Several hours passed. Alone. Sitting at the kitchen table. Contemplating. What’s next? he asked himself. How much worse could it get? the old man continued. He took a calendar down from the refrigerator. Stuck there by a magnet. Got a marker out of the drawer where there were rubber bands, Q-Tips, steel wool pads, junk collected over the years. He started marking off days till his death, or, what he thought would be. Planned it out. Black exes drawn on dates leading up to December, 1st. He wanted one more autumn. One more birthday. His last Thanksgiving. Just one more November and he would call it quits.
October came along with Indian summer. Warm fall days and cool evenings.The old man sat on his front porch and watched the leaves change. Green to yellow. Red to rust. Piles raked up in yards around the trailer park. Young boys placing them in black plastic bags. He remembered when he was able to rake. Dragging the metal comb over the yard. His father paying him a dollar a bag. The old man smiled.
Maybe everyday in heaven is autumn, he thought. Maybe there’s piles of leaves along streets of gold. Is that true God? he whispered. Is my old dog Norman rolling around in them? the old man laughed. Then he was reminded of why he wanted to depart; joints ached, constant coughing, fat gut, lonely days, not being able to remember simple things, like where he placed the newspaper, the year, felt he was losing his mind.
It was no fun getting old. His wife gone, pets passed away, the old man was by himself. Every once in awhile neighbors would check on him. They’d bring a tuna casserole and make small talk about weather, last night’s football game, did he need anything? He always said he was fine. Just fine; sitting in the chill until darkness came.
November went by quickly. Just like life. One day was the 1st, then Thanksgiving was over. His calendar was all used up. December was here. It was time. It was time.