Coming Home
to an Empty House


My darling cousin,

With the turning of August, rain clouds came to grace the skies, fervently blowing against the simmering heat with their pleasant fall winds. Now, towards the end of September, the remainder of a too hot summer is sucked - clouds and winds and rain and all - from the heavens, and the break of day is cold, and clear, and quiet.

Four years ago, on this date, they found her. I do not know how she lay in the pale morning light, though I have oft seen her in my fevers and panic-ridden nights: on her back, her pretty red dress and black silken stockings in shreds, her lifeless eyes gazing eternally at the rising sun as if she had been waiting for it to come and take her, lift her up from the agony so deeply etched on her face only the fires of her cremation could erase it.

I am not sure whether I was spared or pained by being denied a final farewell. All I have is the memory of kissing her good-bye on the doorstep the night before, telling her to have fun at the dance and warning her, casually, not to do what I would not do.
"Don't do anything I wouldn't," my last words to her. Sometimes, as I turn my back on her in my mind to walk down our street and disappear again around the corner, compelled by business in another city which seems so trivial now, I can hear her softly say: "Darling, I do love you." I do.

Would I have gone home that night with a total stranger, while friends averted their eyes at my transgressions? Would I have stayed with him and have allowed him to fuck me six ways from Sunday before leaving in the early hours in the dark and seedy part of town? Would I have blamed myself as I bled to death on the cobbles for what I had done, or for what had happened?

I did.

And so you were born on that very day, my little cousin. I held you in my arms only hours after your first breath and her last, and as you looked up at me, your unbelievably tiny hand reaching for my face, your smile slowly mingled with the dull darkness in my head and I became your godfather.

Dear boy, you are four today, and I am sorry I could not be there. I am sorry you had to sleep in that room alone, for our fleeting good-bye, for not taking you with me on the train you love to ride so much. It saddens me that I cannot make you understand why my life twists and turns this way, and that you must think I am not there for you, though I made a solemn promise to your parents I would watch over you whenever you needed it. A vow they had to plead little to receive, and one not made in vain, I assure you.

I am almost there, my sweet boy, and we will take the train to whatever city takes your fancy. We will spend no more nights alone, not this winter, not any winter to come. Then, I will explain to you the bitterness with which I hold you, the tears with which I love you, the pain with which I celebrate your existence year after year.

If you should read this, my darling child, before I've had the opportunity to tell you my mind, to make you see who I am, then please remember me as who I am to you now: the giant on whose shoulders you sat, who made you fly before you could walk, who made you laugh before you could talk, who loved you before any had taught you of love lost.

Come now. The iron road beckons. Let us ride and rejoice in what the miles will bring.

For ever,

Your Godfather.

Dedicated to the woman for whom I must forever find new ways to say, "I love you."

The End

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