The Vagrant – Episode XXIII

Had she told him his family was alive he didn’t think he could have been more surprised.  Life.  What was it other than a series of movements, breaths, and thoughts?  There had been no shortage of such things since that fatal day – regardless of where he had chosen to do them.  He knew what had been missing all this time, it hadn’t been his life, but three lives.  Every breath he used to take began and ended with a reason.  Sometimes it was as simple as furthering his career, one he could nurture and cajole into something admirable leaving himself open for early retirement and more time he could spend with grandchildren, his wife; others were for planning play dates and field trips – anything to cause those little eyes to light up with excitement.

There had been no joy during the most recent movements and thoughts.  Nothing being planned and nothing to look forward to.  It hardly seemed like there should be a reason for such things at this point.  A woman who had committed an act of heroism for her loved one sat next to him and still she seemed to feel, or at least have felt, similarly.  He asked her why she had changed her mind about living, why she hadn’t tried again and her answer surprised him.

“Because my husband would have wanted me to live.  Not for him, but for the shear joy of it.  Oh, it wasn’t that easy at first – I admit – but that’s what truly pulled me away from my daydreams of razors and knives.”

The room was quiet again with only the uneven squeak of wheels outside the door filling the space between.  As it moved further away, presumably down the hall, it became fainter until at last it ceased.  Christopher chanced a glance at Susan, saw her steady gaze upon his face and asked how she had survived herself.  He listened patiently as she explained a friend of hers, worried about her cloistering herself in such a way, had found her.  She had awoken restrained and sedated, thick gauze upon her arm and surrounded by the faces of her family.

“Those faces had the same expressions that day as they had when their father had died.  I know this is awful to say, but those faces did not change my desire.  Not then.  But now, when I have bad days, I see traces of those looks, grieving and fearful, and it helps me breathe.  And with each breath I reclaim a bit of myself and the ground under my feet.”

Please check back on Tuesday!  Remember – the last episode will be one week from today!


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