(Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash)

                Sitting in his spacious common room, he rested deep within his plush king’s chair in front of the broiling fire. The mouth of the fireplace was wide enough to fit four full sized men side by side and standing comfortably. The home was constructed for his wife, Rebecca, as a place that she could feel both at home, secure, and royal. The hill they placed the home overlooked a large gorge below that was filled with grass in the spring and summer and white as a ghost in the winter. They raised their four children within the home and lived in peaceful comfort.

When their children still lived at home, they collectively maintained the chores of the home but now with only him and his wife they closed most rooms off to help reduce the efforts needed to clean so much. When the grandchildren visited it was a challenge but worth the effort to keeping those little destroyers out of many closed off rooms. For them, the rooms being off limits triggered their imaginations and breaking the rules felt liberating; he understood, but still felt frustrated when he had to cattle them out of each room they hid.

“You know you don’t mind catching those little ones exploring in the sealed off areas of our home, Honey.” Rebecca said as she peered directly into the waving fire. “While you do get worked up, easily, the children’s laughter is quite a pleasant thing to hear around this now quiet home.”

Pulling himself up to the edge of the chair, John agreed with his wife with a nod, “Yes, you are true honey; though, do you think they know that my frustration is meant well? I just hope they still love their Papa even though I usher them out of the rooms so much…”

Placing her hand over upon his, she reassured him, “Honey… why else do you think they keep trying to get into those rooms?” Giggling she said, “Obviously, they enjoy the chase you give them more than going into those rooms. If you really are bothered, just simply stop perusing them.” Giggling at the idea, she rubbed his hand.

Falling back into his lavish chair, John understood her playable attitude towards him. He was always a stern person, and their children learned this well while they lived under his roof. Though, as they became of age, each of them left his domain in a haste. Now, as a grandfather, his kids felt a sense of jealousy towards how he treated their children since while he was still strict with rules he took a less aggressive approach with his grandchildren.

“This is a gentle night, Bee; a perfect night for a fire with just the two of us.” he said. “While it is quiet here, it is also nice to finally get a chance to just have each other… alone. Time to think and just be with each other,” grasping her hand tightly he smirked a flirtation smile towards her. Winking at him, she did not pull away.

“We should enjoy this night, you and I,” she said, “and make the best of our new found freedom after so many years in a house full of children.” Getting up, she closed the screen for the fire place and made her way to the double doors leading into their bedroom. Feeling pleased, he let himself up from his chair and followed in a clumsy pursuit. However, stopping him with an extended hand she pointed across the room and said, “Please Honey, make sure to close those windows; I fear it might rain tonight. I could smell the sweet mist rolling in.” Nodding in agreement, he followed her wish and then childishly ran back towards the room.

The room was dark with all the lights off and blinds pulled. Fumbling towards the bed, he found that she had not yet made it to their bed yet. As he rested between the sheets, a wave of years came over him and his lids became too weighted to hold up. As his vision grew darker, John fell in a deep sleep until the morning.

Waking to weak muscles and a thick head, John scratched at his sensitive eyes. Leaning up upon his elbows, he looked longingly upon the unmoved bedding next to his. A sinking feeling eroded deep within his chest. Noticing the thick blinds still closed, he remembered how she would always pull them open and let the sun fill the room while she sung, “A day is when we live – not at night! So, wake early and embrace the day, Honey.” She would sing this each morning to him and he would answer by curling the blankets over his head and straining to gain a few more minutes of seclusion. Looking back… he wished he would have rose with her those days. Now, the sun rose but he was even less motivated to rise with it and let it warm their room.

Remembering is all he had left. The room was empty without her; the house was empty. Sliding his lethargic body over to his liquor tray, John poured himself another tall glass and took his seat back in his plush chair. The fireplace was cold to the touch. The edges were full of black soot from regular use when him and Rebecca made so many late night fires in the past. Though, now, it had been simply cold for many months. Gulping the full glass, he rested deeper into the chair. The warm liquid coursed through his withered body. Falling to the floor, John made no effort to save the glass from shattering below. As it broke into multiple pieces, the glass chucks slid in all directions. Feeling the lumps of somber rise in his throat, he waited, again, for the night to come.


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