Bradbury Daily: “There Was an Old Woman”

Though still about death, this one’s a nice inversion from Bradbury’s usual meditations on inevitability and mortality. In fact it’s more about avoidance and immortality, interestingly enough.

And it’s funny.

Aunt Tildy is a character anyone can relate to easily enough, because she’s the epitome of the kindly but stern old lady archetype. She knits, she doesn’t mince words, and she will get what she wants, no matter what she has to do to get it.

Tildy is afraid of death. Actually, more to the point, she refuses to believe in it. Won’t tolerate talk of it in her presence, and flat out refuses to die. So you can imagine her reaction when a man in a dark suit comes to take her away for eternity.

And so it builds from there. There aren’t really any surprises in this one. It’s more about the journey and comedy of the whole thing. Tildy is really a fantastic and fully formed character, and it’s a bit of a shame that she’s just a character in a short story. I can see her being a sort of mentor in some sort of supernatural mystery series, or something to that effect.

This one’s definitely worth the read. Just beware that it starts as a bit of a slow build, and bit hard to follow at first — Tildy’s conversation with the man in the black suit is one-sided, for the most part, though there are, curiously, hints of telepathy later in the conversation. An interesting touch.


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