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THE MiSERY OF AGE

©  WRiTER oN THe MoON

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12

Weston-Super-Mare

The ASDA shopping bags were sliding from the right to the left in the trunk of the car. It was one of the basic deficiencies of the vehicle, it was impossible to take a curve elegantly. Anyone riding with her would think it was Marisa who was turning the wheel madly to the rhythm of Born To Hand Jive.

How low can you go, how low can you go, how low can you go, how low can you go?

They bopped along to the beat, the three of them totally possessed by Travolta's spirit and one by one, all of the students from Rydell Institute.

Higher, higher, higher and higher

Now you can hand jive, baby, oh you can hand jive, baby

Oh yeah, o yeah, o yeah, born to hand jive, oh yeah.

They were going to spend what was left of the afternoon at Weston-super-Mare."I've been getting very bad energy from you guys ever since I picked you up. What do you say we go to the beach and buy an ice cream at The New Pier and recharge batteries and then we go home?" she proposed.

After all, she was "driving."

"The tide is really low today, you can barely see the water from here," said Alan, licking his cone sitting on what used to be the promenade at the waterfront. Off in the distance you could see what was left of the Grand Pier. "Aunt Marisa, how long are you going to stay in Bristol this time?"

"Eight more days, oh wait....yes, yes, eight more days."

"Great!"

"Oh you guys, I really needed to get out of Chinchón. I think you know better than anyone else how fast I get tired of everything. I've just got ants in my pants and need changes," she replied.

"Yes, and a new boyfriend."

"Alan, a little more respect for your aunt, don't you think?" she scolded.

"Sorry, I didn't want to offend you."

"Oh come on, you should know me by now. I'm pulling your leg silly! But yes, it's true, another man has broken my heart."

"How is Granny?" asked Alan, cutting off the romantic gibberish. "I miss her."

"She misses you too. There was always something special between the two of you."

"Aunt Marisa, let's change the subject completely. Would you please tell me what my parents do?"

"They weave and they wash. You know that, they always have. What's so surprising about that, you've seen them doing it all your life Alan?"

"I want to know the truth. I want to know about their weaving and washing the dead."

"As I was saying, look Alan, I think it would be better if they told you. The whole procedure, because it's really a drag and don't be in such a hurry to find out about it."

"And what does it say in the weavers book about dying if you tell someone? I told Javier and he's still alive."

Marisa looked hard at Javier.

"Yeah, he told me and I'm still here. Am I going to die?" asked Javier, feeling menaced.

"Nobody is going to die." choosing her words very carefully, "To begin with, the secret should be kept. And it is also true that if someone was to make it public in bad faith, I seem to remember that they would die instantly, without the words being spoken, as those words are protected. As long as the secret stays within an intimate circle, there should be no problem."

"I get it, I guess." Alan responded gloomily.

"Look boys, the process is very simple. A person that is going to die receives a notification. Damn, I'm telling you this when it is your parents that should be doing the talking."

The two boys opened their eyes wider, waiting for her to go on.

"What does the note to the future cadaver say?"

"I haven't got a clue and I hope I don't find out for at least another hundred years. But what I figure is that the person receives a note that they are going to die. They are assigned to a laundry, but they are free to choose which one they want."

"Like all those old people that come to Park Street."

"That's right. Usually people come and arrange everything with the weaver so that the day they die, they will clean their bowels, let's say their physical bowels. Lots of them are real sewers and there is no way to get them completely clean. Look how my hands are after all the washing."

"Geez, I have so many questions. And what if they die accidentally, all of a sudden?" asked Javier.

"Not them."

"No? So?"

She shook her head stubbornly. "If an airplane were to crash and all the people onboard were to die, they would not receive a notification. That's another story and has nothing to do with us. Another example is suicide."

She stopped short when she mentioned that word and looked closely at Javier.

"Sorry Javier, I didn't mean...."

"That's ok Aunt Marisa. I'm over it!"

"What I was saying is that would be the same thing. Got it? It only involves death by the consequences of age. Of all the filth we accumulate inside. Do you understand?"

"And what if someone ignores the notification and doesn't go to the laundry. Then what?"

"They will die anyway. There is a group of weavers willing to search for the bodies, if need be. But most people show up."

"And if the person who receives the notification tells his loved ones, what would happen?"

"They would pass away before they could tell."

"And in Bristol are we the only place where this is done?"

"No, I believe there are at least nine more that work clandestinely."

"Do they do the same in Chinchón?"

"If I'm not mistaken, they do this all over the world. Evidently in Chinchón too. What do you think that little shop called Rip, Tear and Stitches Albear is?"

"Geeeez! You mean Grannies sewing shop?"

"I don't believe it!" said Javier.

"That's the way it is."

"I'm freaking out." added Javier.

"Aunt Marisa, this isn't one of your super elaborated jokes is it? The three of you are warped enough to try it." asked Alan.

"No, no! How could we possibly lie about something so pure as this? There is one thing you have to have perfectly clear. You should grow old with the permission of time, doing so without blessing makes you grow old the same but, as if it wanted to have revenge on you, all of a sudden you realize you are forty years older and people will say, "You really aged this week."

Clearly Maris was telling them about her own experience.