I opened the door to my basement and stepped down the wooden stairs, leading into the expansive room where I did my woodwork. I flicked the switch up, and immediately the room was filled with a yellowish light, complimenting the many wooden objects around the room nicely.
I came here every day after I got home from my job. To sit, to think, to work. It was my place; a room where I could go, escaping the loudness of the world, escaping almost life itself. Just me, my tools, and my bourbon.
The beginning of what was to be a boat was in the center of the room, resting on wooden workbenches. It was going to be the third boat I had built, and once again it was going to bear the same name as the others: Julia. The name of my daughter.
I didn’t want to think about her, but there was no stopping it now as the memories started to fill my mind. I walked over to a metal stool in the corner of two large work tables. I poured myself a glass of bourbon and just sat down, thinking. Thinking of her. She used to be my everything, my all. Until she was taken from me all those years ago.
I shook my head desperately, hoping to shake the thoughts, but there was no use. I took a large gulp of the warming liquid before setting the glass down on the bench. I buried my head in my hands and let the tears fall as they always did. And as the memories came back, I could see her face again…
“Daddy, daddy!” Julia called happily. “Look, balloons!” I took her by the hand, leading her to the balloon-seller.
I tugged on my hair, angry now. Frustrated. I hit the table with my fist and screamed. “It’s not fair!” I shouted to no one before breaking down in tears again. I couldn’t take it. Day after day, night after night. I wasn’t willing to let myself forget but I couldn’t live with remembering. I was torn.
“That one!” she exclaimed excitedly, pointing to a pink balloon hidden among the dozen others.
“No, no, no!” I shouted again. I stood up quickly, slamming both fists against a cupboard door. I begged my mind to think of something – anything – else, but all I could see was her face. Her beautiful, perfect face.
“Look, daddy! Isn’t it pretty?” She proudly displayed her balloon to everyone, skipping gleefully through the carnival crowds.
“Stop, stop!” But it wouldn’t. It never did. A gunshot sounded in my head.
“No, no…baby!” her precious, tiny body dropped to the ground, lifeless, a pool of blood forming under her dress.
“No, no, no…somebody help! Anyone!” I shouted as loud as I could, rushing to her side, picking up her body in my arms, pressing her against my chest. “No, no, please!” The tears were uncontrollable. “Somebody help, please!” I pleaded. I could see many people on their phones, but I knew it was too late. She was gone.
I looked up toward the sky, crying out in pain. I could see the pink balloon floating away.
And my last of her memories sailed off into the sky along with it. She was gone.