[Picking up the pieces, 879 words, Genre: Realistic Fiction]
* Image courtesy of Dirk de Bruyn
He remembered that day of work. That day of work, oh so long ago. He was hired as a general labourer and he was just doing light cleaning duties up around the building that had just been built. The building was one of those giant facilities. An aged care home. It was being built to accommodate for the aging population. He had a vacuum cleaner in hand and went about the establishment going about the building cleaning up small parts of debris that had fallen throughout the area in its erection. Small bits of plaster had fallen to the floor through the building needed to be cleaned up before the real cleaners came in and did a deep clean of the building. As he walked through the building with vacuum cleaner in hand a strange feeling came over him. A feeling of remembrance, a feeling of observance. This place was familiar to him. This place had stolen a piece of his soul and housed it within the halls. Waiting to be recovered at a time yet to come, a time that had already arrived. This place, he felt, was his home.
He walked from room to room collecting the small pieces of rubbish. The excess insulation that would not be needed, the builders had overestimated their need of insulation and so the excess was thrown into giant skip bins. He walked uneasily through the halls and a fog descended on his mind. A moment ago he had been in his early thirties, with a life ahead of him. Whatever that life seemed to be. Now he was old, he had a walking frame and was walking through the building. How long had he been working? What had he been doing? All of these things he could no longer grasp.
His bones were crooked, every time he bent his legs, he felt little aches and pains caress and stimulate the rest of his body. He turned his head to the left and then turned his head to the right. Around him were all other people. As old as he, all going about attempting to pick up the pieces, he thought, the pieces of their lives. When had they begun to drop things? When had they started to fall apart?
Another memory came to him. Another memory came to the old man. He was staring into the mirror. Still a young man, and he was considering whether to shave his beard or to let it grow. As he stared at the mass of hair that had begun to grow on his chin, he saw two grey hairs. The grey hairs were looking at him. They had eyes of their own and they were attempting to tell him something. They were attempting to say, ‘Death has found you a place in this world. You were not meant to be young forever.’
He was back in the aged care home. With the walker in front of him. The four framed walker that he shifted most of his weight in upon. And then through a misplacement of his foot, his foot went crooked. He reached out for the walker to steady himself. But the walker went out from under his grasp and he stumbled. He twisted his ankle and fell to the floor. He called out for help, but nobody was watching him. Nobody came to his aid. He was just there, on the floor, calling out for help.
And then he remembered something. Something distant, something as of yet unforeseen. A shattered piece of a memory, long ago forgotten, long ago ripped bare from his soul. It had come to the end of the day, the work day and he had just signed off from his shift. He joked to his shift supervisor, “So are you going to book yourself in?”
“Whadd’ya mean?” He asked.
“To the home? To the aged care home?”
“Not bloody likely! I’d rather shoot myself in the head rather than end up in a place like this.”
They had laughed that day. But at the end of the day, they walked away and went home. Not wanting to think about what would one day happen to their bodies.
And now he didn’t have the memory to remember who he was. It didn’t really mean anything to anybody else who he was. He was just some old geezer. Some old fart. Some forgotten nobody who never was. And that fog. That bloody fog! It descended in down upon him, down upon his mind. Sometimes he thought he was still at work. Still working the same job. Wandering about the halls, attempting to pick up the pieces of plaster that had fallen to the floor. The little pieces of debris.
Time was disjointed now. All of the pieces didn’t fit together. It was like he had gathered a single piece from every jigsaw puzzle in the world and was attempting to piece them all together. Attempting to fit pieces together that didn’t have any conjoining pieces.
One moment he was on the floor, calling out for help. Another moment he was working, cleaning up rubbish. And the next moment after that, he was laying in bed, praying for the eternal sleep to take him off and into the never-ending night.