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Witherng Away

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It was dark. The room was dimly lit with a flickering candle on the old hutch in the right corner of the room. The sun desperately tried to shine through the dark colored curtains. She sat there, her head cupped in her frail hands. You can easily tell how she has aged over the years. The air felt heavy with fear and heartache. The man observed her; sighing because he knows whatever news that was going to spill from her chapped lips was not going to be welcoming. She turned to him, sitting up straighter. The sun captured the gray strands in the sea of her dark hair. She took a long puff from the pale cigarette she held in between her pointer and middle fingers. Florence was her name, and she finally lifted her head to slowly make eye contact with the man sitting across from her. Her eyes looked hard and colorless, not her normal bright blue eyes.
“I’m sorry…”she paused, conflicted on whether or not to take another drag and settled with putting it out on the ash tray on the end table.
“I just need a moment to collect my thought,” she said, taking a deep breath and closing those tired eyes.
“Are you sure you’d like to hear it?” Florence asked, once she finally composed herself.
“Yes, positive,” he said, shifting his weight on the uncomfortable sofa.
“If you insist…,” she said, absently toying with the wedding ring on her skinny finger.
“It was around 1929 and, as I’m sure you’re aware, the stock market had taken a hard crash. Life was significantly difficult. I was standing on the street corner, just a young girl at the time. I had just found out my father had lost his job. His business had gone under and we had nowhere to go. No where to call our home. I stood there, numb, not knowing exactly how to feel.” she paused there and tried to weakly smile over at him. “We had to move into a boarding house because it offered a much cheaper rent. We lived there until the economy took back up again and my mother fell ill. My father found another job. It was something; nothing he was really overly thrilled with, but it was enough to rent us our own small apartment big enough for the three of us. My mother seemed to fall sicker by the day. I’m not sure even the doctors were ever truly positive about what was wrong with her. My father, shortly after my mother had passed, took up drinking again. He wasn’t a happy drunk either…He became abusive?” She said, almost questioning her word choice. “I hated him for it, because he was never there for me when I needed him to be. As soon as I graduated high school, I fled. I moved here, to the city, where I knew I could find a secretarial job some place. I did and that’s where I met your grandfather. It was love at first sight,…” She swooned, trying to captivate the good memories. “We got married and life seemed to be turning around for me. Everything was wonderful! I had the best husband in the world. We had your father and he was a brilliant boy. Always so well behaved. We knew he’d go somewhere grand and live a spectacular life. He gave us you and your younger sisters. Everything seemed to be falling back into place until your grandfather died five years ago. It was five years ago today, y’know? Ever since then I’ve been falling into a downwards spiral,” she said, glancing over at the family portrait on the far wall. It was her prized possession because it captured a time where she was finally happy. However; that happiness no longer existed. She was toying with her wedding ring again. “I can’t get myself to remove it…”She sighs, looking away from the portrait and back towards him.
“I’m really sorry, Grandma Florence. I know you’ve had it rough, but you can’t sit here and wither away in the darkness,” he said, motioning to the flickering candle and then the curtain covered windows.
“I can’t Joseph…”she said, that being the first time she addressed him formally all day.
“Yes, you can. There is no reason for you to stay in this dusty old house. You need the fresh air and sunlight. You’ll feel so much better if you do!” He exclaimed pleading with her. “You must!”
“Joe…No!” she said, as she stood slowly from her perch and turned her back on him.
“Fine. I suppose there is absolutely no winning with you, is there?” He gets up and stomping towards the door.
“No…wait…”she mumbled to herself and turned her back to suddenly face him again. “Don’t leave me here…”
“I won’t, Grandma Florence. You just have to come with me. Let’s go for a walk; it’ll be good for you and we can stop at the coffee shop down the street,” he exclaimed, walking towards the window and slowly opening the curtains. Sunlight spilled in flooding the room and revealing all of the dust.
“I haven’t been out of here in years…I don’t know if I can.”
“Of course you can! C’mon, let’s go!”
“If you insist…”

Florence slowly but surely walked towards the door and hesitated as she reached out to turn the door knob. She slowly opened the door and peeked out unsure if she really wanted to open it. She heard “Go!” whispered silently in her ear. Florence pulled open the door and stepped over the threshold. Today was going to be a new day and she would no longer wither in that old dark dusty house.





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