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Time Worn

Embers dance on faded wallpaper, dappling the living room in fire light; burning the couch, smoldering on the worn wooden floorboards, and illuminating the evidence that last night was not a dream where sleep-crusted eyes trace each worn groove. Her footfalls, as she places one foot in front of the other down carpeted stairs, echo as the muffled sound of hooves on sand-blanketed earth. The scents of morning linger in the small room, accompanied by gusts of frigid morning air blown in through the back door, which lies slightly ajar. His footfalls trace a path of mud and leaves into the kitchen.
She steps reluctantly off of the last stair, her hand hovering for a moment on the dust-laden balustrades before she begins tracing his steps into the kitchen. She hovers on the threshold of the archway between kitchen and living room, face expressionless as she examines the scene before her.
He lies with his face on the table, and she’s not sure if he’s conscious, but she can see the rise and fall of his back as the breath in his chest causes his body to flow and recede against his unyielding wooden bed. She’s thought so many times about wooden beds; eternal wooden beds, unlike this one. When she awoke this morning and gazed into the mirror lining the wall opposite to their bed, seeing a swollen and bruised version of herself staring back, she thought of caskets. And last night, when her ears still rang, and all she could hear was the sound of carpet thuds and horse hooves on sand-laden earth as she lied there, still and sore, she thought of caskets. And every time his acrid alcohol breath drifted to her in the night, she thought of caskets.
Now she turned slowly, retracing his footsteps, up the stairs and down the hall to the right, the bedroom door hushing the silence as it brushed dull grey carpet. Grey; the same color she found spattering her head as strands of her hair only a few weeks ago.
She stepped into their bedroom and faced the mirror. She stood watching herself for several moments, feelings of emptiness and desolation causing her thoughts to rattle aimlessly. Then she craned her arm back and swung a well-aimed fist at her lifeless reflection, leaving the staccato shatter of glass to pierce the placating, condescending morning silence.



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