Empty Heart in An Empty House
Nothing will ever be the same. Not after everything that’s happened. A thin woman with raven black hair smiled gently, and placed her hand on my shoulder reassuringly. She was a short young woman; probably in her mid-twenties. She wore black heels and a bright yellow pencil dress with a collar on the neck. She was my real estate agent, helping me sell my home of ten years. I smiled weakly at her before I slowly stepped up to the front door of my old house.
We finally found a small family that wanted to buy the empty space I once called home. Today was my last chance to say goodbye. My chance to remember all the good times I had in this house before I let go of the painful memories that lurked behind the door. I slowly reached my hand out to the door handle, gripping it gently. I took a deep breath before turning the handle down and pushing the door into the house. All the furniture had been moved out, and the house was cleaned and refurbished. I stepped inside what was once my living room and I tried to picture what it looked like. It was messy a lot of the time. Me and my wife would always go around picking up legos, and toy cars. Anything that we might regret stepping on. I choked and my eyes welled up with tears. I removed my glasses and rubbed my eyes, remembering the way she laughed. She would always chase after our son and hold him upside down by his legs every time she stepped on his toys.
I squatted down and placed my hand on the carpet. Right around where my hand was, there was once a coffee stain. A stain that had been there for nearly three years! I giggled weakly. I had to replace the whole carpet when I decided to sell the house. My wife always put a coffee table over the stain so no one would notice it. I stood up and placed my glasses back on my face. I walked through the whole house. I visited the kitchen and remembered the first time my wife decided to make a Thanksgiving Turkey… it did not go well. I stood in the dining room where my son took his first steps before falling face first onto a chair. He had a black eye for a couple weeks. I soaked in every beautiful, embarrassing, messy moment I shared with my family… every last one.
I gazed down the hall. The long, dark hall, taunting me with my pain. At the end of the hall stood a closed door. My son’s room. My son. He was nine years old. Nine years old when he was taken from me by a madman. What a father I turned out to be… about six months ago I took my son to a park. There seemed to be a birthday party going on nearby. Kids were everywhere, and it was easy to lose track of which one was yours. When it was time to go, I looked for him. I looked everywhere. I asked some of the other adults if they had seen him. He was gone.
I walked down the hall and stood in front of the door. The doorframe used to have measurements of my son. Every year we would draw a line over his head… it’s painted over now. I still wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to see inside this room again… but this would be my only chance. I took my hand out of my pocket and gently twisted the doorknob.
That afternoon at the park, several adults in the neighborhood began helping me search for my son. I called the police and before long, they were searching too. Me and my wife didn’t sleep that night… or the next. We constantly searched for him. We made missing posters and hung them all around the state. We were always in close contact with the police and the investigative team who believed something terrible might have happened to him. Days became weeks, and weeks became months, until finally, after three months of searching, they found him. A monster who kidnapped and murdered three children… one of them being my innocent, playful, and beautiful little boy.
I opened the door to the bedroom. I couldn’t even recognize the room. So much had changed during the renovation. The room used to have race car wallpaper decorating the walls. The closet door was hand painted to look like Lightning Mc.Queen by my wife. But I guess after what happened, everything had to be replaced. Now the walls were grey, and the closet was white. Glow in the dark stars no longer lit up the ceiling. All the magic of this room died. It died with him.
After me and my wife recieved news about our son’s murder, my wife was overtaken by grief. She was so angry at the man who did this to him. She even became angry with me for not watching him closely enough at the park. I tried to give her space. I would sleep in the living room and all I could ever say to her was “I’m sorry,” and “I love you.” About two weeks after my son died I woke up in the middle of the night to smashing and pounding noises. I shot up from the couch and ran down the hall to find my son’s room with the door wide open. My wife was throwing his furniture around and punching holes in the walls. Mascara ran down her face, and I could hardly recognize her. Once she saw me she fell to her knees and sobbed. I slowly entered the room and sat down next to her. She buried her face in my shoulder and wrapped her tired arms around my neck. All I could do in that moment was sob with her.
After a few minutes my wife started to feel incredibly sick. She was sweating and seemed really dizzy. I helped her to the bathroom, and she couldn’t stop vomiting to gasp for air. I was concerned and I went back to my son’s room to find an empty orange bottle of my wife’s anxiety medications on the ground. My eyes widened and I sprinted to the living room to grab my cell phone and called an ambulance. Within a few minutes the emergency team arrived and rushed my wife to a hospital. I never let go of her hand until her heart stopped… they couldn’t bring her back. She was gone.
My family meant the world to me… and I could never see them again. I stepped back outside of the empty, grey room and shut the door. I leaned my head on the door while tears streamed down my face and dripped from my chin. Once I regained my composure I lifted my head and placed my hand on the door. I quietly whispered a goodbye. Goodbye to the house, goodbye to my family, goodbye to all memories. I put my hands back into my pockets and walked back to the front door. I stepped outside and thanked my real estate agent.
I was in pain, but I had to let it go. For them. Those two beautiful angels looking down on me. I had to remember and celebrate their lives instead of allowing their deaths to destroy what was left of me. Right here, at this moment, I have a choice. I choose life. I choose love. I choose joy. I will always remember the impact that they had on me, and the light they brought into my world. Now is my time to be that light, and end this cycle of pain that has taken so much already.
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