The room was empty. He sat by the wall staring at its blank surface. The white, unadorned, uncovered slab of drywall before him was easier to deal with then the emptiness behind and inside of him. He sighed, knowing he'd have to face it, all of it. The hollow shell of what his life once was. Still he sat, cross-legged not sure as to why. The wall wasn't going to change, the furniture wasn't going to be placed back. He was alone, he always felt alone, but it seemed worse now. There was no escape from the sensation.
He sighed again, noticing a crack that ran up the wall a quarter way. Shoddy spackling, he knew. His sister in her rush to sell this house, had cut every corner. He couldn't blame her. No one had taken care of it. He hadn't taken care of it. He hadn't taken care of anything. He didn't even know if he was capable. Now he'd be someone else's burden. That's all he'd ever been was a burden. As he sat bare footed on the hardwood. He noticed the shine had dulled. Maybe she wasn't going to refinish the floors it'd be expensive, he knew. She needed her money for other arrangements. He didn't want to think of it. He started counting the nails in the floor. It was an old floor. He didn't think they even used nails anymore in the new ones.
He noticed an ant walking across the floor. Hovered his thumb over it too squishing it, but decided not to. No need to harm it. It was just making is way through life, so he let it be. If only his life were that simple. He knew he needed to turn around to face the emptiness. He didn't know if it would do any good, or if it'd make it all so much worse. Sighing again he recited a poem his sister had taught him when he was 5 years old. It was nonsense, but it calmed him.
One fine day, in the middle of the night.
Two dead boys got up to fight.
Back to back, they faced each other.
Drew their swords, and shot each other.
A deaf police man heard the noise.
Came and shot those two dead boys.
If you don’t believe this lie is true.
Go ask the blind man, he saw it too.
She had found it an old book of poems she cherished. The author was unknown. She had forced him to memorize it, and he had come to love it. It reminded him of simpler times. Running in the back yard, climbing the fence and tree. Being yelled at when he ventured to far up it’s branches. The first time he had ridden a bike, during a block party with the kids from the house behind theirs. His first kiss, one of only a few. Who could love the mess he had become?
He thought about when the voices first started, the fear and wonder that had filled him. So ready to believe. To believe there was more to life then what we see, and feel. Part of him still wants to, no matter how hard he tries to ignore them all. But he needed to ignore them, today was important. They were always there, on the fringe of his awareness. Calling, pleading, asking him to listen. He’d learned how to tune them out. It wasn’t always easy, but nothing ever is. It had morphed over the years, depression leading to schizophrenia, leading back into depression. All and all it had on and off consumed him over the years. He didn’t understand what kept him going, he thought it was just stubbornness.
He focused back on the wall. It had been blue once, but you’re supposed to give the buyers a clean slate. So, they can use their imagination. Decide how they want it to look, without bias. He sighed again. He knew he needed to face it all, look at it all, see it all. He closed his eyes and turned around. When he opened them the room was empty, so very empty. His socks and shoes sat just outside the door way. The bed was gone, no longer in the corner. The nightstand too. He was sitting where the dresser and TV used to sit. Gone were the posters and lights that had been here. Everything was gone.
He was dressed in his Sunday best, minus his shoes and jacket. He hated wearing shoes. His sister would yell at him he needed to look nice. The jacket was hanging on the banister at the bottom of the stairs. The floors had been cleaned of dust so his pants were not dirty, but they were a little wrinkled. She would probably notice. She noticed everything. He saw the ant again, struggling along in its solitary pursuit of food. He knew there were more, there were always more. He didn’t care, that was a problem for the new owners.
The front door opened. He heard keys jangling and footsteps. They reached the stairs, paused, and then started up them. He knew his time was almost up. He would have to face it all. The measured steps walked slowly down the hall, clicking with each step on the hardwood. They paused, and then his sister appeared in the doorway. His suit jacket in hand. She stood there in a black dress, with bits of lace. Proper for the day. He looked around trying to will and image of how the room had been, but it was empty and so was he.
He stood and walked over put on his dress sock and shoes. His sister looking at him the whole time expressionless. He stood before the threshold staring in for a moment as she handed him his black suit jacket. He turned and they walked down the hall, and then down the stairs. At the front door he paused and said “Goodbye.” His sister asked “What?” But he just stood there for a moment. Finally, she said “I love you, don’t worry we’ll take care of you.” He smiled at her with tears in his eyes “I know” he said “I love you too.” And then they walked out of their parent’s house for the last time.
By Wil R. P. McCarthy
From United States
Facebook URL https://www.facebook.com/wilmac96