He spent hours looking at photographs. Old black and whites, some colored, snapshots of his past. Wedding pictures, family vacations, his mom and dad, he sifted through them one at a time. Each one meant something to him. He knew the history behind all the pics. Could tell you when his son broke his leg playing baseball. Remembered his daughter on prom night. How beautiful his wife was.
The pictures were put away in his cedar chest. He turned off the lights and drew the curtains; walked down the hallway. Those pictures haunted him as he tried to sleep. These people were one time a part of his life. Now there was no contact at all. Just memories. He didn’t know who was dead and who was still alive. Cut off.
She let him go. He wanted out and she gave him the green light. That was so long ago. There was always talk of him leaving. Never in front of the children. Just when they slept in opposite rooms towards the end. She’d go to bed. He’d sleep on the couch. Every night a whispered argument. He’d want to go out. Drink away the problems. She wouldn’t allow it. They began to hate each other. There never was any love really. Just two room mates with kids. They faked it well.
And now he sat on his bed at midnight. Wondering if he could’ve loved her. Maybe he did for a split second. Maybe a half hour. He just got married ’cause it was expected of him. It’s what you did back then ; lie. Tell her you loved her. Get a job on an assembly line. And do all you’re supposed to do. He did that. Until he couldn’t anymore.
It’s hard to live a lie. People see through it. Family, friends, co-workers, bartenders, they all see who you truly are. Everyone saw it in him.
She gave him the photo album. Forced it on him. She didn’t want it. The ex-wife told him, keep it or burn it. She didn’t care. And so, half a life was placed in a cedar chest. He never took it out again.