Always Young

"I was wrong to grow older. Pity. I was so happy as a child." - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

When she first fell in love the differences in their ages worried her.

Gus loved her now, but what if it was only affection, a big brother to a little sister, not the kind of love between a man and a woman? What if she grew up and he no longer cared?

He was on his own, a grown man making a living, and she was still a little girl living at home and barely out of pinafores.

She'd never kissed anyone before he kissed her, a quick brush on the cheek, but a kiss none the less. For all his talk no doubt he'd kissed a hundred girls and broken hearts all over.

She worried that when she was grown he would be too old for her, that the gap would be more pronounced as if it could widen over time, pulling them apart.

She counted years, months, and days. When he was this she would be that.

It wasn't as large a gap as some very happy marriages, she reminded herself..why, a cousin on her father's side had married a man fifteen years her elder...but she couldn't help counting the years between them.

Perhaps he would grow tired of her, think her a child, and find a grown woman. Perhaps she'd be repulsed if his hair turned gray before her's.

She was still a child in so many ways, still innocent, a girl who'd never been more than a hundred miles in any direction from home while he had seen the world.

The day he left she wanted to scream, to throw a tantrum, and beg him to stay. She wanted them to be schoolchildren again, when he'd carry her books, or play his fiddle as the children danced in the schoolyard. There was so little gap in their ages then.

She even wished once, a quiet, secret wish, that she could be the elder, could be fully grown and not a child. It would be easier if they were the same age, or if she was older.

It was the week after the news came that he'd been lost at sea and she was sitting on the cliffs overlooking the deceptively still water, the water that had dragged him down and stolen his breath, the water that had taken him from her in a single moment, when it came to her.

She'd run through the emotions - disbelief, anger, blinding sorrow - and now was left empty and hollow. There were no tears to shed, no more tormenting nightmares of reaching to him as he slipped beneath the waves.

It was only in that moment that it occurred to her that Gus would forever be as she last saw him...young, strong, never aging, never growing old. She would go on and he would remain.

It was cruel somehow that she would get older and older as the years passed, while he would never age a single day.

And eventually, she would be older than him.