remembering. On never thinking about the past. >Now? >My life was a series of yesterdays. There wasn't much left for me in tomorrow, aside from watching everyone else's lives unfold. >Flipping through the pages, smiling at memories of Anon. >What else could life truly offer me, save for the tranquility I felt at these old memories? >The day I told him I was pregnant, the pictures of my belly growing...Anon wouldn't go a day without taking a picture. It was so embarrassing. >Then there was the day where I gave birth to our twins. >The older of the two was our daughter. Hymn, my little treasure. >Shortly after came the boy, Capo. My little troublemaker. >I'd realized then that Anon hadn't just given me the gift of love, but he had also given me the gift of a new family. >I'm old enough now that my children have had children. >Some of their children are just starting their own families as well. >A small sigh escaped my lips as I continued to scan the pages, watching as my babies grew up. >Their childhood, through their teenage years. Eventually their adulthood and the start of their little families. >Every day they leaped through their own hurdles and dealt with their own issues. >There's pictures of our old friends in here, school reunions over the years. Ten, twenty, thirty, forty... in each of the pictures, the attendance starts to lower bit by bit. >Some of our closer friends pass away. >It hurts to think about all the people I've lost. >Yet, at the same time, I've gained so much. >Not just from Anon or this family, but from all the people I've helped in life. >I find myself going to the market and people approach me, thanking me for things that I've done long ago. >I constantly meet people who are the children of children I once counseled. Children who had become adults, thanks to the clarity I managed to help them find in their lives. >I have trouble finding people who don't know me in some way or another. >It's nice though, they're all very kind to me. >Sometimes the younger ones ask me what it's like to be old. I just smile and tell them the same thing as everyone else. >'Everything just seems a lot slower. Every minute feels like two. For someone who's had a great life like me, I can't ask for anything more.' >I run a hand along my cheek, closing my eyes. I can still feel Anon's hand on it, giving it light caresses. Reminding me that he loves me no matter who I've been or who I will be. >After reaching the end of the packed scrapbook, I close it, eliciting a puff of dust from within it as I place it on the coffee table in front of me and lean back into the couch. >The house is large. Anon being a doctor eventually made enough money to buy us a house like this. >When he had this house built, he'd planned for the future. Our children grew up here, our children's children were raised here when their parents were busy with work. >It's on the coast, overlooking the beach and ocean. It's beautiful. We have a housekeeper, but he's very good at staying out of sight. >I sighed. Sometimes it's too quiet here... >"Hey Sona. Want some tea?" I heard from a distance, presumably the kitchen. >I smiled as I turned my head towards the source of the voice. "I would love some, 'Nonny." >"Mr. Mous! Please, go rest. You don't have to make the tea, I can. You pay me to do trivial things like this." >I giggled to myself. Here we go. The constant arguing between my husband and our housekeeper. >"I hired you to help, not treat me like an invalid!" he called back to the young man. >"I am not, I just think having to do this is beneath you now." the sharp response resounded. >"Oh give me a break. I'm not some kind of legend. I just made some medicine when I was about your age." >"Some? The government named a GRANT after you for heart research. You've progressed the field more in your lifetime than most people have in decades. You're a testament to how much the field has grown. What'd they say you'd live to? Fifty at most? You're eighty-five." >It seemed things were becoming a little more heated. "They said thirty. And nonsense, stop it. Get away from my tea kettle." >I shook my head. That reminded me of the day I got that phone call. >Anon had been wounded. They didn't know if he'd make it home or not. When he did make it, they told him he wouldn't last very long with his organs damaged the way they were. >He was too stubborn for that though. "Please listen to Anon, Solo." I called out to them. >It seemed that Solo reluctantly gave up at my words. >"Why don't you listen to me, huh? I'm the one who pays you." Anon grumbled after him. >"She's not a grumpy old coot," he retorted. >I then heard Solo dash from the kitchen. Much to his surprise when he turned around, Anon was still chasing after him. >Judging by the shock on his face, he wasn't anticipating such a response. >Horrified, he