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Edward Val

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By Edward Val
Monday, May 25, 2009

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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A short story written about life and death and one man's struggle to overcome them both.

Kevin had woken up knowing the end was near, he had no doubt of this fact nor fear of it. The truth was he’d been waiting so long for this day that he woke up excited about the whole thing. Quickly, rising from bed and going through his normal morning routine for no other reason but to prepare for what he knew without question was coming to claim him.

So after he got dressed and shaved, among other things he made his way down stairs, where he made himself his favorite morning meal. A heaping plate of scrambled eggs, bacon, two potato pancakes and a cold glass of orange juice. As he sat and ate his breakfast in clam serenity, he looked around the once lively room. There were hooks stuck in the wall were pictures of all shapes and sizes use to hang, there were empty shelves that once held an antique plate collection. Even the front of the fridge where little hands use to place their newly devised artwork was barren. If one looked upon this room they would see a room void of memories and that had been what Kevin was going for those three miserable years ago, when he decided to get rid off everything and start over, but he never started over and the absence of things didn’t just end in the kitchen.

Every room in the Anderson household was barren of anything that would trigger memories, horrible memories that were better off buried. The living room held only an old sofa brought at a garage sale for twenty bucks and an even older television the sat on the floor along with a single lamp. The closets and garage were empty. Upstairs two rooms held nothing but empty space and air that was a bit musty. The master bedroom had a single cot, which stood dead center in the room directly below the fan. If Anyone was to come over and ask Kevin what the purpose of this was he’d tell them that watching the fan at night helped him sleep. The walls were all bare and nothing else was in the room except for a single over turned picture frame, with a picture that hadn’t been viewed by anyone not even Kevin for over three years.

If people thought Kevin was crazy no one showed it. He still went to work everyday, made light conversation to be polite and bought the simple things he needed to survive. But he never invited people over, never went out to bars even when his old friends asked. He never asked a women out even when he knew they were interested in him. He just kept to himself and a simple routine knowing that his own day was soon to come.

And today was that day. So after finishing his breakfast, he washed his only plate, dried it and put it away along with his single fork and knife and his only glass and made his way back up stairs to his room where he sat on the cot and stared at the upturned picture frame laying on the floor. Long moments passed as he stared at that picture frame, knowing that the picture in it contained the last memory of the life he once had three years prior and normally that thought unnerved him and he’d quickly look away from it but not today, today was the last day he would live his life in the manner he had for the last three years. So leaning down he picked up the picture frame and turned it over.

Staring at him through the wood frame was a photo of his beautiful wife Julia with her long black hair, his son Jason holding his old baseball glove and his daughter Mandy with her cute dark curls and Teddy. It had been so long since he looked upon them that he realized that he had almost forgotten what they each looked like. What their eye color had been and other fine details, but sitting there holding the picture frame in his hands staring at his family Kevin remembered and it brought tears to his dry eye’s. Had it already been three years he thought to himself while unconsciously running his index finger over his wife’s face.

Just then a loud knock sounded on the door downstairs but Kevin didn’t hear it he was to lost in long repressed memories of his family. Memories of his wedding to Julia, of when his firstborn Jason came into the world then of the birth of his daughter Mandy. Memories of birthday parties, trips to the park, walks on the beach and going out to eat with his loved ones. They all clouded his mind like water rushing through a broken damn. But as the flood of memories came there was still one he wished to repress but no matter how hard he tried to focus on the many happy memories, of times well spent and shared with those he loved. That one memory he never wanted to remember pushed it’s way through the gate that had been opened and he couldn’t force himself to forget any longer thee events of that tragic day three years ago. Turning over the picture frame to look at his family one last time had ensured him of that.

 

So on came the memory of that horrible June 5th night three years ago with unrelenting pain and torment. He remember that he had a big project due at work the next day and had decided to work late. So when Julia had called and said her and the kids were gonna go to the movies. He explained that he was going to work late and was sorry that he couldn’t make it, but promised he make it up to her and the kids. Julia had replied in her usual playful tone that they would be ok and could survive one night without him being there. Little did either of them know how untrue those words would turn out to be as they said their I love you’s and hung up.

Busy in his office and content that his family was enjoying themselves watching a movie he had ignored his office phone the first two times it rang as he rehearsed his sales pitch for the next days board meeting. It wasn’t until he was going over his main sales pitch for what seemed the hundredth time that he allowed himself a break and picked up the phone the third time it rang. He didn’t know who would be calling his office at such an hour so when he answered what he heard was far from what he expected.

Julia and the kids dead, they had been hit by a semi on their way to the movie, little was left of the car, there was nothing the doctors could do, little Mandy was the last to die. None of it made any sense to him even as he walked though the hospital doors a half hour later escorted by a police officer who asked if he could identify the bodies and brought him to a room with three stretchers covered with white sheets. Anyone could tell that two of the sheets covered small bodies and the other a adult but still he would not believe it, could not. It wasn’t until the doctor pulled the sheets down revealing the faces of Jason, Mandy and his beautiful wife Julia that Kevin Anderson realized that he was truly alone in this world.

Thoughts started to come back of the funeral and how he spent those first weeks but another knock came from downstairs this time drawing him back to the present. Carefully placing the picture upright facing the cot where he’d never sleep again Kevin took one last look around and made his way downstairs, pausing briefly outside the doors of rooms that once belonged to his children. He didn’t bother to open them because he knew only silence and disappointment would greet him. There was only one door he wanted to open and each step took him closer to it. Walking by the kitchen he noticed he had forgotten to put the orange juice away, but it didn‘t matter now as he walked down the long hallway toward the door of his prayers and placed his hand on the door handle just as a bright light blinded him.

 

When his vision cleared he found himself sitting at a picnic table in the middle of a huge park. Sitting beside him were his children talking like busy bees about what they‘ve done over the years. At first he didn’t realize what exactly had happened, until Julia walked over carrying a plate of hotdogs with buns and gave him one of her all knowing smiles, that said it happened, it wasn’t your fault, no need to blame yourself, and welcome home.

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