I remember when grandparents were, by definition, 57 years old. I’m not sure why I thought that to be the case. I was 9 when my grandmother died at sixty-something. But 57 remained in my mind. 57 is old.
I remember that glorious day when I turned 10 – those magical double-figures – I wasn’t a baby anymore. But I wasn’t satisfied. 14 had become my favorite number now – teenage freedom and fun. I wrote stories with 14-year-old heroines, superpowered, superthoughtful, superwonderful. Even at 15 and 16 I still considered 14 the perfect age. 15 and 16 were, well, old.
I remember when 19 became my new definition of ancient. I raced up the stairs in my college dorm (think gorgeous old house, wide oak banisters, sunlight streaming through the dust). Folders and workbooks flew from my arms and long hair flew about my face. A mirror stood at the top of the stairs and my image, caught suddenly like a stranger in the corner of my eye, left me feeling scared. I couldn’t pass for 14 anymore.
At twenty-something, a mother now, I started writing heroines who were 23. At thirty-something, 24. At 40? But life begins at 40, so they said. And now my heroines were 41, with the occasional nod to 60 and old age. I’d finally agreed, 57 might not yet be ancient after all. Which was just as well, though it didn’t help my self-esteem when I hit that magical age, gray-haired and needing to diet.
And time moved on. My father-in-law’s about to turn 90, I’m not going to tell you my age, and I’m trying to pick a “best age” for my next character. What do you think? And how did those years all fly away, like folders from a student’s arms?
Sheila Deeth is the author of Divide by Zero, from Indigo Sea Press, and of the soon-to-be-released companion novel, Infinite Sum. Which one will you read first?