bolted. On the other hand, Anon stoped when he reached the living room and passed me a grin. >"Calling me an old coot. I can still run. Nothing's stopping me." He tells me, leaning over to give me a kiss. Thankfully he hasn't lost his hair, it's just turned a gray-white. >I ruffle the mess as he leans forward and plants a second kiss on my forehead. >"Is our family arriving later today?" he asks. >I nod in response. Every year, everyone spends a week here with us. "They should be. I've been reading up on some new recipes, I'm looking forward to trying them out." >I put on a small smile as I look to Anon. "Also, the tea?" I asked. He laughed realizing he'd forgotten already. >"Right, right. Almost forgot. French vanilla, like usual?" >I nodded again, an intangible sadness growing in my chest. "Yes. And make a third cup, please." >He's silent for a second, his typical smile folding into the crease of a frown he sometimes wears. >"Of course." ===== >I sat in the living room on the couch, looking at the paintings that adorn the walls. Blaze classics, they're called now. >Anon was one of the first people to buy her paintings. Whenever he could, he would try to help her out financially with her dreams. >In part, thanks to him, she achieved those dreams. >Knowing that he loved me enough to help my sister in the ways that he did, warmed my heart. >I glanced over my shoulder, behind me. >The only painting she ever did in the style of realism was hanging proudly over a smaller table adorned with countless photos of our old friends. >It's the painting she promised us as a wedding gift. She did it that night and gave it to us the following day. >A picture of us at the altar on our wedding day, kissing. >'I was going to just paint whatever came to mind, but when I saw you two kiss, it felt like someone put a fire in my chest. It felt like it was stuck in there, so I painted until I got it all out.' >The words she said to me had brought tears to my eyes. >I loved my sisters so much, even when we disagreed in the ways that we did. >I missed them so much. ===== >Time passed by though, and before long I heard the whistling of the kettle as the water came to a boil. >Shortly after, Anon exited the kitchen with a small tray carrying a familiar porcelain tea set. Quietly, he set out the three cups. >Two for us, and one on the other side of the table. >Sitting to my left, he took up his own teacup and raised it to his lips. "Like old times, huh?" >I smiled, bittersweet happiness filling me. "Just like them. I miss her a lot." >Anon stared at his cup, a look of preponderance on his face. >"I do too. I guess that's what happens when you get old. You start living in memories. Just so you can make it to tomorrow." >It's sad, but it's true. So much of what has felt like an irrevocable part of our lives is now just a memory. Memories we're holding onto direly. >If I didn't have Anon or my family, my current day to day life would be nearly impossible to cope with. >I reached over and squeeze Anon's hand. He knew instinctively how I felt and raised my hand to his lips, kissing it. "Don't worry, I'm still here." he reassured me. "Thank you. For holding onto your promise." I don't let go of his hand, but instead drink my tea. Anon and I always drink a cup around lunch. >My cellphone started to ring shortly afterwards though, and I glanced over to it. It read 'Hymn.' >I've finished my tea, so Anon took up my cup and pulled it towards the kitchen while I answered the call. >Pulling the receiver to my ear, it automatically picked up. >"Hey there, mom." a voice called to me crystal clear from the other end. "Hello sweetie. What time are you getting here?" I asked my daughter. >"Probably around five or six in the afternoon." she replied, her sing-song voice flowing how it always did. "Anyone not coming?" I responded, hoping that the answer would be a resounding 'no.' >"Nope, everyone's arriving." >Smiling, I replied eagerly, some of my tiredness falling away. "I'm glad. So how's everything been?" >Hymn makes a point to do what I used to when I was younger. She plays mother goose for the family, keeping a watchful eye on everyone to ensure that everything is going smoothly for the family. >She called often to keep me in the loop as well. Capo often calls and chats, but he doesn't keep as much of an eye on things as Hymn does. >His job doesn't really allow him to. >She tells me how my grandchildren are doing. Hymn and Capo are doing well for themselves. >They're both in their late fifties, now. She has three children, where Capo only has one. >Hymn had two girls and one boy and Capo has an only son. Most of their children are in their mid or later twenties, just getting their lives settled. >A couple of them are married, and one already has a child. It feels strange sometimes to think that I'm