Writing Prompt: Day 223

223.jpgDay 223 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Other than wisdom, what comes with age?

Shannon: As I’ve gotten older I’ve grown a better understanding of the people around me. There are so many different types of people in this world from my friends to my family, and they all take on life in different ways. Their differences and similarities never cease to amaze me. Though I’ve gained understanding, I’m still learning from each path I cross.

Erin: I’m looking forward to getting older. Sure, there are down sides like wrinkles and increased health issues. There are also fun things too though. With age comes less concern for what others think, retirement, freedom, and more experience to tackle life with on top of it.

What do the years bring?

3 thoughts on “Writing Prompt: Day 223

  1. “Happy Birthday!” they shouted as I opened my front door, nearly knocking me off my feet with surprise, but a happy kind of surprise. As the grin spread across my lips, I threw my purse on the counter and wrapped three of my best friends in the tightest hug I could manage. Alum and Drey squirmed out of the group hug, leaving Jin and I in a long-lasting embrace that almost made up for the months we’d spent apart. Sniffing to hold back the tears that threatened to flow, I gave the straight-haired girl an extra squeeze before leaning back to look at her. Where there had once been perfect, pale skin, there was now caramel-coloured tan lines and scars that stretched thin like cracked in a thick pane of glass.
    I struggled to hold the smile as I saw the jagged line across her childish cheeks, but I wanted to run my fingers along every scar to smooth them over. “Hey, I missed you so much, Jin,” I finally spoke, voice crackling in my throat like paper. On her year off before starting college, Jin had travelled abroad to take in the sights and had become involved in some sketchy dealings between the government and a foreign gang; she was forced to give up all the points she had so they’d let her go so she no longer had any to spare on her appearance. When I tried to give her some on her way home, she sent them back and threatened to give them to the gang if I made another attempt. All her life she’d been just that strong, even after she was in her accident, and she thought she never needed help. This was even more true when she needed it most.
    Nodding solemnly, I turned my eyes on the ever-surprising Drey, whose hair was meant to mimic an ocean wave, and shot him a glare. “You didn’t call me last week when I was going to give you some change for your test, you,” I growled, pacing toward him with a set jaw to keep from smiling at his goofy smile. Suddenly, though, his expression turned cold and sober, as though he’d just taken a sip of pure Somber for the very first time.
    “Well, you know, Miss Ven, I don’t have to wait for you to bail me outta things anymore. Not since, you know,” he replied sadly, his lip almost quivering with apprehension, until icy façade broke down and the grin was back in full force, crinkling his eyes, “I got my license to produce some of the low-level Emotions!” His entire existence in that moment was so steeped in excitement and joy that I feared it would stain every piece of Used Store furniture I owned. Of course, there could be worse feelings to have a room filled with; in fact, Drey was likely to find out just how devastating some of them could be when he was producing and distilling them.
    I leaned forward to give him a hug, but grabbed my hand and swung me gently in a circle before holding me tightly in his strong arms. Everything he owned smelled of flowers and sawdust, just like I remembered, though there was something else that felt heavy as smoke around him; it was some kind of emotional residue that was stuck to his skin in patches, and didn’t feel particularly positive.
    “Okay, I get that you’re happy for him, and you’re just really happy that there’s someone who’s mad that you didn’t take her points, but I haven’t seen her in forever either,” groaned Alum in his father’s thick accent that dropped his voice several octaves when he decided to use it. There was a certain edge to everything Alum commented on Drey’s financial wellbeing, but I figured it was best left between the two of them. So, pecking him lightly on the cheek, I broke free of the warm embrace and turned to the tall, well-quaffed man who owned more suits than socks.
    Tilting my head, I sighed, “So, you’re doing pretty good, obviously.” For us, conversations were mostly in the body language and non-verbal plane; when we were little, we used to have our own language so our parents wouldn’t know we were planning to overthrow them, and I suppose the basic ideas stuck with us. With a twitch of his lip and a couple taps of his fingers on the inside of his arm, Alum let me know he was still trying to gain access to some of the private accounts in our town’s government offices, but that it was more difficult now that there were three different rebel leaders in various levels of power. Scratching my ear and shuffling my good leg, I asked if any of them knew he was there, but he huffed and nodded, shutting his eyes.
    “Yeah, two of them know I’m there, and there’s nothing I can do but wait and see if they request anything strange from me,” he replied aloud, wrapping his lanky arms around his tailored lawyer’s dress suit. Swallowing, he added, “Cas can’t know what I’m doing and I have no one else to talk to any of this about,” in a strained voice that left a prickle behind my eyes. Cas was his wife of three years, with whom he was attempting to have children before the new laws about government employees not having families started up. Of all of us, his situation was the most dire; if they had a child before the rules changed, he might have to give up his whole family, but if they waited they’d never have a son or daughter, ever. None of the rest of our friend group had plans for ourselves, let alone one other human being, so we couldn’t even consider children. “But, look, this is your birthday and we should be celebrating you. So, do you feel any different at twenty-two than you did at twenty-one?”
    Though I knew he meant well changing the subject, I didn’t really want to think about my age; so far, the only positive thing I could see about it was getting more points to spend a day, and even that wasn’t a big accomplishment or boon at my age. Instead, I really wanted to sink my teeth into one of the books I bought for myself, or, rather, my friends bought for me by giving me a few points each. At this point, though we knew each other at the cellular level, it was a tradition to give points as a birthday gift just to be sure they were well-spent. Drey usually spent his on some new gadget or an investment that brings that wondrous glitter to his eyes that we all wish we could still feel in our hearts. Jin bought some kind of spectacularly dangerous experience or added it to the travel fund she had on the go constantly so she was always saving up for a new goal. Alum always put his into a fund or vault or wherever it was that points went into, but never came out of; he saved consistently and would likely be the only one of us to retire in many decades.
    “I don’t feel any more wise or experienced, if that’s what you mean,” I sighed, falling into one of my dense chairs and stretching like a cat in her favorite spot. With my friends all around me, worldly and financially stable and full of childish wonder, I felt like the only one who was miserable on what was meant to be a great day. After a minute’s thought, I added to my comment on age, “I do feel like I’ve earned a bit more knowledge. You know, I go to the Learning Place all the time and I never see it full like the other stores are,” I groaned, feeling the prickle behind my eyes again and angrily dabbing at my face. “People have to pay so many points just to learn something, and no one has the points to spare, so they’re stuck where they are with the knowledge they have. If we could just, could just-” pausing, I searched for the word as everyone else nodded minutely, “-just learn and obtain knowledge without putting out a months’ worth of points.”
    Beside the tiny kitchen, Drey was twiddling his thumbs, though I knew he understood what I meant, and pretending to be very interested in his reflection. Alum was tapping through a long paper on his computer with his brows furrowed dangerously, even though he wasn’t reading a word of it. Delicately balanced on the dining room chair, Jin was the only one who could look me in the eye, and even she wore a subtle frown on her thin lips. Every one of them had their hands full with life, but I was looking at a problem larger than any of us, and I was willing to use up the joyful day of my birth to get my point across.
    “I know,” whispered Alum, his eyes still resting on his phone, “I know what you mean and I agree completely, but,” here, he lifted his eyes to mine and the screen went blank, “we’re already working on making sure that everything stays stable enough to provide the amount of points everyone should get. Two of the rebels keep attempting to scuttle the efforts we’ve made to keep the status quo; if it all falls apart, Ven, we won’t be able to keep anyone fed or in shelter or healthy in any capacity.” His dark eyes pleaded with me to understand, which I did, but they also wanted me to drop the topic completely, which I couldn’t do. “No one knows what would happen if the government fell apart right now. No one knows,” he finished, still staring at me.
    With a dark chuckle, I replied shortly, “Well, perhaps whatever would happen is better than this hell.”
    That was basically the end of my party. I didn’t want anyone to spend more points on special food or travelling back in the middle of the thunderstorm that had rolled in, so we quietly passed around Soup-Vegetable and everyone fell asleep in the living room.

