Ray Bradbury
Hail and Farewell

Picture in your mind a young lad of, say, eleven years of age. Or twelve. Or fourteen at most. In this story, however, it is to be twelve… a twelve year old lad named Willie. In fact, it will always be… twelve years old.

And so here is the question: What do you do when everyone else grows… like golden taffy pulled by an immense gravity to the sky… onto thirteen, fourteen years old, whereby all are soon looking down upon the unchanging Willie, and smiling…?

Bradbury spins a tale of not having to grow old. Not having to get all tall and unsightly and wrinkled, and turn gray or get bald, and finally all bone and wheeze, to soon be dead and buried off away. Is it, in fact, far greater pain to always look instead, like a silver dime new from the mint, to be young forever? It is strangely heart wrenching, this story, as we follow the boy's plight, of living too long to be loved by just one family, but searching, always searching, for a place to begin over again.

Look, up ahead, there is a new town. Surely there lives some childless couple. Tonight, find one staring out the windows, running their thoughts over and over again across their lost dreams of family…


So it begins with this wonderfully eerie Bradbury story.

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Bulletin board

But of course he was going away, there was nothing else to do, the time was up, the clock had run out, and he was going very far away indeed. His suitcase was packed, his shoes were shined, his hair was brushed, he had expressly washed behind his ears, and it remained only for him to go down the stairs, out the front door, and up the street to the small-town station where the train would make a stop for him alone. Then Fox Hill, Illinois, would be left far off in his past. And he would go on, perhaps to Iowa, perhaps to Kansas, perhaps even to California; a small boy twelve years old with a birth certificate in his valise to show he had been born forty-three years ago.

“Willie!” called a voice downstairs.

“Yes!” He hoisted his suitcase. In his bureau mirror he saw a face made of June dandelions and July apples and warm summer-morning milk. There, as always, was his look of the angel and the innocent, which might never, in the years of his life, change.

“Almost time,” called the woman's voice…

You can find this story in “S Is for Space”.

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Eight great stories 2
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Hail and Farewell
I Sing the Body Electric!
Forever and the Earth
The Vacation
Dark They Were, and Golden-eyed
The Veldt