Richard M. Ankers

Pain slips in like light through a louvre blind. One tug and it’s there. One flash of gold, and everything else blurs.

No one explains how pain can change everything. 

My father had his ailments, but stoic fellow that he was, took them. My mother and sister had ‘the curse’ as all women do but were otherwise healthier than rhinos. Grandad said more with one last look than all those others put together, but at the time, I missed it. “Promise me you’ll look after your grandma,” he said. His eyes narrowed, sallow flesh paled. These would be his last words, ones spoken through a bronchial farewell. My ‘Yes’ might as well have killed him. I was 17. The louvre blinds had opened a chink. 

Pain accumulates like light at the back of the eyes, bringing definition to life in a way nothing else can. Pain is the cleanser, a breath of cold reality: Why did I complain before? There’s nothing quite like it for focusing the mind, that light filtering through from the other side. The louvre blinds open some more. 

With age comes experience, they say. The truth? With age comes perspective. The older generation may bicker, as this is in our nature, may curse and occasionally scream, but we know. Oh, yes, we know. We feel the clawed fingers tapping our shoulders, reaching for our necks, a sobering embrace. We await the whisper, where the young wait for nothing, and I’ve waited too long. 

There is no absolute darkness, not now. At night, I close tired eyes to an insipid dusk and wake to a translucent dawn. Colour washes from the world like watercolour landscapes painted in the rain. This is my easing into eternity, a luxury Grandad taught me to cherish that day. It matters not if the sun doesn’t shine, if the clouds pour misery upon the world, or the stars falters, not if it’s your hands on the pull cord. 

My pain has gone now. I’m tugging the blinds open by choice. Yes, it’s my choice. I miss him, them, and all the others. I’m ready. 

The next life shall come to me as the view when I open the kitchen’s louvre blinds shortly after waking. I know what to expect, but it’s always a bit of a surprise.


Richard M. Ankers is the English author of The Eternals series and Britannia Unleashed. Richard has featured in Expanded Field Journal, Love Letters to Poe, Spillwords, and feels privileged to have appeared in many more. Richard lives to write.

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