When I got home that night, I noticed the smiling jack-o-lantern in my front yard was crushed. It wasn’t surprising. If anything, it was a fitting ending to the day. After a dysfunctional board meeting, a demeaning phone call from my mother and the photocopier breaking down before lunch, a crushed pumpkin strewn across my front steps didn’t seem unusual.
Besides, he was always the one that liked Halloween. He was always the child. It was his goofy smile that could light up a room. His way of saying the words, the only words that felt right at the end of a long day.
This would’ve never happened if he was still here. This kind of thing didn’t happen in his world. He was always elsewhere, somewhere simpler, happier. And I could never figure out how to find him there.
Even in the photographs, he’s faultless. His eyes, bright beneath his freckled brow and the untidy hair he always tried to brush back over his forehead with his palm. Always smiling, the creases below his cheeks, deeply grooved. He was the kind one. The spontaneous one. The exciting one.
I was the stick in the mud. The boring one. I was the cruel one. I was the one that should’ve left in the middle of the night. Without warning. Without a word… Not him.