a great grandmother. "How's Allegro's daughter doing?" I asked, now that she was on my mind. >"Ah, they're both good. Sonatina is handling the divorce well, which is surprising for a little six year old. I told Allegro that man she married was no good, but that girl never listens to her mother." she responded, a slight wavering in her voice when the little girl was mentioned. "I remember you being like that, once." I responded, my voice still upbeat. >"Don't remind me," she giggled lightly. "I wound up being a lot like you, though. I'm glad I did. Not many adults can say that about their parents." "I'm happy to hear you say that, hon. Will you be cooking with me for dinner tonight?" I questioned, before my attention turned elsewhere. >I glanced towards Anon's cup of tea. He didn't drink much, it looked like. >"Yep, I will. Allegro and I will be helping. It's funny, Vivace still can't cook to save her life." she stated. >We both shared a chuckle at that. Vivace never had a knack for cooking, even though she lives on her own. >She was always complaining about how she wished she could cook better so she didn't have to live off of take-out. "Nothing else has changed with any of your little ones or Capo's?" I finally replied, the moment passing. >"They're not so little anymore, but not really, no." >I smile a little. My grandchildren have grown up, but it still feels like just a few years ago they were little things who would always visit. >"My son's wife is still expecting, Allegro's coping well and Vivace is getting by. Capo and his wife are doing well and his son's going into law school. >Everyone seemed to be alright for the most part. >It felt good knowing that my family truly was doing well. "Glad things are calm for everyone. So, around five or six you said?" I asked, collecting myself. >"Yes, seems that way. That's what I told everyone to meet up here for. Are you sure your house has enough room for all of us? There's going to be ten of us, although at least four of us are going to use one room." she questioned. "Of course. The second floor was built to have plenty of guest rooms. Remember, your father built this house so we could always have some family or foster kids here. He knew how important it was for me to provide for anyone who needed it." I replied, not a single doubt in my mind. >A soft sigh followed though. "I remember, mom. Well, I look forward to seeing you and everyone else seems excited too." "Glad to hear it, darling. I'll see you later. Ah, sorry, what time is everyone showing up again?" I giggled softly. "Around six, mom." she said once again. >My daughter was very understanding. She knows it's hard getting old sometimes. "See you then." I finished. >We both hung up and I placed my phone on the table. >I was a little torn on what to do in the meantime. It was only noon. >I could possibly watch something on television, or I could always go on the internet. Er, not internet anymore. >It's called the Ethernet now. It's pretty different, but I've kept up with it over the years. It's not the same as the old term from when I was younger, either. >They use the term Ethernet now to refer to the fact that the entirety of the internet is hosted on some cloud-processing server and it's all wirelessly distributed by satellites. It's like ether, mist. Everywhere and impossible to contain. >After the government applied all sorts of arbitrary laws on the internet, the internet moved to a privately owned series of satellites, all running in tandem. >The company has refused to allow the internet to be regulated. With advances in technology and how inexpensive manufacturing has become, it isn't a long-shot to connect to the Ethernet. >I just didn't use it very often, as I had a hard time reading the fonts and I wasn't one that cared much for wearing glasses at all times. >As I realized my mind has been wandering though, Anon approached me with a chessboard in his hands. >"I figured you'd want to brush up before the kids get here. We both know that Forte has declared it a life goal of his to defeat you at a game of chess." my husband stated, sitting down and setting the board out in front of me. >I stifled a laugh. "Capo's son is far too young to think he'll ever be able to beat me." >One day he would though, but until then, I had fun teasing him about it. >"Well then, lets see if I can beat you. Remember back in the day when I used to be able to?" He stated, before opening up the chessboard, setting up the pieces for me. >I smiled, nodding. "And then I started reading up on theory. You did good keeping up with me though, you started reading up whenever you could, between work." >"Yeah, but then you started going to tournaments in your spare time. Remember that time you almost took grandmaster?" he responded. >I felt the heat rising in my cheeks as a slight