Essex 32

“The path gets straighter and narrower all the time,” Essex said. “The years press in. The path becomes a knife edge and I creep along, holding on even to that, the years closing in on either side and overhead.”

“That’s not very scandalous,” Mrs. Halloran said.

“I am afraid,” Aunt Fanny said, “that this young man did not have what we used to call ‘advantages’. Not everyone, Orianna, was fortunate enough to grow up in luxury and plenty. As of course you know perfectly well.”

“The statistics scratch at your eyes,” Essex said. “When I was twenty, and could not see time at all, the chances of my dying of heart disease were one in a hundred and twelve. When I was twenty-five and deluded for the first time by a misguided passion, the chances of my dying of cancer were one in seventy-eight. When I was thirty, and the days and hours began to close in, the chances of my dying in an accident were one in fifty-three. Now I am thirty-two years old, and the path getting narrower all the time, and the chances of my dying of anything at all are one in one.” 

“Very profound,” said Mrs. Halloran, “but still not altogether scandalous.”