    When I woke up Jin was the only one left, snoring peacefully as she lay across the sofa with a heavy blanket thrown haphazardly across her. Padding quietly across to dig out my stash of Awake pills, I glimpsed the mangled scars across her arm and face; I knew she didn’t want me to feel sorry for her, but I couldn’t help it. I swallowed the pill and chased it with some water, leaning against the counter with my eyes shut as the energy filled my body in a matter of seconds.
    With Awake coursing through my veins, I grabbed my computer and started searching the web for any of the rebel groups that were in a constant battle; torn between their mutual hatred toward the government and the fear that if any of their comrades got any level of power it would corrupt them indefinitely. In the old days stumbling upon any number of groups like them was inevitable after being online for a few minutes, but now they hid under cover to avoid detection from both their many enemies and their targets. But, hey, even if I didn’t agree with everything any of them stood for, I had to start somewhere, right?
    Jin turned over after a little while, rubbing her eyes and blinking up at me happily. “M’ey,” she slurred, twisting on the uncomfortable couch and leaning forward so she was propped on her disfigured arm. “What’re ya do’n?” she yawned, wrapping herself in the blanket and crossing her legs like we used to do at sleepovers.
    I contemplated my answer, smiled anxiously, and replied, “Well, I have decided that, with age, comes new ideas that ought to be implemented, no matter how near-sighted those around us are.” It hit me that this was exactly what Alum and I used to sound like when we were little kids, plotting to overthrow everyone who didn’t know what we did; we’d thought we were so much smarter than everyone else in the world back then. Shoving my computer into my pocket, I leapt to my feet, grabbed my coat and stopped dead in the middle of the apartment when I remembered Jin was still there. “You can let yourself out when you’re ready, but I have to go talk to Alum,” I explained shortly, turning for the door.
    “Oh, yeah right! You’re not leaving me here; I’m obviously coming with you, Ven,” groaned Jin as she managed to get to her feet. “Look, I can’t do anything I wanted to now, anyway. I have nothing to lose. No beauty, no points to save my life, and no job because I have nothing left but my life.” When she said it, she wasn’t whining, it was just the truth without sugar-coating or beating around the proverbial bush.
    After a second of thought, I passed her coat back to her and grinned, “I guess, really, with age comes new perspectives on the world we live in.” Off we went to save the world from itself.

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