blush crossed my features. "I d-did not! I just placed in the top eight, was all." I managed to say, only stammering once. >I moved my pawn to C5, doing my best to push past the subject. >Anon moved without hesitation and chuckled a little at my embarrassment. >Time passed, but the game went along exactly as I had planned. >I caught him off guard with a bishop and left a gaping opening in his defense. >That was, until his defense turned into a blazing offense with a rook taking my bishop and a knight. >By the time I'd slowed it to a halt, two more pieces had fallen to his control. >This didn't phase me though, as within another ten minutes I had his king at the mercy of my remaining rook and queen. "Checkmate." I proclaimed as I finally cornered his king. >A defeated sigh was released from his lips, but his gaze still held a measure of that usual grit that I'd come to know and love. >"Well, I'm thirsty. I think I'm going to pour myself another cup of tea." he stated, interrupting my thoughts. >Glancing at him, I then looked down at his still-full teacup. "Sweetheart, you didn't finish the cup you already have." I stated plainly, motioning towards the cup to my left. He laughed abashedly before responding. >"Ah, you're right. It's probably cold by now. I couldn't remember where the chessboard was and didn't want to bother you during your phone call. Hymn?" >I nodded as we reset the pieces for another game. I passed him his teacup and he heads to the kitchen, presumably to heat it up or to refill it. I smiled a little at him as he turned the corner. >His memory was pretty shaky nowadays. It was kind of cute. >While I finished setting up the pieces and moving the pawn directly in front of my queen two spaces forward, Solo sauntered into the room. >I figured a Queen's Gambit would be a good start for a new game with my husband. >"Playing chess, Misses Mous?" the young caretaker inquired. >I responded with a simple nod in his direction, before speaking up. "Yes, I am, and would you stop calling me Misses Mous? I always tell you to call me by my first name." >Solo looked away for a second, before giving his own half-hearted response."I don't feel that's respectful, though." >Taking a moment, I glanced towards the kitchen before looking up at him. "Don't worry about it, you've been tending to our house for long enough. You're more than welcome to use my given name." >I glanced towards him, doing my best to read his expression. "Is something the matter, Solo?" I inquired after a short time, seeing if he'd be willing to open up even slightly. >A shake of his head was more than enough of an answer for me though. >"Nothing's wrong. Is there anything in particular you'd like me to do today? I've done most of the general chores already." he countered, drawing the subject back towards his duties. >Pausing for a moment, I decided to continue with his decision and bring my own attention back to the impending arrival of my family. "Well, the family should be arriving within the next six or so hours...would you mind preparing the guest rooms? We'll be having at least ten over." >"Of course, Misses Mous." he followed up, giving me a nod before turning and departing. I frowned at him for calling me Misses Mous again, but let him go without another word. >I shrugged and smiled to myself. >Nothing I could really do about it. He fit in with the family well enough. >Maybe someday he'd call me Sonata. ===== "Allegro and her child Sonatina will share a room. Capo and his wife Lemon will share a room, and their son Alto will have his own. Who am I forgetting...?" I wondered, tapping a finger to my chin. >Another hour had passed, but I found myself unable to do much besides think of my family. >"I believe the only person you're forgetting is Psalm," Solo's voice called from the hallway. >Smiling, I nodded my head. >It's not that I was very forgetful, the family had just...expanded over the years. >"That's about six rooms, then. I'll make sure the sheets are fresh and nothing's dusty," he finished, before giving a final nod and leaving the room. >Just as he left though, Anon returned. Plopping down next to me, he absentmindedly sipped at his tea without saying a word. >Scooting closer to him, I wrapped an arm around one of his. >Fingers laced together, we sat there in silence as he flicked on the television, losing ourselves in the background noise and each other's company. >At least, until I dozed off. >I wasn't sure how long I was out, but I could hear Anon teasing me. >"I remember when you used to get mad at me for always falling asleep during movies." he stated, planting a kiss on my forehead. >I didn't open my eyes, but instead nuzzled closer to him. "Sh-shut up. I'm old, or did you forget?" I responded, somewhat indignant at his prodding. He placed another kiss on my forehead at that