Once upon a time there was a -

Man.

There was a man.

There always was. He was always there, and though he changed on the outside, inside he was still the same poor excuse for a human being that he always was. There were no redeeming qualities of this man, as there often are in fairy tale heroes. He wasn't tall, strong or handsome. He didn't tell the truth, and he didn't save the people that needed saving. His luck was always ill, anything of value that crossed his path soon slipped between his fingers to be shrugged off and forgotten. He dreamt often, smiling as he walked in the sand on the far off beaches in his mind. He visited Paris and sipped wine with Brigitte Bardot. He once owned coffers of gold and jewels that were stolen from him by order of the King of Persia. He had enemies everywhere. But everyone loved him. Everyone found him attractive. Even though when he stared at his graying face in the mirror, he sometimes got the idea that perhaps it was all just in his head.

Nonsense.

He was just tired. He was very tired. His wife hadn't let him sleep in days. She was going out of her fucking mind, screaming at him for this or that or something else. Her voice was shrill like a banshee. Her touch was always cold and clammy and her hands shook and fluttered because she was so nervous, trying not to fall out of her skin. The stuff he injected in her arms was supposed to keep her from that. Sometimes it didn't work though. He didn't know why. Even if it didn't it never stopped her from needing it.

Sometimes he wondered what would happen if he stapled her soul to her skin. He wondered if it would rip free or if it would cure her cravings. Maybe after he had pressed the sharp bits of metal into her flesh, she could do the same for him and their children would love them again.

But that would make her bleed.

Oh, who cared? It wouldn't matter anyway. Nothing did. She bled all the time. It squirted out like a fountain, leaving drizzles on the walls, sheets, and anything else that happened to be near. "You're poking me," she would hiss, jerking her arm. "Stop fucking around and get it right."

He could never get it right. It took ten tries. She would bruise and bleed more, there would be bubbles in her skin. His hands shook from his arthritis. He couldn't move his neck and his back had a permeant hump in it. He knew he looked like a hunchback. Always so stiff and sore. His belly protruded. There was a bubble in the middle, right beneath his bellybutton. One of his daughters had said it was a hernia. He had gone to the doctors about it some time ago and was supposed to have surgery but he had forgotten about that. Besides, his doctor knew what he was doing now so there was no point in ever seeing him face-to-face again.

She had said that hernias led to your guts being pushed out through your bellybutton. It made him afraid.

He was always afraid nowadays.