It was a clear, star filled night. Looking up, you could see the heavens sparkle merrily, as if to punctuate the fact that there was not a care in the world. Earlier that April day the sky was a clear robin egg blue, with just a few fluffy white clouds flecking across the sky. The day had been warm, the sun had highlighted the different shades of green reflected by the leafs. The sweet perfume of flowers lingering in the air by day, was then riding across town on a breeze by night. It was by all accounts a perfect day. No one could possibly have said differently. However, there was one lonely soul with only bitterness as his mood. This cynical person cursed this day, wished it had never come, this day should have been as gloomy as they were. Perhaps, it would not have hurt as much if it was.
This man who's name had been John Walker for nearly 70 years, spent a lifetime in the military making him ascetic, and a down to earth man. He was raised a by a mother in a small dilapidated house as a single child. He learned to never ask for much, never had much, only whatever small things he received from an occasional birthday or Christmas. John had very little resemblance to his mother, he had strong features and copper brown hair, long since replaced by gray. He did however, have her bright green eyes that always appeared to have fire burning within them, until recently. Looking at his eyes now, the burning had been replaced with ice-cold lifeless slabs of jade that saw nothing. His aged face twisted into looks of pain and remorse as he stared numbly at his only companion, a twenty-year-old television.
"- Kathleen Walker's death shocked our entire community," said a female voice coming from the TV, "She was always so fervent about assisting others, she spent a lifetime helping others while often putting her own needs aside. Her generosity is going to be missed by everyone. She did so much for our community. Her death will be felt for years to come."
"Thank you, Miss. Parker," the newscaster said, "We will all surely miss Mrs. Walker. In other news-"
John shut down the TV and looked down at his wrinkled hands blankly. What was he to do now? Kathleen was his rock; she had kept him sane after he returned from Vietnam. They were everything to each other. Neither one of them had any family members still alive. After many years of trying, and medical interventions, they were unable to have children. This revelation had nearly broken his wife and through volunteering, she was able to fill the void in her life that would have been filled by their children. Whenever Kathleen was around children she always seemed to climb inside herself and would stay that way for days. He had always wanted the opportunity to give to a family what he never received. His dream: a loving family, the white picket fence, a modest home with a yard, and a child or two to play in it. John, however, pushed that thought out of his head and continued living the happiest years of his life with a wife who was always putting others needs before her own.
Sighing John got up from the couch and looked around his living room, like the rest of his home, it was on the larger side of average. All of his furniture was the best money could by, oak and leather. Kathleen enjoyed exorbitant and fancy things. A cheerless smile found its way onto Johns face; he was far from the pauper he used to be. He then looked over at his deep brown grandfather clock that his wife loved so dearly. The heavy metal hands of the clock where pointing to 12:34 P.M., it was much too late. As he left to go to bed John paused at the foot of the stairs just for a moment and looked around, as if taking in all the memories of his wife that each item in the house seemed to hold.
Breaking out of his trance, John shook his head as he climbed the stairs and into his bedroom. He changed into his pajamas and got into bed, but every few seconds he would toss and turn until he could not take it any more. He got up grabbed his pillow, blanket and went out into the hall, heading towards the guest bedroom. This was where he had slept for the past few days; the bed he and his wife had shared felt so big and empty without her. As John lay down onto the guest bed, he warily wondered once again what he was going to do now.
John woke up with the sunshine streaming into the bedroom and glowing on his face. He got up, cursing the habit, and slowly got dressed feeling numb. Pulling on his loafers John wondered about what he would do that day. Kathleen usually planned the day's activities. Was this going to be another pointless day? After wandering around the house all morning he decided, to go outside and get the mail. He felt it was unfair that the birds were chirping and the sun was peaking out behind fluffy clouds, when his whole reason for being alive was no longer around, this did not help John's sour mood. What he found in his mailbox only added to his dismay. John swiftly read an envelope that had the address of one of Kathleen's oldest and dearest friends on it, one John did not particularly like but put up with for Kathleen's sake. It was from Irma.John could not bare to open the letter. His wounds from Kathleen's death were too new and fresh. Closing the door behind him, John tried to think of a place to put the letter. He did not want to throw it away, but he could not bear to read it. Not yet. He decided to take it up to the attic where he knew Kathleen kept sentimental mementos. He again climbed up the stairs and into the spare room where the door to the attic was.
