Snuff out“Uncle Del, you know how Daddy started smoking?” Clara’s voice was thin, swimming with worry. Del’s face softened.“Yes, dear. Why?” He’d been concerned about Dante’s fairly new habit too, but never brought it up with anyone. It started about six years ago. No one in their immediate family had ever picked up smoking.Clara’s eyes shifted down to her feet. “Well, when I asked him about it, he told me he started smoking after the twins died.”Del felt the air rush from his lungs as if he’d been punched in the stomach. That sickish feeling he’d fought every day for years following the death of his infant twin boys surged back in full force, filling his stomach with poison and acid, bringing with it a host of horrifically painful memories he wished to forget.It took a few moments to pull himself back to reality, back to Clara’s imploring gaze. He drew in a ragged breath and placed a hand on her head.
TheftA thief named Cancer slipped through the fortified city walls of the family, seamlessly and undetected, silently ripping precious years out of the hands of its patriarch. It broke the legs and hearts of each family member on its way out so they could not stand strong in the emotional earthquake it caused.Giulio, “Papa”, the downy-bearded one, only a week before was the same exuberant, joyful soul that danced across the ocean thirty years ago from the lush Italian countryside and planted his thirsty roots in the concrete soil of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Now a week later, the blue eyes that once shimmered and sparkled with youth were shut tightly like the boarded up windows of an abandoned house. The thief completely vandalized his body, taking everything of value, leaving behind a sickly, ghost-like shell of a man who once was rich with all that money could not buy.What should have been thirty-five years and three weeks and five days left of his life were reduced to one hund
Letter from dadDear Rocco, Dear Nino,It’s your dad. I wanted to put down what I’m feeling today, but I’m not sure I’ll find the words. There are so many things I wish I could have told you both, but never could and never did because you both were so young.Today was tough. Apart from the day you died, it was one of the only times I’d ever seen your mother cry, and not just cry, but sob. There wasn’t anything I could do or say to help relieve her pain, and I didn’t dare try, because the pain was just as real for me too.We had to bury you both today. I tried to keep images of your rosy-red, smiling faces in my mind all day long, but it was useless. As I watched them put you in the ground, I kept getting reminded of that moment I looked down into the casket and saw my little boys hugging each other tightly, but not moving. That was the last I ever saw of you. I can’t shake it from my mind.I never imagined that the very thing I make a living off trying t
PurgatoryThey slumbered peacefully, dressed in mini button-up shirts and bowties, with their hair combed and swept to the side. The twin brothers held each other close, their arms wrapped around each other, their noses barely touching, as if they’d fallen asleep hugging and telling each other secrets.For a moment, Del felt that he was in that naked bedroom on a normal night, staring down at his boys as they soundly slept in their playpen. It felt all too familiar, all too real. Only, his boys should have been dressed in footy pajamas, not the same slacks and bowties and patent leather shoes they’d recently worn for their baptism.The cruel irony suddenly struck him. The very same Catholic church they’d been baptized in was the same church that now held their funeral.Del prepared himself for this moment days in advance, hours ahead of time, up to the very last second holding his breath, bracing himself to be smothered by grief and remorse all over again. Now here he stood, fu
FloodDel woke up with a disconcerted feeling about the day. It lingered in the pit of his stomach, ruminating on his peace throughout the day, for no apparent reason.The morning was not unusual, falling into the rhythm of routine. It was a typical Monday morning where Del sauntered out of bed around 5am, enticed by the aroma of freshly-brewed joe, and made it into the kitchen still half-asleep as Lisa prepared his breakfast and lunch while simultaneously pouring him a mug of coffee.One of the twins would stir about that time, usually Nino. The seven-month-old twins were getting better at sleeping through the night, but woke up each morning at the crack of dawn without fail. Nino’s fussing always roused his brother, and the two would whimper and whine until one of their parents attended to them.That morning, Del insisted Lisa finish her work in the kitchen, and he made his way into a naked bedroom where they’d set up a playpen for the twins to sleep in until they could unpack