It was winter – late winter – and Athol went walking. The trees were bare; the ground had mounds of rotting leaves.
Athol kicked the piles of leaves as he walked. It may have still been winter but a mellow breeze blew the loose leaves in swirls. Athol sat on a log and thought. Just before the leaves began to fall his world was a different place. He was secure in his job; secure in his family; secure in his life.
Now all had gone – no job, no family, no life. The world had changed in harmony with the season. There was no hope. He should stop pretending that things would return to normal. Things wouldn’t. He should try to move on – but how and to where?
In front of him was a broken branch. It must have snapped in a winter storm. The snapped branch looked like the head of a crocodile! Ferocious! Fearful!
Athol moved on; he couldn’t sit and mope forever. He kicked another pile of leaves. It exposed a little frog nestling itself from the winter. It was asleep. It was waiting for the warmth of spring. It would die once exposed to fierce winter elements. Athol covered the frog over with protective dead leaves.
Vernon was a worrier. Every night he lay in bed, wide awake, and worried.
He worried as to what he would do if his wife died. Would he cope on his own? Would he sell the house and move to something smaller? Would he…?
He worried that his pet canary might escape its cage and fly into the world outside. What would it eat? Would it sing in the trees? It would get cold and probably die in a couple of days. Poor thing. Oh the poor thing..
What if he died before his wife? Would she be alright? What if the car broke down after he’d died? He should really make arrangements to join some Automobile Association so his widowed wife could simple phone up and say “Help!”
What if his dog barked too loud and the neighbours phoned the city’s Animal Control people and they came and took the dog away. It would be so lonely. It would whimper. It would be awful; just awful. People can be so cruel.
What if there was a knock on the door in the middle of the night and it was the police saying that one of the kids had been killed in a car crash? These things happen, and regularly.
What if North Korea dropped a bomb? What if he lost his job? What if? What if?
And tonight was the worst of all. The bed was hard. His every joint ached. Not a wink of sleep all night. He was glad when morning came. He had tossed and turned and worried in case he was getting some sort of alzheimer’s. He couldn’t remember what he was worried about.