*Note to readers: This is for LyfWithEm’s writing competition. I chose loneliness and isolation as my topic. I hope y’all enjoy!*
Why? The question seems to ricochet off the walls. I bite my fingernails and stare at the family portrait. We smiled then, our brown hair flowing and our cheeks red from the cold air. Our white sweaters only were pure for a few seconds before we ran off the gazebo into the rain and muck. We were careless and free. That was our moment, a shining one.
And then it ended.
Mum and Daddy, begging us to stand still for one minute, were buried in the graveyard. They weren’t supposed to leave so soon, no they were supposed to live a long life with grandchildren pestering them for more root-beer floats and traveling on expensive yachts with their retirement money. But they were gone.
So were the twins. My little brothers full of tough love. The ones who didn’t want me kissing them on the cheek and always pinching me at every opportune moment. I never told them how much I loved them, they never told me either, but we knew it. It was unspoken, but you could feel it. They wanted to be biologists, and discover new species and go on expeditions in Africa. I always believed they would be.
I shake my head and trace my hand to my older sister. She was so tall, and I was so short in the photo. I remember being jealous of her life. The boys, her friends, her ability to drive and traipse about town. She was always drawing, and though she put her work under scrutiny and usually threw it away, I remember Mum would make me take them out of the trash bin and hide them away in a box. Those paintings are the only things I have of her anymore, I especially love the painting of her favorite memory. The time we snuck onto the roof to look at the stars.
I look down to see the dog, my dog. Remy, we called her. We had been companions since she was a puppy. I fed her scraps and she sat in my lap. I sat outside on the ground petting her soft black fur, and ranting about my life problems. She sometimes barked too much, she sometimes puked on Mum’s gardenias, but she was always forgiven because there was no dog like Remy.
My face tightens, as I try to keep the tears from falling, but my mind can only replay the end. I pull my knees up and tuck my arms in between, trying to keep warm. But the world seemed so cold and heartless.
The world news called my family’s murder a tragedy. But to me, it was so much more, it ripped my heart apart, shredding it one death at a time. It left me alone, with condolences and memorials to attend. It left me to listen to people talk about memories, slowly pulling away at my soul, killing me softly, slowly. People blurred and I bled on everything. I could hear the gunshots, I hear their screams. I could see their faces twisted in pain.
They said my pain would fade in time. But as I stare at the portrait, as I look into each of their smiling faces; I feel as if it will never end. I want their warm hugs, their laughter, their kisses, their pinches, and even Remy’s constant licking.
Why, Why, Why? My brains echoes as I sit alone on the floor and hold the portrait. As the tears that I tried to hold back stream and splash onto their faces.