This flash fiction piece was inspired by a Wall Street Journal paper on one of the desks at my job. Sometimes when I’m stuck, I pick an object in the room and turn it into a story. I wanted to know who left it, and then that turned into this piece.
All of his possessions were packed away in boxes on the curb, ready to be taken to the dump. However, some of his newspapers were still sitting in a neat stack on the kitchen floor waiting to be tied up and recycled. There was also an open newspaper on the kitchen table that had to be his. It was the only physical thing left that could convince us he never left.
The last thing he looked at was the sports section. He was a huge Mets fan. It wouldn’t surprise us if they were responsible for his death. I looked at the paper closely for clues he only put it down to go to the bathroom or to grab something from his room. He always gripped it so tightly; his thumb prints were still on the edges of the paper. Maybe there were more clues inside. I checked, and there were none. This was it.
It was hard to believe he was gone, especially with all these reminders. I knew, though, that I would never get over the loss if I kept them around. They would have to go at some point. That was why we got rid of them early on. He always told us to rip the bandaid fast whenever we fell and had to get our cuts cleaned up.
I wanted to be sad, but I was still mostly numb. There was no telling how long that would last. I ended up leaving the newspaper on the table. No one would notice. It was one of the few things we had left. We cleaned thoroughly, checking underneath the bed, in back of the closet, and in all his drawers. I kept hoping there would be something, but there wasn’t. He was a simple man, who left us without any fuss. Knowing that, I began to feel both happy and sad, which was a start.
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