Targeted Age Group: 14 +
So many times over these many years I have thought of you and the love that we once shared. I have thought of you, and our son, and the promises you made, the promises you failed to keep. So many times I have wondered why you went away, and why you never returned. So many questions, fewer still the answers.
Nothing seems to calm my restless soul.
You looked so handsome the night you left. You wore your dark blue tailored suit, and your face had that rugged unshaven look that I loved so much. There was a gleam in your eyes when you kissed me good-bye, and whispers of the love that we shared. You bent down to hug Michael, and reassured him when he pleaded, ‘Daddy Please Don’t Go’. You promised him you would be home soon. It was only a short business trip, just a few days in Chicago. You would be home by the weekend, you said, and then you would take him fishing. Still, he tugged at your suit, begging you not to leave. It was as if he knew instinctively, deep down inside, that you would never return. You hugged him again, and promised him that you would go fishing as soon as you returned. You promised him you would return soon.
But you never did.
Why, dear lover? What happened to you? Where did you go? All these lonely years I have searched for you, searched for an answer to calm my restless soul. And yet I have found nothing.
Michael went away soon after you did. We were driving, dear lover, and there was ice on the road. You know how I hated to drive during the winter storms. But Michael was late for school, and you were in Chicago, so I drove him. We had an accident, and he went away soon after that, just like you. The house was so lonely and quiet and empty without the two of you. It seemed weeks before I was able to stop crying, and weeks more before I finally left the gloomy comfort of our bedroom to go downstairs.
It was dark in the house, the lights had stopped working. Cobwebs and dust bunnies were beginning to form in the corners of the room and on the furniture. I didn’t care, though. None of that mattered anymore. I wondered through the empty house, searching every room in the empty hope that you may have returned while I was sleeping. But you were nowhere to be found. I called out for Michael, maybe he was just playing hide and seek, which he loved so much. But he never returned my calls. After awhile I gave up and went back upstairs.
When sleep finally came I dreamt of you and Michael. I saw us sitting at the dining room table, eating dinner together, sharing the adventures of our days with each other. I saw us by the Christmas tree, drinking eggnog and opening presents. Sometimes you and I sat on the creaking swing on the back porch, sharing intimate secrets as we watched Michael grow older. I watched as you waved goodbye to him when he left for college. You looked so proud then, dear lover. You looked prouder still when he returned home from college a grown man, strong and smart and handsome, just like you. I spied you at his wedding soon after, here at this very house. You stood next to the altar in the backyard, watching the ceremony. Later, after the grandchildren were born, I oftentimes felt your presence whenever they came to visit.
As time passed the dreams became less and less frequent. The house took on a new kind of loneliness. It wasn’t the cobwebs or the mice scratching in the walls, or the heavy dust that never seemed to show the imprint of my footsteps. No, this was an emptiness that echoed through the recesses of my own soul. Images of you and Michael were starting to fade away. No matter how I tried, the memories faded. I raced through the empty house searching for something, anything to spark a memory of you or Michael. But I could find nothing. I longed to hold you, to speak to you, to ask why you went away, but I could not seem to conjure your face anymore. Only dark emptiness filled the air.
Eventually the dreams faded completely, faded away into a dark reality filled only by the agonizing gloom of this wretched house. No longer could I glimpse the visions of you, no longer could I remember Michael’s face. Soon even your name escaped my lips, and with the forgotten name, so too the memories, so too was the pain. Forgotten.
I lay there, then, on the dusty wood floor, on a warm summer evening, and stared up at a pale moth struggling in the glistening white spider web wrapped around the broken ceiling fan. Memories and pain were forgotten, as were the reasons for the dried tears on my pallid face. I had lost all connection with my past, severed completely, even from myself. The world seemed to drift in and out in a darkening rhythmic pulse. It faded and distorted, faded and distorted, unto itself, as the all-encompassing blackness of oblivion seeped in, faster and faster, obscuring the light, encompassing the light, overpowering the light. I could feel the little molecules of my dead body writhing and contorting like worms feeding upon themselves. And just as the overpowering blackness threatened complete annihilation of everything I knew and was, including even myself, a single white light revealed itself, and penetrated through the thick blackness. It grew and expanded until the warmth of its beauty eclipsed all. Surrounded by the light, a single hand reached through to me from above, beckoned for me to take hold. And I did.
And as I did, I saw the hand was yours, and I remembered.
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