the difference between 50 and 80: a micro story

This is a story about my grandfather:

1999. These bones are not like those bones, heavy and box-like, heaving under breath and skin. These bones - mine - are small and narrow. His are thick with age. Amidst the beeps and flickers of monitors and lights he is restless.  I have held this hand a thousand times before, rolled this knuckle between forefinger and thumb, mapping its outcroppings and valleys.  Eyes.  Two intense brown pools that tease, entice one with promise, and unfathomable depth. And if depth could be described as sound, his eyes were a slow steady pulsing, like a soft tether drum, or the recessed shallows of a heartbeat.

When I was born he was 50 years old. I am 29. He stirs gently, and then his voice lifts with command. "Get in position! Dig that deeper! Over there, that wall! Move it, Move it!" The lights flicker and I know he is there, in that place so long ago. He calms, and squeezes my hand. "Oh, hello sweets, you're here." I am here.

In the distance the doctor's voices sound like footsteps on carpet, muffled yet deliberate. They talk about the difference between fifty and eighty.

for paul.

a story ©helenfcrawford