[The Three Princes, 6,436 words, Genre: Horror]
Stephen was a father of three. He worked his trade as a mechanic. He lived his life in quiet contemplation. A simple life made up of simple pleasures. His life had become routine, he would enter the garage each morning at eight in the morning, work throughout the day doing general repairs on motor vehicles and then, having worked up a hunger through the day, would go home and feast with his family. His wage never provided what could actually be considered as a feast, however, he who works like a slave, eats like a king. And he certainly felt like he ate like a king each and every night. Each day would start at eight in the morning and end at six in the evening.
He had three sons. Joseph, Kevin and Gabriel. His wife, Corrinna, took her place within the family as a housewife. She spent most of her time housekeeping and watching daytime soaps. Reruns of popular television shows that ran through the daytime programming. The monotonous routine of washing and ironing clothes, carrying with it the burden of raising her three sons. She had dark rings around her eyes that were a product of her lack of sleep. She was caught up in the stress of paying her bills and keeping her family financially afloat. No matter what her husband Stephen told her, she could not help but seeing the burden as her own. She took on the financial management of the family.
The family took upon itself Christian worship and they would attend the local church every Sunday at six in the morning. The neighbourhood that they lived in was in the Western suburbs of Geelong. Their local church, Baptist. Apart from financial troubles that would rear its head with the raising of three sons, they had little to worry themselves over. They had faith in the Gods above and that was enough for them.
Joseph was eighteen years old, his brother Kevin was sixteen and Gabriel was at the tender age of eight. Joseph had just graduated from high school and he was attempting to enter the working world of adults. He had saved up from the allowance his parents had afforded him through the years and purchased a car. It was a bomb. One of those old holden sedans from the nineteen eighties. His dad had helped him find it. And they worked on it together, his father giving him a hit and run course on the upkeep of the car. He knew the basics, checking and changing the oil, making sure the surface of the car didn’t take up too much damage from the sun. Things like that.
He was the first one to leave the house of the three. He had just found full time work in a small town one hundred kilometres north-west. Out in a rural district. They needed a farmhand and he was only too willing to take on the work. The work prospects in Geelong itself were faint and elusive, if ever existing at all. So he didn’t mind the fact that he’d have to make the move out to God knows where. His parents both agreed that this was the best thing for him. It was all part of growing up and finding the pathway to adulthood.
Kevin on the other hand was still in high school and had found himself in the first relationship of his life. His parents were unaware that he was sexually active, but he was. He and his newly found girlfriend had found themselves in the same high school literature class, they both read the same sort of material and that’s how those two had hit it off. The material that they agreed on was of a horror genre. And as with coincidences, sex and death become one.
Gabriel was still in primary school. He was as all children are at that age, wild and carefree. He had little to worry about and his parents never discussed their own personal struggles in front of him. He wasn’t as children of his own age, addicted to computer games. He preferred outdoor activities and would play with other children in the local neighbourhood.
Stephen’s eldest son, Joseph, was just packing the car to leave. They had had a family meal the previous night as a form of farewell to their son, wishing him the best for his future voyage. Now, it was just Stephen and Joseph sitting outside the front of their home, talking it out, his father imparting some final words of wisdom. They were sitting on the porch and Stephen gazed off into the distance, deep in thought and trying to find the words to say to him.
“Y’know, when I was your age, the world was quite a different place. Kids would cop a beating if they acted up, drugs didn’t run rampant and both men and women were expected to act a certain way.”
Joseph looked at him, trying to find some form of common ground, an understanding, “Yeah, the world has changed.”
“But you didn’t turn out too bad, now, did you?”
Both Joseph and Stephen embraced each other in a hug, Stephen patting his son on the back, before parting. Afterwards, Joseph got into the car where he had packed away all of his necessities, pushed down on the clutch, changing it into reverse and backed out of the driveway. Stephen went to see the car disappear down the street before taking a turn and disappearing.
