The Way Down

Entry by: MONARCHB

8th May 2015
The Way Down

His fall from grace was gradual: a slight trip on a slippery floor; a casual slip of the tongue. So gradual, hardly anyone noticed--including his wife, his children, his closest friends. Hardly anyone--but himself.

"Wrong, something's wrong," he would mutter under his breath when he'd trip over his feet as he walked in the garden or he'd spill his coffee--
yet again--at the breakfast table. His wife tried to ignore these mishaps or pretended not to see. And his two teenaged children, drifting more and more into their own worlds, never paid attention to their father's slow downward spiral.

He would say "flower" when he meant "butter"--"salt" when he meant "sewing"--"umbrella" when he meant "laundry." The words a strange cacophony of sound and song. His ears heard one word, but his mouth shaped a totally different word. As if his tongue and throat were locked in a rebellion against him.

To walk down a simple flight of stairs became a major challenge. His feet seemed to forget how to negotiate the step-by-step process of getting from the second floor of his house to the first. As if he were a toddler again, frozen at the top of the landing, wondering how to navigate the distance from top to bottom.

"If only I had wings," his wife overheard him say, as he talked to himself one evening while staring at his dinner.

"What, Tom?" was her only response. His response was silence.

That night, he dreamed a strange dream filled with an overwhelmingly blue sky. He was climbing a tall, grassy slope that overlooked his boyhood home in the country. When he saw his wife and children standing at the top of the hill, he climbed faster and faster with complete joy.

Reaching the top, he looked down into the valley below. Every color was more alive, more vibrant than he had ever remembered. The yellow roses by his mother's back porch. The light purple lilacs growing at the end of the lane. The lush green that enveloped the huge oak near the brook. He felt a sudden calm and total peace. For the first time in a long time, he didn't worry about how he was going to make it down to the bottom. He started running headlong down the slope. His eyes fixed on the gray stone house of his childhood. His arms outstretched like the wings of pure flight. His mouth forming the tentative pitch of birdsong. The sounds of his wife and children, caressing his ears--calling his name into the blue, blue air.