The Wound

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: February 25, 2018

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Submitted: February 25, 2018

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The Wound

The wound oozed with pus and vitriol, greenish-yellow, foul-smelling and accusatory. The old man observed it, detached, as if this were someone else's body decaying in front of him. He let the saturated dressing fall to the grime-layered lino floor. A startled mouse scuttled away before creeping back in timid starts for a closer inspection. Snout wrinkled in disgust, it rounded on itself and scurried away in search of richer pickings. The old man had been rich once, but now destitution shackled him to certain death. When he had had money he had been scathing of those without, driven by the fear of poverty and of what the poor may do. Creating monsters of the unemployed, the homeless and the impoverished, when he could now see with vivid hindsight that he himself was monstrous. A smile played on his thin, cracked lips. Despite this self-insight he remained callous and uncaring, age and a seat of the other side of the fence had not changed him. His soul had never felt warmth and he mocked those with compassion. Disinterested, he had watched his friends fade from his life as his embezzlement had been exposed, and then the ghosts who had clung on had been laid to rest as he served his prison time. Released now, into a half-way house shared with ex-cons, mice and the odd cockroach, he did not waste his time thinking of what might have been or indulging in self-pity. He drove his anger of having been caught and losing his wealth into keeping himself alive. Fortune was not yet ready to raise him up, and so he had been prepared to do it himself. The wound on the palm of his left hand, sustained while reminding an upstart of his place in the pecking order, was pulsing with infection. The old man wanted it off. It needed to go. He contemplated the blade of the knife he was holding in his other hand, recently sharpened but dull through years of use. It was satisfyingly heavy.  He brought the edge to his reddened wrist and prepared to cut.


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