“You killed her!” The hard cracking hoarse explosion from his uncle’s constricted throat scraped against Erek’s soul, mimicking his own internal rebukes, no less harshly felt for its lack of volume. The shocked, uncomfortable looks from the few reception attendees within earshot went unnoticed by the two, locked in their grieving battle. “She never would have been there if not for you, and you didn’t even have the decency to show up?”
“I’m sorry, Uncle Joe.” It was all he could say. And it meant nothing, muttered like a scolded child, head hanging with the guilty weight of the inexpressible inadequacy. Of his apology. Of himself.
“Get out of this house.” Frantically, he performed a mental search for his protective blanket of numbness. Not finding it, he tried not to trip over his feet as he stumbled into the bookshelf containing his mother’s poetry collection, shrouding his naked grief with one small randomly selected volume, and lunged for the door, jostling past guests in his watery blindness.