He felt empowered enough to begin this new project right then and there when he awoke but remembering that he is no longer a young man, he realized he would be asleep again mid-afternoon without additional rest. He drifted back into a light sleep and came to when the sun was just beginning to come out of hiding. He jumped out of bed in a wistful excitement to get to work. He once again fumbles with his buttons as he changes into clothes suitable for performing his craft. He rummages through pots and pans searching for just the right one. He has decided that eggs would be a delightful way to celebrate his grand idea. As he cracked the eggs on the side of the pan, he thought about the visionary moment in his dream when the man’s eyes flickered open. During his breakfast, he thought. He thought and he planned. He came up with more questions than answers. But he wasn’t worried. He knows he has a talent for restoration and believes it is possible to achieve his goal.
He enters his workshop and notices a light layer of dust covering the cluttered shelves on his right but he doesn’t have time for such insignificant things as dust this morning. This will be very different from any of his other projects, much more complicated, and hopefully with the greatest reward. He gathers all the necessary materials and pushes everything else on the table aside, causing a flurry of dust to settle elsewhere. He will first attempt to restore the life of small creatures such as invertebrates, frogs, and birds. On his first try, it works. He has transformed an old bird with damaged feathers into a young and animated bird. He wonders how on earth he got so lucky to discover something as incredible as this. He rests and listens to the young bird’s chirping while he thinks about how proud his father would be if he could witness his son’s miracle. He notices his back is beginning to ache much earlier in the day than usual. Oh, how he would love to be young again…If it worked on the bird, could it work on himself also? He feels that although it may be dangerous, who better to experiment on, for he doesn’t want to harm someone else.
Not yet noon, he takes his time preparing for his most precarious restoration ever. He begins to formulate a procedure, making sure to consider and embrace every aspect of his childhood in hopes of reaching it once again. He will create a dosage of his past life in a medicinal form. He will then proceed to consume this and trick life into letting him live over again beginning as a young boy. He dreams of the day he will be once again be able to race the neighborhood boys around the park, climb trees, and easily button his shirt buttons every day. The chance to live twice as long would be a ground-breaking discovery. All the highest officials will bow down to his child form holding the secret in his small, powerful hands.
As he pieces it all together, he feels as though he is forgetting something but is not sure what that detail could be. Every time he is sure that he has finished, it fractures and disintegrates into a million little specks of memories, emotions and dreams. There must be some sort of his past psychological life missing. Finally, he’s got it! He had forgotten to include the little thoughts that creep into our minds as we fall asleep. Those thoughts that come to us as we are in between the states of consciousness and a dream world, the thoughts that are never recollected when we awake, and once he added them to his concoction, it was complete.
He begins to prepare some sort of note, in fear of a dreadful case in which his miracle did not work. He wrote to Richard because he simply did not know who else to address the letter to. He seals the envelope. Without another thought, he swallows the thick, bitter liquid. The taste was fairly unpleasant and reminded him of cough syrup his mother would give him when he had caught a cold. This memory gave him a little more confidence that it was working. At first, he was drunk with his vision of fame and fortune and living a lavish life. But, after a few minutes he began to feel a strange churning deep in his stomach and aches in several other parts of his old body. This must be my body shedding these dreadful wrinkles in return for youthful skin, he thinks to himself. After an hour’s struggle with intense abdominal pain and full body sweats, he begins to think a bit differently. If life could be repeated, it would not be as cherished as it is. He began to think “stupid, stupid, wretched old man!” and he hated himself then. He whispers aloud in the cluttered room only inhabited by himself and his bird, “Life is too precious, life is too delicate…to restore” and he begins to wheeze. The old man crumples to the floor laden with mistaken hope.
A Short Story By Courtney Clark