though. >"I forget all the time, love." he sighed. >Never lost that charm of yours, did you 'Nonny? >Sighing, I slid into the quiet easiness of sleep, his hand still holding mine. ===== >The chiming of a doorbell brought me back around from my nap. I immediately noticed that a blanket was draped over me, but that Anon was nowhere to be found. I've got a blanket draped over me and Anon's nowhere to be found. >Yawning, I chalked his absence up to nothing more than his anxiousness. >He'd been antsy for most of his life, always trying to do something to occupy his time. >Life when a workaholic retires is something else. >Stretching, I felt my old bones creaking a little, but I was able to get up without much effort. I kept the blanket around my shoulders though, as it felt a little chilly. The light cascading through the window told me that it was probably getting late. >Leaving the living room, I moved towards the entryway. >Quite a few pairs of shoes littered the ground, but it brought a smile to my lips. >I suppose that the family was all here already. >Moving back towards the kitchen, I heard a din coming from the dining room. >As I reached the kitchen itself though, I was greeted with a hug from my daughter. >After a wordless embrace, I looked her over, admiring her features. "Hi there sweetie." I stated simply after a short moment. >Hymn's hair is the same shade as Anon's but slightly lighter. She had my eyes though. >Hair pulled into a french-braid and slung over her shoulder, she gaves a wide smile to me that exhibits a kind of energy that betrays the age in her features. >"Hey there, mom. I like the fashion statement." She said, tugging on my blanket. >I laughed at that before do a little shake, letting the cloth draped over me sway. "I think it's pretty chic." I replied, maintaining my quick wit as well as possible. >Another hug from my side let me know that her husband Summer was there. >"How're you hanging in there, mom?" he chimed in. >Leaning over, I pecked him on the cheek before replying. "I'm doing better than you, I bet." I stated simply, keeping my composure for all of a second before giggling like a girl a fourth of my age. >"I wouldn't doubt that. Work's got me slammed lately. Ten more years and I'm done with that company." Summer says, sighing in relief as he released me. >"Your fault you settled for being a salary-man." Hymn said, a mischievous grin replacing her nearly-maintained stern look. "Well, make yourself at home, Summer. You know your way around the house, feel free to watch a movie or read something in our study." I said, breaking contact. >A strange look from Hymn caught my eye, but I ignored it. >For some reason it reminded me of some of the looks Solo had given me here and there. >Banishing the thought though, I considered what we had to prepare. "Should we start prepping dinner then?" I inquired, doing my best to square up to the challenge. >"Well Misses Mous, we're actually about ready for it. We were just waiting on you." he said, rounding the corner and winking at me. >Smiling, I let him lead me into the dining room. >I was instantly assaulted with a group hug upon reaching it though. >How I loved my family. ===== >Sitting at the table, I waited for grace to finish being said. >After that, I looked expectantly at my son, Capo. >With a final glance in my direction, he smiled and began serving up food to everyone. >The table was huge, something Anon had custom made with multiple leaves that could be added or taken away without much effort. >I wondered initially why he'd had it made how it was, but quickly learned that this was his intention. >Reaching to my left, I found my husband's hand and squeezed it. >He was proud he'd come this far and done this much. I was too. "So, how's law school, Forte?" I asked, Looking towards Capo's son. >He looked a rather tired and was eating pretty slowly. >It was only the best thing a grandmother could do to wake the boy up. >He took a lot after his mother, a dark haired woman with bright blue eyes. >"Tiring. I barely sleep with all the studying I have to do." he said, looking over at me after swallowing a bite of his meal. >His father gave him a pat on the back before he continued serving food to little Sonatina. >"Oh don't listen to the boy. He's in the top of his class right now." Capo chimed in. >He'd always been proud of his son. >Just like his own father. >Smiling, I glanced over to Allegro and Sonatina. >Looking over the little girl, I saw just how much she'd grown. Pictures didn't do the little six year old justice. She had my vibrant blue hair and my pinkish eyes, but was still the most adorable thing I'd ever seen. >Though, just by looking at her I could see she was under some stress. >She wasn't focused on eating, despite her mother's attempts to coax some food into her mouth. >The