The man sat upright at his desk, one hand resting on his sheet of paper, and the other touching the charcol that had rolled across the desk. Sunlight was slowly drifting across the paper from the window in front of him, but the man didn’t appear to see it.
He was old, that was clear; his skin was wrinkled, with fans of creases around his eyes that spoke of laughter, and his hair was almost all grey. His brown eyes were vacant, and he seemed to be staring at a wood and paper model of a flying machine that was hanging above the desk.
Stop it, a voice said gently, a voice that only he could hear.
“I miss him.” the man said to the sunlight, watching the model drifting in the faint breeze. “This house…has too many memories.” He pushed the drawing away, and stood up, looking around the large room. “It’s too- too quiet.”
There was a knock on the door, and a young man put his head around it. “Talking to yourself again?”
“Talking to her.” the old man said irritably, walking over to the door as a courtesy – the young man had his own key. He had had to shorten his customary stride as his knees protested, and missed being able to do things. His knuckles hurt, too; a legacy of so many years of drawing. “Come in, come in.”
The young man left an hour later with a fond smile for the old man who was now his charge, and had once been his mentor. The old designer still designed his flying machines, but hadn’t flown one for months. Not since-
The Fliyer’s still out back. the voice in his head said.
“You’d die too.” he told it.
I’m old too. the voice said. I’m tired too. I’ve lived amongst these people for too long.
“I could come and get you.” the old man said, walking back to his desk. “We could go away.”
Where too? Treloolir’s too busy, now.
“No! No. Treloolir has…too many memories.” He’d discovered it with Catter. They’d flown there, crashed there, kissed there. Everything had started there. And now Catter was gone.
We could just go away.
“Off into the sunset.” the old man said, staring out the window. “Maybe. But life’s hard to leave, you know?”
I know, the Healer he had once saved said into his thoughts. I know.