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I wasn't always this way.

 
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Russo
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 5:59 am    Post subject: I wasn't always this way. Reply with quote

January 6th, 2011—8:59PM

The broom bristles raked across the floor as August swept thoroughly each corner of the room. It was an old shop, something of a bakery, bred with an ice cream shop. Business was slow this time a year, at least on the ice cream front. He didn’t have to look up for more than a minute to see that his boss was staring at him from across the room, chewing on words with old teeth. “You still living with your mother, boy?” a name that was more endearment than condescending, but it might’ve been easily mistaken as such by anyone that didn’t know him. Especially with that southern accent.

August laughed under his breath, because it was the second time he’d heard that question today. Raising his dark eyes up to the man, he didn’t let the smile on his face falter. Instead, he lifted a hand to fix a loose button on his dress shirt, even if it wasn’t visible through the flour-covered apron. “Yes, sir.” The old man meant well, treated him like family on the days he could actually remember his name. So he was losing his mind, Russo didn’t mind so much.

“How old are you, boy?” he questioned, raising his chin up. His face was wrinkly, but not so much that it might strike the fear of getting old into the hearts of onlookers. The most off-putting thing about the old man was the wild hair he grew on his face—more so on his eyebrows and inside his nose.

“I’m nineteen, sir,” he said with that same smile spreading further across his features. It was a question he answered at least twice a week. Always with the same answer following from the old man. If he hadn’t respected him as much, he might’ve counted down beneath his breath. Instead, he went back to sweeping up the flour.

“Boy your age should be living on his own,” the old man said, right on time.

A chuckle fell from his lips, that boyish grin not leaving his face for a second. “Yes, sir.” Answered Russo before he lifted the broom by the handle to indicate what he was doing. “That’s certainly the plan, Mr. Cole,” he said with a smile, sweeping up the rest of the flour into the dust pan. There was silence then, a silence that August didn’t predict. It had him looking up on occasion to make sure he wasn’t going to fall over.

“Snow’s coming down thick out there,”
said the old owner after two minutes masked by eternity. He began to mess around behind the counter.

“Yes, sir.”

“I reckon you should get home to your mother, ‘for it gets too bad,” he watched the hesitation on August’s face—it was there every time he let him go early. “Go on, boy. You’ll be paid the same,” he told him, waving him off.

August put the broom away and worked himself out of his apron. “Thank you, Mr. Cole,” he said with a smile. Grabbing his coat, he began heading toward the door. “Goodnight, Sir,” said Russo reaching for the handle.

“Oh, Austin?”
asked the old man, and Russo turned around anyway. The man held up a box full of baked goods, mostly cookies and muffins. “Take these home and enjoy ‘em with your mother. I’ll see you t’morrow,” he said, handing off the bag and watching the young man out.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

January 6th, 2011—9:42PM.

The evidence of his arrival home was in the footprints of the snow leading from his car to his doorstep. His slacks were soaked nearly to the shin by the time he’d made it up to the porch, it was an annoying feeling overshadowed by the relief of being home after a long shift. The key turned in the lock and he shouldered his way in through the front door. “Mom..?” called out August in a hushed tone, as he stepped onto the landing that separated the staircases, one going up, the other down. The house was quiet, unusually so and from where he was standing, the house was pitch black. With the box of baked goods tucked under his arm, he flipped the light switch with the free one. “Hello…?”

Setting the box on the step, he worked on getting his shoes off and his pants rolled up so that he didn’t track sloppy wetness all over the carpets. The faintest sound of music was coming from upstairs, and that’s where he’d headed only pausing to grab the box of baked goods. Leading up from the stairs was a small living area to the left, straight ahead was the kitchen, and to the right was a hallway with multiple doors—one of which had a light shining from the allowed space between it and the floor.

August moved ahead only to place the box of cookies on the modest kitchen table that could comfortably fit four. Then he was off to investigate the light shining in the dark hallway. “Mom? You awake in there?” voice still hushed, which was foolish considering there’d been music playing.

