He panicked. He had emptied every drawer, every cupboard, but it was nowhere to be found. He was breathing heavy now, his chest felt tight. Where was it? He kicked the cushions on the floor and dropped to his knees. Tears were burning his weathered cheeks.
He tried to remember. He was cutting newspaper clippings and circling grocery shopping specials. He had it next to him. Had he accidently thrown it in the bin? On his hands and knees he shuffled through the bins rotten contents. The smell caused him to wretch. It was not there. “Where are you,” he shouted, “you were never meant to go away.”
As he spoke he tried to remember. Her face began to fade away. He could no longer remember the outline of her nose, her serious smile. It was the last photo they had together. She was wearing her peach blouse, her arms locked in his. Although he could not see them, he knew her hands were soft.
He did not want to live without the photo. The kids had long gone. They had their own lives. When they came to visit, they hung about the door, anxious to say they came, but desperate to leave. “You need to move on dad,” they would whine, “it has been 11 years.” As if I could turn off a switch and stop loving my wife just because she died.
She held my hand in her last moments. Her skin smelled like chemicals. Gone were the soft hands. The cancer had beat out her life. I kissed the top of her head, her hair replaced by tufts of fluff. She always wore perfume, her nails were always done, her hair always immaculate. Now her simplicity made her more beautiful. She had abandoned her fear but I was afraid of how I would fill her void in my life.
I heard a key in the door and was startled by the angry man who lived next door. He catalogued the damaged, yelled at me to stay where I was and dialled the police. These old bones couldn’t go anywhere even if they tried. I waited patiently as they all arrived. They whispered to each other and were ever so polite. “He hasn’t been the same since he lost his wife.” The man agreed not to press charges and I paid for any damages, apologising all the while. They whispered something about me going to a nursing home. But I didn’t care. I was back in my flat, sitting on my couch and in my hand I had my most prized possession. The last photo of me with my wife.
Author Notes: Hey, was it good? Sad? Tell me! Comment ;)