She had seen quite a lot in her life. She was not exactly what you would call old but calling her young would seem just as wrong. She was in the age where she got used to everything around her, in the age where everything suddenly became routine and, when you got to think about it, had been routine for quite a long time.
She had seen quite a lot until now, especially people. When she thought about it, she had surely seen a thousand people. Some important ones, or at least those who thought they were important, some strange ones, some beautiful ones, funny ones, nice ones and cute ones. Now that she had time to think she recalled all the images, all the faces she could remember and all the memories that were connected with them. She found that she liked most people she had met. There were only very few that she didn't like and that didn't like her.
She had seen quite a lot although she had never really been as important as the rest. She was just there, she always was (she now thought that she had not, to be exact, always been there and wondered what people had done before her time). She never complained, she never got hungry or thirsty, never got excited before a show, but she always felt the joy of a successful evening and the pain of a failed one. She was always a part of everything but in a way never really involved. Always, other people got the applause. But she didn't mind. She was more than satisfied with her role.
She had seen quite a lot and, especially, heard quite a lot. Little children with violins, big children with tubas, thin people with flutes, broader people with xylophones, small people with guitars, large people with pianos - she had, and she was proud about that - heard virtually and kind of musical instrument. A sitar, she thought now, I would have liked to hear a sitar.
She had seen quite a lot happening around her. She had seen speakers talking about boring subjects to a bored audience; she had seen speakers talking about interesting subjects to a brainless audience; she had seen a clever audience waiting for speakers that were caught in traffic-jams. And so on…
Now it occurred to her that it felt like an eternity. In this moment, for the first time in her existence, she felt old. Old and exhausted.
Back then, when she had been young, new, fresh and polished, everyone had been really impressed by her, by her appearance, by her shape and, sometimes, even by the fact that she was there at all. Even that had been enough for some people.
Now it wasn't anymore. Over the years there had been a lot of criticism. Of course, none of it was aimed directly at her. Nothing was her fault - how could it! But she felt responsible for not meeting people's needs. She always did.
"She's too small", they said and ran around with rulers and measuring tapes. "Yes, she definitely is", everyone agreed, "but she's all we have!"
"She's too wry", they said and tilted their heads and narrowed their eyes. "Yes, she obviously is", everyone decided, "but, well, we got used to her!"
"She's just badly constructed", they said and stomped on the ground and made angry faces. "Yes, she may very well be", everyone said, "but… well…"
And that was the day she knew that it would soon be over. She knew that within a couple of months she would only be a faint memory inside someone's head. Where she stood now, there would be her successor. Someone broad and sturdy, not as tiny and feeble as she was. Someone with good measurements. Someone… else…
And that made her feel a little sad. Just a little.
Yet, as they came with the hammers and axes, with the drills and all the other tools to take her away, she didn't feel sorry. She wasn't sorry for anything. She had done as best she could and she had brought joy and fun to many people. And, in the end, wasn't that all that mattered?
She had seen quite a lot - dancing children and waltzing grown-ups and singing youngsters and acting grandfathers - and, somehow, she reckoned, it had been good.
She forgot about the dirty shoes and the bloody noses and the children not carrying but pushing the chairs and tables and she even forgot about the food.
She just remembered the happy faces. All of them.
And, if she could have smiled, her smile would have been as bright as the morning and as cheerful as the first drops of rain after the long and dry summer, and the little tear that would have dropped on the floor, if she had been able to cry, would have been as relieving as the rays of the sun on a freezing winter's day and as happy as the dawn after an endless night.

(may 2004)