When he passed the library a group of students were coming down the steps. They were chattering in loud voices and laughing, perhaps releasing the pent up steam built up in the hushed and hallowed interiors where they had spent the earlier part of the day. He felt a twinge of jealousy when they intersected. Not so much for their youth, but for the possibilities it represented. His own horizon had narrowed over the past few decades and he'd become increasingly aware of this fact. Aside from everything else, these youths' unrestrained demeanor reminded him of his own reality in a manner he found unpleasant. He felt guilty for the sentiment and he sighed to himself as their voices blended into the hum of the town, the traffic, and the low, steady pounding of his temples.
Once, it wasn't even so long ago, they had visited his sister's family on the other side of the country. They ate lunch on their large porch under a blue and white-striped awning. Pots of pink, white, and purple petunias hung around the edges, swaying with the breeze, while larger containers with red geraniums were placed at the base of the porch's white-painted beams, like attendants to the reigning serenity. It was all so tasteful he reveled in it. The table had been cleared save for a cheese and fruit platter, a near-empty bottle of Sauvignon, and their bonhomie. They were discussing past youth, in reference to the grandchildren who'd come to visit and were playing in the large yard.
"How little changes," his brother-in-law said, observing their boisterous delight.
"And yet, how much it all changes." His wife said. She had spread her hands out in a sweeping gesture around the table, as if to say, look at us sitting here, so very different, and old.
"My darling, you know very well I haven't aged much more than that one over there." He pointed out 7 year old Stephen who was shirtless and chasing his older sister with a fat, brown slug in his hand. The girl was yelping hysterically as he neared. Everyone chuckled and somebody called out to the boy to stop that nonsense. He stopped, looked at the creature in his hand as if surprised to see it there, and hurled it over the wooden-slat fence into the neighbor's yard.
Later that night, in their bedroom, he asked his wife if she thought he'd aged.
"You have. Like a fine wine, my love."
"That's what I tell you."
"It applies to us both, then. A couple of noble vintages."
"I haven't chased you around with a slug for quite some time."
"Oh, don't be silly." She said, giving him a lighthearted swat on the chest.
They had slipped into the cool linens and slept with the window open. The night was bright with a gibbous moon waxing towards its swan song, much like they were. That, too, had been bliss.
He turned into a quiet street, not far from his destination.