divorce was probably taking more of a toll on her than Hymn had let on initially. >My suspicions were confirmed as the girl slipped out of her little chair and climbed into her mother's lap. >Allegro sighed heavily, but held her daughter close. >Meeting eyes with her she grimaced, but mouthed 'it's okay' to me. >I gave her a disparaging look. >I'd been around long enough to know that wasn't the case, but it wasn't the time or place to talk about it. >Shaking my head, I continued to look around the table. >The mood was still light at any rate. >Passing from face to face, I picked up on little details and differences from last year. >Mesto was busy stuffing her face, unable to stop eating for a moment. Such a tomboy. Never really had manners, always full of some sort of energy. >I never knew where she got it from. Maybe Summer was like that when he was young? >Her brother Nonet was obviously trying to get her to slow down a little, much to her chagrin. >They were both dark haired, but his skin was a much more pale. >He spent a lot of time inside from what I garnered. >An artsy type. >Like Aria. >Observing the situation unfold, I giggled when his wife Senza tried to placate the two, getting in the middle of their argument to play mediator. >I'm a little impressed by her. She hasn't visited this house very often before, but she's got a good head on her shoulders. >Dinner played out just fine, everyone eating their fill and keeping the conversation to a minimum for the most part. >For some reason I kept feeling my hand stray back to Anon's, but he stayed silent as we ate. >I felt somewhat guilty for not helping out with the cooking, but it would appear that Solo had yet again proven his cooking prowess. >As everyone cleared the table though, I felt Allegro touch my shoulder. >"Want to come settle down for a movie while the others clean this up?" she asked, some intent in her actions. "I will in a moment, I like being the last to leave the table." I stated, before giving her own hand a light squeeze. >She gave me a light hug, before departing. >Once everyone had left the room though, I looked over to Anon. He had barely touched his food. "Are you okay?" I asked, concern in my tone. >He nodded. "Ah, I made an early dinner when you were asleep. Couldn't wait, I'm sorry. I'll have Solo wrap this up and I'll eat it another time, though." >I glanced at him suspiciously, before starting in on him. "You're not lying to me about this, are you?" >He grinned at me before leaning over and kissing me on the cheek. "I wouldn't dream of it." >I stared at him for a second, running my hand along the creases in his skin up to his whitened hair. Past the age, all I could see was the young boy I had fallen in love with. >"Grandma! Are you coming? After the movie, I want to play a game of chess with you." Forte called out as he entered the dining room. >I glanced towards the youth, as does Anon. "Of course, sorry." I said while standing up, 'Nonny's hand in mine. "Come on sweetie." I said, followed by a yawn. That game of chess might have to wait until tomorrow, Forte... ===== >I awoke to my bed with Anon and myself in it, wrapped up in blankets. >I was facing towards him, as I always ended up doing. >When had I gotten into bed...? Sighing, I realized that Solo or one of my sons must've carried me to my room. >Turning my focus over to Anon, I smiled. There was just something about his warm breath on mine and the feeling of his nose just glancing the tip of my own that I'd come to love. >If possible, I would always find a way to fall asleep before him, but last night I had been feeling exceptionally tired. >Still, I let him sleep in. >Rolling out of bed like a woman half my age, I exited my bedroom, smelling the scent of breakfast. >Following my nose towards the smell, I was greeted by Solo's usual "Morning, Misses Mous." "Sonata." I stated plainly in response. >"Right, Misses Mous." he replied, coolly. >I glared in his direction, but he grinned back at me over his shoulder. "What has you cooking this early?" I asked nonchalantly, taking a seat at the counter near the stovetop. >"Well, I figured I'd have something out for everyone this morning." he replied, running his spatula through the skillet he had set up. >I could see now where the smell was coming from, as he fried potatoes and sausage together. "Very considerate of you." I chimed in, before stifling a yawm >"That's what you pay me to be." he replied, focusing more attention on the food again. "Not so, I pay you to help us around the house. You're naturally a considerate person." I complimented, doing my best to make sure he knew how much we valued him. >He smiles genuinely, turning back to attend to breakfast. "If you say so." >Smiling, I leaned back slightly in my chair before he chimed in again. >"Though I do have to ask you