That evening Stephen and Corrinna sat down together. For the first time in their lives, the burden had been made a little lighter. They began to reminisce of memories of their eldest son as a little boy. Just small things, anecdotes and the like. His favourite foods, the foods he didn’t like. They spoke about him with fondness and joy. They made love that night, basking in the afterglow of the act, they rested peacefully.
The phone call came at around half past two in the morning. Stephen rubbed the sleep away from his eyes and grumbled as he made his way to the kitchen to answer the phone. He stubbed his toe as he made his way there and began cursing. He bent his leg and rubbed his toe to ease the pain, then answered the call.
The conversation that followed was a series of information that made Stephen slowly break down. On the other end of the call was a police officer who reported that his son had been involved in a fatal motor accident. Stephen was stumbling over his words, looking for something to say, his lower lip was trembling. All he could manage to say at the end of the call was, “Thank you for calling.”
It was such an odd thing to say. ‘Thank you for calling’, but what else could he say in that situation? What else was there to say? It was just the officer’s job after all. When he placed the phone back on the handle, he dropped to his knees and broke down in tears. The tears flowed as memories of his son’s life came back into his mind, a conversation he had just had earlier that night with his wife. His wife… What the hell was he supposed to say to Corrinna? The news had already packed it’s punch with him, did he have the energy reserves in order to tell her. He was already an emotional wreck and he stumbled back to his bedroom, in order to find the comfort of his wife’s loving arms. Like a child seeking the comfort of a mother’s embrace, he stumbled into the bedroom. His whole body was trembling. And when he saw his wife, lying in bed, she looked upon him. At his broken demeanour she ripped off the sheets of the bed and rushed towards him, catching him before he fell down with tears streaming down his face.
Corrinna attempted to help Stephen gather his senses. Rubbing his shoulders and holding him in place, “My love, whatever’s the matter? Who died?”
“Joseph… It was Joe, Corrinna, it was Joe. He was involved in a car crash. He’s dead… He’s farkin’ dead!”
And then the two of them collapsed into one another, folding their knees and falling to the floor. The news brought onto them an emotional train wreck. They both lay on the floor, in tears, it was an odd event. Grief wasn’t usually like this, grief usually comes on slow. Usually first comes shock, then comes the tears. But this time, the tears came first. Tears usually come at the end of a funeral, a mysterious signature of the recognition that a life has passed fully. But the initial shock is usually devastating in itself.
What passed afterwards was a sequence of non-emotional automations. There was a funeral to arrange and things to put into order. Breaking the news to Joseph’s younger brothers was no easy feat. Their reaction was one of confusion, then anger… It’s one of those things. Gabriel did not fully understand the implications of death at his age. However, Kevin did. Kevin didn’t know how to react at first. But then he went outside, into the backyard and started screaming. Screaming as loud as he could, profanities of all sorts.
Stephen took on the funeral arrangements. His wife did little to assist with the process, she was in a catatonic state and spent most of the following days in bed, in tears with a box of tissues. Stephen would have liked to have done the same. But he was on auto-drive and knew he needed to do what had to be done.
The funeral was a somber event. Stephen had been sure to invite Joseph’s old classmates from his graduating year. There was a large turn-out. Joseph had been popular and likable. One of his friends gave a speech on his own memories of Joseph. There was a slideshow of different trips that the family had taken, as well as some photos of Joe hanging out with his friends. They sat and watched as the funeral home took care of the procession. This was a celebration of life, they all told themselves. But nobody was throwing their arms up in the air like a rock concert. Funerals cast a dark shadow over all those who attend them.
They carried on and then there was the pall-bearing ceremony. They followed the hearse to the cemetery in a tour of honour around the neighbourhood. Both parents retained straight features through the event. Whatever tears or depression that had possessed Corrinna, she maintained herself well enough to oblige the extended family and friends who attended the event. Stephen was sure to do the same, shaking hands and exchanging small talk. Receiving condolences, that sort of thing.
Both Kevin and Gabriel remained quiet through the event. Stephen would sometimes throw a glance their way to make sure that they were alright. After the funeral they held a wake at their home. There were trays of food prepared. Just nibbles, nothing too extensive.
