48 Years / by Shaun Fauntleroy

The old man sits on the stoop in front of his apartment. He has come outside for peace. His wife stands beside him, a bottle of Ensure in her extended hand. Her legs are fat and dimpled beneath her flower-print house dress, evidence that she was once voluptuous.

He thumps the Ensure bottle against his hands, mixing its contents, and then drinks. It is not his favorite beverage. His brows furrow and he grimaces. “El médico dijo: ‘Una al dia. Beber. Beber,” she says. As he again raises the chalky mixture to his lips his eyes get lost in the distance. He remembers walking on a dirt road with a young girl whose father owned a sugar plantation. They were 19 and in love. He remembers the feel of her skin underneath his then smooth hands…the scent of her inner thighs like newly sharpened pencils. The memory startles him and he momentarily puts down the bottle. They come like that now, the memories, sudden and unexpected. Long forgotten moments, crossroads, victories, and losses come shooting into his frame of vision throughout the day, so much so that it causes bouts of silence that worry his wife…the man wonders if he must be near death. She nudges him to drink more and he looks forward to the weekend when his grandchildren will visit and his wife will be occupied with something other than his hydration and the slowly healing, jagged scar down the center of his chest.

 

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