Have you ever considered the possibility of living forever? Not like in films, but actually the day-to-day experience of living forever. It isn’t as glamorous as it’s made out to be, not some great prize, the way mythology paints it.
Phineaus Fletcher was born in wartime Britain, son of an absentee soldier-father who died before he even knew he was one. Doodlebugs were screaming their way across the nightime sky of London as Janet Fletcher screamed her way to becoming a mother in a cramped and busy shelter with very little privacy. A few kind-hearted women cooed at the little lad, but mostly people sniffed in disapproval and annoyance at the spectacle of an unmarried mother. No one knew then, not even Janet Fletcher herself, that the boy would rise far beyond his less than humble origins.
When immortality is imagined by those who do not possess it, a few choice clichés spring to the fore. However there is no fountain of youth, Phinaeus Fletcher was never the victim of vampiric goings on, nor was he, as we have established, the love-child of philandering deities. He was not magical, mystical, alien or a superhero. Until the day he turned twenty one, for all intents and purposes, Phinaeus was a normal human being.
Phinaeus woke to the sound of his mother cleaning the kitchen floor, just as he did every morning without fail. She was a wonderful woman his mother. She was warm and loving, proud and generous. She had many saintly qualities but like any other woman, she also had her quirks. Every morning at 6.45 precisely, Phinaeus would be woken by his mother scrubbing away at the linoleum; the incessant squeaking and scratching of the brush was loud enough to wake the dead. You’d think, though, that she could leave it be for one day. At least that is was Phinaeus had hoped when he’d clambered into his narrow cot bed the previous night.
As he blinked the sleep from his eyes, he contemplated what it meant to be 21. He felt no different in himself. His 21yr old eyes functioned exactly the same, saw the world exactly the same as had his 20yr old eyes yesterday. No one body part felt older, wiser or more able to garner the attention of the new barmaid in the Rose and Crown. He scraped the greasy mop of dark brown hair back from his forehead and twisted more comfortably in the crumpled bedsheets. Before long his mother would be stomping up the stairs of their cramped little terraced house demanding that he quit being a lazy lummox and shift himself, but he lingered in the stolen moment of solitude.
What would his father have said to him if he were around? This was the day you were supposed to become a man after all. What would he make of him? Phinaeus sat up and caught sight of himself in the tacky perspex mirror on the back of the door. Not for the first time he wondered how much he looked like him. Casting his mind back to the one time he’d found that tattered photograph his mother had hidden away, he tried to imagine some semblance between the image and his reflection. The jaw line wasn’t square enough and the hair was thick and dark like his mother’s, but the eyes, they could be similar. And the nose was exactly the same; it was long and straight with slightly flared nostrils and a smattering of freckles, just enough to be noticed if you looked very closely.
But what about the other things, aside from appearance? Did he laugh like him? Did he smile like him? Did he daydream like him? He swept his hair behind his ears and reached for the cigarettes on the bedside table. With any luck he’d be able to sneak one before this moment of peace was disrupted.