This is the original, longer version of a short story, written for the Friday Fictioneers prompt on 2014.12.24. (It was cut down to 100 words. The word count here is 377. The original text entered on the smartphone is much longer…)
Abe loved to travel. He’d been on tours for several countries, he’d seen rocky coasts, and marshes and misty woods. He’s a mineralogist at Cal-Tech that loved to explore, learning new things about the world, but entering his sixties he’d grown physically tired of all the walking.
Today, Abe’s legs, knees and back hurt like hell as he made way up a set of rocky steps.
“I’m going to need a moment’s rest,” he said to Zoe, his wife of thirty-three years. She was younger, more able to make the climb, but Abe had been dabbling in anthropology walking for hours looking for a particular kind of insect.
He sat a third way up the flight the steps thinking his knees would buckle if he went any further.
Zoe sat next to him, and put a hand on his back, and rubbed around.
“Some day, you’re going to have to let the younger generation take over for you,” she said, which made him feel even more old and tired. Young Abe was fit. He faced a few close calls, including food poisoning, and if it wasn’t for his travel guide, one time near the Alps, his belongings would’ve been stolen, or worse. Now he faced a greater challenge: continuing this flight of
rocky stony stairs covered in grass moss. [Whoops]
He removed his whitish travel hat for a moment like a white flag and scratched his head.
“You know, Jan was thinking about getting Marc a blender for his birthday…” It’s what Zoe did: talk about friends with children, especially when she had nothing to do. Sitting would do that. Abe and Zoe didn’t want children until it was too late.
“I know, right? He doesn’t even cook. It’s like she gifted it for herself.”
He expressed his pain.
“Where does it hurt?”
He stretched his body as she put both hands on his back. “Raise your shirt.” She lifted her sunglasses. “Oh, my god. What the heck is this?”
She described the large purple bull’s-eye on his back.
“Sounds like a bite,” Abe responded. “I wondered what that pain was. Can’t be that bad.”
He was hospitalized, downgraded to ‘critical.’ It appeared the prized insects he was looking for didn’t want to be found.