The view from the upstairs balcony was of tangled and gnarled branches, parched grass, and the remnants of what was once the most envied rose garden in the entire county. Brach leaned over the rickety wrought iron railing, trying to catch a glimpse of the ancient oak that had once supported his boyhood tree house. It had all started there.
As he stood in the warm evening air of July, at the back of the house his great-grandfather had built nearly a century ago, a slight breeze caressed his face. He could almost smell her on that breeze, a sweet flowery scent that drove a chill down his neck and back. He closed his eyes; he could see her face glowing in the sunshine as they wrestled on that very lawn so long ago. His heart began to ache; his legs lost the will to stand. As he collapsed to his knees, Brach felt that he would bleed from the pain of her absence. It was his fault she was gone; his fault her time on earth had been so short; his fault that he would spend the rest of his days alone.
His breath came in great gasps as he fought against mounting sobs. Deep in his soul, he knew he had no right to mourn her loss. It was for himself that he wept. Brach swallowed his grief, and inside him, it transformed into anger and rage. Despising himself for his selfishness, he let out a roar of desperation that shook the loose panes of a nearby window. Shattering as they hit the ground, the panes of glass were yet one more casualty at the hands of a man who had caused more pain than joy for those he knew.