With a loneliness no one knows, he sits dejected in his chair.
The signs of a hard life show in the sagged line of his mouth and the determined way in which he grabs the bottle.
The long greasy strands of his black hair hang in disarray, as if the life from them too, has been sucked out.
Low firelight flickers, casting long shadows across the dark room.
His eyes stare glassy and unseeing as the fire hungrily consumes the wood in the fireplace.
Too many nights he’d spent just this way.
The scorching of the whiskey no longer affects him as he swallows hard, waiting for the drink to numb his veins.
If only it could numb his heart the way it did everything else.
Shaking fingers grasp the frayed edges of the faded picture.
The smiling faces of his wife and children stare back at him.
He tries hard to remember the sound of their voices, their laughter, but like the photograph, the memory has faded with time.
Nine years today he got the call.
The voice on the other end of the line had been slow and cautious.
Images flashed through his mind of the drunk driver crashing into his wife’s car at seventy miles an hour.
His entire life ended that day.
Now he sits alone, despair whispering into his ear dark thoughts.
The light in his life had died that day along with his family.
Everything he’d taken for granted hung like skeletons in the closet.
A tear slips down his grizzled cheek and steely determination makes his grip on the gun surer.
The time to join his loved ones has been too long a wait and it’s time to make it happen.
With a half-hearted prayer he whispers for forgiveness as he pulls the trigger.
The sound reverberates within the empty walls of the house.
Heart racing, breathing deeply, he opens his eyes.
In a daze his trembling hands open the bullet chamber.
Dropping to his knees he stares at the lone bullet still in its place.
Looking up he cries, and the scent of his wife's perfume fills the air.
"It's not your time," he swears he hears between the pounding in his ears.
A warmth not caused by the whiskey flows through his veins.
The light he’d been missing for so long slowly fills his eyes as he drops the gun and bottle with a new vow and a bright hope in his heart.