Short story: Left, Right, Left.

| With each step, his heavy feet moved left, left, left, right, left. The shrapnel just below the muscle on his side ached, a sign of impending rain. The “oblique,” the physical therapist had called it, though nowadays it was more oblong, or overgrown, a landscape of blood, muscle, and bone encompassing that remaining piece of metal like a lawn ornament.

| “What are you thinking?” His wife would ask at a moment like this, when he was quiet for a second too long. She would smile expectantly as she gazed up at him, awaiting for some treatise on the war or his undying love for her.

| “Nothing,” he would answer to her disappointment, and mean it.

| If he’d been afforded the opportunity to spend a moment in her mind, he would know that she found this impossible to believe. She, herself, was privy to a constant stream of thought which narrated her every move, as though she contained her own personal Morgan Freeman who walked her throughout her day. Of course, the voice contained less the raspy nuance of the esteemed actor’s tone and all the condescending inflection of her mother’s as it noted in the same breath her shortcomings and her obligation to remain strong, with a bonus reminder that there was laundry to fold and a dog who needed his shots.

| But he was not, as it were, inside her head, and as a result could not articulate to her that he did not think as she did, but rather he felt, and he knew. He felt the heaviness of grief as it weighed him down, adding pounds to his waist and extra pressure on his bad hip. He felt the sting of remorse when he heard a song that reminded him of the sand, or felt the heat of the sun on his skin. He felt the shame of terror when a sudden sound startled him onto the ground on a sidewalk under the gawking gaze of strangers. And he knew. He knew that he was not alright, he knew he had work to do, he knew that he loved her. He knew it as he knew the rain would come, slow and steady, drizzling to it’s own heavy rhythm alongside him and his heavy footed steps. Left, left, left, right, left.

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