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RUST
By Kenneth Frank Doig

Water, water, he thought, as he clutched the faucet. He tried to put his tongue into the spout. Rust flakes stuck to his lips. He twisted until a muscle popped in his arm, like an electric shock. His hand sprung back from the spigot.

That's not my hand. A wrinkled limb turned before his eyes. It stopped while he tried to read the ID bracelet on his wrist. The letters were hard, the words impossible.

Where am I? He stared at an unfamiliar farm house. Gray wood showed through sun-beaten pastel, pink and peeled. He grappled with stray memories. Then he seemed to see himself on the freshly painted porch playing with a calico kitten and his mother's blue yarn. Thoughts drifted past broken earth and tired elms with shadows like dappled dreams. In a sere field, hay bales lay in neat rows like coffins. A distant train rumbled through the heat, perhaps coming for him. His eyes dropped to ants crawling through brittle weeds, in and out of shadows razored sharp by intense sun.

The screen door creaked. He turned to a gray-haired woman holding a glass. Ice cubes clinked.

"I brought your lemonade, William," she said.

The name ran around in his head and dissolved. He held up his rust-covered hand and shook the bracelet. "Al," he said, his voice firm.

"No, dear. That's Alzheimer. Now, come in before you get your pajamas dirty."


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Last update: June 8, 2001
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