He gave a small knock to the door, and waited a few moments before pushing it open. It wasn’t long before something small was latching around his legs. “Daddy!” the little girl cried, and he looked down to see the small girl beaming up to him. Her skin was naturally tan; her eyes were green and way too awake for the hour given her age. She couldn’t have been more than four or five.

August wanted to be mad, but how could he be? Staring down at that little freckled faced kid wrapped around him in those pink pajamas he could feel nothing but joy. That didn’t stop him from faking it, scooping her up and lowering his voice into a grumble as he gave her the tiniest of shakes, “Lilybug! What are you doing awake!?” this caused the green-eyed girl to break out in a fit of giggles.

“She refused to sleep until you tucked her in,” Russo looked up to see the blonde sitting on the bed. There was the ending of a movie playing, which explained the music. It seemed as she was having a pajama party with her grandmother. Despite August being nineteen, his mother was still young in the face. It seemed as if being a teen parent ran in the family. Something that made him dread his daughter getting older.

He brought the child up to set on his hip and grinned lightly, “Thanks, Mom,” he said, something apologetic in his eyes. “I’ll put her to bed,” he didn’t turn away just yet. “Give your Grandma a kiss,” he said, loosening his arm from around her back to help her lean.

“Mwah! Love you, Gramma.”


“I love you more.”

“Love you most!”

“I loved you first!”

August couldn’t be annoyed at their little bedtime back and forth. Instead, he pulled her a little closer shaking his head, “Don’t think you can argue with that one, kid. Better luck next time,” he snickered. “Now come on, it’s bed tiiiiime!” he said in a little bit of a growl.

“Can I have a story?”


“Of course you can have a story! What kind of dad would I be if I didn’t read you a story?!” he asked, kissing the top of her head. “Ahhh, you smell so good, I’m gonna eat your hair!”

“Dun eat my hair!” was spoken in a fit of giggles as she lazily swatted at him and they made their way down the hall to her room.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 7:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

January 6th, 2011—10:10PM

Lily was all wrapped up in the blankets, staring up at him as he told his sleepy story, exhaustion written all over his face. She seemed to hang onto every single word, staring at him with those starry green eyes. “So then the Princess lived happily ever after, because she didn’t need a boyfriend,” making eye contact with the little girl just as he said it. “The end,” he said, watching that priceless eyebrow raise on his daughter’s face. He wasn’t fooling her. All his stories seemed to end that way—but with good reason. “Goodnight, Bug,” he said softly, leaning in to kiss her forehead.

“Sledding tomorrow?”
she questioned with those big, hopeful eyes. The covers were pulled up to her cheeks, which still had a bit of baby fat on them. It was a face he absolutely couldn’t say no to.

“As soon as I’m done shoveling the driveway and steps, okay?” The pretty little girl nodded her head, and he smiled leaning in for yet another kiss on her head. “I love you more than anything,” he told her softly before standing up with a grunt as if his bones were old, “Goodnight, sweet dreams, I love you,” something he said whether she was sleeping when he got home or not. She muttered her sleepy goodnights and he started out, trading the lamp for a nightlight.

“Are you working another double tomorrow?” his mother asked, making him jump nearly out of his skin.

“Jesus!” he hissed beneath a whisper’s shroud and held his heart. Looking back at the room, he shook his head and started away from it, toward his own door. “Yeah, Mom. I work six days this week,” August said, preparing for the usual argument.

“You know you don’t have to do that, August. I’m not pushing you to leave, you and Lily can stay here long as you need to,” she said, a bit of pleading behind her tone.

August looked at her, he knew that she wanted him there. It wasn’t as if he was in a hurry to leave her, but he wanted to be a responsible parent. It was a step he needed to take, “No, Mom. I know,” he smiled and put a hand on her shoulder. “You raised your babies, you’ve done more than enough for us. We’re going to be over all the time, I promise. Plus, you’re my number one babysitter,” he said leaning in to wrap his arms around her. “I love you,” he said, kissing the side of her head.

