Losing Christopher

A thin, balding, woebegone looking man watched the package-deliverer jog up to his front porch and deposit the beaten-up cardboard box onto his step, ring the doorbell, and jog back to his truck. He sat on his thread-bare couch (which was starting to hang dangerously low to the scratched floorboards) lost in his thoughts, wondering when the last time he had gotten a package was. He hadn’t had a package (or any mail besides advertisements and bills, for that matter) since the…… since the…… since he had stopped feeling happy and the lights had left his eyes, since before his mouth had started drooping and stopped smiling, since the lines of age and time had prematurely etched themselves onto his face. He slowly got up and made his way to the door, stooping to grab the sorry scrap plastered with stamps. Funny, there was no return address. He inspected it carefully, and finally slit it open. Inside was a pirate-style eye patch, scuffed and slightly familiar, and a scrap of dirty, blotched paper on which was scrawled one simple sentence: This belonged to him. He understood. But how he wished he didn’t.
He returned to the old couch, clutching the eye patch as though it were made of glass, holding it to his heart. Unimaginable grief, beyond tears, was cut deeply into his face, a face that had seen its share of horrors. His eyes were vacant and unblinking as he retreated into himself, into the deepest, darkest part of him that had been suffering since October 31st of last year. He saw again the proud little figure dashing across the sidewalk and entering the street, his little pirate running to see his friend, Superman across the road. He saw again the glaring headlights illuminating the 6-year-old in bandana and ragged clothes, wooden leg (made of plastic, of course) and yes, the eye patch, the eye patch. He forced himself to see the nightmare of his child, his life, his little boy, thrown up as the Ford (brakes squealing a second too late) collided with him, watched him crash down to the pavement. He heard the sirens screaming as men in uniforms drove his little one away at top speed, even though it was too late, too late, too late. And again and again he blamed himself. You should have held him back. Told him to wait. Why didn’t you grab him? And for the first time since his child, his little boy had been killed last Halloween (his favorite day of the year), he let himself cry, clutching the last piece of his lost child that he still had.
He walked down the hall, tears pouring down his face, into the spaceship themed room. Sat down on the rocket ship bed with asteroid imprinted sheets. Pulled the cord to turn on the fake moon desk light. And remembered the nights spent building Lego models with his child clad in Buzz Lightyear pajamas, or building a model airplane together. And all the time, unshed tears poured down his grief-stricken face. After a long, long time, he got up and closed the door of the little boy’s room, his little boy’s room, and walked to the phone. He dialed the number and heard the young woman’s voice. “Hello?” Because last year, October 31, to be exact, when they had declared the little pirate dead and he himself had fallen to the ground in irrepressible despair, she, the driver of the Ford, the one who had taken his baby’s life, was beside him, sick with guilt and horror. “Can you ever forgive me?” she had whimpered. He had answered with a dry sob that pierced the black, black night. Now, “Hello?” she said again. “I forgive you,” he whispered. He didn’t need a return address to know where the eye patch had come from. “I forgive you.”





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