In the attic he held the only two links to the past; one in each hand. He peered sadly through the octagon-shaped attic window at the outside world. “If only…”; He thought. Phantom sounds within the house reminded him of the lost family’s doomed presence. He temporarily forgot his own worries when he considered their plight. Their situation was truly hopeless. Then it dawned on him that his circumstances were not much better. In many ways, he was as dead as they were. At least they had each other. He had no one.
When instinct again summoned him to the cellar, the old man was armed with newfound remnants of hope. He opened the basement door with a mixed sense of anticipation and dread. He genuinely believed things would turn out differently this time but he had been wrong before. He was on the edge of remembering who he was. This was it!
On the other side of the door, the old man’s destiny beckoned. Little bits of his memory trickled back into his consciousness. Down the steps he descended, closer and closer to the unknown. The past was coming back to him.
There was a time when he wasn’t a solitary prisoner in the lonely house on the hill. He had built it with his own two hands after the war to end all wars; World War I. The same two hands now clutched the mysterious photograph and the rusty knife in his endless quest for understanding. Like a lightning bolt of lucidity, he suddenly realized that the groom in the picture was himself. He was married to Cora!
“But what is MY name and where is she?” He wondered. “Where is Cora? Why would she leave me alone in this depressing place when I need her the most?”
Perhaps it would come back to him later, he hoped. A thousand thoughts and unanswered questions flooded his mind. He tried not to waste any time dwelling on them, to free his memory up to recover the buried truth.
The bottom step of the stairs was bathed in a pitch black miasma. He felt around for the light switch above the workbench. For what seemed like an eternity he waived blindly in the air until he connected with it. With a click, the workshop was illuminated by the dim rays of a single bulb. The darkness in the corners of the room seemed to devour the light.
While glancing again at the yellowed photograph, he couldn’t help but to admire how dashing he had been in his youth. He could even remember their wedding day! Cora had told him that he was very handsome.
Countless memories flooded back in the order they occurred. So many recovered events filled his head that he had trouble absorbing it all. After ‘starving’ for so long, it was like a feast to revel in so many details of who he was. From his childhood long ago to the marriage to his High School sweetheart Cora, the cornucopia of memories was highly intoxicating. Then he remembered that he had a son named Robert! As those deeply buried facts emerged, it naturally led to more questions.