The whispers of the night collided in his head, causing him to tremble beneath the thin, worn sheet. His bed was narrow and hard, held together by wisps of wood that he had pulled from the pile of throwaways behind the furniture factory. His ears were burning and he knew that they were speaking of him. Outside in the inky darkness, he knew that they were whispering about him. His forehead felt wet and he felt the drops of perspiration rolling a path down the side of his face, racing to catch up with the stream that washed between his thin shoulders. He felt a hand come down onto his shoulder then, and he caught his breath, willing the hand to disappear.
‘It’s too soon…it’s not my time…’ he began to chant silently, his gruff voice cutting through the dark, awakening his slip of a wife who, until only a few weeks ago, had been a smiling stranger at the water point in the middle of the neighborhood. She turned now and reached over to him. There was hesitation in her movement but he felt like she moved with the weight of the air in their one-room shack.