Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On the Down...

It's writing challenge time, brought to you by the ever-awesome site of Indie Ink. New contestants always welcome; new feedback and comments always welcome; not meeting deadlines never welcome...

Welcome to Unlucky Week 13.

Week 13.
My Challenger: Trish
My Challenge: What goes up, must come down.
Who I am Challenging: Sunshine
What I Challenged Them With: Retell the tale of the Three Billy Goats Gruff from the Troll's perspective...

This week's challenge is eerily apt, as I feel the ups and downs of life are really trying to get me to crack. Be that as it may, what goes down must also come back up, yes?

On the Down...

He glanced to his left--toward the window which looked out onto sterile walls, starch white uniforms, and the numb stares of his caretakers.

He then turned to his right, staring out the window whose frame held a tree, some parked cars, and buildings in the distance filled with people going about their daily lives in the same sort of way he used to.

A sigh escaped his lips quite involuntarily.

His son was coming today, along with his wife, a few of their kids, and a few of their kids. That's what the sigh was all about, he decided. He stared down at his hands, rubbed his fingers over his other fingers, feeling the callouses that no longer sloughed off after a hard days' labor, as if they, too, knew they were on their way down, not worth the effort to produce new skin and shed the damaged, hard sections.

As a nurse came in and mumbled something about the sun shining; he didn't even spare her a glance. Another involuntary sigh escaped, and he grimaced as he realized the nurse had picked up on it.

"Now, don't you be sighing like that--your family's coming today!" she said between overly-white teeth framed by overly-red lips. "That'll cheer you up something for sure!" She fussed with some papers on his chart, delaying, waiting for a stock-answer which meant her job was done, she had done her good deed for the dying soul, that she could move on to the next with a clear conscience.

He harumphed.

She smiled, waiting. No longer even bothering to pretend to be doing paperwork, or checking his IV, or one of any other of a dozen menial tasks. He was no longer worth the pretending, so near the end, and they both knew it. She just wanted her fix from her pimp, and he was unwilling to oblige.

Staring her straight into her mascara-purple eyes, he harumphed again.

It was her turn to sigh. "Don't like your family?" she queried.

"What's to like--or not like? Dammit!"


"Go away!"

She shrugged her shoulders and left, shaking her head. He saw another nurse shake her head in agreement out in the hall.

He leaned back against the pillows, eyes cast back toward the outside-facing window.

Do I not like my family? he pondered. No. Definitely not. In fact, he did have a slight uplifting of spirits on the days he knew they were coming, the break of the monotony, even if it did interrupt Dr. Phil.

No, he didn't dislike them. He just couldn't relate any longer. His mind drifted back to the days when he was going places--going up, as it were. One of the few who were lucky enough to survive the Normandy beach landing... Later, as a crane pulled him up on a beam several stories above the ground, just two feet and four fingers balancing in the air on the faith of a steel cable and a crane... And when he finished building that cottage for him and Martha, on the roof nailing in that last nail into that last shingle, Martha on the ground beaming up at him with pride and love... Helping Dennis learn to first ride a bicycle, then a car... When he'd finally saved enough to take the wife and kids on that trip to the Grand Canyon--what pride he had felt, what a sense of accomplishment!

What would his grandkids, his great-grandkids ever know of him? They wouldn't know him as the young man who saved lives in Europe, or the guy who built those sky scrapers in the distance, or who helped their dad or granddad learn to ride a bike...

Or any of the hundreds of other events in his life that no longer came when summoned. They'd just know him as the guy in the bed who they had to visit once a month, with the smelly room, the mottled skin, the sagging flab, the runny eyes.

They would only ever remember the down.

He could only hope that, when they, too, started the down, they would remember him.

He turned to stare out at the solitary tree beyond the glass, just beginning to turn a mottled shade of yellow as autumn approached. Hopefully, just hopefully, they'd have a better view.

Previous Challenges I have answered:
[Week 1: All of Me] [Week 2: Child's End] [Week 3: Seeking Bonds]
[Week 4: Just So You Know] [Week 5: Justice & Mercy]
[Week 6: Tale of a Fateful Flick] [Week 7: Hell or High Water]
[Week 8: Streaming Summer] [Week 9: Piss & Vinegar]
[Week 10: Set It Free]
[Week 11: Four Horsemen, Three Gods, a Transgendered Devil, and Lazarus Under a Pear Tree...]
[Week 12: Worth a Thousand Words...]


Head Ant said...

He's lucky. Most people in nursing homes don't get visitors.

Trish said...

Your writing is just beautiful. Really. And so moving. My father is 87, has Parkinson's and lives in assisted living. You really struck a cord with me.

Amy L. said...

Sad story. You're right about everything.

You can call me, 'Sir' said...

This is probably my greatest fear. You described it very well, indeed.