Chicago, Illinois, 2005 — So far, the finished rooms were the kitchen, their bedroom, and the bathroom. All that was left was the dining area, the living room, the two spare bedrooms, and the garage.
Kelly gathered her dark brown hair into a messy bun, then pulled out another stack of books and set them on the shelf. As she flattened the box, Connor reached over in the midst of opening the DVDs up, re-arranged the books so they were alphabetized, and shrugged when she glanced at him.
Going back to the next box, Kelly searched the sides for the room its’ contents belonged in. Seeing nothing, she frowned. “Hey, do you know what’s in here?” she asked.
Connor looked up, a stack of DVDs in hand. “Doesn’t it say?”
“Huh,” He scratched his head, mussing his auburn hair. “I’m pretty sure I marked all my stuff, so maybe it’s yours?”
“No, I marked all my stuff too. At least I think I did.” She grabbed her pocket knife, sliced through the tape, and opened the flaps. “Wow. Where did these come from?”
“Where did what-” Connor cut himself off upon seeing the folders full of paper, light brown eyes wide.
Kelly opened the folder on top and looked over at him. “You write poems? Since when did you write poems?”
“Uh…since sixth grade. Or maybe seventh.” Connor put the DVDs back in the box and came over.
“Wow, these are really good, honey,” Kelly said. She held a page up. “This one’s cute. What inspired it?”
He felt his face turn red. “You.”
She smiled, mixed brown eyes twinkling. “You really are a romantic, aren’t you?”
His face was getting redder and the small smile he gave her was somewhat bashful. “Yeah…”
She took out the folder and began digging through the next one. The writing on the tab said ‘Nature’, and Connor found himself letting out another sigh of relief.
Then she got to the bottom, where the last and thickest folder was. Connor’s eyes widened in horror at the large, red X written on it, and he reached in and grabbed it right before she did.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, giving him a puzzled look.
“Um..” Connor glanced at the folder, then at her. “You don’t want to read these ones. Trust me. They’re, uh…kind of…” He swallowed. “…dark.”
She looked at him in stunned silence, her mind wrapping around his comment. Connor abruptly left for the living room and grabbed the matches on the way. Kelly started to follow and stopped when her bare foot touched a piece of paper on the floor. She picked it up and noticing its’ theme didn’t fit the others she read, realized it must’ve fallen out of the folder Connor took.
Connor stuffed the folder into the woodstove, then grabbed a match and lit it. He paused for a moment, then set the match to the folder. As he watched it burn, Kelly came over and sat beside him. She handed him a piece of notebook paper.
“I think this one fell out,” she said quietly. He took it and started to crumple it into a ball when he caught sight of the title and paused.
Despite not wanting to, his curiosity got the best of him and he read. It abruptly ended halfway down the page.
I wonder…He got up, paper still in hand. “Is there a pencil anywhere?”
“I don’t know, why?” Kelly asked, getting up after him. “Are you going to finish it?”
Instead of answering, he continued his hunt. He finally found a pencil, sat down at the dining room table, and began writing. Kelly watched her husband, slightly concerned.
When he finished, he immediately handed it to her. She took it, her gaze slowly going from him to the paper. It did start out somewhat dark, but as she read past where it originally ended, the tone started changing. It went from despair and hopelessness to faith, hope, and love.
After she was done reading it, without missing a beat, she hugged him. Connor smiled as his arms wrapped around her in return.
“So…” he said after a few minutes. “I guess we’re just gonna stand here and hug?”
“If you want.”
His smile widened. “That’s perfectly fine with me. I love hugs.”
Kelly smiled back and stood on her toes to kiss his cheek. “Me too.”
Behind them in the woodstove, the folder and its’ contents turned to ash.
©H.S. Kylian 2018
(Critiques are welcome and appreciated!)