Stephen was caught up in a conversation with one of Joseph’s friends from high school. His friend was attempting to tell him a story about Joseph. But Stephen was lost in a field of worry. And as he stood there, nodding his head, eating from a plate of meatballs and potato chips. The only thing that he could think about were the rest of his family. How they were feeling and how they were coping. It was a blank stare that he gave Joseph’s friend as he nodded his head. Eventually Joseph’s friend realized that Stephen wasn’t listening and then moved on to talk to other people. Stephen spent the rest of the wake sitting on a chair in the backyard as other people moved around him. He took no notice of them all and found a spot in dead space to focus his attentions on.
Slowly all of the other attendees left Stephen and his family alone. The extended family was there to help with the cleanup, but soon enough Stephen and his family were alone again. To shelter and take care of one another.
The following weeks passed with little incident. Stephen was back at work and Corrinna assisted both Kevin and Gabriel with going back to school. Stephen found the process of going back to work healing. Losing himself in his work and tasks took his mind off everything that had happened. It gave him something to focus on. The guys at the garage all understood that and left him alone to clock up the hours. A lot of the days he did overtime. They needed the money and it helped Stephen to heal.
Corrinna was fine. She spent most of her time with Gabriel. Taking extra care of him during the following weeks. Taking extra special care of his packed lunches, assisting him with his homework and things like that. When he came home from school, she would sit with him as he ate his afternoon tea. Stroking his hair and soothing both of them in some form of mother and son bond.
Kevin was like his father. All he needed was a distraction. And he found his distraction in the habitual time investment of video games. It became this overwhelming process for Kevin as he immersed himself in a virtual world. Playing massive multiplayer role playing games all the time. He was practically stuck to his computer. Even when Stephen came home to talk to his son about his feelings and how he was doing, Kevin would give him one word disinterested answers and continue to focus on his virtual world. At first Stephen was worried about this sort of behaviour. But then he equated the actions of his son to his own actions of losing himself in his own work at the garage. It was just going to be a phase in his life for a while, Stephen consoled, and let Kevin partake in his own healing transformation.
It went on like this for a while. Stephen doing overtime at the garage. Gabriel and Corrinna spending extra time together. Kevin getting lost in a virtual world. But then would come the time when Corrinna would have to put Gabriel to bed and that’s when things would get a little strange. She would sit in the lounge room with a glass and a neat serving of scotch whiskey. She wouldn’t put the television on or anything like that. She would just sit there. Stephen had to start taking on the financial management of the family. Making sure bills were being paid, taking care of the children’s allowances… But Corrinna would just sit in the lounge room slowly sipping on her whiskey. She would drink glass after glass and as Stephen sat in the kitchen doing the accounts, he could hear her talking to herself. He couldn’t make it out at first, he put it down to the drink, but he was sure it was about Joseph.
Stephen was so busy involved in making sure everything was paid and that the family was being managed that a distance was growing between himself and Corrinna. And Stephen didn’t think much of it… She was an adult, she could look after herself. Every night was like this and he was sure that things were getting worse. He didn’t know if she was drinking through the day while he was at work, but slowly that fact became more apparent.
There was nothing that Stephen could really do. He knew that things were falling apart around him, but he could only put his faith in God and hope that things would repair themselves. So every day he was working at the garage and every night he was doing the accounts at home. As he did the accounts at home, with his wife drinking in the lounge room talking to herself, he would tune into the conversation that she had with herself.
It came in at mumbles, half drunk, “Joe honey, what have you done to yourself?”
There would be no answer that he could hear, but she answered back to it anyway.
“I see… And what’s it like over there?”
She would say things like that. It was as if she were having a conversation. Sometimes she would laugh out loud all of a sudden, it left him perturbed.
He didn’t know who else to talk about it to. He didn’t have time to book himself a counselling session, although he often made that suggestion to her. So he started talking about it to one of his co-workers at the garage. Elbows and hands half consumed in grease from the car that he would be working on. He spoke to his co-worker, Jeff, about it.
