By Noah Kirsch
The landscape was brown and dry, void of any redeeming features except a shack near a tree in the distance. The leaves ruffled like chicken feathers underneath the midday Tuscan sun. A dirt road sliced through the countryside, dividing the picture in two.
Underneath a tree in the distance sat a decrepit man. His teeth had rotted away. His face was wrinkled like a raisin in the sun. The man had been hardened by eighty years of torment; by eighty years of weather so dry that the slightest wind brought real cotton to the mouth. He looked at the shack. The roof sagged like the middle years of his life. The boards had weathered away, leaving stark holes open to the elements. He blinked. Out of the corner of his eye a younger figure of himself walked out of the dark cabin. The young man’s eyes were wooden. He looked straight at the old man.
“Morto. Cadavere per un uomo.” He spat. “Mi fa venire il vomito.” (Dead. Corpse for a man. You disgust me). The old man made for a captive audience. He stared right into the young man’s uncompromising eyes. The old man tried to drop his head. He tried to look away. He tried to tell himself that this was all a dream. Not that he was imagining himself sixty years younger. Rather, the old man was trying to tell himself that he had not wasted his life on the desolate Tuscan field. He was unconvinced. The lightest breeze came across the man’s forehead and for a second he felt relief. He blinked and the young man before his eyes had vanished. The slightest tear trickled down his cheek.
Noah Kirsch lives in Spencertown, New York.