There was emotion in her tone, because she wasn’t ready to have an empty nest. “Alright, August. Go get some rest. I got the coffee ready for the morning, all you have to do is hit brew,” she said, and didn’t give him much time to respond before she hurried down the hall. August reached out and winced lightly. They’d have to talk about it, but for now, they both needed rest.

“Night, Mom…”

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

January 7th 2011—8:11AM


The night had been unkind; he’d been restless and woken up several times throughout the night. He sat on the edge of the bed, tucking his jeans into his boots and lacing them up. Lily poked her head into the room, “Can I have a muffin for breaffast, Daddy?” she asked. Normally he’d have been stricter and made her some cereal, but he was only into his first cup of coffee and wanted to get the shoveling done so that they could have some fun before he went off to work. He had to keep telling himself it was almost over. He’d got the car, now all he needed was the down-payment for an apartment and he could take it easier. There’d be more time with her.

“Of course you can, baby. But drink milk with it, okay? We’ll go sledding as soon as daddy’s finished,” he promised with a smile on his face. Then he pushed himself up from the bed, watching after her as she headed toward the kitchen. He followed her there as he shrugged into his coat, taking the gloves from the pockets and slipping them onto his hands. “I’ll be right outside,” he said before turning down the first set of steps, and then the second. He pushed through the garage door and started out.

Shoveling was something almost therapeutic for him, he liked working. Liked making sure that his mother was taken care of. She’d never asked him to mow the lawn or shovel the snow, it was just something he always did. He wasn’t halfway done with the driveway when a scream started him suddenly. “August!” his mother screamed out, flying out the door in her robe, “August get in here! It’s Lily!” she screamed, tears in her eyes, emotion crackling her voice.

Panic struck through him and he didn’t stop to ask questions, he dropped the shovel and raced up the walkway to the porch. Feet slid out from under him and he cracked his body against the ground, snow dusting him all over. Refusing to waste another second he raced up the stairs. “I don’t know what happened, I don’t—” his mother was a mess, unable to complete her sentence in a rambling panic. “I came out and she was on the floor!” she shrieked.

Moving past her, he ran up the stairs, taking them two at a time until he made his scrambling way into the kitchen. Lily was on the floor, barely breathing. A partially eaten muffin still on the table next to the full glass of milk. “Lily!” he yelled, crouching beside her. Her neck was reddened with claw marks, “Call 911, now!” he yelled, lifting her up into his lap. Eyes scanned the table, and he stared at the muffin. Banana nut. “Get her pen!” he screamed out, hearing his mother scramble to talk on the phone and move toward the bathroom.

“Come on, Lily,” he said, holding her close in his arms. “Breathe with daddy, okay? Breathe with me. We’re going to go sledding, alright? Come on…” A thousand and one thoughts were going off in his head, but they all circled back around to that one lone thought... Why didn't I check...?

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 1:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote



January 13th, 2011—6:35PM

Suit, tie, dress shoes… Never had he looked so handsome; and never had he looked so broken. There were people walking in and out of his mother’s home. They’d whisper and watch, some came to put a hand on his shoulder and give him a squeeze. What good was that? Were they trying to wring out the heartache? It didn’t matter, though. That was all he was at this point, that once boyish smile was wiped off his face and lost in a sea of sadness. He hadn’t spoken a word, not to his mother, not to anyone. Getting out of bed, even for the funeral was nearly impossible.

Questions revolved around in his head, ones that would probably never leave his lips around another soul. He wanted to run from them, because he knew there were no answers. He knew there was no getting away from the truth. It was his fault. There wasn’t a doubt in his mind that he didn’t cause it.

Why didn’t I check? Why didn’t I just sit and have breakfast with her… Why did I leave her alone? Why didn’t I go in there and check on her? I could’ve gotten to her. If I’d just checked… Why did I have to work so much? Why didn’t I spend enough time with her? Why didn’t I listen to my mother? Why couldn’t it have been me? I’m a bad father, I hate myself…

A hand came up and nearly swatted his shoulder, giving it a rough squeeze. It took him forever to drag his bloodshot eyes up to the figure. There weren’t tears left, just reddened, dry wells staring up at the man. It was his brother, Justin. They weren’t close, not in the slightest sense of the word. He was about two years older, and had been away at college. The touch might’ve meant more to him if he hadn’t heard his mother arguing on the phone with him some nights ago; begging him to come and be there for August.

