Metal Fatigue

I am an old tool, worn smooth by long use, paint chipped, edges dulled, not so hard or sharp or straight as I once was. Not entirely useless, not yet, but I labor where I once sang and I shake from time to time, the oil in my gearbox grown blue-black with metal worn away in my guts, hour by hour, day by day, year by year.

I feel the weight of those years, half burden, but half comfort. I have served faithfully and well, for the most part. I have had my breakdowns, those cold dark nights when the junkyard wind rattled my teeth and I stalled, frozen, at the edge of what is and looking down to where nothing goes on forever, but I turned from there, and bent to my tasks again.

I have done the hard work for which I was built, my children, next year’s model, are gone from me, gleaming machines racing along their own roads to whatever hairpin turns and dead ends await them there, places that I cannot follow.

Not quite useless, not quite yet, but there will be no more grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremonies for me. No more breaking new ground, no more Coming Soon To This Site signs. I do maintenance now, I fight a quiet losing battle against erosion and rust. I work to hold on to what I’ve built, to shore up the frames and fill the cracks, knowing that I will fail, knowing that failure is no excuse for not trying.

The future for me is a short walk, my race, for good or ill, has been run. From here it looks like a few steps only to my much needed and well deserved rest. A dreamless sleep in the cool green earth while busy insects recycle my parts to construct the next phase of the development.

No occasion for tears, I regret little, and I won’t be leaving any jobs unfinished. I worked an honest shift, I pulled my weight, I shouldered my load. I can clock out with a clear conscience.

“Life’ll kill ya
That’s what I said
Life’ll kill ya
And then you’ll be dead
Life’ll find ya
Wherever you go
Requiescat in pace
That’s all she wrote.”
–Warren Zevon


About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle.
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