Looking Good


Bartrum had the distinct feeling that he was changing in a way that he probably shouldn’t be. Still, he wasn’t sure there was much he could do about it.

Bartrum was not the type of person who changed. That didn’t feel like him. That felt like other people, people who were open-minded and who sought out new experiences and who were, in general, interesting. Bartrum did none of those things. And he most certainly wasn’t interesting. And that was what he found most appealing about himself.

But, he had to admit, the way in which he was changing was…odd. Little nubs seemed to be sprouting from his ribcage, sort of like extra nipples, only slimier and more pink. And nipples generally didn’t move on their own, did they? When he pinched them, it hurt.

And another thing: Bartrum’s face seemed to be drooping. Which, in and of itself, wasn’t all that surprising; his face had been drooping for the past five years or so, as faces invariably do when they grow older. But this was a little more dramatic—in fact, when he’d gone into town to buy some eggs that morning, people stopped and stared at him. When he glanced in the mirror in the bathroom in the grocery store he understood why: his chin now ended in a flabby disc somewhere near his belly button. It looked like someone had grabbed hold of the skin and given it a good yank.

Hmm. When had that happened?

Bartrum thought he should probably be concerned, but mostly he chalked it up to old age and went on with his day.

As a general rule, Bartrum was distrustful of doctors, so he didn’t bother going to see one. Instead, he figured he’d take a few more vitamins each day. He thought he’d eat an additional banana with breakfast as well as with dinner, just to make sure he was in tip-top shape.

Old age, he decided, was very mysterious. Sometimes it gives you grey hairs. Sometimes, as in his case, it gives you tentacles. Oh, that was the other thing—the nubs on his chest had been growing. Quite a bit, actually.

And by the by, was Bartrum’s left hand now turning into something strikingly similar to a starfish? Hmm, possibly. He preferred not to dwell on it too much.

Everyone grows older, he thought. And each day, everyone changes, usually in slight ways, but sometimes in leaps and bounds. His changes just represented an Olympic long-jump, so to speak. It made him wonder what the future held. Made him wonder what he’d look like tomorrow.

Bartrum wondered, mostly with impassivity, whether or not he’d even recognize himself. And then he decided to go buy those bananas.


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