Mr Macaroon was a quiet man. He lived in a small grey house in a narrow street and kept mostly to himself.
Each day he went for a walk in his brown hat with his keys jangling in his pocket. And as he paced along the bumpy pavement and over the patches of grass, he would smile politely at his neighbours and nod his thanks for the one or two ‘Good Morning’s that might come his way.
Sometimes he would return with a shopping bag of groceries, sometimes with a newspaper or a carton of milk. And then he would sit in his kitchen and take his pills with a small glass of apple juice.
Mr Macaroon remembered what it was like to be young.
He thought of the days when he had kicked a football on the street with his friends.
He thought of long afternoons when they’d stayed out until the air had chilled and the sky had closed in – when cold tingling skin and shadows had made hiding games even more exciting.
He thought of his mother’s hot dinners and her warm eyes and hugs and of his father’s stories and low rumbling laugh.
And Mr Macaroon sipped his apple juice and smiled.
Sometimes the children in the street would clatter along the pavement on their skateboards or bounce a ball through the afternoon peace and, though Mr Macaroon wished that it was quiet when he was resting, he understood growing up and the noise that went along with it. So he would blink slowly and sigh and find a book that took him to another place, a place with sights his eyes would never see and excitement he would never really live through.
He read about spies and astronauts and kings and dinosaurs and countries with camels and adventures in helicopters and submarines. And his eyes sparkled with the Far Off, the Long Ago and the Never Been.
After dinner, he would wash the dishes and then scoop some ice-cream into a bowl. And he would eat it while he sat in his soft chair in the living room, warm all around but with each mouthful of ice-cream tickling him inside with its freezing chill as it slid down to his belly. And Mr Macaroon would smack his lips loudly and smile. Because ice-cream was his favourite.
Outside the small grey house, no one thought of Mr Macaroon. Perhaps there was the occasional “I wonder what he does all day?” from neighbours as they saw him on their way to work or school. Once or twice a person might mutter “He keeps to himself” as he passed them during his daily stroll … but only if those people had been heading to their cars or if they’d just looked up from their weekend gardening at the moment he’d walked by. So mostly, Mr Macaroon wasn’t part of anyone’s life but his own.
But each day he walked.
He smiled and nodded.
He took his pills and drank his apple juice; he read and rested.
Each day Mr Macaroon ate and slept.
And he remembered.
And sometimes, when he heard a child running along the street or saw a teenager listening to their music, he wondered if they would be as content as he was – when they wore their brown hat on their walk or sat in the peace of afternoon to read of things that they would never do … while new children clattered along outside.
And Mr Macaroon smiled.
* * *