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The cool breeze swept across my face sending my hair to rise up and my skin to pinch tightly together. This walk, through the park in the fall was always miserable. It was chilly and the scenery, the one I had enjoyed the most, was wilting and dying, disappearing into nothing. It was a tragic cycle doomed to repeat itself.

The flowers, colors of every kind, were tired and droopy as if the will to live had left them, being strung across the desolate park hanging on the wind. The buildings were small in comparison with the trees causing the shadows to creep in through nearby windows. As I walked through the neighborhood I could hear the children laughing and playing catch in the front yard. One had short brown hair with deep hazel eyes, with a small mouth perfectly placed on his beautiful face. He reminded me so much of my son, the one I didn’t have anymore.

I glanced up at the sky, it was unmistakably darkening and a slight rain fell across my body as I continued my trek to my safe haven; home. The lighting cracked and rumbled as if to say, “hurry up, you’re going to be late.” But I couldn’t help but think what I was going to be late for. Was there anything left for me anymore? The rain soaked through my clothes causing even more discomfort, despite all that was going on it felt like I was dwelling within the eye of a hurricane. A peaceful, calm, serene feeling rested upon my shoulders telling me not to worry, everything will be just fine.

Standing in front of my house suddenly felt overwhelming. The long windows draped themselves all over the exterior, looking like sad long eyes. The front door was scratched and beat up, nothing like it used to be. The house was just a sad reflection of the happiness we had once shared. It was a sad reflection of me.

The grass was yellow and it crunched when I set one foot down, slightly cringing I lifted it back up. There was a red bike, shining brightly against its dull background. I lifted it up and set it on its side. The black rubber tires were flat and of no use now. Broken, was what this bike was. Destroyed.

I walked up to the front door, the key being fumbled with in my hand. I placed it in the lock and gave it a firm twist. The key broke in the lock; it protruded like a stake placed in the chest of an unsuspected victim. I stepped back off the porch and walked back out onto the sidewalk. The rain had slowed, but the cloud stayed over my head, haunting me like it knew what I had done.

I walked over to my old neighbors house. It had a nice lawn, well groomed, and the flowers here were thriving, blooming and beautiful. It was an explosion of colors surrounding my feet. I slowly raised my fist and knocked on the door. The woman who opened the door had long brown hair that spiraled down her back in elegant curls. Her blue eyes were shocked, everything about her shouted alarm.

“What are you doing here, Jack?” Her voice was guarded and her body language matched.

“I was just wondering if I could come in for a second.” At that she raised her eyebrows so I continued onward. “Look Rachelle, I know you don’t want me here, especially with your family, but I just need a flashlight.” I lowered my head.

“Jack, what do you expect me to do?” Her voice was defeated. Her body visibly deflated, like all the fight had left with the wind.

“I told you I just need to borrow a flashlight.” It was so simple; I didn’t understand why she couldn’t just do this. Didn’t she realize this was just as painful for me as it was for her?

“Alright, come on in.” She said retreating into her house. She walked into the hallway and swung open the closet door. “So when did you get out?”

“A week ago. I’ve already been to my parents house.” The conversation was strained and I squirmed uncomfortably in the doorway.

One of her children ran down the stairs, her daughter Kenzi, I thought. She waved sheepishly and gave a small smile.

“So what are you going to do? Under the request from your parents the police changed your lock when you left. You’ll probably have to go and talk to them about it. Maybe your parents have the right key.” She didn’t seem to care at all about me. But then again, I didn’t really give her a reason to like me.

“I don’t really know what I’m doing. I’m just trying to survive.” I said giving a shrug of my shoulders.

Kenzi then asked, “Why are you here?” She waved her magical wand at me and I couldn’t stop myself from smiling.

“I’m just here to borrow a flashlight.”

“Where’s Tommy and Terra?” Kenzi said smiling.

Rachelle cringed in unison with me. How was I supposed to answer a question like that? I couldn’t admit what I had done, especially not right now.

“Kenzi, why don’t you run upstairs and play with your brother? Go on, go upstairs.” She gave her a gentle pat on the back and Kenzi ran up the stairs. When she was safely out of ear shot Rachelle turned to me and said, “You can’t hide forever. Everyone here knows what you did. For Heaven’s sake, Jack, you killed your wife and son.” Her body was racked with sobs and I felt compelled to reach out and keep her in my embrace, but I held back. I knew that that would have been worse then leaving her to her own devices.

“I’m sorry, Rachelle. I really am.” No words could express the feelings that had built themselves up in my chest. They were threatening to overwhelm me.

“You’re not sorry. If you were sorry you would have stayed in prison.” Her voice was harsh and shrill.

“Can I have the flashlight now?” It was a lame thing to say but I wanted to leave and it was dark outside. I needed the flashlight.

