He was one of thirty people living in the home, which to him, meant he might as well be invisible. His eyes would almost pop straight out of their sockets when he was angry, and gloss over when he had given up trying.
Outwardly, he appeared to be miserable, a man who could not accept his fate, chained to a wheelchair rendering him helpless in the hands of carers, carers who tried to please him with their smiles and 'good mornings' and 'mmm treacle for pudding today!' which can only have highlighted to him how treacle and smiles from strangers was the only thing he had to look forward to.
But then there was his wife. As able bodied as minded, she would visit him a few times a week. Still very much in love, his face would soften at the sight of her. His eyes glossing over once again, this time drowning in memories instead of fighting painful tears.
I sat with him one afternoon, after his wife had planted kisses on his lips and lifted his spirits enough in the few hours she was there to last him until the next visit. I can still remember his smile, so warming and rare. I sensed an opportunity in that moment, a chink in his well crafted armour. I sat myself in the chair closest to him, leaned in and said 'so what's your story?'.
And he told me.
He told me about his days as a soldier. He told me about war and how he had witnessed so many awful things. He told me, that he met his wife the very day he returned, was married 6 months later and has loved her ever since. He continued reminiscing as I hoisted him into his wheelchair, and as I maneuvered him into his box bedroom. Still we walked down memory lane as I handed him his toothbrush and helped him into his pyjamas.
He smiled as he placed his head on the pillow, still glowing with the warmth of beautiful memories relived. And as I switched off the light, and walked down the quiet corridor, bedroom after bedroom, I wondered how many others were keeping their own secret memories locked inside, waiting for someone to ask 'What's your story?'.
Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five minute friday! This week's prompt is 'Story'.