Eyes so bleary they burn when opened. He can’t imagine their redness. He thinks of it in biblical terms.

The dark of the room isn’t; the bar of light that leaks in through the gap under the door blazes like a slit-scan of the sun. He wants to close his eyes and drown it all to black but can’t. It hurts more to try and shut his lids. They’ve become rusted hinges that scream and grind and drop rusty flakes onto the soft wet surface of his eyeballs. He pulls the blanket up over his face but it’s only good for a few breaths and then he’s suffocating on his own exhalation.

A steady bass pounding reverberates through the floor and, by wooden agency, into the bed frame and the bones of his tired skeleton. It’s not quite tooth-rattling intensity, but it’s strong enough to annoy and fuel his rising irritation. He’s a kettle approaching its boiling point, and the thought of it fills him with the desire for a fresh cup of coffee. Hell, he’d settle for a stale one.

The ceiling skews from left to right, the normally square form of the overhead light fixture warps and bends, and his internal organs feel like they’re trying to match the movement. He sits up with a jolt. His back screams in protest, his shoulders tighten into concrete knots, and his joints fill with blazing pins. He takes a deep breath and feels a little better.

“If I’d known getting old was going to hurt this much,” he rasps, “I’d’ve died young.”

2014.12.04 – 2023.07.06

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