Flash Fiction Friday – Loneliness and Hatches

I feel like I haven’t written flash fic in about three years. But I’m back! Wooh!

Today’s piece is a bit macabre, and inspired by the creepy basement under my parents’ summer home that a small part of my brain is always worried about falling into.

Loneliness and Hatches

They all said that it was loneliness and isolation that killed Uncle Chris. That the messy divorce in his 20s, years before I was born, had made it hard for him to trust, to be vulnerable or build healthy relationship, causing him to gravitate toward a hermit lifestyle in his cottage in the woods and ultimately leading to his unexpected death at the respectable but hardly excessive age of 68.

“He was a good man, a little old-fashioned, but a good man. If he’d just found a good woman to treat him right, he could’ve had another 20 years,” varying old ladies who nonetheless would have balked at dating him themselves told me at the funeral and in the weeks around it. “Not having love in our lives make us age more quickly.”

There was no end to the analysis that random relatives, slightly distant neighbors and acquaintances from the nearby town offered, of his qualities good and bad, the potential turning points in his life and all the many factors that might have contributed to his death. In the end, they all circled back to loneliness eventually. If he’d just had someone there, to help him to bed, to call the ambulance after he fell. 

Personally, I don’t think it was the loneliness so much as the 3/4-bottle of Scotch and his inability to properly replace the hatch that led to the tiny basement room where the water heater and the main fuse box were housed. Some neighbors had come down to clean it all up by the time I got the keys with my inheritance, but some nights when the moon is bright I swear I can still see the crimson stains at the edge of the hatch, and the dent in the top rung on the ladder.

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