Old men lying in their final beds muse over the failing of their breath about a life not lived, the dreams undone and words unsaid, a lost potential so vividly imagined as their bodies falter, dragged under by years of obligations and conformity.
Quieter and less satisfying, my end, to those carpe diem poets painting signposts for the young, all brightly colored paper and never speaking of the practicalities of rent and all the other unwanted responsibilities of an adulthood newly acquired but already lost its shine.
Myself, I left behind this breathing husk that instead regrets the consequences of speaking too plainly, thinking too clearly, planning and stalking and clasping my dreams so fiercely that they shattered and nothing but the mirrored glass remains like a minefield all around, each step, each word, each stranger's remark cutting deep into dry wounds, the bitter, screaming grief already bled out and left in trailing pools to a past whose stubborn determination to finish at any cost I can't even call to memory much less resurrect.
The vivid fairy tales that filled my nightly fancies, of rescuing dragons and slaying princesses, of magic and wonder, love and sacrifice, they lie flattened in the corners of my mind like the backdrops of a play since cancelled and forgotten, a casualty of failure and disinterest not even worth the sweeping up. The actors have all moved on to better things, to younger dreams, and each night I sit in the back seats with nothing but an empty stage.
Regret, regret, regret, not the paths never walked, whose unknown threats hide easily from those walking highways overhead, but the one dreaming path I burned with light of day, listening to the poets and forgetting that I am no shining knight or seventh son, to stroll those magic avenues and find my destiny. I am but the corpse outside the castle's gate, the marker of those who came before, and failed.
Breathing, done and dead. And everyone walks by and tells each other, someday! Someday I will go that way, past the bones and spikes and dead dreams littered like dropped schoolwork all across the path. Someday, someday will they regret this moment when they passed me by and continued on to their graves still believing in the dream.