“What? I’m asking you why you did it?” Rachelle was in distress. What could I tell her?

“The flashlight, please?” I said extending my empty hand, ready to take the flashlight from hers.

“Here’s your stupid flashlight. Just take it and leave.” She shoved it into my chest willing me to take everything she had. “She was my sister, Jack. I’m her family, don’t you owe me an explanation?” Her eyes were watery and they threatened to spill over, and race down her cheeks like pale streaks of moonlight.

“I don’t feel like I owe you anything. It wasn’t your life I took, Rachelle. It’s been five years, just let it rest.” I started my retreat out the door, but Rachelle’s arm gripped mine. I could hear a car pulling into the driveway. What game was she playing at?

“What are you doing, Rachelle? Who’s outside?” I could hear the panic in my voice, but I couldn’t force it down. It left a bitter taste in my mouth.

“I need to know. What was she like in her last moments? How did she look at you?” Did I even know that answer to that question? After I shot her I held her broken body in my arms and caressed her face. Her lips were pale and blue, she wasn’t breathing. She was cold and I could see the traces of tears slipping down her face. She had been betrayed, by me.

“She was…peaceful.” I ripped my arm from hers and stormed out of the house. Out in the driveway was her husband, Nic, just getting out of his black Audi. When he saw me standing in his doorway his eyebrows raised in alarm.

“What are you doing here?” Everything about him screamed defensive. His stance, his voice, his clenched fists held tightly by his side. I could see the beginnings of red coloring his cheeks.

“I was just leaving.” I stormed out of their serene house and stomped past Nic out onto the sidewalk.

“Don’t ever come back, Jack. You know you’re not welcome here.” Nic’s voice, a deep tenor, was heavy with emotion. I could see how scared he was that I had done something more to his family. I could clearly see the fear of losing them reflecting back in his eyes.

“I won’t.” I shouted back as I walked past their mailbox and into the night, letting the darkness surround me.

The long walk to the cemetery was pleasant. I could see every detail, vividly outlined by the moons reflection of sunlight. The crickets chirped childishly as I entered the dreaded place. It was only a matter of seconds before I would be able to see my loved again. My son and my wife’s headstones were small and simple. Beloved Daughter and Sister, Terra. I couldn’t have expected Terra’s parents to put wife. They said it was for the better that I was all together forgotten. Could I actually disagree?

I sat down in between them on a soft patch of grass. I let my hand rest on each headstone, it was cold and I couldn’t suppress a shudder. I knew that the bugs below me would be feasting on the remains of the ones I had loved so much. I had loved them so much that I too had developed the fear of losing them. Little had I known that that fear would lead me to losing them. Little had I known that that fear would place a gun in my hand and have my finger pull the trigger. I hadn’t known what loss was until I felt their last breathes on my cheeks.

The last night we had all been together had been a strained one, an unhappy one. Our family had been falling apart long before I had killed them. I had been to consumed with my work and I was unwilling to spend time with them. I had been so caught up in the material things of the world that I had forgotten what was most important. Terra, with her long amber hair, had told me she was going to let us have space, since space was what I appeared to need most. She said it wasn’t permanent but even she didn’t really know what we were going to do.

That night she had packed up both her and Tommy’s bags and had started to leave. Before I knew it I had the gun, the one that I kept beside our bed for safety, in my hand. I had it aimed right at her chest. She was pleading.

“Jack, don’t do this. You know this isn’t what you want. Jack, don’t do this.” Crystal tears worked themselves down her face and landed in soft pools around our feet, it felt like a sea was parting us now.

“I want us to be together. Don’t leave, Terra. Don’t do this.” My plead matched hers. Even this close to death it seemed that we were meant to be together.

My hand was shaking and the gun seemed like such a good idea. Before I knew it I had pulled the trigger. The gun shot echoed through the house, escaping through the open windows and flying beyond. Tommy lay crumpled in a pile at her feet. I could the pool of blood spreading across his shirt.

Terra let out a terrified scream and bent down to help her son. “This isn’t you, Jack. This isn’t you.” She repeated it over and over rocking Tommy in her arms.

Before I knew it the gun had gone off again and she lay on the floor, both of them tangled together by the love that they had shared. I dropped the gun and joined them on the floor. My body felt numb and I brought both of them to my chest. What had I done? This isn’t what I had wanted. Not at all.

“I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, Terra. Tommy, what have I done?” Now I couldn’t stop the tears from falling down my face.

“Jack,” She never got to finish her sentence. She didn’t have any more breath to spare. They were dead and it was all because of a man with a gun. Life suddenly seemed so unfair.

