a child kicks the seat of the passenger in front of him while singing a song. the song has no discernable tune and consists of one word.
"la la la la la la. la la. la la. la."
the old man turns and glowers. he has become quite the expert in glowering as he has gotten on in years. as a younger man he had been amused by the songs of children, had found wonder in a child's perception of the world that he passed through every day. but as he aged, the wonder had turned to disgust at the naivete, at the magic that these children saw. one day they would see the world as he did, as they should.
as it actually existed.
he turns and glowers again. he knows that he is frightening to children, his tired eyes sunken into a wrinked face. teeth crooked and yellowing. hair wild and receeding. he takes pride in his appearance now. he is not a monster. he is a lesson. he is what happens when the magic dies.
the old man turns around and stares out the window, the world passing by in streaks of towns and trees. behind him, the child sings his song.
"la la la la la la. la."
the old man smiles.