Looking around the well-organized dark attic John wondered where the special box was kept. With a pang in his heart, he remembered how Kathleen always wanted him to help her up in the attic. She would often say if something were to happen to her, he should know where everything was. He, however, kept putting it off saying that there was plenty of time, she wasn't going anywhere. Oh, how he regretted saying that now. John sat at a desk and began to look for the special box. After many minutes of looking, he spotted an old piece of furniture that was covered in a thick layer of dust as if it had not been touched in years. He remembered how Kathleen hated to dust. On it was the box he was looking for. It had notably less dust on it, as if it was opened often. It had intricate designs carved on it along with the initials K.M.F. John always knew how much Kathleen cherished the box. She even told him at one point it was her treasure box and he should just leave it alone. The box squeaked when John opened it. His hands were shaking so badly when he opened it, the box fell onto the floor. He bent down to get it and discovered a special compartment at the bottom of the box. There was very old documents in the compartment. Curiously he picked up one of the papers and, after realizing it was legal papers, read it slowly. Johns eyes widened in disbelief he gasped this could not be true. He rummaged through the rest of the box. This could not be real, could it? His wife would never have hidden this from him!
John found a Birth Certificate for a girl baby. On the back of it, there was a letter attached along with a picture. Taking the letter into his hands, he saw that the handwriting was the same as his wife's messy scrawl. It read:
In this box, there is proof of the one thing I regret most in my life, giving up our, daughter and allowing someone else to raise her.
I found out that I was pregnant a month after you left. I was foolish, young, alone, and scared. Right after I got the letter you were missing in action and I had no idea whether you were dead or would be coming back home, I went into labor and had our daughter. I panicked. With months of no letters or a single sign that you where all right, all I could think of was the future for our baby. What life could I provide for our baby, with no job or husband? I sat in the hospital staring at the most beautiful baby girl. She looked so much like you. She had your beautiful green eyes. I did not think I could looking into those eyes on a daily basis and continuing to live without you. I came to a decision. I would give her to a family that would love her with all their being and ensure she lived a happy life. Looking back years later, I find myself wondering how I could have done such a thing, how I could have made such an irrational decision. It was a couple months later that I got the letters that you had sent me. The army told me they where sorry for the delay. At that point I realized that I had made a terrible mistake. What I had done, that I had given something up that was so precious… Later when I could not get pregnant I thought it must have been my punishment . Knowing what you do now I am sure you hate me, and I do not ask for your forgiveness. I do not deserve it, but I do love you with all of my heart. I just hope that you will be able to forgive me and understand how much pain I was in at that time, thinking I had lost you. I have put the first picture of our beautiful daughter with this letter.
John read this letter over twice as the information in front of him sank in. Kathleen, his wife, the love of his life hid something like this from him. He did not understand, why did not she tell him? Suddenly he remembered a line in the letter 'I have put the first picture of our beautiful daughter with this letter.' The photo that was on the back of the birth certificate, he had to see it; he had to prove this was all real. John looked around and found it, face down on the ground. He picked it up and saw on the back in Kathleen's handwriting 'April 2, 1969 Emma'. John's breath hitched in his throat as he read the name of his daughter, she would have just celebrated her birthday this month.
Turning the picture over, John found that none of the years in the military could prepare him for this sight. His wife was sitting there with her honey brown hair pulled up into a messy ponytail and warm brown eyes shining with happiness and some other hidden emotion. In her arms, there was a baby, their daughter Emma, smiling a charming toothless smile. She had Kathleen's hair, and to him, looked just like her. However, the thing that got him was her eyes. Emma had the same fiery green eyes he had, the same as his mother before him. John froze in shock as he looked at his daughter, his wife was right; she was the most beautiful thing. It was then, in that short time where he stood frozen, that he made a decision. He would find his daughter.
A year later John found himself standing on the doorstep of a modest house in a good neighborhood; he was trying to find his nerve. The house had a white picket fence surrounding the yard and had basketball hoop on the garage door. There were toys thrown haphazardly around the yard, as if children had simply dropped them where they stood when they where called in for lunch. John took a shaky breath and finally reached out and rang the doorbell. Minutes dragged by until a woman with short honey brown hair and bright piercing green eyes answered the door.
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