The Couch

Johnny looked around the quiet house. There was no sound at all, something tangibly different from the life and noise that permeated every memory he had of being in this space. Now, the only sound came from his own thoughts. Even the heating & air was down right now, not bringing even that atmospheric hum to the room.

It had been a long day. A long week.

He didn’t want to believe they were gone. The plane crash had been horrific, no survivors. One day, photos in email from the top of a London double-decker bus, overcast skyline contrasting with the smile on Mom’s face and twinkle in Dad’s eyes. The next day, news all over CNN that their flight had gone down in a storm on take-off, always Dad’s least favorite part of flying. His sister Mia had been house-sitting, and she called him first. They made arrangements, he flew out ahead of Liz and the kids, and today they had buried their parents.

The house looked the same, mostly, as it had when they’d grown up there. The kitchen opened over an island into the family room. Dad’s big screen TV was in the corner, black and powerless right now. The couch and overstuffed chairs were in the other corner, where they would spend their evenings together channel surfing, playing scrabble online, reading. He and his sister had moved out after college, and Mom and Dad settled into a rhythm of "just us" that was cute, in their own way. And it was beautiful, Johnny thought, thinking of them as he thought of his own wife, his own kids, watching them like he had watched his folks.

Liz and the kids flew back home, and he would follow next week after wrapping up whatever dangling loose ends were still… dangling. It was so damn quiet in here.

It had been a long day. A long week.

Cough. From the back room, where the video games and PC were. Another, cough cough. His sister was in there, sitting in the quiet. Mia was taking it hard, too, he knew. They had barely spoken beyond what was absolutely necessary. He found her sitting on the old college sofa, TV on but muted, video game controller in her hand, make-up running just a little, her eyes tired, her rainbow toe-socks keeping her feet warm, kicked up on the coffee table.

"Wanna play?"
"Sure. Scoot over." He took the other controller from the coffeetable, sat beside his sister on the overstuffed denim couch, and played.


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