X.H.

I grew up never knowing my father. I can honestly say that I never missed that aspect of my life and I only remember a wonderful childhood with my single Mother. I was a little confused as to why she never dated anyone else, but it never concerned me until I was about nineteen. In the year leading up to my eighteenth birthday, Mum started getting increasingly skittish and paranoid, also pushing me to apply to universities and get my life onto a good path after high school. I just assumed she was being a normal, over protective Mum. That was until I found the boxes of postcards in the attic.

My eighteenth was just Mum and I. It was a perfect and quite day at home; but when morning came, she was gone.

It wasn’t until a year later when I was cleaning out the house of clutter that I found the postcards from a X.H. There was never anything written explicitly, but it was easy to tell he was bad news. Especially when most of the contents contained demands – one being that she join him once I was eighteen, no questions.

I showed the cards to the police but they did nothing, so I changed courses at university to give me more skills and resources to look into my Mother’s dangerous contact and disappearance. A year and a half later, I was still hitting dead ends but apparently, my digging had caught someone’s attention. Or rather, a whole lot of someones.

Which is how I came to be 26, and working for the NSA with my heart torn between bringing my Mother home alive and putting a stop to a man third on the most wanted list.

Prompt: Cleaning out your parents’ attic, you find a shoebox full of postcards from a person signed X.H. addressed to your mother that date back from the day of your birth to your 18th birthday.

Falling Apart (Part One)

I hug my thick, leather coat tighter to me as the wind lashes at my uncovered skin. My eyes stinging and barely a gleam of light from the night sky make it hard to see where I’m going. It is a path I’ve travelled many times before, though not any time recently, so I know my way well enough to continue trudging toward my destination. I hear the creaking of old wood and reckon I must be getting close. My pace slows as the gusts of wind increase, the surrounding trees offer me no protection from the harsh weather.

The creaking continues to grow in volume though no more than a mere whisper over the wind and I surge forward into the modest safety of a porch. I had made it, finally. The house, if you could still call it that, seemed to have retained it’s main structure from what I see of it’s faint silhouette. Though the real carnage lay waiting inside the old building. Walking carefully on the weak and flexing boards beneath me, I headed for the front door and pulled it open.

I trod very carefully as I make my way through the front room into the second. I hope that everything is the same as I last remember it and that there would be no surprises. As I feel the walls to guide me into the house, familiar textures greet me amongst many that I do not know. My fingers press against a cold, metal surface and I know I’ve found the fire. Although I don’t know if it is still functional, I take and risk and pull matches from my pocket, setting the mantel alight. The heat from the flames instantly seeped into my skin, releasing and relaxing my tired muscles and letting me feel every ache in my body. I empty out a couple more pockets beside the fire and turn to warm my backside. Forgetting that the room was now lit, however dully, I had not prepared myself to see contents of the room.

There was little left in the way of furniture; it was either destroyed by animals or looted by wanderers or thieves. Either way, it was not missed. Now there was nothing left to conceal the evidence of a life lived here. No darkness, no obstacles. I walked over to the wall opposite where a few pieces of paper flapped wildly, still attached to the wall. Pulling them down gently I brought them back to the fire where I could see them clearly. The first was a child’s drawing: a roughly scribbled portrait of a boy and his parents. The next piece of paper held yet another drawing but this time of the woods. The last one was very faded and ripped in many places, but when I brought it to the fire I saw a family portrait. A beautiful young woman holding a chubby, little baby boy who were both enveloped in the arms of a much younger and less weathered me. I remember the day the photo was taken.

It had been a rough night for my wife and I with the baby waking every couple of hours; he was only a few months old. By the time morning came, all three of us were tired and grumpy and really not in the best of moods for a family photo. It was too late to cancel though because the cameraman was already on his way by the time we crawled out of bed. Our boy simply refused to eat breakfast that morning and by the time the cameraman arrived, we were all flustered. He set up the camera anyway and asked us to stand how we wanted. For some strange reason, that’s when our baby boy decided to perk up.

I don’t know if he thought the new man was funny looking or if he knew he was getting a photo, but he was incredibly happy and kept giggling at what seemed nothing. My wife and I just ran with and and before long we were smiling as well. I think in our case we were more suffering from delirium. Our photo ended up going fast and turned out wonderfully.

Before a single tear dropped from my welled eyes, I carefully folded up the portrait and buried it deep into one of my pockets so as not to lose it. I leant against the wall next to the fire and slid to the ground next to my things. There was precious little else left in the room and I didn’t think I could look at any other rooms tonight. I curled myself into a protective stance, holding anything as a weapon and let myself drift off for a quick nap.

It has been a while since my last one, but here we have another piece written from one of Kellie’s FWF Prompts! Thanks for the ever inspiring prompts, Kellie. I’m certainly not done with this one. (: