‘Lost and Found’ by M. M. Elmendorf

soft cartel may 2018

To say he’d grown used to it would be a lie. How did one grow habituated to being alone? Not alone by choice, or alone by necessity, or even alone by militant or alien forces. But alone by providential forces beyond comprehension; alone by fate, you might say, and a fate that clearly despised him.

Fortune did not always favor the bold because if it did he would not be so alone. He’d boldly made promises to the masses that he’d been unable to keep; he’d boldly reassured them that “all will right itself in the end” when the first sign of trouble had reared its fastidious head; he’d boldly clung to his own obstinate optimism when the mortality rates had risen, the resources depleted, and the remaining dredges of normalcy in life were completely stripped away. No, he was proof that sometimes being bold meant being stupid and that “fortune” was a force that favored whomever she pleased. In the end, his boldness had been his hubris, his fate had been the destruction of all he’d known and taken for granted, and now he was forced to grow accustomed to a life of uninterrupted solitude.

The months (or was it years?) of solitary existence since had not been kind to him. Shaggy and unkempt, his hair fell about his bearded and weathered face like a noisome cloud: at times shielding him from the elements; at times plastering against his face as snakely tendrils shining bright with oil and sweat. He kept his nails clipped, mostly because it hurt like hell when they broke off and once he’d had a close call with amputation as infection had set in from the muck that had gotten crusted underneath near the nail bed. He thought that at one time he’d been handsome, his body svelte and attractive, his charm effervescent and alluring. But now what muscles remained attached to his frame were there by necessity; all softness of a privileged life blasted away by the world he’d mistakenly created and in which he sought survival.

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