Ian walked into the cafe and chose a nice place by the window. He stared out the window, watching all the people who could continue their lives until they died of old age.
"Hello there Ian!"
He looked up to see an old woman wearing a pink and blue stripy apron walk towards him. She was also wearing a stripy bonnet, giving her the look of someone old trying to look young again, but failing drastically.
"Hello..." Ian said, not really knowing how she knew his name.
"It's been a mighty long time since I've seen you here!" the woman exclaimed, smiling at him. "Last time I saw you, you were a little boy."
Something clicked, and Ian returned her smile, despite his situation. "Martha?" Was she really the young woman that Ian had had a crush on when he was little? She had always served them with a wink to Ian, making him sure that he was her favourite. Was it really so long ago that a young, pretty woman could have turned into an old, wrinkled mess in that time?
"That's me!" the old woman said. "I was sure you'd remember. Anyhow, what brings you here?"
Ian looked over her shoulder and saw one person waiting to be served. "Don't you need to get back to your customers, Martha? I shouldn't be holding you up with idle chatter when many of your customers need your attention."
The old woman's wrinkles shifted, and she waved it away with her hand. "You're an old acquaintance! I need to have some time with you! Who knows, it might be our last chat together. I'm getting rather old, now."
Ian saw the irony of the situation. "I don't think you're the one to worry about."
"Excuse me?" Martha said, reaching up and tweaking her bonnet as she always did when she was confused or needed something to do with her hands.
Ian looked up at her, the old woman with one hand still on her bonnet, and took a deep breath in. "The doctor said I only had one day left to live. I've only got ten hours of it left."
Her hand dropped away from her bonnet to hang limply at her side. She stared at him, astonished, for a few moments before she shook her head, smiling. "It couldn't be! Why, you're still young, fit and healthy! There's no reason for you to die so quickly!"
Ian shrugged. "I don't know. Some large word explains it all; I know, the doctor said it to me. But that's why you will probably live longer than me. You will live longer than me."
Martha shook her head, still smiling. "It's all some big joke, isn't it? The doctor's probably fooling you!" She chuckled. "Doctors these days, everyone believes every single word that comes out of their mouth. How easy would it be for them to trick you? Come, now, Ian, there's nothing to be worried about."
Ian said nothing for a while, just sat and stared at his hands. "One smoothie, please. My favourite," he said finally. Martha sighed.
"You really believe it, don't you? You're reserved to your fate, I can tell." Martha shook her head. "You've still got some chance, you young one. I'm probably much older than the doctor, so I know better. How about you get one of Old Martha's Cheering Up Happy Pie? That'll do the trick for sure."
Ian said nothing and reached for the paper flyer in the middle of the table. It proudly proclaimed; Old Martha's Cheering Up Happy Pie, guaranteed to cheer you up! There was a picture of the young Martha, smiling happily out at him. Ian looked up at the old Martha, who was reaching up her hand to fix her bonnet. The difference was just absurd. How could a young woman turn into that?
Everything has its time, Ian, he said to himself. And mine has come earlier than expected, that's all.
"Fine, I'll have a Happy Pie."
"Great!" Martha said, beaming at him. She walked away purposefully, sure that Ian would see some sense after his Happy Pie. Ian sighed. He didn't really want to stay for a Happy Pie. He didn't want to stay at all. He just wanted to get out of here, out of this place which was wasting his time.
He decided to...