James sat at the kitchen table and listened to the sounds of Sasha cracking eggs into a bowl. The sound of each egg cracking brought flashes of memories that seemed to originate from a life long gone; a life so different from the one they were currently living. The happiness that once brightened their lives had disappeared like a flame stifled of oxygen. With one simple glance away, he was taken and the perfect life that James and Sasha built around Parker shattered into a million pieces.
“How many eggs do you want Jay?” Sasha said as she approached him with a cup of coffee.
He looked up at her and he could see that she was trying to hide the anger in her face. He could see the hate that was growing in her.
“I’m not hungry. I’ll have an early lunch at work today,” James said as he tried to hold his emotions together. It had been eleven months and three says since Parker was taken and James was surprised that they were still managing to hold things together for this long.
As he sat there watching the steam rise from his cup of coffee, he was reminded of the day that he and Sasha got married. It was an unseasonably warm June day as James stood before the alter nervously and waited for the music to begin playing and everyone to stand as Sasha walked through the doors. He looked down the aisle as his best man and her maid of honor walked down the aisle followed by more groomsmen and bridesmaids. And then came the moment. The doors opened and Sasha walked through with her mother and her father at either side. James could remember time standing still as he looked at the woman who had completed his soul, the woman with whom he felt safe, and the woman who wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. As she walked towards him, James could not hold back the emotions any longer and his eyes welled up with tears of joy as he looked into the eyes of the woman with whom he could overcome any obstacle. That was the day that James promised her that he would never hurt her or cause any tears of sorrow to ever leave her eyes. That was a promise he could not keep.
The sound of Sasha turning off the stove snapped him back to his coffee. He looked at her as she walked through the doorway and out of the kitchen. He could not believe how frail she looked and how solemnly she walked. She seemed like a ghost of her former self.
Two years after their wedding day, Parker was born. James had never seen a more perfect baby. Weighing in at seven pounds-nine ounces, Parker fit perfectly into his arms as he held him for the first time. Sasha was right. Parker was always indifferent when it came to the idea of children. Whenever they had talked about the subject, Sasha always told him that he would fall in love the instant he held his child in his arms. Here he was in this moment looking at the face of his son. Sasha could not have been any more correct.
The years that followed were the happiest years that James had ever experienced. Watching Parker grow up and Sasha as a mom brought immense joy to James. A few weeks after Parker’s fifth birthday, the circus was in town and the plans were to take Parker there so he could have his first circus experience. As the day approached, Sasha got called into work unexpectedly and James decided that he would take Parker by himself. As the two walked through the entrance, James couldn’t believe the look of grandeur and splendor on Parker’s face as the saw the circus tent. They walked around for a bit and looked at all the games and stuffed animals that were there. As they were making their way to the tent, James heard a loud bang coming from the direction of the large mural of a sunset over a mountain range. In front of the mural was a clown being shot out of a canon and James stared with excitement. He couldn’t remember the moment that he let go of Parker or the precise moment that Parker was gone. After the second clown was shot out of the canon, James applauded and realized that he was using both hands; he was not holding onto Parker. He looked down beside him and his heart fell into his stomach as he realized Parker was no longer there.
“Parker! Parker!” James shouted as he ran around frantically. “Has anyone seen my son? Parker!”
“Parker,” James whispered as he snapped back to reality. He looked over at the wall and at the picture of Parker in the treasure chest picture frame. It was the same picture that they had used to for the news broadcasts and fliers that they made in their attempts to find him.
He stood up from the table, walked over to the kitchen sink, and poured his coffee down the drain. He stood there for a second looking into the backyard and remembered when Parker took his first steps. He could picture himself pushing Parker on the swings and the sound of his laughter as he went higher and higher.
The sound of the gunshot rang in his ear as loud as the canon shot had done a year before.
“Sasha! Sasha, what was that noise?” James said as he ran out of the kitchen. He looked around the living room and dining room and could not see her anywhere. He ran to the stairs and headed towards their master bedroom but he never made it there. As he was about to pass Parker’s room, he saw Sasha lying on Parker’s bed. In her left arm, she held onto Parker’s stuffed elephant and in her right hand, James could see the gun. Drops of blood dripped from the wall behind her as James dropped to his knees. He had no words, he had no feeling, and he had no emotions. He knew that Sasha had blamed him for what happened and he knew that this was her punishment for him. He looked at his tattoo on his arm and realized that two of the three puzzle pieces that formed the heart were now gone. He was alone and he would forever remain alone.