He sat beside the telephone, head resting in the cup of his hands, staring forever into space. He hadn’t slept properly in over a month now. He would occasionally slip into a slender unconsciousness, every 15 or 20 minutes now as a result of his body crying for rest, but it would never last more than a few moments before his eyes would flash open and reality would come crashing back in, washing over him like a tidal wave of razorblades.
She had died in his arms (he could feel her weight there for days after; it now tore at his heart that even that ghost of her had left him) and he could remember the screaming, knowing that he was the lead singer of this terrible choir.
The baby shoes were in a box at his side. The baby shoes were on his mind. Forever on his mind. He had, after all, paid such a high price getting them. He fought against another wave of tears and lost as he relived, once more, coming out of the shoe shop on Chester Street.
He was smiling (it was the last time he had smiled) at the old woman who had held the door open for him to push the pram through the door. Little Rose was struggling and squirming away in her pram, desperate to try out her new found talent: walking. He was thinking about taking her down to the park, imagining her joy at the quacking ducks and the long necked swans, which she had never seen before, when the pram was snatched out of his hands and into the road.
At the time, he hadn’t known what had happened, didn’t care, and started to run the few steps towards where the pram had fallen when a blaring horn sent a bolt of fear down his spine and he watched with utter helplessness as the car crashed into it.
His hands went unconsciously to the box on the couch beside him as the horror hit him again. There were little spatters of blood on the side of the box from where it had been jerked loose of the bag and landed beside his babe.
The screaming began, and he scrambled forward, falling and sprawling over the dumbstruck skateboarder who had originally knocked into the pram. He fell besides his Rose, and saw that she was still writhing slightly, obviously in great pain. She was crying, but he couldn’t hear her. The world had gone temporarily silent to him. He lifted her gently from the wreck of the pram and held her, hoping and praying that she wasn’t too seriously hurt. His vision was blurring through his tears and although he felt her slip away from him, he never saw her take her final breath. The paramedics had to pry her out of his hands, and he had clutched onto the shoe box, as if it would replace the feeling of her.
His eyes slipped shut again, the fingers of unconsciousness slipping around him, but before they could tighten their grip, the phone rang, snapping him awake.
Without even looking at the caller ID, he knew what this would be about. He had driven his friends and family away these last few weeks, and they were reluctantly giving him some time to himself. They hated it, he knew, but he wasn’t giving them any choice. This was about the shoes. It was time to let them go. It was time to start accepting his Rose is gone.
He picked up the phone.