Missing him comes in waves. I sink into soft cushions, the room wasn’t always blue. The walls were once beige and he used to sit in a dark leather recliner on the other side of the coffee table. The chair is gone. So are the beige walls. So is he. Missing him comes in waves.
The walls are red. The house is alive. Shadows dance up to the roof as gingerbread scented candles melt mocha tinted wax into inexistence. He is wearing a prideful smile and his eyes are flittering around the room, watching his family tear into packages wrapped in snowmen and red ribbon. He clutches a beer in one hand and uses the other to rub through his short beard. He cracks a joke with my mom, his laugh momentarily overpowering the Bing Crosby playing from the television, but it dies down after one final chuckle. “You know,” he says softly, looking over to where I am perched on the fireplace, his eyes bulging comically. “Santa comes tonight.” I giggle and hide my face in my mom’s chest. He loves to wind me up.
The walls are green. He pats his lap and sighs when I eagerly climb up. “Can I pull it out?” he asks. “I promise, you won’t feel a thing.” I shake my head quickly, fear apparent on my face. He flashes me a reassuring smile and begins to hum. Soon, he is singing a song I’ve never heard before and he’s grabbed my hands, forcing me to clap along as he goes. The song draws to a finish, when I lean my head back to smile at him, he makes his move. With the speed of a snake, he reached his slender fingers into my mouth, clasping my dangling tooth and giving it a sharp tug. He’s right. I feel nothing except the rush of blood that comes from the new hole in my smile. He sets me on the floor and asks me to fetch him a beer.
The walls are gray. It’s cold outside and he is outfitted in overalls and a camouflage jacket. He drops into the leather recliner heavily, his rifle in his hand. I sit on the coffee table, observing him. He spends a chunk of time cleaning the barrel, pausing every few minutes to shoot me a peculiar face. I ask him what he uses his gun for. “We need to eat. God gave us animals to hunt so that we wouldn’t go hungry," he informs me. I nod at him. He tells me then about hunting trips his father took him on. I am fascinated by his stories, and before my parents take me home that night he’s promised to take me on a hunting trip and teach me everything he knows. When I say my goodbye, he has changed his clothes, overalls traded for sweatpants. I’m getting rushed out the door by my mother. He waves at me from his recliner, a beer on the table by his side.
This time, there are no walls. The stone is cold to the touch, but his presence brings me warmth. Every time I visit I recall these moments. I tell him that five years feels more like five lifetimes and I can hear his laugh, rough as sandpaper in the back of my brain. No matter how hard I try, a few tears fall down my cheeks. Missing him comes in waves.