“All These Lives”
It’s been 10 years now since Drew saw his children. Alexander would be 22 now; Corrine, 18; and Mikael, 16.
He remembers it as if it were yesterday. Drew got off work early to surprise his wife, Stephanie, with five airplane tickets to her hometown, Valparaiso, Chile. When he got home Mikael did not do his usual running head start before jumping on Drew’s back. Corrine was not in the kitchen helping her mother prepare dinner as she liked to do. And Alexander was not a soccer practice. They were sitting on the sofa in the family room. Corrine was crying and Mikael was asleep. Stephanie was visibly upset. She looked more angry than afraid and Alexander didn’t show any emotion at all.
“What’s wrong?” Drew said stepping in the family room.
Drew turned around to see his father-in-law, brothers-in-law, and three other men he didn’t know in his family room with guns.
“Drew,” his father-in-law said. “It is time for Estefania to take her rightful place.”
“Rightful place? What are you talking about, Josef.”
“It does not concern you.”
“Stephanie, do you know what he is talking about?”
“Estefania,” he says with emphasis on her name. “Estefania is very well aware of what is going on. I have tried to reason with her for years, but she would hear nothing of it. She claimed that she loves you. Time has run out and she must be delivered to take her rightful place.”
Drew sets off toward Josef, but two of the henchmen stop him before he reaches Josef.
“Drew. Please don’t make this any harder than what it already is. Estefania and the children will be well taken care of. What you are about to do is going to be very hard for you, but it must be done.” Josef reaches into his briefcase, pulls out some paper and the men holding Drew force him to sit at the desk where Josef places the papers. He says, “These are divorce papers. You will sign them and in process you will also relinquish parental rights.”
“No. I won’t do it.”
“Oh, but I think you will,” Josef says nodding to the third. He pulls out a knife and places it to Corrine’s throat.
“Daddy!” she screams.
“Okay. Okay.” Drew signs the papers and Josef puts them back in his briefcase. He nods to Stephanie’s brothers and they usher Stephanie, Alexander, Corrine, and Mikael out of the house.
“This really never should have happened,” Josef says. “I tried to get her to come to her senses long ago.” He starts to leave, “The pain will go away.”
It’s been nearly ten years and the pain has not gone away. The wound is still open and deep and with each breath and every passing moment his heart breaks a little more. And as he has done for the last nine and half years, Drew goes to sleep with a bottle of scotch in one hand and his dad’s .357 in the other.
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