Falling. As he fell, in a split second his emotions raced through denial, panic, terror, and acceptance.

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As he fell, in a split second his emotions raced through denial, panic, terror, and acceptance. Having rapidly and undeniably admitted to himself that in a few seconds he would be dead, acceptance of the inevitable allowed him to clear his mind of all the petty thoughts and worries. No need to speak to his boss, the deadline he had missed last week could stay missed forever. What did he care if his phone credit expired tomorrow, no need to take the long way home past the store now. Perhaps for the first and last time, he could allow himself to examine his lifelong successes and failures in complete and unbiased honesty. No time for self pity for this untimely end, now everything was about to come to a full stop. All that remained was the chance to cram as many memories as possible into the rest of his life. 

The first thought that came wasn’t of his wife or his children, but of himself as a child, strange he thought, why am I remembering this and not the birth of my son. But the original memory stubbornly stayed in sharp focus and wouldn’t be pushed aside by the image of a small bloody head emerging into the world for the first time. The memory of childbirth quickly faded away and he was forced to see himself as a six year old pushing a bicycle up the hill in front of their cottage. It was a yellow bike, a couple of sizes too large for him. His Dad had picked it up from the scrap yard and spent all week repairing it, painting it bright yellow, like his friend’s BMX bikes, polishing the chrome work and replacing the worn and decayed hand grips, peddles and tyres with brand new ones. He remembered the feeling of simultaneous joy and disappointment. Genuine joy at getting a bike, real disappointment at getting an old man’s bike, joy at the hard work his Dad had done, just for him, disappointment that despite all the hard work it still looked like an old man’s bike and not a brand new BMX. 

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The memory faded now and he saw himself as an old man, no not himself, his father. His father had always been fit and strong, until one day he wasn’t. Had it happened overnight? An active hardworking man in his late sixties had become old and bent in his early seventies. Seventy wasn’t old anymore, not really. Your seventies were a time to enjoy your life, relax and take things one step at a time, golfing, sailing, going caravanning were all activities to be enjoyed in your retirement. When had his father stopped doing all these things, when had he ...

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