The store was heaving with shoppers, buying last minute presents.
Leaning against a pillar to hold him up, a man works through possible gift scenarios with his daughter.
His daughter bridging the gap between he and his wife.
Ideas perpetually dancing from one to the other.
What does she need, or want?
Intuitively, she needs nothing, she’s seen and had it all.
His daughter notes his irascible nature, lack of tolerance for giving; even his wife.
“Who stole his joy?”, his daughter wonders.
A wife of 60 years awaits at home, pottering around like a mouse in a cage.
Her joy too, gone.
An inventory of what she may like are thrown in the air, only to scatter like confetti.
A night dress, scarf, gloves, or a robe, same as last year, and the year before that.
His daughter watched intently towards the hands of other shoppers, laden with gifts.
Searching for less dull and uninspiring ideas.
They too lack lustre.
What to buy a loved one who needs nothing and is in want of nothing, yet you must still buy?
Her father’s crumpled body leans closer to his daughter, coffee breath heaves itself towards her vulnerable nostrils.
Is this what the end of life becomes?
Lacklustre replacing passion and joy?
Forlorn, his daughter, decides, grabbing hold of her father’s bony hand.
He is taken aback; his hands are empty; he must give his wife something!
They step outside into the cold, sunny day, blue sky peppered with white clouds.
This miserable old man was once young, vibrant, charismatic; it’s hard to believe.
Looking back at the frenzied shoppers, all buying to buy things that mean nothing.
Just to buy.
He slowly begins to realise and takes hold of his daughters’ hand; begins to skip, skipping as if twelve again.
Laughing with delight, the two flaunt their youth, recapturing the delight of childish exuberance.
They don’t stop until they get home, his wife still circling around her cage.
Aghast she swallows hard; Joy has entered the room.
Joy no longer a looming, passing affair, filled the room.
She chuckles and wiggles her hips.
Her husband wraps his sinewy arms around her waist, they dance.
Dance until their legs scream with fatigue, drink like ferocious fiends, and slink into their room to love.
Screwing away the day’s rays, their daughter has since retreated to her own home.
No presents were needed or even wanted.
Joy has finally returned.