“I don’t know what to do, I think the missus is losing her mind, and making me lose my own mind in the process.”
“Why? What’s she doing?” Jeff responded.
“She keeps on having these pretend conversations with our dead son.”
Jeff gave him a blank stare for a while and finally omitted, “Maybe these conversations aren’t pretend. The bond between a mother and her child is really strong. Maybe that bond is strong enough that it crosses over from the world of the living to the dead.”
“Shut up man. This is serious. It’s becoming a real problem…”
“I am serious Stephen, could be she really is having a conversation with your dead son. You should get a priest or a Buddhist monk in there to check out the situation. Someone spiritual who would know about those sort of things. What about the rest of your family, your son Kevin, how’s he coping?”
“I wouldn’t have the slightest clue. All he does is play computer games and every time I try to talk to him, he tells me to piss off.”
“Yeah, you should watch that one. Your wife’s an adult, watch out for your son.”
And that was the end of that conversation. Stephen never took his advice on seeing someone spiritual to resolve whatever was happening with his wife. But he did put in an extra effort to reach out to Kevin. He went into his room after work that evening to see where he was hiding out. His computer was set up in his bedroom and it was a mess. There were empty bottles of cola and other caffeinated drinks all surrounding his desk. And there was Kevin lurched over his computer screen, playing some sort of first person shooter game.
“Kevin, can I talk to you for a second?”
The distraction caused a momentary interference for Kevin as his character died in the game that he was playing and he called out, “Fark!” Then he turned around to his dad and then said, “Yeah, well, I guess you can now.”
Stephen went and sat down on Kevin’s bed that was unmade. There was also dirty laundry strewn across the bedroom floor. But that wasn’t why Stephen had come to talk to him. “Kevin,” Stephen began, “What’s going on? You hardly ever read like you used to, you’re always stuck to that god damned machine. I don’t think this is a wise move for your future.”
Kevin turned his swivel chair around so that he could face his father. “Dad… Nobody reads anymore. That’s a thing of the past, they’re all doing this stuff now.”
“What about your girlfriend? The one that you were seeing, does she read?”
Kevin slunk his head and looked down at the floor, “Yeah, she reads.”
“Yeah, I’ll get back to it.”
“Good.” Stephen got up and then went to leave his son alone again, before exiting he made the passing comment, “And don’t forget to clean up your room.”
Stephen went to the kitchen once again work on the family accounts. His wife was, once again, drinking in the lounge room. Drinking and talking to herself. As he set about his work, he attempted to listen in to what she was saying.
“Really? Is that so?” She said.
He couldn’t hear any noticeable reply. But apparently there was one.
“And what’s going to happen to him?”
Again, nothing that he could hear.
And then, as if for no reason at all, Corrinna burst into a stream of tears. She began wailing out loud. Stephen had to drop what he was doing and go out to the lounge room and address the issue. An event that he had been dreading to do for a long time now.
“What the bloody hell is all the fuss about Corrinna?”
She looked up to him from the sofa seat, through red and teary eyes.
“I can hear you out here every night, you know that? Drinking yourself away. Having imaginary conversations.”
“It’s Joe Stephen… It’s Joe…”
“I know what you think is happening. But it’s bloody well not happening. Our son is dead Corrinna. He’s not coming back, you can’t talk to him. He’s dead. You’ve been drinking every night after it happened and I’m here to tell you, no more. No more! You hear that Corrinna. No more!”
Then Stephen grabbed the bottle of spirits that Corrinna had been drinking from. Went to the kitchen and poured its contents down the sink. The bottle made those glugging noises as its contents emptied and then slowly drained itself down the sink. He threw the bottle into the recycling container and ignoring the rest of the work he had to do on the accounts, he went to bed. Popping a couple of valium pills that his doctor had prescribed him to help ease these kind of situations.
After a while, Corrinna joined him in the bedroom. Just before he fell asleep, Corrinna put a hand on his shoulder and apologized, “I’m sorry Stephen. I haven’t been myself lately.” Just before Stephen fell asleep.
