4th Place – Kevin Som

He looks at the house. The 1960s-two-story home with the warm, rustic kitchen his wife always desired. The kitchen she dreamed she would cook in every night for her family. That dream would never come to fruition. His kids run across the lawn with his mother keeping a close and careful eye. The sound of laughter drowns out and the views of his neighborhood fades away as his mind starts to clouds with impenetrable thoughts.

He walks into the home. The dream home they had been saving up for. He begins to think back on the time when he and his wife first signed the papers and how excited she was. It was only a few days later that fate would fulfill its purpose. He slowly glides down a narrow hall. Voices in his head scream as he passes each room. A small door, painted brown — unlike the others— stand at the end of the hall. He sinks his hands in his pockets and the cold metal grazes his skin. A knot begins to form in his throat as he pulls the door open, revealing a flight of stairs leading to the attic. He climbs each step creating thundering creaks as he moves forward.

The attic is empty. No one, nothing, that could stop him from doing what he has planned in his head for the past couple of weeks. He kneels onto the dusty, hardwood floors and pulls the gun from his pocket. Is he really going to do this? He starts to wonder about his kids and how they would feel. Would it be to selfish of him? Yes, but he has made up his mind. His mother can watch the kids. She would do a much better job than he ever would on his own. He gestures the weapon toward his temple, taking shallow breaths until he can finally make himself do it.

His finger rest on the trigger and it would all be over in a matter of seconds. His hands start to shake and tears run down his face.

“I will be with you soon, my love,” he whispers. He begins to shuts his eyes—that is until he sees a box sitting in the corner. He lays the gun down on the floor and ambles toward the cardboard box. It must belong to the previous owners he thought. He lifts the flaps open to find what seems like thousands of Christmas ornaments. With Christmas only being a few days away, this would come in handy for the kids. Their smiling faces appear in his mind and his old thoughts seem to fade away. He lifts one up, a red sphere laced with gold markings, when a cool breeze grazes his neck. He drops the ball and glass shatters beside his feet. He curses under his breath and falls to his knees. He attempts to gently brush the glass into a pile with his hand when the breeze runs across the back of his neck again. He turns over and is amazed by what he sees. The dust on the floor begin to rise and circle into a petite figure. The gusts of winds strike his face and he falls back onto the floor.

He remains still until the deafening sound of the wind calms. He looks up to find a cherub. A plain rusted baby angel sitting on the floor. He scoffs at the sight and returns to the shattered glass. He picks up a large piece off the floor and places it in the palm of his left hand. The breeze grazes his neck again and he looks back to find the cherub missing. He looks across the room and it’s sitting on the window pane. He strolls toward the cherub and lifts it up. The figure has seen better days. The eyes chipping off and the once golden smile is now completely gray from the material beneath. He examines the cherub and notices nothing out of the ordinary, but how did it move? He shakes the thought from his head and turns over. He pauses. A small finger rests against his lips as his feet stay planted onto the attic floor. His eyes widen at the sight. It’s his wife. His heart pounds and sweat rolls down his face. He could feel a smile forming beneath her finger and he attempts to lift his hand to touch her cheek. She shakes her head. She presses her cool lips against his cheek and disappears. He looks back at the cherub—now fully golden. He looks beneath and finds new words scribbled on the bottom of the figure.

Trust in Him. He cannot believe what he just saw. That really could not have happen. He hears the cries of his youngest son from outside and heads toward the stairs.

“Merry Christmas, my love” his wife’s voice whispers in his ear. “I will always be with you.”

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