Justin hadn’t ever been there for he and Lily, he’d never supported August’s want to raise the child. In his mind, August should’ve gone to college and had a life before making the decision to raise a kid. He’d made that clear every holiday. He was also notorious as the King of Saying the Wrong Things. Give it to Mom, you’ve got an entire life to live. It was after those words that he made a point to stay out of contact with his brother. It was one thing to not like children, but to treat his daughter that way… “I’m sorry, man…” Justin told him, giving his shoulder a little bit of a shake. Russo opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out before his brother spoke up again. “At least now you have a shot at having a life.”

There was a still silence, as August chewed on the words of his brother. Part of him wanted to punch him square in the jaw. Another part wanted to just go to bed. He stood up, “I buried my daughter today,” he told him softly, turning to walk away from him. “I hope to God you never have to go through something like that.” The voice that left him didn’t sound like his own. It was raspy and choked up. It didn’t say what he really wanted to. She was my life.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

January 14th, 2011—11:26AM

The bath tub didn’t look right without the normal littering of toys, something that he would occasionally get annoyed at when he’d step on something hard. It was bare, without personality just like the rest of the house. Maybe if he had poured himself into work after, he wouldn’t be where he was—but then again, if he hadn’t done that in the first place, he’d definitely not be there. He was a jacket short of a suit, his sleeves rolled up past his elbow and he was against the wall opposite of the tub. Printed across his right wrist in cursive lettering was her name; Lilybug. The only girl he’d ever been in love with had been tattooed on his wrist for his eighteenth birthday. “I’m sorry,” he said in a whispering sob. “I’m so sorry…” his back trembled and shook with each ragged breath and snuffle. Clutched in one of his hands, a picture of her slightly weathered from time and how tightly he’d been holding it. “I’m sorry…” Those words would repeat over and over as if he couldn’t say them enough. The jacket of his suit was hung over the doorknob with a letter sticking out of the pocket.

The thumb of his free hand stroked over the tattoo, bloodshot eyes stared up at it weakly. There was a lump in his throat that he couldn’t swallow despite his best efforts. Just as there was an emptiness in his heart that he just couldn’t cope with. He was a broken man, and what was done was done. He couldn’t take it back, all he could do was stop the pain. The picture was brought to his lips and wet with a soft kiss laced with tears. “I’m sorry, baby…” he whispered. Leaning over, he put the picture into the pocket of his jacket behind the letter and began to scoot closer to the tub.

The straight razor sat on the side of the tub just behind where the curtain covered and that’s what he went for. He leaned over the edge and his tongue lashed over his lips as he worked it open and swallowed hard. Eyes rolled shut as the last of his tears were squeezed away. There wasn’t a lot of time wasted before he buried the blade into the flesh of his wrists, slicing upwards over the entirety of his forearms. They were held out so that the blood would be only inside the tub as he leaned his face on the side and just waited for it to end. Her name sliced right down the middle.

It seemed like an eternity that he sat there waiting for the pain to go away.

The door opened against his feet, shoving against him as Justin worked his way into the bathroom. “Yo, I’ve been waiting for— ” Justin stopped at the sight of him bleeding out in the bath tub. He yanked out his cell phone and began dialing. “Dude! Not cool!” he yelled out, holding the phone to his ear with his shoulder as he reached into the pantry for some towels.

“Don’t…” whined August as Justin began to try and stop the bleeding with the towels. “Just let me die,” he pleaded, desperate and weak. “Just let me…” Everything went dark.


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Last edited by Russo on Tue Jun 13, 2017 10:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

January 17th, 2011—12:37PM

The falling snowflakes fell in clusters and softened immediately against the heated windshield only to be smacked away soon after by the windshield wipers. Russo’s eyes were fixated there, watching them and focusing on them. Anything to keep his mind clear. Anything not to think.

