The room was small and bare. Stephen could touch all four walls without leaving the wooden bunk, and he could touch the heavy pine rafters if he stood up. He could see his breath, but it was warm enough when he crawled into the pile of of bearskins they’d left him. The one tiny window was so badly grimed and scratched that it was more translucent than transparent. It let in thin, wintery light for a few hours every day. The room wasn’t far enough north for total darkness, but the days were short.
The supplies they’d left him were as minimal as the room – a bottle of cheap Polish vodka, a box of no-cook MREs, a wind-up flashlight, a pack of cards.
MRE – Meal Ready to Eat. Three lies in one acronym. Stephen hated those things, would have given anything for a loaf of bread and some butter.
It took him a week to realize why he was losing every game of solitaire. At first he assumed that, like everything else, his luck was down. Then he realized that the deck was missing the king of diamonds.
He spent a couple of days after that realization wondering if someone had done that on purpose – trying to tell him something.
He finished the vodka then.
He didn’t need to come hide in a tiny room this far north in the winter to get the message that they were underfunded. He knew that, all too well. He thought about opening the door, walking off into the snow – let someone else continue the struggle.
But he stayed huddled under the bearskins and waited.
He was running out of MREs when John showed up.
To gain some perspective, I remind myself: at any given moment, someone is dying, somewhere. But this really doesn’t help.
I looked at her while the words “six months left” echoed in my head. Later, I realized that my grief wasn’t simply losing her – I was losing my best future, too. No wedding, no kids, no growing old and fat together in the suburbs. All those dreams were smoke now.
Two weeks after the diagnosis she broke up with me. “It’s only fair. You should move on now – we’ve only been together for a couple of months, anyway. I’d feel like I was leading you on if I stayed with you when we both know it’s going to end.” No rational argument, no pleading, no tears would change her mind. She stopped returning my calls, even before she was too sick to do so. She had her brother come talk to me, tell me to let her go. Tears in his eyes, he declined to give her a message for me. I refused to shake his hand when he left.
“It’s only fair.” Yet all I wanted was to spend every moment with her, whether that lasted six months or sixty years. It’s been eight years since then, but I still haven’t gotten over her. She was the one for me, but I didn’t get to keep her.
She’s been cancer free for six years now, and got married last year. I just heard that she had her first child last week.
To gain some perspective, I remind myself: at any given moment, someone is being born, somewhere. But this really doesn’t help.
Hello, I’m back! Posting for the first time.
I’ve blogged on and off at various places on the web – most of them are no longer online. I’ve even blogged a bit at tysonwright.com (the site you are now on), but after changing hosting services last year I never got around to putting my old blog back online.
Time for a new start. While I probably will repost some old items that I still like, the main point of this blog is to get myself back into writing regularly. So, hopefully I will be posting mostly newer pieces.
Anyway, enough introductory nattering. Hope you enjoy the new site.