The Last Poster

Some time ago, I decided to take a creative writing course. The first assignment was to do a character study. I wasn’t quite sure what they wanted, and turned it into a little more. This is the result. As with some of my other writing (especially the early stuff), the characters here are based loosely on real people, however this is a work of fiction and should be read as such!

John stared at the blank sheet of paper in front of him, his pen held lightly between his fingers. Calligraphy used to be his favorite hobby, but in the past few years his failing eyesight and the onset of arthritis had turned it into a real challenge. Still, he had created posters for the church events for over thirty years, and pride would not let him admit that the time had come to pass the job on to someone else.

It also seemed to John that the days had somehow shrunk as he grew older. It barely seemed more than a couple of years ago that he first set eyes on his granddaughter, but in less than a week they would be meeting to celebrate her twenty first birthday. The celebration would be a special one, not only because Caroline was returning from a year spent in New Zealand, but also because it would be the first time the whole family had been together since John and his wife Dorothy celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary.

John’s eyes moistened slightly as he thought back to that day, now almost seventy six years ago when he had watched Dorothy walk down the aisle with her father to take her place beside him. He was only twenty two at the time, and had recently completed an apprenticeship in the printing industry, she was slightly younger and as beautiful to him as the first spring flower. In the years since they had shared many things. Some of them were bad, like the time they were separated by the onset of war in Europe, or when finances were so tight that they had to go without meals to make sure that their son was able to grow strong. Most were better. Over the years they had found many good friends, and were friends to others in turn. After John retired his pension had been enough for them to take occasional trips to places like Germany in happier circumstances than his first visit.

“Tea?” enquired Dorothy, abruptly breaking his reverie.

“Huh?” John jumped, a spot of ink dripping from his fountain pen onto the pristine white sheet below.

“I thought you might like one.” Dorothy responded, placing a cup of Darjeeling tea beside him. “So, how is the poster coming?”

John sighed, watching Dorothy over the rim of his reading glasses, and gestured silently to the paper. Dorothy looked at it for a moment, and then sat down beside him, placing her hand comfortingly over his. After a few seconds, John put down his pen, placed his other hand on top of hers and gave it a squeeze.

“You were right.” He admitted, “It’s time for someone else to do this. It’s just that I gave my word that I would do this last one.”

Dorothy smiled at him. “I’ll let you get on with it then,” she said, rising from the seat.

As the door closed behind her, John retrieved his pen and started again on a new sheet of paper.

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