His mother’s fingers tapped against the steering wheel, fidgeting there. It was fairly obvious that she wanted to speak, but didn’t know where to begin. It was also apparent that Russo had no desire to help her out in the situation. Especially with the way he shifted that charcoal gaze to his own window. Her face had become worn from the past few weeks, and it was clear that she hadn’t been sleeping. “Please say something…” she begged, voice cracking lightly. Russo’s eyes rolled shut and he took in a deep breath, holding it for a few moments before sighing it out. “At least promise me you’ll never try that again… If your brother hadn’t—…” The thought went unfinished as the woman winced lightly. “Please promise…”

Silence.

Those tired eyes shifted over to look at her son for a moment; and he was just sitting there with his eyes closed. It wasn’t until her eyes trailed down to the bandages over his arms that she lost it. Her eyes turned back to the road, jaw clenched as she tried to swallow that lump that seemed to be building in her throat. “Jesus, August!” she hissed, “You’re not the only one who lost someone…”

“I can’t close my eyes without seeing her face,” he choked out. “I can’t think without thinking about her…” A deep breath was taken. “I don’t know if I can handle that every day,” he whispered.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw his head fall lightly. Softening lightly, she shook her head. “No parent should lose their kid,” his mother whispered. “I’ve never been able to imagine it,” swallowing hard. “Please, don’t ever try to make me lose one again… Please…”

Russo’s jaw clenched this time, and he nodded. “I promise,” he sighed out.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

January 25th, 2011—3:00PM

“He’s just in the other room,” the hushed tone could be heard from the other side of his door. His charcoal gaze was blurry, bloodshot, and there was a ring coming in and out of his ears. The door opened and he worked to push himself up in the bed, bottles clanked to the floor and the sound was almost deafening...made his whole body tense up as his hands hovered around his ears and a pathetic grunt left his lips. Eyes shifted to his mother, standing behind a woman just shorter than her with dark hair and eyes. She was dressed in a business-casual fashion, and held a folder to her chest. There was no denying the smell of alcohol in the room mingling with body odor, it was clear he hadn’t left the bedroom. “I try to get in here to clean him up,” his mother explained. Russo wiped at his eyes and looked between the two, questioningly. “August,” she said, sitting on the edge of the bed. “I have someone here that wants to talk to you, okay?” then her head turned over to the woman who had remained standing. “He hasn’t spoken a lot since the incident..”

The woman smiled at his mother and placed a hand on her shoulder, “I know you’re worried, but let me talk to him for a moment..” When his mother excused herself at the request of the woman, Russo’s eyes changed directions to look at the woman. “I guess I should start by introducing myself, my name is Dr. Merchant.” But he remained silent, staring blankly at her. His eyes held bags--telling tales of alcoholism and sleepless nights--beneath them, “Losing someone can be hard,” she stated the obvious. “Do you want to talk about it, August? That’s what I’m here for..”

Russo stammered and shook his head, “N-no,” stammering, strained and stiff, he shook his head. “Talked enough,” he muttered, swallowing hard, voice was hoarse.

“Okay,” she nodded, hands coming up in surrender. “We don’t have to talk about that, August. Let’s..talk about something else,” she said, roaming around the room. She seemed gentle in everything she did, watching him to gauge his reaction on her exploration. “Your mother told me you were working before all this happened… Are you thinking about going back to work?”

Russo’s fingers groped along the edge of the bed, the sound of more bottles clanging together were heard, but ceased when he seemed to find one that didn’t push over so easily. He lifted it to his lips, jaw swollen with unkempt facial hair as took a gulp and shook his head, lips wet from the mouth of the bottle, “No point,” he muttered.

“I don’t think I agree with that, August,” she shook her head. “You’re only 19, you have plenty of time to have healthy relationships and a li--”

“Do you have kids, Dr. Merchant?”

The woman looked like she didn’t want to answer, like the question caught her on the spot. Finally, she sighed out her response, “Yes, I do..”

