St. Anthony's Stories


“You’ll need to call the office of—“

Mark let his arm drop to his side. He could hear the squawk “Sir? Sir!” Her tone suggested a reprimand for his requests for assistance. He pressed the red circle on the screen and she fell silent. Just then his bus drove down the street without stopping, splashing dirty brown slush across Mark’s trousers and coat.

He began to walk without a destination in mind, dragging his feet as though he were dragging concrete blocks behind him. He gasped for breath and wished for a moment that he had been standing in front of the bus. It would be easier, maybe, than getting back on the phone with the Veterans Administration or any of the other offices they kept suggesting he call to remedy the error in the system. It would be easier than all these calls for one pill, just one to help ease his pain.

He began moving faster and then, without warning, his feet were suddenly lighter than air, flying in front of him as he hit an icy patch beneath the fresh fallen snow. The sound was sucked right out of his chest, prohibiting him from bellowing an expletive at the top of his lungs.

Mark lay on the sidewalk, his hat rolling into the street and quivered. He stared up at the lacy branches interlocking across the steely sky above him. A large, swiftly falling flake landed directly on his eye and he closed them, fast. There was a warm wetness at the corner of his eye that traced a meandering path down his face and into his left ear. Then, what was this? Another. And another.

Mark let his shoulders sink away from his ears and his feet droop to the sides as he let his body conform to the soft snow beneath him. His chest began to lighten and the sound returned.