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On bad days, days when every breath
was a conscious effort and when taking the stairs
to the basement to change out the laundry
felt like descending into the bowels of a battleship at sea,
the weight of the basket braced against one thigh
giving him the strangled gait of an inexperienced sailor,
he'd imagine he was running his fingertips along the chair rails
in his family home, covered in decades of paint and plaster and trapped dust,
the roughness of it leaving him as numb as the stairs did
but selectively and by choice,
the difference between a hot tub and a rip-tide.