That pain wasn’t there last week.
She sat in the couch like a ball of blu-tack, unable to detach herself from the cushions. The television was on, but it was only the cricket, so it didn’t count. She knew getting up and taking a walk, even to the kitchen and back, would start to free up the joints, but it seemed impossible. The idea that gravity would beat her again, would suck her to the ground, would knock her about and bruise her; that idea was too large in her mind. In her mind, gravity was a creature. A giant troll. No, more accurately, it was the Earth itself, but it undulated when ever she stood, forcing her to embrace it.
A ball flew into the air, and a man in yellow ran to catch it with no effort at all. He flung the ball back into the air and embraced his team mates. She shook her head, but even that seemed too much. Closing her eyes, she tried to remember a time when things were less difficult.
Sitting. Quiet. The wind outside the subway tunnel whistles a spooky note that sounds like a ghost and makes the early morning commuters squint into the darkness as though something were there. He sits with all of his clothing on, yet it is not enough. Curled into his back is his dog. Perhaps not his dog, but it has been following him for almost a fortnight now. Since he shared the spoils of a dumpster with it.
It seemed worth it when he left. They didn’t believe that he didn’t do it, even though he’d almost convinced himself. It was warm then, and sleeping rough wasn’t so bad. Now it was only autumn. It would get worse.
She’d always wondered what a sycamore tree looked like, ever since she’d learned Dream a Little Dream of Me. Tall, she thought, with heavy branches. Light leaves, perhaps even with a hint of silver when the sun hints them. And gold during sunset. A row of them planted along the edge of a field near a creek. If you lay beneath them, the wind would make the leaves sound like they were whispering secrets to you. Instead, she lay beneath the clothesline on the concrete patch that was her backyard and stared at the clouds, the washing line turning the empty sky into a barred prison cell window.
John didn’t mind turning thirty. He laughed as his younger mates called him old and he clinked his beer with his older mates who welcomed him to middle age. Thirty-one had been even better, but that may have been more because he was celebrating in Bali with his new girlfriend. But thirty-two was awful.
Suddenly, when he woke in the morning, he felt old. His back hurt when he rolled over, and he slipped enough in the shower to jolt his neck. The alarm had not woken him, so he spent the day trying to catch up. The sun hurt his eyes and his coffee tasted like soap.
At dinner with the girl that he was trying to figure out how to dump, his fish was undercooked and his broccoli overcoooked. He drank too much wine. After dessert, she dumped him and he became melancholy, stumbling drunkenly to a friend’s house, waking his wife and kids, and sleeping on his couch with only one shoe off. His last thought as he passed out was ‘Thirty-two sucks.’