by J’Rie Elliott
He was sitting in the dark; the silence that consumed him was almost deafening. There was no laughter, no cries, and no music nothing in this horrible decrepit house to cause a sound other than the sound of his retched breath. This had not always been the case for this lonely, twisted, heart sick man. In a past life he had been a son, a husband, a father—now he was just an empty shell taking up the space that he occupied in his sad small constantly diminishing world.
He stared at the empty bottles occupying the table in front of him when he heard a sound coming from the kitchen. A door slamming, the small voice of a young boy called out, “Daddy, guess what I did in school today? I got an A+ on my spelling test! Daddy, aren’t you proud of me? Daddy, are you here? Daddy where are you?” The man entered the kitchen and saw his son, William, standing before him looking around; he knelt to the floor.
“Here I am son. Give me a hug.” The little boy came running through kitchen into his daddy’s waiting arms, only to vanish before reaching those waiting arms. He was alone in the house again; his son long ago grown into a man. Tears began to fill up in his eyes the same time the aroma of bacon and eggs filled the air, and Fleetwood Mac played in the background; he looked across the kitchen and there stood his young wife, Hannah, beautiful in the warm morning light, with the sun glistening off of her face. The prism she kept hanging in the kitchen windows catching the rays of the sun filling the room with dancing rainbows; she smiled and spun the crystal sending the rainbows swirling around her. She was in high sprits this morning as though there was no heart -ache in the world; the world was a place filled with as much light and warmth as her kitchen in the mornings.
He could see her speaking, see her lips moving but there was no sound coming from her, just the music in the back ground. The bacon cooking on the stove was fragrantly delicious but made no sound. She called over her shoulder as she gathered the bacon out of the pan and placed it on a plate covered with paper towels. She took the eggs off the stove with her right hand and with her left she lifted the coffee pot and poured coffee into a mug. William came barreling into the kitchen followed by a girl slightly younger, Janet. They pulled the chairs from the table and sat down; Hannah sat the eggs, bacon and her coffee cup on the table as William poured him and his sister a glass of orange juice from the carton which was sitting out. The three sat down and started eating, the food was too good to let get cold.
“Darling, I’m here. Baby can you see me?” He waved his hand in front of her face; she reached across the table and wiped juice from the Janet’s chin. “Please Hannah, look at me. I’m right here; I’m right in front of you. Oh, God why are you doing this to me?” He leaned over his son’s shoulder, “William I’m right beside you; Daddy is right here with you. I made it to breakfast this time.” He walked around the table to the side of his daughter, “Little one, look at Daddy please. Baby, please give Daddy a look.” He begged and beseeched to no avail. “Stop, whatever it is, stop it!” He screamed out into the universe. He held his head and sat on the floor—he began to sob.
The house turned gray and cold; there was no sunny kitchen, no Sunday breakfast, the happy smiling family dissipated into the air like a mist on the wind leaving just a miserable old man. These memories were not even his, theses were shots of the life that he left; the life that was not good enough for him. He could never be tied down, never loose he’s freedom. He had basically left by the time Janet was four and William was seven, he had left Hannah emotionally even before that; he was too focused on what he wanted–himself.
He stood up from the dirty kitchen floor and walked back into the living room of the house. Sitting in the corner was a very old artificial 4 foot Christmas tree, one from a Christmas years ago when Janet and her family were going to spend Christmas with him; that was ten years ago now and the tree still sat in the corner covered in cob webs. Now it only looked of despair and sadness rather than festivities and light. He looked at the little tree and tried to remember why he had not shown up that year; then he remembered, he was working that Christmas day; not that he had to, there were no deadlines to meet, no lives on the line; he just wanted to work, so he chose to sit in his office alone rather than spending Christmas with his daughter, son-in-law and grandkids.
He heard the sound of an engine outside; he looked through the window and there they sat, Janet with Mike and their kids. The air was crisp and there was snow covering the ground; Janet got out of the car and walked gingerly to the door. He ran to the door to answer it, but could not turn the knob. She knocked and waited and knocked again.
“I’m home this time Baby!” he called to her. “The door is stuck!” Janet turned to her husband sitting in the car with the engine running and shrugged her shoulders; Mike motioned for her to come back. She walked carefully back down the path and got back in the warm car; he could see them talking through their windows, they decided to wait. He called to them again, but they could not hear him; the clock on the wall began ticking off minutes in seconds and hours in minutes until three hours had past. He saw Janet holding her face in her hands and her husband Mike red with anger as they backed out of the driveway and left. Three hours they had waited; Janet not wanting to give up on him; surely he would come for Christmas she said—she had been the last passenger but that was the day she boarded the ‘just let him go’ train.
William boarded that train when he was twenty years old; at that age he was no longer a boy, but still not quite a man either. He needed a guide in his life, a father in his life; which was not something he had growing up. Will had always held out hope that when he got older his father would want to know him; want to know the kind of man he turned into, the kind of girl he had fallen in-love with, to know the things every father should know. William’s faith had been placed in the wrong man. For every door Will tried to open his father would slam shut; regardless of the sacrifices William made to try and be the son he thought his father wanted it was never enough. The year he turned twenty was the year William boarded the train and he took his young family with him.
Hannah had been the first to buy her ticket on the ‘just let him go’ train. Hannah’s came the winter that the heat in their house went out; Janet was just four that year and a sickly little girl in and out of the emergency room as though she were on a Ferris wheel. Hannah had a fire burning in the stove, but the wood ran out and the fringed temperatures were too much for the run down little house without a heater. Janet turned blue while she was sleeping in Hannah’s arms; little William shivering under the blanket next to her. She called and told him she needed him to come home; he had been gone for so long, there was no heat other than the stove and the wood was running out, the house was so cold and she was scared for the babies. He never came; he was too intoxicated to even know who was on the phone. Hannah wrapped up the children as best she could and walked the half a mile to a neighbor’s house carrying Janet as William followed. Hannah never spoke to him again; divorce papers arrived in her mother’s mail box six months later along with papers signing over custody of the children.
J’Rie Elliott is a poetess and ongoing contributor of Synchronized Chaos. To contact her, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.