something." "Yes?" I replied, a little confused. >"Are you alright, Misses Mous?" >A silence filled the air for a moment, before I could respond. "Excuse me?" >I was a little taken aback. It was a simple enough question, but his tone made me wonder. >He turned towards me, lowering the flame on the pilot. >"Are you alright? You seem... really off, lately." he stated, trailing off. >I felt my brow furrow, but not from any sort of anger. "What do you mean?" I replied, somewhat uneasily. >He sighed heavily, before continuing. >"You... don't notice it?" >At this my lip curled into a pout that would have been much cuter, was I still twenty. "Now listen here young man, what do you mean by that?" I stated, getting a little upset at that. I hated it when people would ask questions, and then be vague with responses. >"Nothing, don't worry about it." he replied, the expression on his face tightening up a little. >I knew that look. >When someone wants to tell you something, but can't bring themselves to do it. "Tell me." I said, standing up and putting my hands on my hips. >"Like I said, don't worry about it." >I felt a blush creeping onto my face. This young kid- he was treating me like a child, when I'm more than three times his age! "Y-you should be more r-respectful of your elders!" I declared. >"I am, that's why I'm doing this. Don't worry about it, Sonata. Just change and I'll have breakfast ready for the family." >I open my mouth to argue, but I couldn't find the will to continue. >He used my given name like I've always asked him to. >Like it was an exchange. If he lost that battle, I had to lose this one. >An equal exchange, much like trading pawns in chess. "F-fine!" I exclaimed as I turned away from him and stormed back to my bedroom to change. >Solo laughed behind me, probably due to how childish I just acted. No one said you have to act old when you get old. Some things don't need to change. ===== >I returned to my bedroom in a bit of a huff, but made sure to calm down a little once I was there. I didn't want to wake 'Nonny up. >Donning a long white gown, I pulled a high collar blouse over it before tying a little purple ribbon around the neck of the collar. >Looking it over, I brushed my hands over it a few times before smiling. I loved this particular blouse. >It was a gift from Adagio, many years ago. >Leaving Anon to sleep though, I pulled myself from my thoughts and put some slippers on. >Moving back downstairs, I quickly ate my breakfast. >Solo really was a good cook. >I'd always give him that. >Standing up as he took my plate away though, I had a sudden urge to go to the balcony. >It was that same urge I always had; to go watch the crashing waves in the morning. >Our home overlooked a beach, one that Anon and I loved visiting. >Walking towards the stairs, I came face to face with my son. >Stopping, I gave him a hug. >"Mornin' mum. Where're you going?" he asked, before rubbing his eyes. >I gave him a distant smile. "To go look at the ocean. It's always so pretty in the morning." I responded, stepping past him. >He gave me a concerned look, but quickly made his way towards the kitchen. >Reaching the hallway, I walked to the very end and opened the sliding glass door that led to the balcony itself. >I stood out there, in the brisk morning breeze which ruffled my gown and pushed my hair from my face. >I always enjoyed the view of a blue horizon. I liked the idea that the world didn't have an end, that there was always something unexplored where the eyes couldn't see. >A yawn from behind me caught my attention though, and as I turned I saw that Anon was approaching. >He had tossed on a plain white shirt and some khakis. >A light grin crossed his face, before he wrapped his arms around me. It was then that I noticed it was one of his old dress shirts. "What's the occasion?" I inquired, genuinely curious. >"Well sweetheart, I really need to talk about something important with you." he whispered into my ear. >I leaned back into his embrace. >His heartbeat was in sync with mine, akin to the soft crashes of ocean beneath us. I had that sound memorized, even with the changes that medicine and pacemakers had caused for him. I couldn't forget it. Its very feel. >"Yesterday, when you asked if I was lying about something?" he started. "Yes?" >"I sort of was." he replied. >I frowned, before reaching a hand up to tug at his cuff. "So, something is the matter?" >He was silent for a moment before responding. >"Something is the matter." "What is it?" I asked, my grip intensifying as it shifted up to take hold of his wrist. >Worry began to fill my mind. We'd made it this long, can't we keep going? >"I think it's time for me to go." >I pulled out of his grasp, turning to face him. >"I can't eat as much. I'm always tired. I think...it's time." >Grasping at him, I brought his