Russo stared intensely at her, “There’s a little coffin in the ground,” he whispered desperately as he leaned closer to her. “And there’s a little headstone on the ground with her name on it, and underneath that..there’s two really close dates and between them..” Tears formed in his eyes as he shook his head and pinched two fingers together, voice growing more shakey by the second as he went on. “There’s this tiny little dash, and,” he sobbed. “That’s it.. Her whole life was that one little dash, and it’s because of me,”Spit collected on his scowling lips as he pointed to her with a half crooked finger, “Don’t…” he shook that finger and looked away from him. “Don’t you sit there and use fancy words to tell me to get the hell over it, because I never will...and you’re not a parent if you would..”

The folder was hugged to her chest, and she took a moment before she spoke again. There was a lump in her throat and tears forming in her eyes before she finally nodded. “I know it doesn’t feel like it...but this was good,” she swallowed again.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

January 27th, 2011--3:00PM

The room wasn’t absent of bottles two days later when the good doctor came back. Russo remembered the promise she made to be back to talk to him on Thursday, and sure enough, she’d showed up right on time. He hadn’t bothered to clean up the room--or himself, for that matter. He just stared blankly at her when she came in. Russo didn’t dislike her--he didn’t dislike anyone but himself, really. He could have disliked quite a few people, but he seemed to take everything out on himself. “You don’t seem happy to see me.. That’s okay,” she smiled at him and sat down in a chair his mother placed in the room earlier in the day when he was loaded. “On Tuesday, we talked about how you feel responsible for your daughter’s death,” without so much as peeking at the folder. Who could forget a conversation like that?...

A swig was taken but he didn’t afford her his eyes, “Not a secret, doc..”

“Was a whispering?” she asked genuinely, brow rising to his answer. But he just responded to her with silence and that chilling stare of a living dead man. She put the folder down on her lap and rested her hands on it, “I don’t want to talk about that today..” said Jenny, earning Russo’s eyes. “I want to talk about Lily,” she said, losing him almost instantly. “I don’t want to talk about how she died, I just want to talk about her. Tell me what she was like..” The look that she got back seemed to be contemplating answering...but then he didn’t. He just sighed and took another drink. “Okay, is that it, then? We’re going to spend the hour in silence..” But she didn’t push him, instead she just pretended to read something in the folder.

The silence lasted for a few minutes, but then he set down the bottle. “She was smart,” Russo said, prompting her eyes to lift from the papers. He shrugged lightly and stammered some at the start of his next sentence, “And I-I-I know every parent says that about their kid, but she was…” Russo shook his head, “She could always tell when someone was lying, and I never knew how she did it.” Then Russo was wiping at his eyes, “Every night before I went to sleep, no matter how tired I was.. I thanked God for giving me that little girl,” he sighed out a choking sound before shaking his head. “‘Cause I never deserved her… The universe didn’t deserve her,” he whispered, a shuddering breath left his lips. “Y-y’know, I don’t thank God, anymore..” he stammered.

“It’s not uncommon for someone who’s gone through a great loss to question their faith, some even lose it completely.”

“I find it so hard to believe in God now,” he admitted, taking a drink and wiping his mouth. “If there’s a God...how could he be that much of an ***hole?” asked Russo desperately, looking to her as if she could somehow answer the question. “How could he give me something so perfect, and then take it away…”

“I can’t answer that,”

“It would make it so much easier, wouldn’t it..? If I could just blame some sick, bored bastard up in the clouds...instead of knowing it was me,” he muttered weakly. “I do want to believe, that’s the sick part..” A hand came up. “N-not to take the guilt offa me or nothin’, but..” Dark eyes shifted to her and danced between hers, laced with tears that were evident even in his voice, “I just want someone to be taking care of her,” he cracked and dropped the bottle to hold his head. “I just.. I can’t believe in God, but I don’t want to believe she’s just in the ground somewhere...that there’s nothing left.. ***, why can’t there be something left?” he sobbed in desperation.


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