Edwin Walters came back.
He stood on the sidewalk, a few houses down from the object of his interest. There it stood, looking nothing like he had remembered. It looked barren and cold, sterile in a way and lifeless as if all the marrow had been sucked from its bones. A flutter of sadness filled Edwin’s chest. He felt ill.
Six years now, almost to the day that they had relinquished the keys. The day it was no longer theirs. For seventy-five years it was as much family as it was wood and clapboard, cinderblock and glass. It was home. The place his immigrant grandfather established as his own through hard work and hopeless indignation. Here he raised two daughters and a son; reared them in the local church, and in the tradition of his heritage. The middle-child was Edwin’s mother.
His grandmother died and was buried out of their parlor. His mother grieved her first born son (her still born son) and fostered six offspring, among them was Edwin. He battled his father’s alcoholism and his father in rebellion, looking for independence from the man who shared his name. And Edwin grieves the mother who bore him as she passed from this life in the very same room as her mother had.
The elder Edwin Walters held down the familial fort for twenty years after he had become a widower. And his family waned, going ways separate from each other and him. So in a sense, it had died long before this six year anniversary.
When Edwin found that his father had been diagnosed with liver cancer, he felt the distance and despair was too wide and soon to be irreversible. Edwin came home as did each of his siblings to care for the man who cared for them. They came home to bury their father, leaving Edwin to return in six years to stand on the sidewalk a few houses down.
His pocketed hands stayed covered. His cap pulled low over his brow. The steady drizzle that had fallen throughout increased now, in size and force. Edwin crossed the road and approached the boarded and neglected house, his former home. It was slated for demolition. Edwin needed to see her one last time. He needed to say goodbye.
Near the back, a window remained uncovered. Edwin inhaled deeply and held the breath to steel himself for the sight, his old room. He wiped the rain droplets from the glass with a wide sweep of his hand. And Edwin peered in. The ceiling was crumbled and yellow; the walls tinged and scribbled upon. One of the wooden panels was ripped from the wall; it exposed a dissertation penned there to be found at some later date. The words were Edwin’s. It spoke of family and home. It regarded life and happiness. Edwin wrote of how those very moments were the happiest of his life.
The rain was a torrent now. It drenched Edwin and every memory of this place. It washed this moment from his mind. Edwin wiped his fingers across his wet eyes as he bid the dwelling farewell. That damn rain!