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Aging Gracefully



Larry squinted at the clock behind the bed until the numbers came into focus. 7:00. His first inclination was to pop out of bed using his stomach muscles. Not this morning. He could swear a Sumo wrestler perched on his belly. He rolled to his side, onto his sore right shoulder, and let his legs drop to the floor. An "aaaauugh" slipped past his lips.

"What's wrong?" his wife asked, in a voice full of sleep.

"Nothing. I just ache this morning."

Becky, normally caring and affectionate, offered neither concern nor affection.

"You played racquetball yesterday," she said. "When are you going to admit you're not a kid anymore?"

"Stop it. I'm fine." He sat on the edge of the bed, hesitating a moment, fearing his legs might balk at supporting his weight.

Becky reached across the bed and slapped him on the behind as he rose, his knees complaining, his joints snapping. "Take two Tylenol."

"Yeah, yeah." His ankles refused to bend, so he began a flat-footed shuffle to the bathroom.

"I have no pity for you," she called out.

He felt a dull pain in the back of his left thigh and recalled how Tom had swung hard at a ball off the back wall and hit him just below his butt. He assumed a purplish bruise tattooed his flesh.

He wished he hadn't played the third game. But he had won the first two, and the unwritten guy rule required him to offer his opponent a chance to save face. Tom, damn him, should have had the decency to accept defeat. But, no! What a competitive fool.

While searching the medicine cabinet for Extra Strength Tylenol, he recalled with satisfaction how he had won the last game 21 to 19. When he tied it at 19, he could have stopped--Tom could barely breathe--but he pushed himself and took the final two points.

That'll teach Tom for being so competitive.

The stiffness in his back subsided a bit and enough flexibility returned to his ankles for him to trudge back to the bedroom. The morning air warmed the room and he wanted to remove his T-Shirt. But he grimaced at the thought of raising his arms.

Becky shook her head. "Why do you do this to yourself?"

"The same reason you wore heels to the Obermans' party last week, and went to the chiropractor the next day."

"Don't start with that again."

He wanted to lean over and kiss the woman he'd loved for almost forty years, but feared his back wouldn't allow it.

This story was written by Wayne Scheer, who has been nominated for four Pushcart Prizes and a Best of the Net. He's published numerous stories, poems and essays in print and online, including Revealing Moments, a collection of flash stories. His short story, “Zen and the Art of House Painting” has been made into a short film.
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1 comment

  1. Another winner, Wayne! You are quite adept at showing and not telling. I hope to become better at that through reading all your stories. Thanks for sharing! And keep it up! :)

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