Honoring a Memory

Soft dust motes drifted lazily in the morning sunlight. His gaunt frame leaned against the windowsill, the sun warming his skin as the wintry town below burnt into his retinas.

The dust continued to gather on the window frame. His chest heaved with a sigh. He tried to forget the dust’s owner was no longer among the living.

Stepping from the shining frame, he made his way back through an aisle of half-filled boxes. She had called him in as a favor; several rooms needed to be repainted before a showing on Friday. Elsewhere, the house was disemboweled: boxes of knick knacks, tools, projects finished and half-realized littered the hallways, powerless without their owner’s hands.

He stooped down by a rather promising box. He set aside the sombrero on top, the sombrero she said flattered him. While he had no need for it, she was also trying to unload her father’s baggage on him.

“It doesn’t feel right, giving all of this away,” she said. Her careworn face flickered with grief, which she hid with a smile. “But I trust you. Take anything you’d like.”

Underneath the floppy hat lay a handyman’s treasure trove: not just the typical wrenches and hammers, but also lathe cutting tools, pry bars, oscillating saws, bevel gauges… his fingerprints were obviously in every joint and corner of the house. His practiced hands had turned this hilltop home into a king’s mansion, every joist and frame carefully and thoughtfully laid.

And now the house was empty, waiting to change hands.

He stood up with a frown. Even with her permission, he felt dirty rummaging through another’s things.

He walked back to the waiting paint cans. He plucked up the roller, and with a small push, a streak of somber grey flew across the pale yellow.

“It seems,” he mused, “I’m wiping out his fingerprints.”

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