In Your Absence
From the journal of Henry Peterson
3rd of April
Do you remember the games of hide and seek that we used to play, all those years ago? Our house was nothing exceptional, just two floors and eight rooms between them. But to us this house was our world, filled with such little crevices and caves for us to tuck ourselves away into and be concealed from everything else. I remember when you hid in our washing basket and nearly gave mother a heart attack.
I searched these crevices today and found nothing. Our caves were bare. Why did you not answer me when I called for you? I had spent an entire hour searching and yet found no sign of you. When I cried that was meant to be the signal for you to reveal yourself. Where were you when I needed you most?
Father returned home today with a tear-stained face. He said nothing when he entered, simply opting to walk past me and hold mother tightly, as though he was scared she might fly away. I didn’t understand their behaviour. You had been late home before so what made this occasion so different? Why did the rooms suddenly feel larger and emptier? And why did the tears now streak down my face?
There were once a hundred hiding places in this house and I could no longer conceal myself in any of them.
4th of April
I hate this. I hate the shallow expressions that everyone wears, those downturned lips, those red puffy eyes. I hate the restlessness that’s possessed everyone under this bloody roof, how they pace the rooms and then leave without saying a word. There is always something to be done and yet we’ve done it a thousand times over. Well, I’m sick of doing something and nothing at all. I’m sick of this stupid clock that hangs on the wall and screams every tick of every hand.
The embodiment of my hatred looked me in the face today and so I smashed him into a million tiny pieces. There was a moment of pause when he collapsed to the floor, and then I laughed and danced in his fragments. I crushed him into a fine dust. I ground him beneath my heels and refused to wince as he bit back at me, drawing blood. Nothing would distract me from this high. The power of destruction was mine, the power to rid the world of all that I despised. I vowed that I would gorge myself in this chaos and I would find it good. If you could not be here to tell me right from wrong then I would construct my own order in your absence.
My breath fell heavily upon my breast when I finally slumped to the floor. A fine cocktail of blood and broken mirror stared back up at me. I could feel its jeers and taunts, scolding me for the absence of control. The death of that reflection had brought me no consolation, no satisfaction from my loneliness.
The dustpan and brush swept away the produce of my frustration and now the house sat even emptier than before.
5th of April
Was it something that I had said? Was I the one who drove you away? If this is the case then I will take it all back, every mislaid word and every stupid, inconsiderate action. You are all I desire and I will swallow every last ounce of my pride if it leads to you walking through this godforsaken door just one more time.
I can’t stand to be in this household any longer but it is all I have left. I leave and return in sporadic bursts, desperately hunting for somewhere to be and then immediately lusting for the comfort of a more familiar environment. The wind outside has picked up and it tears at my coat, pushing me back to my starting point. Yet when I stand inside, the stillness eats away at me, eroding my patience. What was it that you did that kept the peace in place? How were you the wooden groyne that kept things secure and homely? Why did you give up in your task and just what will it take to bring you back?
Father has tried to console my grief by promising a trip to the coast. I thanked him and he left without another word. He would take me somewhere else, to another land, another place where you are not by my side. If this was his intention, he could have just taken me anywhere. Wherever I go, I will always stand without you.
6th of April
Father took us down to the beach today. I remember when we used to travel here on a more regular basis, when the sun would shine its approval and the sea would sing to us its joy. We would take our pet Alsatian, Sally and we would laugh as she chased us across the bed of sand. The colours didn’t seem quite the same today and the song of the sea sounded mournful. It was as though in your passing, you had taken the heart of the world with it. The sun couldn’t bear to face us and hid behind its veil of grey clouds. The gulls wailed over our heads and in the distance I could see the faint outline of a dog and its master. I thought of Sally and almost cried.
We had taken with us a picnic, mother, father and I. Our plans had been to sit on the beach and make an occasion of our venture, to create a memory that would fill the hole you had left behind. We hadn’t been there for more than half an hour before it started to rain and we were forced to flee back to the car.
After a brief debate, we simply sat there awhile and watched as the world went by. The raindrops washed over the windshield accompanied by its constant, never-ending drumming that beat a rhythm into my aching head. To block its persistent torment, I wondered if the sky would have still emptied itself even with you here by our side. Would the gulls have serenaded us with such hollow cries if your ears were here to accept their song? I didn’t know but the need for an answer burned through my mind. Why does the world carry on without you?
When I die, will it carry on without me?
7th of April
The funeral service was held today. I walked through a sea of black coats and suits and knelt by your gravestone. The touch of the cold granite kissed the tips of my fingers as I caressed the last physical memory of your life. I was now closer to you than I had been in days. I laid my flowers by your resting place and said my goodbyes. I told you I was sorry and that the hole you had left in my heart could never be refilled. You were my brother and you were always there for me, through all the trials and tribulations of our relationship. I sobbed and I grieved until father finally took me by the hand and led me away.
Now we are home and I simply sit in a quiet silence, writing for you in this journal, writing the letters that mark your passing. Photos line our shelves that tell the story of your life and your grave is to be an aerial of your death. But these words will tell the story of the transition, a time when the world adjusted to your departure. These entries are to be testament to the void you now leave in your wake. I will write my feelings for you one last time and then I will let the world carry on, lighter and yet at the same time heavier on my shoulders than it has ever been before.
8th of April
I miss you.