The following weeks passed by peacefully. Corrinna had stopped drinking and was now taking care of the family finances again. Kevin was reading again and Gabriel was just as he always was, Gabriel. Stephen was satisfied that everything was becoming normal again. Or as normal as things could be with the loss of their son. He was busy at work and the family continued to go to church every Sunday. Everything passed by peacefully and smoothly.
Until one day. Stephen was doing overtime at the garage. For one reason or another there was a build-up of cars with different problems. So he had no choice. The garage was on a schedule and they needed to fix them all up by a certain date. Stephen came home that night late. And there was Corrinna. Sitting in the lounge room with a bottle of whiskey, drunk and lying on the sofa seat in a comatose state.
“Corrinna what went wrong?”
She was half asleep and then he shook her out of her drunken stupor. All she could manage to say was, “Kevin…” Before returning to her comatose state.
Stephen went to Kevin’s bedroom to find that he wasn’t there. It was eleven thirty at night, he was meant to be at home and in bed. Where the bloody hell was he?
Stephen thought to check up on Gabriel. Just to make sure that he was okay. He flicked the light of Gabriel’s bedroom on and sure enough, he was in bed, as he should be. The switching of the light woke Gabriel up, if he wasn’t already. Stephen didn’t even need to ask. Gabriel just responded by saying, “He’s at the golf course.”
It had started to rain outside. Stephen got in his car and started driving to the golf course. The rain was starting to come down harder as he drove and he turned on the windshield wipers to wash away the watery residue. It was a ten minute drive to the local golf course. He knew which one. They used to all go there as a family to play golf and have day outings. They used to do that as a family, while Joseph was still alive. As he drove, he was praying to the Gods above that Kevin was safe and sound. That this was all some stupid stunt that he was pulling in an effort to gather his father’s attention.
Stephen parked the car in the parking lot and started to wander around the golf course as the rain came down around him. He started calling out his son’s name as he wandered around the area. Calling out, “Kevin!” And again, “Kevin!” Over and over again.
That’s when he saw a figure. Up on a hill with a tree lying on top of it. The night draped around his mind and sent him to the darkest place he had ever been. He went running up to the tree and there was his son. Hanging from the tree’s branches with a rope tied around his neck. And as Stephen saw this, he fell to his knees as lightning and thunder cracked in the background.
Stephen couldn’t manage to deal with what happened afterwards. And either could the rest of his family. Corrinna knew what to do. She made the call to her older sister and extended family. They took care of the things that needed to be done. They understood what was happening. The fact that their eldest son had just passed away so recently and now this… Now Kevin. The extended family understood completely and so they came in to take care of the funeral arrangements and other things.
Stephen slowly got the story out of Corrinna of what had happened that evening. Kevin had been dumped by his girlfriend. She had been wanting to do this for a long time. Things hadn’t been the same with them after Joseph had passed. And when she thought he was better and could manage himself, she broke it off with him. Kevin, of course, didn’t take it that well. That evening while Stephen was at the garage, all hell broke loose. It ended with Kevin running out of the house in a tantrum. God only knows how Gabriel knew he’d be at the golf course.
And now Stephen was joining his wife Corrinna in amongst the cups. The cups. The cups in tarot as Waite puts it, designates an emotional state. And that’s what it was. An emotional affair. For the first couple of days they could do nothing but drink. There was hardly a word shared in-between them. They sat in the lounge room with glasses of spirits in their hand, in silence, as their extended family managed their affairs and arranged for a funeral to take place.
Gabriel was in another world entirely. He had some toys. Some old figurines, and he would sit in the lounge room and play with them both. Creating an imaginary world inside his own head. The two figurines were constantly fighting against one another in some sort of good versus evil showdown. Stephen couldn’t make heads or tails out of what was happening inside that kid’s head.
Corrinna’s older sister managed everything. From spreading the news of what had occurred, to the arrangements of the funeral and its guests. And as this occurred, Stephen and Corrinna drank themselves into silence each night. Instead of talking with one another, they put on different music from their CD collection. Their favourite album between them was the best of the Eagles. They had different CDs, they would put on a different mix of different songs, all in an effort to avoid speaking with one another. They had already been devastated by the death of Joseph, and now with what happened to Kevin… They were finding it difficult to cope to say the least.
