He hadn´t realized that thirty-four was old but perhaps she had.

She’d had her first two sons when she was not yet thirty and not yet thirty-two, but the third one had come when she was already thirty-four and that had made a difference, a rather large difference, indeed, all the difference.

She’d suddenly grown and had started on the path that leads to old. But neither he nor she had realized it. They’d thought it was a passing thing, that her body would soon be slender again, yet curved in all the right places, and that somehow, their old world would be back, and that their newest addition would fit right in, and they’d be the ideal family everyone believed them to be, and which they’d in fact been.

He’d not started to grow old yet then. Strange, he’d started earlier, and then, started later too, fighting off the changes that assailed them on all sides, the darkness that kept seeping in and nesting and brooding and breeding insidious offspring. Insidious but frequently disguised as friends and though the disguises were thin, they were thick enough, … unfortunately.

Thirty-four seemed a strange age then.

He’d been thirty-four when they’d met and she almost a decade younger, but he’d not been close to old. Immortality indeed still seemed not only possible but probable, all but certain, but then again, time was not as old as it would be either. Time ages too. And during that first decade she’d not aged at all, or matured. And while he’d not aged, perhaps he’d had to mature facing more and more unpleasant things, unfair things, unexpectedly expected things, and apparently, while he’d been able to protect her from them for a time, when they hit, they’d all hit at once. When she’d turned thirty-four.

Thirty-four. Strange. He’d always believed that twenty-five was the age at which things crystalized and coalesced in the women who’d impacted him. But perhaps at thirty-four things calcified. Time aged. The world shifted in its restless dreams and carelessly crushed hopes and expectations, and opened crevices through which alternate realities crept in. Unpleasant alternate realities.

Thirty-four, an age which neither the Nazarene nor the Macedonian attained, but then again, they were both men.

Thirty-four. Perhaps, in forty years or so, he’d have a chance to start a cycle once again, perhaps with someone who was still just thirty-three, about to turn thirty-four, and perhaps, then things would coalesce in different streams, singing different themes. “Perhaps” is such a fascinating word, full of the inchoate and perhaps of chaos too. Everything possible. Spring and late autumn walking together into winter.

Wishful dreams perhaps, but wishful dreams sometimes come true, just as youthful dreams are too often crushed.

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at and much of his writing is available through his blog at

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