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When We're 64

by LadyLizz


“When I'm 64” came out in 1967 but the first time I heard it was right after New Years in 1968, sitting in a bar waiting to be shipped out to the end of Earth. It wasn’t like I hadn’t spent my whole life getting to this point, going through the years of military school and rising in my father’s shadow. If it weren’t for having a line of high ranking men in my family, the army wouldn’t have taken a second glance at me, just passed me along as some fresh meat lieutenant that they were sending out to kill.

Evidently they barely took a second glance, because there I was sitting with some of the guys I was shipping out with, all young and inexperienced, and from what I had heard from Walter Cronkite, about to die.

Still we danced with all the pretty girls there and as the night went on and we lost more of ourselves, there came about an agreement. We were all going to the same unit and you needed some friends in hell, so now the six of us were friends. A bargain struck while we listened to the same song over and over again.

The next morning, someone went out and bought the record for Sgt Pepper. We took it along with us with the hope we’d land somewhere with a record player, joking that we were all Irish so the luck surely had to be with us.

For all the time that we were over there, we listened to the record and cared for it like it was a baby. People joined us and also left us, but the same six who came over together in the shaky airplane from the shaky bar were still there.

When we got home we made a similar kind of truce, to stick together and meet up every ten years. And to have a big thing go on whenever one of us reached 64, in honor of the song that brought us together.

64 for most of the party was forty years away but not all of us made it, the bad dreams of the past caught up with two of them with twenty years. One day they were living and getting ready for a surprise party, and the next all we say was their mangled bodies in a wreck along the highway. That was good bye for Jones and Bauer.

A decade later Carren and Kelly left us as well, leaving behind so many people and going up to meet with so many others.

It was left to me and to O’Reilly, and this year we both turned 64, the only ones who managed to stick around for the duration. I knew he was getting sick, the side effect of smoking three packs a day and being loose with life in every shape and form. I was there with Molly when he passed and even though it wasn’t the first time I had held a dying friend in my arms, I certainly hope it will be the last.

We hold this funeral and memorial in honor of Jim, but I think we all know that the last thing he would be wanting us to do right now is cry. He was a good man and everyone here can swear to that. And out of all the things that I can swear to is that we fulfilled the promise we made in 1968, when we were 64.


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1015 Reviews


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Sun Jan 21, 2018 4:16 am
Elinor wrote a review...



Hey Lizz!

Here's your review, as promised. I really liked this a lot and I had a really hard time narrowing down the top three. But I wanted to give a special shoutout to your piece because I think you do a really great job here at playing with tone. What makes When I'm Sixty-Four such a poignant song for me is that half of the men who created it never made it that far. There was definitely a really strong sense of that in the piece. I really felt for your protagonist and I thought you made a strong choice to use the Vietnam War to tell your story.

There's a theme here, which I think you start to tap into, about the relationship young people have with getting older. Then, when one actually does get older, the reality of mortality sets in. Some of us may make it, but for those that do, our friends might not be there to share it. I don't think you tap into this fully, though. It's such a short piece, and there's a lot you're trying to tackle here. I think, if I were revising, I would focus on one era of his life. I think, for what you're trying to do here, focusing on the funeral at the end would be pretty great. Maybe When I'm Sixty-Four comes on the radio and it brings back a flood of memories. Just an idea. I know from Starlight that you're a good writer and can write character well when you're able to hone in on it.

Overall, great work. Let me know if you have any questions and thanks again for entering!




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Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:26 am
Radrook wrote a review...



I really enjoyed this story. It see to flow with such effortless ease that the writer isn't even detectable-only the narrator stands out with his engaging narrative. It illustrates the basic insecurity of human life as well as its ridiculous shortness. Also the value of friendship is engagingly conveyed. The only line I would change would be the last one because it can be read in two ways. For example, it seems to say that you were sixty-four back in 1968.

....promise we made in 1968, when we were 64


So I would change it to::

And out of all the things that I can swear to is that we fulfilled the promise we made back in 1968, about when we would reach 64.




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Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:37 am
inktopus wrote a review...



Yo, Lizz! I decided to leave this a review, so here we go.

It wasn’t like I hadn’t spent my whole life getting to this point, going through the years of military school and rising in my father’s shadow. If it weren’t for having a line of high ranking men in my family, the army wouldn’t have taken a second glance at me, just passed me along as some fresh meat lieutenant that they were sending out to kill.

I feel like these two sentences are at odds with each other. The main character says he's spent his entire life preparing for military service, but in the second sentence, he says the army wouldn't have taken a second look at him and that he'd have been a lieutenant without it. But if they wouldn't have taken a second look at him, wouldn't he just be a private? I think the main issue with the second sentence is wording. I don't think you intended for it to mean what I interpreted it as.

64 for most of the party was forty years away but not all of us made it, the bad dreams of the past caught up with two of them with twenty years.

I'd change the bolded word to 'us' because you used 'us' in the beginning of the sentence. It also helps punctuate the fact that your main character is/was so close to these guys; he'd consider them a part of his unit, therefore, using 'us'.

A decade later Carren and Kelly left us as well, leaving behind so many people and going up to meet with so many others.

I like this a lot.

I liked the content a lot. There wasn't a lot of character development, but this isn't that type of story. I think you did pretty well with the type of narrative you wanted to tell. The only issue I have with this is some of the confusing wording and some grammatical errors I noticed. I think reading it through to smooth things over would help a lot.

You can talk to me on discord about this if you want.

~Storm




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Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:25 pm
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Sheyren says...



I really like this. A lot.

I'm now inspired to try this style. Thanks.





If you want something badly, you just gotta believe it's gonna work out.
— Andy, Parks & Rec