The Future of Mankind
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82 steps. It was 82 steps from the porch to the mailbox. The old man was 82 years old, and he needed 82 steps to go from his porch to his rural mailbox stationed at the one-and-a-half lane gravel road. His left foot hit the ground first as he exited to wooden steps from his porch; his right foot was the last step that brought him to the front of his mailbox.
“It used to be 70 steps,” thought the old man. “But that was when I was 70. I suppose my strides are shorter now, funny how that works. At least as long as I don’t need more steps than my years I suppose I will be okay.”
The old man didn’t reach for the handle on the mailbox, not yet. Across the gravel road, an eighth of a mile away, a small dog sat at the end of another driveway. The dog had been sitting there for five minutes; that meant that the school bus would be along any time now. A ten-year-old boy would bound out of the bus almost before the door opened. The boy would drop his books in the gravel, kneel next to his dog, and rub his face on the dog’s.