After a while of drinking in Corrinna’s company in silence, Stephen grew tired of her company and drove down to the local pub. The pub was just a place along the highway, bikies and truckies would stop by it all the time. It was one of their local haunts. Stephen didn’t know what he was doing there, all he knew was that he had to get out of that house. That house had put a great weight on his shoulders.
And so he drove up to the pub. Half cut already and drinking from a small flask of whiskey. He sat there in the car park, not really knowing what he was doing there. And then there was a glimmer from the front of his car, just above his hood. He couldn’t quite make it out. A shadow from the front of his car. A passing glimpse of something or someone. It brought him to his senses. Waking him to full attention like a slap in the face. He couldn’t be quite sure exactly of what he had seen. So he got out of his car, there was a bit of rubbish in the car that he knocked out. Things that he had to pick up and place it back in the car so that he wasn’t littering.
He stumbled into the pub and put a smile on his face. Attempting to put on a brave face. He went up to the front bar where there was a barmaid pouring pints dressed in a tight tank top. She gave Stephen a friendly smile as he stood there, waiting to be served. He stood there and leered longingly at her chest. Her breasts stood out in the air conditioned venue, and it was in the middle of the day, so the venue wasn’t crowded. He ordered a pint of Carlton draught and then went over and found a dark corner in which he could indulge himself.
He sat there in the corner and looked on as the other inhabitants of the pub went about their business. There were a couple of heavies playing pool on the billiards table. Stephen just sat there drinking, slowly sipping at his pint. He didn’t know why he had come to this place, but instinctively he knew why. It was an undercurrent of his own logic and reason, something that he couldn’t admit to himself, but something that deep down he knew.
At that point, with his drink in hand, someone walked past and knocked his arm so that he spilt the beer all over himself. And that was when his reasoning became apparent. The man who had walked past, an unlikely target, and double the size of Stephen’s build, took a glass to the face. Stephen delivered the blow to him, smashing the glass across his face, which left the man’s face scarred and bloody. And that’s when all hell broke loose. Stephen letting out all of his anger and frustration on all of the surrounding inhabitants. He threw his arms, legs and whole body into the fistfight that he had created and everyone joined in. It was mayhem. Stephen had to be dragged out with his face a bloody mess by security. They lumped him outside with the wind taken out of him. He lay there on the pavement outside, spitting out blood and flem on the cement floor.
After a while he pulled himself together. Got back in the car and drove home. He was feeling better. He went to sleep that night in his own bed. And when he woke up the following morning, he was able to pull himself together and start helping out the extended family with the funeral arrangements. There wasn’t much to do, Corrinna’s sister had taken care of most of it.
But for the first time in a while, he started to think about Gabriel. About everything that he was going through. He was still sitting in the lounge room, with his mother drinking and him playing around with his toys. He looked at them both. He saw what he was doing and what she was doing. Then he went and picked him up off from the ground. He was heavy as an eight year old, but Stephen could still manage his weight. “Come on buddy, let’s go outside and leave your mother alone.”
Stephen took Gabriel outside, Corrinna’s sister was on the phone doing her thing, while Corrinna continued to drink steadily. Stephen sat Gabriel outside and Stephen started asking his son some questions, “How are you feeling buddy? Do you miss them?”
“Who’s that dad?” Gabriel asked.
“Your two brothers. Joe and Kevin. Do you miss them?”
“Why would I miss them dad?”
Stephen almost choked, “Because they’re dead son. They’re no longer with us. That’s why. You can’t talk to them anymore or hang out. You’ll never see them again. That’s why.”
“I can talk to them whenever I like.” And Gabriel ran into the backyard. Something had caught his attention. Stephen didn’t know what, but the answer Gabriel had given him was shocking in itself. He didn’t know what to say to his one remaining son after that. He knew what he had to do. He had to seek professional help, a counsellor or psychiatrist. Not only for his son, but for his wife also. But first, he had to get them all through the funeral.
