The last few moments of homeownership are unceremonious. Looking into the stairwell where pictures hung and protected old paint from the sun. The brick-lined garden, once vibrant with flowers, is nothing but crabgrass and rotten mulch. You remove the keys of the ring and lay them on the stairs. Those stairs were stepped on by dozens of feet. Pitter-patters of children and the slow slog of adults. The ring stays on your finger. And not just any finger, your left, ring finger. As if you wished you had one more night in this house. As if you were not a widower. You lock the doorknob and pull the door halfway. Like you cannot, will not, close this chapter of your life. Tears well in your eyes and you excuse yourself, again. There is no need to say that anymore. You have done all you can. Including the final clasping of the latch. The house moans its final lament. The foreclosure sign in the patchy yard is austere and unwavering. As we pile the last remaining goods into your ageing sedan, you ask me to drive. Maybe it is because you are too tired from packing. Maybe it is because you want to watch the house disintegrate into the horizon. Your eyes stay focused on the rearview mirror. I believe you when you claim you see her still standing there, waving goodbye to us.
Josh Dale is a soon-to-be Master’s graduate from Saint Joseph’s University. His work has been published in Drunk Monkeys, Breadcrumbs Mag, Maudlin House, Rejection Letters, The Daily Drunk, and more. If you see him hiking in Pennsylvania, approach as you would any woodland creature and offer some trail mix.