The story so far:
Amos had gone. His half-empty mug of tepid coffee sat between me and the door. I imbibed the bitter liquid in my cup slowly, hoping for no more visitors. I braced myself for that inevitable interruption, the drop of that other proverbial shoe. I sat eyes on the door, until the moon rose, cold and white. There would be no more visitors tonight. A sigh of relief, unfamiliar and sudden blossomed from my chest. I pulled my palm down over my face, wiping tears and cold sweat. My hand gleamed in the dark house, shiny with the remnants of pain and fear. Fear? Yes, quite a bit of fear.
I unrolled my sleeping bag on the floor of my son’s room. I settled down on knees aching from too much sitting and began the familiar prayer.
“My Lord, who art in Heaven…”
As I prayed, I inhaled deeply, and the smells of the room were still able to transport me to happier times. My own bed had lost that smell of memories. I could no longer smell Mary. I could no longer trace the odors of her through the house, even her clothes were devoid of her scent. And the baby’s room… I just couldn’t bring myself to think of her. I try to remember her birth, her first cries, her first solids, but at the tail of each memory would be the hospital. The sterile, bright hospital.
* * *
“Sir? Is this your child?” Asked the man whose face I couldn’t remember.“…yes,” I choked.
* * *
But here, in Zachery’s room, there were still memories to be sniffed out. The smell of the now musty oil of his glove, which was an adult size and too big for him, but he wouldn’t be denied, brought me to the moment I had bought it for him
“I wanna Big Boy’s glove!” His eyes stern and serious, I couldn’t help but laugh.
“You sure? You might be able to catch more balls with a glove that fits. You sure you want this one?”
* * *
Tears followed their now familiar trail down my face and into my unkempt beard, joining the others, lost in the forest of my face.
“Amen,” I said, my voice shallow and distant and strange to me.
I hadn’t cleaned his room. It was exactly the same as it was that morning, exactly as he had left it. The walls were plastered with his art, finger paintings and doodles. A few collaborations with Mary, but many more originals. I inhaled again and laid back.
“Halloween is always such a sinister time of the year. I think this one will be worth remembering.”
The shudder was slow and long, I groaned, and the sound of my voice frightened me. I sounded weak, lost, afraid. I sighed, a now familiar sound, a sound echoing my own emptiness. Something tugged at my attention and I turned over in the bag. There was a cardboard box near me, one that I hadn’t given a second thought to, or even a first, in quite some time. I reached for it and slid it closer. Inside, bundles of gauze covered the bottom. Zach was going to be a mummy for a Halloween that was planned for but never seen.
* * *
“Roar!” Zach screamed, running into my leg.
“Oh my goodness, Mary! There’s a monster in the house. Did you leave the backdoor open again?”
“I not a monster, daddy! I a mummy. See? See my banditches?”
“Oh yeah. How could I miss it?”