Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chipped paint is all

Not even a cigarette hangs from his lips; it's a mere column of ash that sags impotently, slowly collapsing into his lap. He stared on oblivious to his environment, but it could hardly be said he'd be at all keen to dismiss it. Keen-ness, after all, implies some willed effort.
Back when his vocal cords made some movement in his throat, he had already sunk into reproduction of his newly-discovered (but entirely familiar) mantra.
There was regret, and remorse, but in both a recognition of the forces of external events that inevitably led to them. "I'm sorry I didn't" was well indistinguishable from "I'm sorry I couldn't". Whatever it was, it had left countless marks on his form. Deep canals of strain covered every inch of his skin, giving him the appearance of a man many times his true age. Skin clung nervously to every available bone, as if fearing it would be next. Dry organs rustled inside him with every movement he made, each motion a strong gale on autumn branches; less could be said of the trunk itself. He felt like a giant cataract, a cirrhotic liver, a congested heart, and like every joint that could still bend had long since worn through the bone.
Was he still breathing? Still drawing breath, or was it the collective escape attempts of what little remained inside of him? He couldn't tell.
You could shatter him, if you tried. Blow him over with a stiff wind. Break him into a million pieces with whatever push you gave. When reduced to a single word, what can a man do but be damned?
He closed his eyes with the sudden revelation of appraisal. Thin fingers moved to pluck the naked filter from his mouth. A reedy throat bobbed as he downed his wine. Cheekbones, for the first time in a while, had tugged skin dragged over them: a smile. Damn good smile.
Oh, he was a brittle man- there was no denying.
But still not broken.
He pulled himself from the ground, and walked into the sun that dappled the green around him.

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