Moving On, by N.K. Woods
Age does not suit you. It pains me to say this after five decades together but you no longer bring me joy or comfort. I have to leave, for both our sakes.
Although you’re so much older than me, I never expected you to fail first, especially with all the money I’ve spent battling your decline. You, after all, are the one with enviably good bones. Beautiful on the outside—at least you were, once—and bursting with charm on the inside.
It was love at first sight for me, when I was little more than a boy. It took years to make you mine, but when I did I was convinced I’d sleep my last sleep and breathe my final breath in your care. But while I’m definitely creaky, with three cracked ribs and a busted ankle, I’m doing better than you.
It breaks my heart to see you on your last legs, even though I was warned this day would come. Friends and family foresaw this ending for us. They couldn’t believe it when I chose imposing and quirky you over the bright and uncomplicated alternatives. They thought I was setting myself up for disaster and advised me to move on when I was still young.
I thought about it, I must admit, twice to be precise. In 1987, when your plumbing went berserk and I saw things that literally made me ill; and again in 2004 when I was blindsided with the estimate for all the work you just had to have done.
I should’ve said enough is enough then. I should’ve hightailed it with my savings intact, but instead I forked out for your improvements. All because I couldn’t bear to let you go to seed. Too sentimental, declared Wilf, our one-time neighbour. Afraid to leave, clucked my sister. She was right. So was Wilf.
The truth is you’ve been my one constant. Always there, always welcoming. Sometimes slow to warm up but never cold.
I still love you, but if I don’t go now you may well kill me. You almost did last week. I know it was an accident, my fault for being clumsy more than yours for coming unstuck. But next time I mightn’t be so lucky. It was bad enough being carted out of here in an ambulance, but it could’ve been worse, it could’ve been a hearse.
So this is goodbye. Don’t worry, though. People will flock to your door once they know you’re available. You’ve always had your admirers; I’ve been asked, many times, if you were ever likely to come on the market. So I promise, you won’t be alone for long.
The right someone will come along. Someone with imagination. Someone with deep pockets. Someone ready to commit. Someone with sharp reflexes and keen eyes. Someone who can spot a loose floorboard and make it down your rickety staircase in one piece. Someone besotted. Someone brave. Someone stubborn. Someone young.
N.K. Woods writes short fiction and has had stories appear in Tir na nOg, Ellipsis Zine, Storgy, The Ogham Stone, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Honest Ulsterman, and elsewhere. She lives in Ireland.