Richard awoke with a start. He wiped the drool off of his short beard and rubbed his eyes. His glasses had fallen on the floor and the room was a blur. He had sat down to cool off with a cold beer after mowing the front lawn. He fell asleep before he drank half the beer. He had dreamt something weird and it had left him in a cold sweat. He sat there in a daze trying to remember the dream but it wouldn't come back. He took a sip of the beer but it was warm.
The dream bothered him. He felt nervous and jittery like there was something wrong but he couldn't figure it out. His body felt strange. He seemed to have lost control of it. He couldn't move.
The room seemed strange. He knew it was his and part of the house he owned. Maybe he felt strange because he rarely spent time there. There were too many painful memories. The furniture, pictures, decorations and books were just as his wife left them. He hadn't changed a thing but everything seemed different and the room was as if it was in another world. He wondered if he had fallen asleep in someone else house.
The chair had always been comfortable and now it seemed lumpy. The room had always been bright and cheerful but now it was cold and damp. He was sure someone had moved the paintings but he couldn't remember where they belonged. He wanted to get up and leave but his body wouldn't move. He struggled to get up but he had lost all control over his body.
His eyes focused on a picture of his children and suddenly it was important that he touch the picture. Somehow he willed his body to move towards the picture. He felt as if he were in a trance and that he wasn't walking but gliding across the room. His hands grasped the picture and pulled it to his chest. He held it tight like it was alive and not just an object. To him it was alive, it was his children, it was his life, it wasJoe, Mary and Kaye when they were ten, eight and six.
The picture came alive. He felt the warmth of their bodies. He could hear them laugh and giggle and hear their voices saying "we love you daddy". He felt better. He felt warm again. As long as he held the picture he knew he was alright.
The pictures brought back memories of them as they grew up and he felt a tremendous desire to be with them. He wanted to touch them, hug them. hear them laugh and talk. He needed them to need him as much as he needed them. Vivid memories of the last time they were together came to him. They had arranged a party for his 50th wedding anniversary. They had invited all the old friends and all of the relatives that could attend. It did not matter that his wife, their mother had been dead for ten years. It was a wonderful gift and one that he had not expected. Now they were gone. He missed them and he missed his wife, He was so alone and the house was so cold. He looked at a bigger picture in the room. It was his wife. He thought back to when they were first married and he remembered her as his bride. He remembered their courtship. his proposal, their wedding and their honeymoon. His mind did not dwell on the physical union of their first night together. His mind could only see her bright blue eyes and her radiant red lips. Her eyes always had a sparkle and her red lips always formed a smile. His mind longed to see those eyes and that beautiful smile again. He remember that her eyes sparkled and her lips smiled even as she was dying of cancer. Why, he wondered, had God taken her? Why had god taken his children? Why had he been left all alone?
He wanted to see them again but they were all gone. First his wife had died of cancer and then his children were killed in that horrible plane crash while flying back to their homes in the east. The plane went down and he was alone. His body moved itself. He found himself looking at a shotgun in the closet. His hands moved as his body had. He couldn't or ' wouldn't stop them. The picture fell to the floor smashing the glass. The sound startled him and as he looked down he could see the faces of his children through the broken glass. He could hear their voices pleading to him to stop. "No daddy, we love you and want to see you but not like this. Please daddy do not pick up the gun". He began to weep. He did not pick up the gun but instead walked outside into the sunshine.
The sun warmed him and felt the coldness in his soul recede. He sat down on the steps of his porch and wept. As his body shuddered a warm tongue licked his face and his dog Judy nuzzled him with her nose. She had been his only companion since his wife had died. He hugged her and felt her warm heart beating. He looked into her brown eyes and said, no old gal, I won't kill myself. I need to stay around to take care of you. How about you and I going for a walk.