Silence and tears

“Help me, please!”

“Yes, he has a gun. My shotgun…”

“Please, he’s all I have.”

“He’s seventeen.”

“Yes, it’s loaded.”

“Please, do something!”

“In the living room, sitting on the floor.”

“The far wall, next to the sofa.”

“Wait here. We’ll work it out.”

“Please…”

“He’s all I have…”

A turn of the doorknob.

Gentle push against wood.

Warm air brushes my cheek.

Quiet.

Soft mechanical hum…refrigerator.

“Mark?”

Nothing.

A step inside.

“Mark?”

Soft sobbing.

Agony.

Turn the corner.

“Mark, it’s me.”

“Leave me alone.”

“Let’s talk for a minute.”

“Go away.”

“You don’t understand.”

“Maybe I do.”

Another step.

Shotgun barrel beneath quivering chin.

Back against wall.

Shells scattered on floor.

Tears.

Another step.

Eyes turn toward me.

I sit beside him.

Backs against the wall.

Waiting, in silence.

Finger trembling against steel trigger.

“Want to talk about it?”

Silence and tears.

Finally…

“You know how he is.”

“Yes…I do.”

“He was my boss for a long time.”

“How’d you stand it?”

“I couldn’t, at first.”

“But I understood it was hard for him, too.”

“When your mom died.”

“But I miss her.”

“He does, too, Mark.”

“You need each other.”

“He hates me.”

“No, he misses his wife.”

“I want her to come home.”

“Mark, I’m really nervous about that gun.”

Silence and tears.

I hold out my hand.

A slow surrender.

A hug.

A long hug.

Emotions spill.

Sky opens.

A flood.

An earthquake.

Torrential rains.

Heartbreak.

Loneliness.

Fear.

Sadness.

A long, gut-wrenching hug.

Storm slowly subsides.

“You ready?”

A nod.

A walk outside.

Father and son together.

Silence and tears.

A family again.

For two short weeks.

No chance to talk.

Not that time.

A father’s silence and tears.

“He was a good son.”

“He missed his mom.”

“I tried, I really did.”

“I know you did.”

“I was a good father.”

“Yes you were.”

“The best.”

A faraway look.

I sit beside him.

Backs against the wall.

Waiting.

Silence and tears.

“Want to talk about it?”

“Not really.”

“You know, I’m really nervous about that gun.”

Silence and tears.

A soft mechanical hum…refrigerator.

“I’m here for you, you know.”

“And I’ve got all day.”

“A lifetime, actually.”

“Whatever it takes.”

“Whatever you need.”

Silence and tears.”

Two weeks…

Four weeks…

Then…

Never-ending silence.

No more tears…

A soft mechanical hum…refrigerator.

  1. Julie
    Julie says:

    Thank you for this, Lee. So much pain and yet, it makes me grateful for your presence. To offer the father a day, a lifetime… There was nothing more you could have done.

  2. LR Hunter
    LR Hunter says:

    I’m tough, but close to tears anyway. Simple phrasing for hard things. Don’t people realize that death is contagious? Don’t they? Everyone should just try harder.

  3. Nancy Sweetland
    Nancy Sweetland says:

    I learn so much from you, Lee, not just about emotion in writing, but about the human condition. Thanks.

  4. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    Such simple phrasing — such horribly complex emotions. Thank you for sharing. There is too much pain in life and not enough communication.