8 by 3He remembers so many wars he can count them on both hands and feet. His face is a map of worries, drawn deeper by nicotine. His skin’s as pale as tracing paper, blending into the walls. Grandad says he feels old as time. The afternoon after his 90th birthday he gets a shovel from the shed. He walks bent double to the rosebushes, a clockwork toy slowing down. With an aerosol can he sprays white lines on the lawn. The wind whips his silver hair across his face like a shroud but he doesn’t stop. He works like a 20 year old, the spade gliding through the frosty earth like water. Inch by inch he removes the soil, the darkness leaving a perfect void. Soon there is no more time. Now when I hang out the washing the smell of tobacco lingers among the roses.
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