HumpDay Quickie #23

Posted: June 11, 2014 in Hump-Day Quickies
Tags: , , , ,

All Things Must Pass

by Karl A. Russell

Bob was alone in the end, lying in a private room with a morphine feeder button in one hand and the photograph in the other. His eyesight was fading, like everything else, but he knew it by heart anyway; Grainy and blurred, it was still precious to him, the final CCTV shot of Mel’s flight from the hotel corridor.

Drifting, growing numb, he tried to picture the colour of her eyes and the way she had worn her hair that day, but he could no longer recall them, just the way they appeared on the police report. He’d read it so often over the years, allowing it to replace the reality in the hope it would deaden what he had always known;

It was his fault.

He’d planned a family outing but Mel wanted to stay by the pool with the German kids, and they’d argued. He’d shouted. Screamed. They were going out, the cab was booked, and he was not going to waste another day sitting around the hotel watching his wife and his daughter flirt with some bloody Eurotrash.

Jen had slapped him, started an argument of her own, and Mel had run out of the room and the hotel, out of their lives. She left them to a half life of interviews, consulate meetings and return visits that swallowed his business and their marriage. That, and the endless unknowns;

If he’d said yes…

If he’d followed her…

If

He’d prayed and dreamed, seen a glimmer of hope every time they pulled another poor girl from some basement prison twenty years on, but all the while, his guilt had been turning inwards, raising a rebellion in his cells, robbing him of that last chance.

And now he was supposed to make his peace, admit that the hunt was over and that he would never know what she found, out in that too-bright sunshine.

But he couldn’t let go of her.

He would not let go.

He held the photograph in one hand, the morphine clicker in the other, and he squeezed them both, and he knew that though there was no more life, there was still hope.

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