Sunday 11 July 2010

This Crumbling Bastion

He takes the seat by her bed and reaches out to her. His dry fingers trace the contours of her soft skin, trailing down her arm, lingering on her hand. He holds it lightly and looks at her, so perfect.

“I won’t be here forever. I promised I would protect you and look, I am old. I will fail you one day, all too soon.”

His mouth turns down, his eyes narrow ever so slightly and he swallows hard, pushing back the emotion with a single slow blink of his weary eyes. It is still more of that particular emotion than he ever showed her, before...

“I’m sorry.”

He always relied on her to talk, comfortable in his role as listener, occasional commenter. Everything she directed at him was like a flutter of sunlight dappling warmly against the bastion of his thoughts; every smile she evoked was genuine. He hopes he will never forget her voice; at least until that fast approaching moment when there is nothing but what is forgotten.

“I wanted so much to protect you. So selfish really. Where I failed everyone else before you, I so desperately wanted to be nothing but happiness for you, never darkness or sadness or harm. I don’t think I ever told you that.”

He hangs his head, and from there downwards his whole body sags in an inexorable, slow avalanche. He feels his bones moving against each other, feels the familiar twinges and aches as his body settles, wonders when he accepted his deterioration. When he gave up, failed her.

His head nods a little, as if sleep were courting his ponderous thoughts. Then he sighs.

“No. Not today then.”

He gets up slowly, feeling the aches and twinges restringing themselves, stopping before he is fully vertical. He gave up trying to stand up straight years ago, not long after.

After she.


That ache is always the worst. That twinge sharper than the others.

He leaves then, slowly, painfully. He closes the door and looks back in through the glass porthole as he waits for the hiss of the seal to cease, as he always does, until the light clicks off.

(author's commentary)

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