Sorrow Swallows My Screams

Chapter Twenty Seven

Chapter Twenty Seven:

Zacky’s POV:

I awoke the next morning feeling fresh and alive. It made sense - I’d slept like a lazy dog did. It was twelve midday, I saw, glancing over at my bedside clock, but that was okay, ‘cause it was Saturday. I grabbed my guitar and strummed a few super-basic chords - F, D, B, B minor, E minor, G, C, B, F, B - in a random order, just for the sake of doing what I loved.

Leaving my guitar in my room, I wandered downstairs in order to get myself some breakfast. I found upon descending the creaky staircase that my mother was busy vacuuming. She didn’t look up as I entered, as she was facing away from me, and the noise from the vacuum cleaner would have drowned out all the noise of the staircase’s complaints.

Nevertheless, I entered the small, aged kitchen and pulled out of the pantry the first box of cereal that my hands touched. This said cereal turned out to be Rice Bubbles. I snatched some milk from the icy clutches of the refrigerator and poured it over the Rice Bubbles, the milk flowing in little ripples over each individual bubble.

I ate the Rice Bubbles slowly, not bothering to venture to the table. My shoulders slouched over as I leaned against the kitchen counter, bringing spoonful after spoonful of the bubbly cereal to my lips and mouth beyond.

Once the bowl contained only a thin layer of milk left in its depths, I shoved it into the sink. I then proceeded to search for the phone book. Phone book… phone book… now, where did we keep that? I can’t remember ever using it before…

I found it eventually, after searching cupboard after cupboard in the small kitchen. It was in the last cupboard I searched. Figures. I set its heavy body down on the counter that I’d cleared my cereal bowl away from and began to flick through the pages.

F, F, F. How hard is it to find F?

And then, once I found F, there were at least a thousand F listings. Fl, Fl, Fl. Fle, Flet, Fletc, Fletch, Fletche, oh, fuck yeah, Fletcher! My heart sank as I saw the excessive amounts of people named Fletcher.

I ended up narrowing the Fletchers down to about twenty names. I tore the piece of paper out of the phonebook after circling the twenty possible Fletcher’s and set out the door.

“Going to visit a friend?” my mother called, noticing me heading for the door. She appeared to have finished vacuuming by now. Funny, I hadn’t noticed the lack of the noise that had previously been issuing from the vacuum.

“Something like that,” I replied, turning to look at her. She was smiling at me. I made an effort to return the smile, though it was a pretty sorry effort, if it had to be said.

“Have fun, honey!” she called as I opened the battered old front door.

“I will!” I cried, though I thought that calling this trip fun would be an unbelievable compliment to it.

Three hours later, I still hadn’t found the right Mrs Fletcher. I’d gone through twelve of the names on the list, but had no luck. If I had been thinking strategically at the beginning, I could have planned it so that I searched the addresses that were close together at one time. But no, I didn’t think of that, which made the whole process far more time consuming as I kept having to race around from one block to another, this way and that.

I strode up the short driveway to the thirteenth house on the list. This house looked nice. Judging from the outside, the rooms looked like they would be spacious and modern inside. I knocked on the white front door clearly, once, twice, thrice.

The moment the door had opened, I knew this was the Mrs Fletcher I’d been searching for all morning - or, all afternoon. Her light brown hair was dishevelled as if it hadn’t been cared for recently, and tears streaked her mascara down in odd formations. Her eyes were bloodshot, like when you don’t get enough sleep, or when you’ve been crying.

“Can I help you?” she asked, and even her voice sounded weak, fed up.

“Mrs Fletcher…” I said, and realised that while I was walking around the other twelve houses I should have been focusing more on what I would actually say to the real Mrs Fletcher when I found her. “Mrs Fletcher…”

“Yes?” she asked, drawing a hand up to her face. In her hand, I saw, she held a handkerchief, which she then used to wipe away the tears that were leaking from her eyes. Studying her face, I saw that she was probably only about the same age as her husband had been, though she looked far older now, tear-stained and chaotic.

“Mrs Fletcher… I was down at the cemetery last night, and I stumbled across your family’s graves… I just wanted to come and see how you were doing…” The words didn’t come so easily, and I found I didn’t really know what I was saying.

“How do you think I’m doing?” she said, her voice faltering once again, ending in a moaning wail. “Now if you’d please get off my property…”

She went to close the door, but, on an impulse, I reached out and held it ajar. Her face poked through the rather wide gap at me, looking slightly mad in her saddened state.

“Please,” I said. “I recently lost someone very close to me, too.”

“Your family?” she asked, dabbing at her eyes with the pale blue chequered handkerchief once again.

“Closer,” I replied gently, but terribly honest.

She peered at me uncertainly for a few moments, pondering on what to say next. Finally, with another appearance on the handkerchief’s part, she said, resigned: “All right. Come in.”