The funeral took place at two in the afternoon on a Tuesday. He sat in-between Gabriel and Corrinna. He attempted to hold his wife’s hand through the event, but she slapped it away. Whatever it was that was bothering her, he had no explanation for it. Perhaps she blamed him for what happened. After all, when everything happened that night, Stephen had been busy at work doing overtime at the garage. That was probably it, Stephen consoled himself, or the only explanation that would make sense to him anyway.
The priest who held the ceremony was the same as the first. He explained the tragic loss of the family, especially considering the loss of their eldest son being so recent. He gave an anecdote to Lott’s family being taken away from him in the bible. But how God in the end gave him mercy and restored him to what he previously had been. Stephen looked to Gabriel and thought to himself, ‘You’re not taking away this one, you bastard!’
Stephen gave a speech and thanked all of Kevin’s family and friends for attending the event and told them all that they would once again hold a wake at their home. Telling them all to be careful driving, drinks would be served and he said a small prayer to the Lord to help everyone’s health and spare them all from any more loss of life. They all joined in, except for his wife who had been steadily drinking from a small flask through the occasion. She ignored everyone else’s attentions and left Stephen and the extended family to do the work for her.
They all returned to the family home and Stephen was once again left talking to people. Making sure that everyone was alright, explaining to them all that his wife wasn’t alright and just to leave her alone. Gabriel was playing outside somewhere with some of his cousins and Stephen was now stuck in a conversation with Kevin’s ex-girlfriend. Stephen understood it. It took a lot of guts for that kid to show up, but she still did. And here she was, offering her ex’s father, her own version of events.
“I thought everything was going to be alright… I didn’t know that this was going to happen. I swear. If I knew he would react in this way, I wouldn’t have broken it off with him. Everybody else blames me for what happened. You have to believe me, if I knew this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have done it. I swear.”
Just then Stephen spied his wife getting into an argument with the girl’s mother. Stephen quickly said, “Don’t worry, we all know it’s not your fault. Be easy.” And then walked over to Corrinna and the ex-girlfriend’s mother to see what was happening there. Just before he arrived to intervene, Corrinna slapped the other woman on the face. Before anything else could happen Stephen intervened between the two women.
Then started yelling at his wife, “Corrinna! You’ve been drinking all day. It’s nobody’s fault, okay, Corrinna. Things just happen that way. Leave them alone!”
Corrinna gave her husband an evil glare. Then Corrinna stormed off, drunken and ranting all the while. She stormed off to the car and he could hear her start up the car as the rest of the attendees were stunned in silence.
You could hear her reverse the car in an erratic fashion and then… BAM! She hit something, or someone… Stephen looked around for Gabriel and he was nowhere to be seen. And then nothing could be heard above his wife’s screams.
Stephen sat in the lounge room. After the police had come to take his wife away and the ambulance had called Gabriel’s death in and taken the body away. Everyone else had left him after he went into a rage and started breaking everything in the house. Everything in the house was broken. Nobody dared approach him after what had happened. They were all too scared.
And now Stephen sat in the remnants of a broken household. Everything around him was trash. Trash that he had created: broken chairs; broken ceramics; and busted walls. Stephen looked around him at all the devastation that he had caused. For the first time that night, his heart settled. He had a bottle of whiskey in hand and he was drinking straight from the bottle. He got up and started kicking around at the mess that he had caused everywhere.
Then he slumped down on the couch. Tears appeared at the corner of his eyes and in a drunken haze he stared at a family portrait that remained untouched up on the television cabinet. What the hell had happened? What had he done to deserve all of this? None of it made any sense.
And as he cried, he prayed. He prayed that if he could see his children once more and have them all back everything would be alright.
And through the drunken haze of his sight, three blue lights appeared. There he sat and saw the figures of his three deceased children appear before him. Imbued with a blue light all around them. And he reached out to them, his mind drunk, and through the tears called out to them.
And the three children, passed away, all replied as one, “Yes, dad.”