Burned Shell

Burned Shell

It was the first blue sky day in what seemed like a very long time.  As the man in his thirties sat down on the bench on the porch in front of his house, he knew it was going to be a good day.  He knew that she was going to finally show up and come see him.  He could feel it in the very pit of his soul. He knew it was true.

He watched as fluffy clouds slowly drifted across the sky destined to wherever they were going to.  A smile came across his face as a memory drifted into the forefront of his mind.

“That one looks like a rabbit.  That one is a turkey!” Said the squeaky voice before the small child erupted into giggles.

He smiles again as he remembers that perfect day with his daughter.  That was long before the fighting and the shouting, before he found himself in one his “funks”.

The cold wind of fall is starting to kick up as he hears leaves rustling across his front yard.  The hair on his neck bristles with the chill.  He goes back to the warm memories of his daughter.  Her first word, her first step, the first conversation she had with him.  The smile fades as one of the last memories he has of her comes into view.

“I hate you!” Snarled his teenage daughter.

“Wait a second now.  There is no reason for that.” He can remember how calm he was at the time.

“You don’t even realize how horrible you are!  You make our lives hell with your “funks”!  You wonder why mom is having an affair?”

He shakes his head trying to shake that memory away.  Pretend that it never happened; pretend that it was some bad scene from some bad movie. It’s funny how in life, you will sometimes find the information you need from one of your children.  A fight with his teenage daughter about curfew resulted in him finding out the love of his life was tired of him and his “funks” and that his child was too. He feels his face flush warm as the embarrassment of that memory sets in.  He remembers the tears immediately coming to his eyes.

He called them “funks” so they wouldn’t draw unnecessary attention in life.  In reality it was bouts of depression, sometimes so bad he thought of ending it all.  He struggled with it his entire life until he met Allison.  She calmed the storm that ran through his mind.  She made him feel like there was nothing wrong in the world.  When she looked at him, her bright green eyes made the world slow down.  He could see the love in her eyes.  When that love started to fade, when that look wasn’t there anymore, the “funks” came back.

Soon after the “funks” came back he started asking questions about late nights at work and going out with friends until all hours of the night, sometimes not even coming home until early the next morning.  She always assured him everything was fine and there was nothing to worry about.  He assumed he was just worrying about things and he needed to trust her.    She left not too long after their daughter let the truth out.

For a time he was okay with it, trying to work it out with her.  He would call and text.  He would send flowers.  They even for a time tried to go on date nights and work things out.  But it was all for nothing and he soon crawled into a bottle to get away from things.

But he knew that today she would finally come back, he could feel it.  As he looked into the blue sky to watch the clouds slowly traverse by he heard the sound of tires on gravel.  He looked down the driveway and saw the little red kia pull slowly up the drive.  He could see his wife Allison in the driver’s seat and his daughter in the passenger seat.  They stopped the car by an old oak tree about thirty feet from the front porch.  They got out and stood in front of the car and stared at the house.  They both sat on the hood and just stared.  After a while his daughter reached over and grabbed Allison’s hand. They both started crying and hugged.  After a while they got back in the car and he stood up and walked back into the house, finally able to move on.

As Allison and her daughter pulled down the drive she took one last glance at the house in the rearview mirror.  It was once a home full of love and laughter, destroyed by a lack of communication.

They still hadn’t determined the cause of the fire.  They said her husband had died of smoke inhalation.

All that remained of the house was a burned-out shell.

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Burned Shell