A Word or Two

He couldn’t think of a single thing to say – and now the moment was gone. It would have taken one word, maybe two, to get her to turn around and … and …

Aren turned back to the slush of freshly stamped and addled dirt that surrounded the new grave.

His wife of ten years lay at the bottom of that hole. And his only child lay with her. His wife’s family had stood on the far side of the hole, looking down with tears, and up with rage.

One word; if he could have said one word, would it have made a difference? Her mother’s stiff back and rigid facial muscles said far more than he could’ve broken through.

It was his fault, and they knew it.

Aren took a step closer to the mound. One more, but his feet dragged and his hands lay stubbornly by his side. His mouth hung open, absorbing all the moisture in the air.

One foot slipped in the grimy black mud that lay hidden under the mush of pounded grass.

So many people came. All stood on the one side – this side – and he stood alone on the other. Aren was always alone. Until he met Seza. His life and soul were bound up in her, and he became someone simply because he was loved.

A man who came to be a man through the trials of loneliness. Orphanages and foster homes, streets and gangs, crime sprees and forced holidays. Until Seza. Who turned his life around the moment she looked in his eyes.

The family said he didn’t deserve her. That she deserved better, more, anything other than him. The invites to family gatherings didn’t ever have his name on the card. Seza dragged him along to some, but most he stayed away.

His life taught him that enemies that were also family were the most dangerous. And it had proved true again. It had cost him the only thing of value in his life.

Maybe he should give them what they really wanted; what they’d planned for. His left hand reached down into his pocket, through the gap to the leather strap around his leg. Two fingers and thumb slid the handle up into his palm. It warmed in his hand.

One more step and he stood on the side of the grave where her family and friends had stood. Where all the ground was pitted and filled with ice-rimmed puddles. A hard lump stuck in his throat and he tried to swallow it away, but it wouldn’t go. It stayed.

Aren shook his head. This was not his side. This was not the way he’d finish it. He dragged his heavy body around the mound to stand on the uphill side and look down at the goat-tracks of the people who’d gone, the people who said they loved her and would do anything for her, the people who’d killed her when they’d meant to kill him.

The crash was investigated, of course, because the family had connections. The damage was deliberate; he was a mechanic.

Aren didn’t respond to any of it because he knew. When he looked at their faces, he knew. It had been his day to take the vehicle to the airport to pick up the packages for her business. Aren was supposed to be driving when the vehicle reached the top of the Devil’s Elbow descent.

Seza took their daughter, wanted to show her the beauty of the sunrise over the low-lying plain where the airport lay. Wanted to show her a joy of life: a new day.

The knife rose in the air, almost of its own accord, lifted to horizontal, moved closer to his throat. The slit was right to left – he was a cacky-hander, something they’d forgotten when they’d sliced through the line, which was cut left to right.

But vengeance would not be his. Aren didn’t care enough now. This moment was all he had. It was a timely end to his grief. And this way, he wouldn’t be alone, ever again.

Copyright Cage Dunn 2017

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