She was scattered across the house,
secret ashes that he couldn’t let go of,
as if there had been a fire,
a small, silent child ripping across the sideboards and the dining room table with a rage he couldn’t remember,
but begrudgingly accepted.
“That’s my special girl.”
His voice was hoarse as he showed his neighbours his hoarded images of her,
somewhat haunted by the way she’d become frozen in time,
sighing and doing circular breathing as guilt gathered by the back door,
knocking and gnashing sharp teeth,
howling like the wind and the wolves,
until he had no choice but to bid his neighbours farewell, and find a way to live with his new visitors.
He had to keep the artefacts all around the place,
living in a museum for mad dreamers,
a shrine to the kind of kinship that was now out of reach.
Shattered by his own silence,
he stared down at eleven numbers,
jumping through mathematical hoops in the hopes that he could piece them back together.
He had to bring some peace to his soul,
see the girl one last time,
despite the sins of himself,
the dim, unlit desertion that had made her nothing more than a memory.
the only company he could cope with,
had their doubts,
having seen the girl through social media screenshots,
they knew that she had found the place for children who wander.
It was the kind of fate that fed into his deepest fears.
He could not live without the memory of her,
but she didn’t miss him at all.
He had imagined her as helpless,
hiding his suspicions from Nicola next door,
as he held out the perfectly preserved princess,
“That’s my baby girl”,
hoping that she never questioned why the girl never came to visit.
He could not live without the memory of me,
but I didn’t miss him at all,
and as the ghosts of his guilt whispered that truth to him,
waving my latest magnum opus in his miserable face,
pointing at each page, and how absent he was from every single one,
he stared around the room at his collection and cried for the child that was never really his.