Longevity Chapter 3: 2050
In Other News
I play in three regular Dungeons & Dragons games and run a fourth one. Our group meets twice a week, and our games all meet every other week. In one of them, I play a goblin cleric/wizard named Dr. Rufus Widfire. I intended him to be the ship’s Doctor on board a SpellJammer ship, but somehow he became the Captain.
Longevity Chapter 3: 2050
"It's interesting is all I can say," I said as I wedged my fingers into the crack of the rock face in front of me. "Sarah's getting married now, and it just doesn't seem all that real. I always heard that life seemed to speed up as you got older, but it just seemed like yesterday to me."
Henry dangled next to me and swung about, trying for a better hold. The cables that were holding us up weren't going anywhere. You could hold up a suspension bridge with them. Thin as a pencil, but pound for pound, it was rated to hold up a Mack truck with a single strand in a hurricane. They were already replacing the supports on major bridges with the stuff, and it held more than one little kid's tire swing up with no fear of breaking. If anything, the tire would split first, but since they were so strong these days, you had to practically shred them yourself just to get rid of them when they came off the cars by brute force. They were a nuisance, and it wasn't long before most of the houses had been shingled with reprocessed tires.
I pulled at my rope, and it didn't budge. Three hundred feet in the air, and I was comfortable enough to pull out my lunch.
Henry stopped bobbling about and turned to face me.
I held out a sandwich and a squeeze bottle of coffee, and Henry took them.
After scalding his upper lip with some poor aim, he took to the sandwich and munched at it.
"Do you love her, Henry?" I said. "Do you love Sarah?"
"Yes sir, I do," said Henry through a mouth full of a tuna salad sandwich.
Henry gave me a wary look. I still wasn't sure I liked him.
"Don't worry, I'm not here to scare you, or anything as foolish as that."
"I just had to be sure. Here's the thing, son," I said.
"I love her mother more than just about anything in the world. I worship the quicksand she walks on."
I took a sip from my coffee and then said: "Would you die for her?"
"That's good to hear. Now I'm going to tell you something that you probably will not expect."
"I want you to make the rules together."
"Yes, the rules. I don't want you to listen to me, or anyone else, in laying down the law in your household. Don't let us tell you what to do. Don’t let your parents tell you what to do. Don't fall into a rut and do what you think society wants to tell you to do, either."
"What should I do then?"
"You should make your own decisions. Are you going to this church or to that one, you and she, you decide together? Are you going to have children or not?"
"I mean, just don't let us pressure you. There's no point, anyway. You need to make all those kinds of decisions together. Take your time and get to know each other as much as you can."
"Of course, that's something that you can ignore, too. If you both thought it was right, and you wanted to run away together rather than having this big wedding we're planning, then that's what you should do."
Jacob reached out a finger that looked like the finger of a thirty-year-old to him and poked the twenty-something Henry in the chest with it. He thought it should look older than it did, that it should have some spots or something, that some of his hair should be gray, but none of it was. There might be the occasional stray gray, but they were so few that they barely counted.
"That's what I mean though," I said. “It's all about you and her deciding. Sarah's one of my favorite people in the world, and not just because she's my daughter. She's bright and intelligent, and one of the happiest people I've ever met. She's got this way of making you smile just by winking at you.”
"I know. I love that about her."
"Good. You keep that, and here is the hardest part, well two parts that I'm certain are hard for me to say because I'm still working through them all in my head. Are you ready?"
"I think so."
Henry burned himself, missing the coffee again.
"Here, stick that thing in your mouth when you do that."
Jacob reached over and handed Henry a handkerchief, which Henry immediately dropped, then sheepishly wiped at his face with his hands again.
"Sorry about that."
"Okay, here it is. First, if you and she decided not to take the shot, then I will not get upset about that. We'll keep it to ourselves, and we'll never speak of it, and if you need to move and take my daughter far away from me, then that's what you've got to do. I'll always see her someday. It's not like we don't have constant video streaming all the time. Even on this mountain, we could probably call her if we wanted to."
Henry thought about it for a moment.
"First, while we're not planning to move soon, we're staying in the city. I thank you for that freedom. You never know when you'll need to make a move somewhere. As for the shot. We've already taken it."
I nodded. It's what I had expected, and it wasn't a big surprise.
"Dutiful son," I said. "Good. Now let's get up this mountain."
We put away our lunches and climbed, first using our cables to get back in line with the rock face, and then up it was, finger after finger, and step after step, and inch by inch we made our way to the top.
We pushed up, and stood on the peak, a small flat place, about large enough to spread out and sit, and checked the equipment the guide had left there the day before. There was a strong clamp, holding all the cables in place. They still did not release those, even now. It was too easy to step off and opened a pack that had been left for them in a sturdy box, also clamped to the rock's surface.
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