face down to my level. "Come on, don't be like that. I don't want to lose you." I said rather calmly. >"I think it's time I went." he replied, closing his eyes. "N-no..." >My composure wavered as I fell into his arms. >Tears began to stream down my face unbidden. >It was too soon. >It would always be too soon. >"It happens to everyone, sooner or later." he stated, before reaching out a hand to wipe away my tears. "B-but, your p-promise!" I argued, stammering again at him. >"I know, I know. It's gotten me this far, but everyone has their limits. I'm sorry. I just don't have the same amount of energy that I used to. I remember that I have to do anything you say for breaking the promise." he finished, giving me light caress on my cheek. >"Would you listen if I told you not to leave?" I pleaded, the sudden realization that he just might go sinking in. >He sighed, pulling me forward and kissing me on the forehead. "I wish I could, but I can't." >I sobbed once into his chest as the tears began to escape me again. >He felt so warm. I never wanted to be without him. >"Just... don't worry, okay? I'll always be here. Don't forget that, Sonata." he murmured into my ear. "O-okay... I w-won't." I choked out, not wanting to accept defeat. >Holding him tightly, I felt as though if I didn't let go, he wouldn't leave. >Until I heard a voice call to me. ===== >"Gran-mama?" >Opening my eyes, I saw that Sonatina was standing in front of me in the doorway to the balcony itself. >"Why are you crying?" she started, her big eyes looking up at me in confusion. >I didn't like to lie. So I told her. "Saying g-goodbye is hard. That's why I'm crying." I managed to choke out, stifling my tears. >She tilted her head a little, her brow furrowing. >"But... who are you saying goodbye to, gran-mama?" >What? >... >A sense of confusion washed over me as a small realization, turned into a huge one. >Turning, I began to look around frantically. >Anon? >I turned back to my great-granddaughter as something escaped me, something intangible. >Like someone unplugged me and there was no more energy in my body. >Kneeling down, I heard more footsteps from inside. >"Sonatina, you know better than to run away from your momma. What are you doing up here anyways?" Allegro called to her daughter. >Sonatina pouted as she turns to her mother. "Talking to gran-mama! She was saying goodbye to someone who isn't there." >A look of horror crossed the woman's face, as my eyes met hers. >"Alright, go back downstairs to uncle Forte. I need to talk to Grandmama." she ordered, her daughter quickly running off to comply with her mother's orders. >A pregnant pause held in the air, before she spoke. >"...Mom?" >I smiled up at her. >Empty. >"Who were you saying goodbye to?" she asked, the look in her face saying she already knew the answer. "Your father. Anonymous." I stated plainly, my voice devoid of emotion. >"...Mom. Dad's been dead for ten years. I hate asking you this, but have you been taking your dementia medicine?" >I opened my mouth for a moment, placing a hand to my lower lip. Without a thought, an ashamed smile appeared on my face. "Ah, no. I've forgotten for a while, actually. I hadn't asked Solo to refill it recently." >In my mind, something cracked under a great weight. The memories started to peel themselves back, revealing what was really there. >Anon was just a memory I had been projecting into my life, to give me some kind of solace in my loneliness. >The teacups were set by Solo, one for myself and my lost loves. >The happenings between the two of them never happened. >The chess game, I had played with myself. >Solo draped the blanket over me while I slept alone on the couch. >Every time I said 'our' or 'us', everyone realized I was talking about Anon and I, and I was the only one who didn't realize he wasn't there. >They set his plate and filled it with food to entertain my delusions. >The space besides me in bed had always been empty. >Solo and everyone else knew that I was steeped in a lie and encouraged it, because it made me happy. >Now though, I could see it in my daughter's features. It hurt her to see me lost in my own mind. >"I'm sorry, mum... I just,..." she trailed off. "I hate seeing you like this." she finished, unsure if that was all she had to say, but stopping anyways. >She was right, though. It was wrong to live like this. To keep lying. >My eyes were overflowing again. >Anon was gone. >Yet... >He said he was always there. >But he wasn't, other than in my crumbling mind. >'I guess that's what happens when you get old. You start living in memories, just so you can make it to tomorrow.' >It's sad, but it's true, isn't it? >Sitting there on my knees, I heard more voices calling to me. >My son, my grandchildren. >All asking what was wrong. >And why I'd dropped to my knees, crying incoherently.