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Fear of Falling

When they pronounced his wife dead he started to fall. The death was expected--at least that's what his daughter told him. Nonetheless he fell, and fell and fell.
At the funeral, he wore a suit four sizes too big because he lost weight when he worried, and he worried a lot during the last months of her dementia. When he fell through the ground, the suit became a parachute and slowed his descent.
Eventually the falling stopped. He found himself at the bottom of a hole so deep he couldn't see the sunlight. A flickering bulb illuminated a journal with a purple leather cover, speckled with flecks of dirt. He blew off the dirt and opened the book. His wife walked out, tall and confident.
"I'm OK," she said clearly. "Now everything will be all right."
When they pronounced his wife dead he started to fall. The death was expected--at least that's what his daughter told him. His wife stole a book from a dragon. Of course the dragon would seek deadly retribution. Nonetheless his heart fell, and fell and fell. He failed. He let the dragon eat his wife.
At the funeral, he wore a suit four sizes too big in order to store weapons. When the dragon came back, he would not fail again. He would save his falling heart.
No dragon appeared at the funeral. At the reception that followed, people said what a great woman she was and then asked him if he had to wear that bow and arrow all the time. The bow and arrow kept his heart from falling through the floor, so he ignored them.
When the dragon came, the day after the funeral, he shot it from the sky. He ran to where it fell, breath catching in his throat. Up close the dragon smelled like decay. Puss seeped from green and brown scales. In its dying breath, it coughed out the book his wife had stolen--a journal with a purple leather cover, covered in mucus and puss. He wiped it off and opened it. Before his eyes, the dragon transformed into his wife. She stood, tall and confident.
"I'm OK," she said clearly. "Now everything will be all right."
When they pronounced his wife dead he started to fall. The death was expected--at least that's what his daughter told him. Death became inevitable when she beat Professor Lontie for chairmanship of the University Potions Department and he poisoned her in retribution. Still, that didn't lessen the feeling that he was going to fall forever.
At the funeral, he continued to fall. He wore robes four sizes too big. After she'd grown too weak for the lab it fell to him to brew the antidotes she thought up. He got so busy in the lab that he forgot to eat.
He kept falling as he sat in the mourning circle. People said what a great woman she was, they said prayers to the Elder Gods, and they asked if he was all right. Couldn't they see that he was falling, falling, falling?
Finally, they left. He lay on his bed and felt something hard under his back. He reached down and found a journal with a purple leather cover, the one his wife wrote the antidotes in. Tiny shards of gold, silver, and bronze covered the book. As he shook the shards off, they flew into the air and solidified into his wife. "I'm OK," she said clearly. "The last antidote worked. Now everything will be all right."
When they pronounced his wife dead he started to fall. The death was expected--at least that's what his daughter told him. Still, that didn't take away the shock. That didn't lessen the feeling that he would fall forever.
At the funeral, he continued to fall. He wore a suit four sizes too big because during the last months of her illness he'd been too busy taking care of her to eat or cook.
As he sat Shiva, he continued to fall. People said what a great woman she was. They said Kaddish. They asked if he was all right as if they couldn't see that he fell, and fell, and fell.
He kept falling when he took his daughter to the airport to fly to her home on the opposite coast.
He kept falling when he opened the door to the house he and his wife shared. He went to the bedroom and opened her drawer. There he found her journal with the purple leather cover, obscured by a film of dust. He cleaned off the dust and began to read.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, June 12th, 2019
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