As part of the A to Z Challenge, through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: It was too good to be true…
That year Sam found his first grey hair, he picked up the habit of talking in phrases he’d read in books.
A man can be destroyed but not defeated, he would say, or Your children are not your children, or, God never made a promise that was too good to be true; as if those phrases would fend off the years.
His wife wondered if had taken up with a girlfriend. He practised yoga, downed wheatgrass and celery juice, gave away his bottles of expensive wine, turned vegan.
He sat entire evenings in his study, the lights ablaze, staring at the paintings on the wall: amorous couples, flowers, children. So much life, such beauty, and there he sat, not growing any longer, decaying that very moment.
When his wife asked him why he sat so quiet, It’s called meditation, he said, you should try it some time. The best things in life are free.
The year they diagnosed him with diabetes, he did not speak to his wife for a week.
In three words I can sum up everything I know about life: it goes on, he said afterwards, and doubled the exercise, halved his food. He soon looked like his shadow self. His wife protested. It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not, he said, and munched on more lettuce. His eyes sank into their sockets, ready to go to sleep, his skin wrinkled like of a man twice his age and yet he ploughed on.
I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens, he said to anyone who asked how he was. But you’re not dying, they said. You begin to die the minute you’re born, Sam withdrew into his study, where a treadmill now took pride of place.
That day they took him to the hospital, short of breath and chanting, Death is nothing at all, it does not count, he had jogged ten kilometers. His wife walked with him as they wheeled him into surgery, Do shut up, Sam, she said.
If you want me again, look for me under your boot soles. He closed his eyes and smiled. Play it, Sam, his wife said, Play it again, but he did not hear her.
Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Do you ever wonder about aging, death? Why, why not?