“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


beginning ending

no one ever touches him, not on purpose anyway; there is no doubt the odd brushing of shoulders with this person or that as he buys groceries, and it must be as soul killing for a man in his 58th year as for an infant abandoned to a parent's coldness.  there are small hugs when he allows himself to attend small christmases with what's left of his family, but after that there are only those accidental touches, and the hands of nurses when he finds himself in the hospital once again.  there is a cat or two at his house, but they come and go as they please, usually only to be fed, and then out again into the wild.  i tell myself they brush against his ankles as he opens the food cans (surely, surely), hope they jump onto his lap now and then, but even so, even if, i know it isn't enough.  his loneliness is swallowing him, not whole, not in any way close to humane - a quick killing and he gone - but in small bits and pieces that stab and hurt and never ever heal.

he stops paying his bills.  first the electricity.  then the rent.  the phone is paid for by a friend, and his water comes from a well, so they stay.  gas has been turned off for years.  the car insurance is forgotten, but it makes no difference - his car never moves.  he stops all communication, and ignores the landlady when she calls and calls and calls again for rent.

he retreats.  secludes himself with alcohol, keeps his windows covered against the daylight, and changes his door locks lest in a weak forgotten moment he has given out a key.  his phone mailbox is always full, he listens only now and again, deleting just one or two of the hardest messages; he speaks to his family through the door, and then only sometimes, almost never. mostly he sits in the darkened house, the house with no heat or light, and pretends he doesn't hear.  stays silent.

he leaves his mail in the mailbox out on the road.  it happens suddenly fast, this downhill slide you knew would come.


in january, the landlady files a vacate notice, but he remains silent, except to tell you to slide his mail under the back door.  the door never opens.


i shiver
not from the cold

goosebumps down my back
my arms shake



  1. This made me cry. You captured all of it, the heartbreak and the honesty, with love and tenderness. My heart is with you and my fingers are crossed for you both. xoxo

  2. a life story. beautiful and sad.

  3. i read the entire first sentence, without breathing. then took a shallow breath and read it again. i continued on. now with warm tears clouding the words making it difficult to read.
    my heart breaks for him. and perhaps you.
    in my fondest always,


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