Scott slowly released his breath. He wasn’t sure how long he had been sucking it in. He continued to exhale as his pushed his foot into the floor. It was sore. The stiffness grew up his ankle and through his joints. He remembered the days when his stiffness lived in his boxer shorts. Those were the days.

Some when between those days of reckless perfected by the young and this morning had been another type of days. Days filled with bed sores, bed pans, and bedside prayers. Despite the ache eating through his strength he would be happy to be out of this goddamned bed.

He hadn’t planned on moving much. That bed was going to be his deathbed. But like all of the best laid plans, that changed. Changed faster than any hired nurse changed his bed pan. Stunk just about as bad too.

Scott pulled the rest of his body up using his wooden bed post. Maisey had picked it out. The deep, rich walnut base. Oversized in every way. The tall woven bed posts carved to resemble vines around a trunk, strong branches with new growth sprouting from the top. He drew the line at the glass leaves. Once the salesperson explained it would cost them extra to have them not included, then Scott agreed. Maisey had loved it. He loved Maisey. Now, with death raging a war in his body, he liked the support it provided. Still could have done without the leaves, Scott thought as he tugged on one.

One-hundred-seventy-eight.

Pulling his old blue flannel bathroom closed, Scott lifted his chest.

One-hundred-seventy-nine.

Scott took a breath.

One-hundred-eighty.

The bed felt hard, yet worn under his butt as Scott dropped himself back onto the bed. He tried to catch his breath. The pain in his legs was overwhelming. He gripped the bed post. Ignoring a tear welling in his eye, he tried to think.

Scott had a hard time keeping track of the days. It had been at least three weeks since his neighbor had called to tell him about the postman and some letter. It had been another week before he actually got the letter and read it.

Forty-five days. That was as long as he had before they went and exhumed Maisey’s body. New evidence, talk and rumors was more like it. It didn’t matter to Scott if it was murder or suicide that took her. She was gone, and he was dying in his bed. Whatever had happened eight years ago was in the past. Maisey’s physical life was in the past, and Scott’s had gone with it.

But according to the letter. The past wasn’t done with them yet. Scott hated his neighbor. If he hadn’t made a fuss, Scott would have never known. He could have continued on rotting in his bed. Waiting for the war to subside. It was his body that was gone, not his mind. While his heart had frosted over some, it still beat for Maisey.

He couldn’t let them unearth her without him. He couldn’t let them stir her restful sleep. He couldn’t get out of bed, but fuck it. He would try. After three false starts Scott managed to get up and stay up. He looked to his pack of cigarettes, laying on the dresser. Maisey’s jewelry still in an evidence bag stapled to his on top. The matches somewhere muddle in the mess. It had to be under the blanket of dust.

Sixty-one.

Not a caretaker, not a nurse had cleaned that dresser. Scott hadn’t let them. If he was going to stop, time was going to stop with him.

Seventy-one.

The rest of the house he didn’t care about. The dust could go. But at the end of the day dust was just the leftover parts of people that people didn’t need.

Seventy-nine.

Scott needed all of his pieces together. He needed to reunite with Maisey with as much of himself as he could keep.

Eighty-six.

Scott’s knee buckled and he fell backward onto the bed.

Tears washed down Scott’s face. The pain in his heart hurt more than the pain in his body. There was still time. He had frozen so much of it. Scott wept softly muttering to himself, “there has to be time.”

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