A large crowd of umbrellas and rain coats gathered around the Miller’s old cabin house when he arrived. Sirens, cries and screams enveloped the entire place. Policemen were all over, keeping curious neighbours away from the crime scene. He overheared the locals’ speculation when the corpses were brought out. Murmurs slipped from the lips of old maidens as the men carrying the dead couple passed by.
John ignored the spectators. He made his way through and went inside the living room where he saw a pool of relatives convene. They looked at him with questioning eyes. He gave his respects, quickly went upstairs and searched the rooms entirely. Not finding what he was looking for, he shook his head and went back outside.
His pursuit continued to the main town with the rain still pouring. A few cars honked on the once busy street. Stores started to close. Lights were already out. He continued pacing, looking from left to right with a thorough search. The heavy downpour was not making it any easier.
John grasped for air as he finally found him – Henry.
Henry was sitting outside a liquor store, clothed in dirt and dripping mud. A half-empty wine bottle sat beside him and a cigarette rested on his hand. The smoke danced and faded in the air as he finished yet another stick; eyes fixed on the movement in front of him.
John moseyed and crouched next to him.
The sweet grin Henry used to always carry has been replaced with a displeased curve on the lips. His bright aura has been reduced to nothing more of an aching gloom. His eyes lost their brightness and what remained was an expression of emotional distress. He put down the bottle, freed his hands and clasped an old family portrait. Henry lowered his head and covered his face, refusing to let go of the picture, now damped with rain water.
John wanted to say something. The silence between them started to make him uneasy.
He wanted to speak words of comfort and encouragement. Surely there was something he could come up with to make Henry feel better.
But who is he to say “everything happens for a reason” when he didn’t even understand why they did? Who is he to assure that “everything’s gonna be ok” when he didn’t even know where to start? Who is he to promise “I’ll be here for you” when right at that moment he could not utter a single word of sympathy?
There was nothing he can say and do to make Henry feel better. Nothing he could say or do to bring everything back, give life to the dead or make them forget what happened. Nothing.
So they just sat there.
Not saying anything.
Not looking at each other.
Not even moving.
Finally, for the first time in hours, Henry glanced at John. Pain and despair were written all over his face. John met Henry’s eyes with tears he could suppress no more. He leaned forward and grabbed Henry.
Hard, loud cries of breaking hearts echoed under the dark night sky of that deserted alley.
No words were exchanged; there was only an embrace, only silence, only tears shed when meaning and reason evaded reality.
*Story also featured at Yeah Writers!