The Man on Mulberry Street
By: James. S. Lubeur
The creaking of wood fills the room; as the old rocking chair swings back and forth. The bittersweet smell of aged parchment; and worn ink, stain the air. The elderly man effortlessly props open his book. Small flecks of dust sputter into the sunlit study, as he brings his choice reading material to its place marker. The old silk string; which serves as his place marker, hangs from the tattered bindings of the book. It moves roughly between his equally rough fingers; of which have long been worn with age. The small threads of silk; though they be mangled and frayed, still feel homely to the old man. As do his shelves of old books, his old rocking chair; whose twin sits on the porch, and none but the autumn afternoon to keep him company. The smells of fall fill the air; and what with the last of the thanksgiving roasts; along with the puddings and pies. The old man reads; using a little of the light that pores in through his curtains; it is barely enough.
The rocking chair stops suddenly as the man makes an effort to stand. But his timeworn back holds him fast not letting him part. With one feeble attempt he fails to rise from the rocking chair. After his final more desperate attempt fails, he sinks back into that cold wooden chair. It creaks vigorously; as though with delight, at the poor old mans fate. The man looks up and out through his spectacles; his every fiber longing to tear apart the curtains and fling open his window. But sadly the old man is resigned to wishful thinking. His window seems to mock him; perhaps taking notes from the chair. The draperies wager softly and steadily. Then they sway enough that the old man can catch the curtain string. When he has the cord held firmly in his hand, he pulls hard on it. The curtains part; offering the elderly man more light, and a beautiful view of the autumn day. Only a small draft flows in through a crack in the windowpane. But still the man gazes with small amounts of delight at the small homes on Mulberry Street. Yet swiftly his smile fades as he longs for the full rays of the sun on his face.
The sounds of children playing in the grass or the songs of the birds in the trees that is so calming. He looks solemnly down at his tattered leather bound book; of which he spent many summer afternoons attempting to finish. A single tear falls from his sad grey eyes; it travels down his old wrinkled face. The wrinkles act as barriers; slowing down the tear, as it falls from his face with difficulty. The reading book slips from its propped up position in his lap. It too seems to fall slowly through the air.
Only the old man in his rocking chair hears the noise of the teardrop hitting the dusty floor. The small noise is followed by the more audible sound of his book hitting the floor. It seems to bounce; stop in midair, and then fall to the floor again. The suns rays shine down with compassion on the man; thus giving him one last hope. Once more he makes a final effort to stand. His back protests in agony, as he continuously tries to stand. The once peaceful fall afternoon is suddenly filled with the hoarse cries that emanate from the poor old man. He thrashes around in his rocking chair; desperately toying to get up from his seat. To him it is a life or death situation. He longs to go and sit on the porch. He longs to smell the changing of the seasons from autumn to winter. He yearns for the sound of neighbors trying to trim the last of their once green lawns, before the first snows of winter set in.
Finally the old rocking chair flings the old man forwards; as though it grew tired of tormenting the man. The man is slightly taken aback; not quite believing his good fortune. Then; with a satisfied smile, he turns towards the door. But he stops and gazes down to the study floor. There lay his book he’d cherished as a boy; and still enjoyed. With the greatest effort of all he bends down on one knee and picks up the leather bound book. As he slowly rises; he tucks the book to his chest and hobbles towards his old cherry and oak front door. There; as he looks to his left, he sees his favorite rose bush. It was; at one time, all perfect and pruned. But now it grows wild and still vibrant with roses. He looks to his right and spots his favorite twin rocking chair; which was made from the oak tree his wife was buried near many years ago. The old man goes and seats himself quite comfortably into the deep-set chair. From it he can smell the last of the barbeques proceeding on through the; now, midafternoon autumn day. The couple just across the way on Mulberry Street; he notes, are desperately trying to finish raking their leaf infested yard. But try as they might, the leaves continuously fall onto the lawn around them.
The last possible remains of spring still cling to the air; still not yet able to accept the presence of fall and the upcoming winter seasons. A slight breeze cools the man’s face and plays with his grey strands of hair. Content he sits back to read his book while rocking in his rocking chair. As time goes by; he does not notice the sun dip below the tree line. Nor does the old man notice the last of the picnics and gatherings disperse on Mulberry Street. Yet longer still the old man stays on his now darkening front porch. Only when he can no longer see; does he decide to gaze up from his reading. With a jolt of surprise he sees his loss of time. He slowly pulls out his old place marker to his page. He had never really ever finished his book. He had always stopped with just a few pages to go. But was always sorely interrupted when reading; thus he was always forced to restart the book. With a saddened sigh the old man made to get up from his rocking chair. But his poor old bones would not let him stand. Try as he might; he could not bring himself to stand. He attempted to lean forwards to crawl out of his seat. But he had crafted it too deep.
The elderly man was stuck once again in his rocking chair. His cries and moans could not be heard by anyone on Mulberry Street. He sat there contemplating and as he sat, horror crept into his mind. He knew he was old and weak. What could be done; was his thought. He gazed sadly at the stump of the once tall and proud lonely oak tree. As he sat; the darkness was everywhere, none but one porch light was on down on Mulberry street. All he could hear were the sounds of bare trees rustling and the sounds of leaves falling slowly to the earth. But then a new sound filled the quieted evening. None of the small children could hear it or see it. And try as he might the man couldn’t break free. And so as he sat there cold and alone. The new sound filled his ears on Mulberry Street, as it started to snow.
(The following story was written on September 11, 2012. It was then revised and re-written by hand in pen the following day. This story. “The man on Mulberry Street” was completed on September 19, 2012.
It is an imaginary work of fiction created by Darian Bowers.
This short story was created through pure inspiration.
“It all started one Sunday afternoon while I sat in my own favorite rocking chair. Although the chair was not carved from an oak tree; I sit in the chair all the same. I enjoy reading my books there; where the sun constantly shines through the window nearby.” He currently lives in Muscatine Community School District, Muscatine, Iowa. He enjoys writing music, poems, and short stories. This is his first complete story Originally titled “The man in a rocking chair.”
Please do not plagiarize this story.
James. S. Lubeur