I reached for the gun and walked into the bathroom. I sat myself down on the toilet and put the gun in my mouth. It was still warm from the fire and the foul taste of death crowded my mouth. My finger shook on the trigger, but something inside of me couldn’t bring myself to do it. Why? I could answer that question now. It was all because some coward with a gun was willing to end something precious for others but not for himself. All because I was a coward and afraid of what followed death was so much worse than what would follow murder.

Before I ever got to pull the trigger police officers crashed into the house and aimed their guns at me.

“Drop the weapon.” It was command that didn’t always wait for an answer.

I felt the gun slip from my hands. Everything was falling through them.

I shook myself out of my reverie. Why now? I had thought about my deceased family often over the past five years but I had rarely touched the night of their death. I pulled myself up to my feet and walked out of the place of death. I walked past the dying plants and wilting life, right back up to Rachelle’s door. I gave it a soft tap and waited. There were a lot more cars parked in the driveway this time.

There was a banner hanging across the door reading, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY”. It was pleasing to know that they hadn’t forgotten her birthday. But I couldn’t figure out why they would actually celebrate it without her. It all seemed surreal. What was I doing here anyways? Shouldn’t I be home?

“Hello?” The smile fell off of Terra’s father’s face. It was a slow fading, since the smile had been so big before. But now nothing remained of the once happy man. “What are you doing here?” Accusatory.

“I was just coming to drop this back off.” I extended the flashlight. “It’s Rachelle’s.” I explained.

“Just leave, Jack.” Naturally he was bitter, and with good reason too.

“I will, I just need to return this to Rachelle.” I said trying to side step him and get into the house.

“You know you’re not welcome here.”

“Dan, I just need to talk to Rachelle. I owe her something.” My voice was strained and on the verge of whiny. I knew I must look so distraught standing in the doorway of this house.

By now a crowd had formed around the door. Terra’s mother, Janet, was sobbing into her eldest sons shoulder, causing his shirt to soak through. Her brother had a stern look cross his face. His arms were wrapped around Janet’s shaking body, trying unsuccessfully to comfort her. All of Terra’s family and friends surrounded me. It felt like the ceiling was falling in.

“What do you want?” It was Rachelle. Her voice was soft and mournful. This really was a bad idea.

“I just needed to give this back.” And for the second time that night I extended the flashlight out to someone.

“Need?”

“Yeah, if I didn’t bring it back that would be stealing.” I said lowering my head; I was using every body language I knew to show I was submissive. They weren’t buying it. They were angry and it clouded their eyes. It clouded their hearts.

“You don’t really believe that do you?” Everyone was silent. This was the confrontation that the entire family had been waiting so eagerly for. Well, here it comes. I didn’t feel very brave.

“Yes, I do. It is stealing.” I shook my hand with the flashlight at her, indicating that she should take it.

“You don’t honestly care about stealing a flashlight when you stole two lives. When you stole everyone’s happiness.” It was Janet’s voice echoing from inside the house reaching me outside.

I didn’t know what to say. There wasn’t anything I could do to help these people. Terra and Tommy were gone and nothing would bring them back.

“What do you want from me? Nothing that you do will ever bring them back. You know that don’t you?” My voice was horse and loud. It floated around the night a while before disappearing into thin air.

“You’re absolutely right, Jack. You can never bring them back. What you did destroyed our family. You took my daughter. I loved her.” Janet said, approaching me.

“I loved her too.” It was barely above a whisper. I could hardly hear myself say it, I doubted that anyone there could hear it either.

“Don’t you dare say that! You have not right to say you loved her.” Dan’s voice was loud and in my face. I just stepped back slightly giving him more room. I could feel the edge of the steps on my heels. Dan’s palms crashed into my chest knocking me down the stairs. It didn’t hurt and the momentary feeling of floating was amazing. It felt like everything had gone from my shoulders, all the pain and guilt, a false sense of sick euphoria washed over me, but true to its nature gravity held me down. I could feel the blood pouring from the wound on my head. I reached up and touched it softly. It was a dark red, perfectly beautiful. Wasn’t this what I had been asking for? Someone to finally give me what I deserved?

“Dad!” Rachelle shouted. She held him back from me, trying to stop a fight that was long past due.

“She was my wife! I have every right to say I loved her!” The anger coursed through my body. It burrowed in my chest and heaved forward. “I know what I did was wrong and I regret ever doing it, but I was afraid to lose her! Is that so stupid? I knew that I didn’t want to lose her.” Tears streaked down my face and I hurriedly wiped them away.

I pushed myself onto my feet and tossed the flashlight at their feet. The glass broke and scattered across the porch. I turned and walked onto the sidewalk. The moonlight was shining down on my back, lighting my path to nowhere. The evening wind whipped across my face, softly caressing me. Everything felt so empty when they were gone.



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TheCapturedBatThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 19 at 12:13 pm:
Wow. Very well written. Strange, and sad, and the narrator had a very real voice. 
 
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