Old Bones – Part 1
Stephen hobbled from his bedroom to the top of the stairs. He paused as he gripped the railing with purpose and lowered himself to the first step. The initial spike of pain made him wince as a stifled groan escaped his lips. The rail shifted an inch in either direction as he tried to refocus for the next one. His knees screamed with each step, louder even than the wood that creaked and groaned. Almost as if it were threatening to send him into the basement stairs beneath. His eyes remained trained on the next step at all times as he grimaced and groaned his way down.
He stopped at the bottom feeling as though he had survived another round of torture back in Korea. His breath came in heaves as his hand gripped the railing for balance.
“Fucking stairs…” he muttered.
He looked to the table where one of his nebulizers sat, sneering at it as though it were taunting him. He released the railing and, with a few hard steps, made it to the chair, landing heavily as he grasped the mask and pulled it to his face. He loathed the reliance on technology, but it made things better to have the solution to open his lungs.
He sat there, letting the machine do its job as he looked around the kitchen as unwanted memories of a time long passed began stirring. He could practically hear the conversations of old friends, the laughter of his children as they ran through the house, and the melodic sound of Marian’s voice calling after them to keep it down.
He felt a sharp pain in his chest as the guilt of not taking care of the house hit him. His eyes instinctually looked up at the last picture on the walls of the old house. The picture of her that still hung in the kitchen. Her hair was curly then, her smile as authentic as ever, and the spark in her eyes radiating the love she felt for him when he had taken the picture.
He could still feel it when he looked at the picture. It was her love that had driven him for so long. It was her smile that had stoked the flames of his passion and enabled him to persevere through all the ups and downs of the economy, building their house with his own hands, and never give up. It was her love and faith in him that made him keep the picture when the kids had come for her things.
A tear escaped his eyes as he looked down at the knotty joints and gnarled fingers. He had done so much for so long. He had worked so hard to support the family, and even harder when she had gotten sick. He felt the familiar spasm in his stomach from the ulcers, twisting and writhing like snakes eating his insides.
To be continued…