Claire found herself on the floor of her only daughter’s bedroom in tears. She had one arm wrapped about her and in that hand she held a piece of paper. Her other hand, half-covered her face, as she looked out the window and into the past.
She desperately wanted to believe it; that Henry was still writing. If all the papers she'd found in the box were anything to go by it was true.
She had decided to clean Emma's room today. And she found it almost an hour ago in the corner of the farthest closet. His handwriting on the outside, neat, yet loose, on the cover read;
She did not realize he was still writing after all this time. But did she really believe he had stopped? Writing had been an obsession; one that took him like a wild horse through the woods. Sometimes he'd invite her along by showing her something new and she loved reading his mind alive on paper. Finding this box reminded her that she still did.
She was alone in the house – he had taken a walk, after they'd had yet another argument, after breakfast.
Drying her eyes with her free hand she re-read the story. She had read a few of the others – he’d written a lot of the memories they had shared, most of them she remembered - but this one in her hand was the first one about Emma. There were more – after finding it she had rustled through the batch in the box looking for more with any reference to Emma in the lines.
She couldn’t think about Emma without being taken to tears. And he wrote her beautifully just as she remembered their daughter being. She found it pleasant to think of her again – to read her memory the way he remembered her, having been closer to their daughter than herself. It made her see so much that she had not before.
- - -
It was getting dark when Henry let himself into the house. A part of him felt bad for walking out.
He loved his wife dearly; at times it struck him how she could still make his heart ache.
He knew she was hurting. He was too. Every time they fought he felt like she was slipping farther from him and he felt helpless to stop the storm that would leave them stranded on different islands in the same house.
When it happened like this he would retreat to his writing. Pouring his thoughts out – his heart - into each story. Writing offered him release, the way only a creative pursuit could.
He based most of his short stories on his reality. But others were pure fiction. He printed and kept them like a journal in a box that he kept in the attic.
A small bout of alarm shot through him as he remembered that it was not up there today. He had moved it from the attic because Claire was spring cleaning up there. He’d decided to put it in Emma’s room until Claire was done. And now, he remembered Claire mentioned that she would dust the room briefly, just before their argument began.
He’d spent a lot of time in Emma’s room after she died. He and Claire had agreed not to move anything, but it had been too many years since and he thought it was time they moved on. It hurt him now to see her room like that, as though she were still here. But every time he mentioned it, he couldn’t help feeling callous as it always ended in argument.
He was on his way to retrieve the box when he noticed that the house was really quiet. Feeling a sense of trepidation and his mind racing in all the wrong directions he called for Claire.
He shouted up the stairs as he leaped them two at time.
He searched their own room first, but found her in Emma’s room, unmoving. It was dark now, and he couldn’t see clearly except for her shape on the floor.
“Claire,” he called again barely audible even to himself as his mind raced to past events.
He had been the one to find Emma.
He had come home early from work to spend time with her having rented their favourite film to watch together.
She hadn’t been well, he could tell, he was going to talk to her about it that evening.
When he got home he had found her on the floor.
She had ingested too many pills, and by the time they reached the hospital it had been too late.
He hadn’t been able to cry then.
Right now, he ran and knelt beside his wife’s body, tears brimming his eyes.
He cautiously placed his hand on her shoulder, she felt warm. Her shoulder shrugged from his cold hands and relief spread within him.
His head fell, chin to chest as if a weight had been cut off, he closed his eyes and the tears fell fiercely down.
- - -
In the low light, Claire stirred from sleep and saw the papers in front of her and the box lying near her knees and she cursed herself for falling asleep. She let out a breath, expecting that he would be furious.
But when she looked at him she realized what he must’ve been thinking , seeing her on this floor. And she cursed herself again, as she moved towards him and held him tight.