Rupert was a sweet old man, and he lived well. Every day he would wake, shuffle his bottom to the edge of the creaky old single bed, and worm his misshapen feet into threadbare slippers. Groaning, he would heave his body off the mattress, and just stand for a moment, looking around himself. He would move his neck from side to side to hear the satisfying pops, and then twist his torso around as far as he could, so that his spine would crackle.
Feeling thoroughly stretched out, Rupert would reach for his frame – an ugly old thing, brought home from the hospital and never returned – and make his sluggish way to his cramped kitchen, drawers overflowing with all manner of kitchen implements. His breakfast would consist of oats zigzagged somewhat lavishly with local honey that Alma from downstairs would sell him every few months. If he was feeling particularly good, he might add a fresh strawberry to the side of his plate. He would take his time with eating, enjoying the feeling of the sun on his weathered skin as he sat in his favourite chair by the big window. He kept two small cacti in little bottles on the sill and he checked on them every morning, watering them every once in while.
He left his bowl at the other end of the table every morning, often forgetting it as he went to his day’s labor. Rupert would spend most of his days typing at his worn old typewriter, day after day, year after year. The typewriter itself had been a present from one of his colleagues a lifetime ago, the chair another (and though it clashed horribly with the peeling aqua paint of his wall, he couldn’t bear to part with it. He simply chose to cover the wall instead.)
Rupert had developed a nasty, wet kind of cough over a period of a few months. Never normally worried about this kind of common ailment, he had only sought medicine after Alma had warned him yet again of his steadily increasing frailty. Rupert had pooh-poohed her at the time, but heeded her advice eventually, somewhat concerned that this cough could impede his important work. Alma worried too damn much, he had conceded, always asking after his health, about when she could read some of what he was writing. He always managed to shake her off but he kept the bottle of bitter cough syrup beside the typewriter, swigging from it whenever he saw fit.
Every Friday, he would take the stack of papers from the table, seal them in envelopes and shuffle them down to the post office on the corner. Marie would give him her same crinkled smile and take his stack, and his few dollars extra from groceries every week. With his work done for another week, Rupert would head back to his apartment, whistling an old tune that he had once enjoyed.
Rupert sat at that typewriter every day until the day that they pried his cold, dead fingers from the keys. The cough had become wetter and wetter until he had suffocated, some syrup still left in the bottle. In the typewriter was a half-finished letter to a little orphaned African boy named Jock, and beside it was a stack to at least five more children. Each one thanked them for their drawings and asked them all about their lives. It was clear, for a few moments at least, that Rupert had been someone very important to so many.
Alma knew this to be true and she began to pick up the letters that were dropped on his doorstep even months after his death, papering her kitchen walls with the drawings of children worlds away.