Once there was a man. Every day the man woke up alone, the man ate alone, and the man sat alone. His house was quite small. From the outside his quite small house looked plain, just a plain brick house poking up out of a sea or maybe an ocean. If you looked closely at this ocean you could see that under the water’s surface were other houses, the previous houses of past townspeople who weren’t as resilient as the man. You see, the water would rise a little more each day so people either had to build upon their houses or move. The man built.
Inside the man’s quite small house were his few belongings: a narrow bed, various low chests with a few small sets of drawers, a table and chair, a tiny fridge, a rack that held wine, a small television and finally one lightbulb. There was a window without curtains and a door that led onto a little dock. Last but certainly not least across from the door was a plain wall with a lot of framed pictures. The pictures were important to him.
Each day the man went fishing. He baited his line and cast it into the water while he sat on the dock with his ever-present pipe hanging out of his mouth. Then every evening the man would sit and eat the fish he’d caught in his little table with its one meal and the one glass for his wine. On Wednesdays and Sundays, a little boat came to sell bare essentials to the few people left.
One morning after an especially lonely night the man swung his legs over his bed and stood in water. The man simply sighed and pulled his trouser legs to his knee. This was nothing new, the water always rose. Now the man was rather torn, he was very old and got tired quickly and was giving serious thought to simply moving away. He was just about to begin packing his things when he caught sight of one of the many pictures of his late wife. He thought for a moment and sighed, he couldn’t leave. That day just happened to be Sunday, so he bought building supplies from the man who came to sell. When the man had bought all he needed he begun. He chose his bricks and spread mortar with his hand all the while his beloved pipe hung from his mouth.
The man was a very quick worker and within four days and three night he was finished and had even built his little dock.
It was on the fifth day that the man begun to move his furniture. He did this with a little row boat that he steered through his front door. The man was lifting a cabinet into his boat when he opened his mouth a little too wide and he dropped his pipe. The man reached for it into the water but missed and simply watched it spiral through the little trap door in the floor of his previous room. He had a bad habit of opening it and leaving it open when he begun a new floor, his pipe would sink to the very bottom of his very first house. The man was sad, but he just sighed and decided to buy a new one the next time the shop came around.
The man had moved all his furniture and every single one of his pictures into his new room that was in his opinion now very small. When the shop came the man shuffled through the box of pipes. None were right. Once again, the old man sighed and began to get up. He stopped. On the boat, on a hook hung a scuba diving suit.
If he couldn’t find the right pipe, then he would get his own.
That afternoon, having bought, payed for and pulled on the scuba suit with some difficulty, the old man sighed inside the helmet, pulled the little trap door open, sat and fell backwards through the door and into the water.
The old man looked around the old room and yet again sighed to himself at the rather daunting number of rooms before him.
As he moved through the first two rooms the old man simply looked around him and remembered the furniture that he had forgotten to remember sooner, now water damaged and moved on.
When he got to the third room he saw an old wire bed with a steel frame and stopped. As he looked at the bed he saw something else that made the old man’s mouth hang open inside the helmet. As he looked at the bed he saw his wife shortly before she died in the bed under a fleece duvet. Also, the man saw himself sat in the chair that was next to the bed giving his wife medicine while she smiled at him. The vision wasn’t really there but it didn’t stop the old man staring for about five minutes.
Still reeling from his vision, the old man crossed two more rooms and then stopped again. In this room he saw wife again. This time they were both sat at the table. The old man was sitting at one end watching his wife and she was sat at the other end sewing a patch into his trousers with a serene look on her face. The man looked for a while longer.
He passed more rooms, and most had more pictures with him and his wife. When he reached one room there were more people. In one room there was his wife, their daughter and her then fiancé squashed together on a sofa and the old man was a little distance away trying to set the timer on a camera. When he finally managed it, the man had the task of getting there in time and in his haste he tripped and his daughter and her fiancé lurched forward to try and catch him and his wife gasped and close her eyes. The man was watching this happen and he remembered this.
He moved another few rooms and found his daughter at about twelve years old quickly jumping up from the table, kissing her parents goodbye, grabbing her school bag and running for the little service boat that took her to school. then he looked at the two-people left in the room, himself and his wife smiling at each other.
He continued through the rooms and everyone seemed to age backwards. In one room there was his daughter taking her first steps with the help of her mother, his wife. He was nearing the first room. The rooms got bigger and the people got younger.
The next room was a time before his daughter was born. This was the second room they built together, it was empty. The old man looked out of the window and saw the ground he hadn’t see for years. On the ground was a tree and there were two people chasing each other around. A young man and a slightly younger woman. As he watched them they both got younger from a handsome young man to a spotty teenager to a stodgy little boy and from a beautiful young lady to a pretty teenager to an adorable little girl. He watched them regress through rain and sun and wind back to when they met, a curious little girl wanting a friend who just happened to choose the shy little boy sat beneath the tree.
Then he found himself in the first room they built together. The young man and the slightly younger woman sat around the table on the night they completed the room. They were enjoying their first dinner and the man had just opened a bottle of wine and he filled the two glasses and they toasted. He stopped and looked for a very long time at the two people and sighed a very content, nostalgic, melancholy sigh. Then the old man looked down between his feet and there laid his pipe that was in fact a gift from his wife. The old man picked it up and slowly swam back through the many rooms to make it back to his very small room at the very top.
That night after the old man had struggled out of the suit, dried and stocked his pipe and made his dinner he sat down at his table with his chair plate and wine glass, one of each and picked up his knife and fork. Then he stopped and stood up. He walked to his cupboard and picked up the other wine glass. He sat back down and stood the other wine glass across from his own. The old man thought for a long time and then filled both glasses. He thought again and in a bout of nostalgic celebration of an incredibly ordinary, blissful life he toasted to the many pictures of his wife and past relatives and their memories as well as his own and for the very first time in quite a number of years, he smiled.
Author Notes: I sincerely hope you enjoyed, please feel free to leave a comment or review.