Time Changes Everything
Steve walked into his house after midnight feeling empty and numb. Absolutely nothing could have prepared him for such day. He stood just inside the door and looked around taking in all the boxes scattered around. Walking around, opening boxes in the process, he peeked inside trying to see in the darkness what the boxes held. In one of the boxes tucked in the corner he found a box containing pictures and memories from Mia’s time in New York. Mia had always loved taking pictures. She said they helped remember important events because memories eventually faded and details became fuzzy. He flipped through them but seeing those pictures made him snap.
Steve let out his anger and frustration by kicking and throwing the boxes and anything in his way. He was furious with himself, with Mia, and with life in general.
“Steve?” a slightly frightened voice called from the stairs.
“Go back to sleep Mary,” Steve snapped remembering Mary had arrived a week before and had since helped with Sophie.
“Where were you all day? We were all worried about you,” Mary said crossing her arms in front of her feeling a slight chill run down her arms.
“I’m home now,” he said splaying his hands out for her to see. He made his way to the stairs brushing Mary’s arm in the process.
“Have you been drinking?” she asked worriedly after smelling the alcohol when Steve brushed past her.
“And here I thought I was the cop,” Steve responded sarcastically as he walked up the stairs and made his way into his room slamming the door behind him.
Steve looked at the made up bed and then at the picture sitting on the night stand. He sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed his face with his hands trying to clear the fuzziness. He picked up the frame, a picture of his wedding day, and saw a smiling Mia looking right back at him, her eyes shining so bright and full of life. He couldn’t believe how much his world had changed in just one instant.
Steve had barely shut off the engine of the Camaro before he flew out of the car with Danny hot on his heels. The sight of the hospital’s top floors brought him to a stop.
There’s been an explosion.
Those words and Danny’s pallor were enough to have him storming out of his house and speeding towards the hospital leaving Kono behind with Sophie. Now witnessing what Danny had told him not so long ago sucked the life out of him. He knew in that instant that it was over. The chaos, the panic, everything around him only served as a reminder that he’d just lost the most important part of him.
Steve didn’t think, he just reacted and pushed his way through the pandemonium ignoring Danny’s shouts. He didn’t get far, though, because there were cops everywhere blocking all access to the building. Steve took out his badge hoping it would give him some leverage but it was of no use.
“I’m sorry Commander but we’re trying to evacuate everyone. We don’t know if the building will collapse.”
“My wife is in there!” he shouted at the innocent cop who was just doing his job.
“I’m sorry Commander but no one is allowed inside,” the cop said giving Steve a sympathetic look.
Steve ran a frustrated hand through his hair as he allowed the mass of people to push him further away from the entrance, from the possibility of finding his wife.
Danny’s stomach churned at the sight before him. He felt his heart break for Steve and he didn’t know what to do but to go around and ask for information. Danny gathered that the explosion took place in the fifth floor, Mia’s floor, but the exact location wouldn’t be determined until it was cleared and safe to go in. Until now, the crime scene investigators ruled out any survivors on that floor but wouldn’t confirm it until they checked it out for themselves.
Danny walked back to where Steve was pacing back and forth by the Camaro stealing glances at the hospital every once in a while.
“I’m sorry man. There’s not much yet only that it took place on the fifth floor,” Danny said as he rubbed the back of his neck, with one hand.
In that moment Chin joined them. “So I just gathered that the bomb squad has been cleared to go inside and investigate,” he said in a solemn voice looking straight at Steve who was now leaning on the driver’s side of the Camaro with a fist under his chin, staring straight at the hospital but not saying nor acknowledging anything. Chin knew exactly what Steve was going through. He had lived through it not so long ago and as much as he tried to find words of comfort for Steve he simply couldn’t. He hadn’t even fully recovered from Malia’s death and the events taking place took him back to a dark place in his life. He exchanged a worried look with Danny who only shrugged a shoulder.
Later that day the news everyone was dreading but seemed to be expecting were confirmed by the bomb squad. Mia was dead.
*End of Flashback*
Steve woke up startled. He didn’t realize he had passed out on top of the covers clutching his wedding picture. The sun was shining bright through the windows in his room and Steve cursed it. He was in a foul mood and felt like the brightness was mocking him. He stood up, his black button up dress shirt and black slacks wrinkled, with the picture still firmly in his hand. Standing in front of the mirror, he looked at the man staring right back at him, unshaven, clothes wrinkled, and bloodshot eyes. Steve didn’t recognize himself but didn’t care. He simply didn’t have an ounce in him that would care about anything more other than the fact he had just lost his wife.
Feeling the anger coming back to him in a flash, Steve hurled the framed picture at the mirror instantly breaking it into a million pieces. He dropped to the floor burying his head in his hands not being able to hold it together anymore. Steve lost it and broke down sobbing uncontrollably.
Not even a minute later after he broke the mirror, his sister was banging on the door.
“Steve! Steve, open this door!” MaryAnn shouted outside Steve’s door finding it locked. “Come on Steve, answer me, are you okay?” Mary kept twisting the doorknob but not succeeding it. She leaned her ear on the door and heard something that resembled sobbing. Mary sighed and in that instant Sophie started crying. Mary was torn turning to look at the nursery and then Steve’s door. She rushed into Sophie’s room and carried the crying baby. “It’s okay sweetie. Shh, everything is alright.”
“Hello? Anybody home?” Danny called from downstairs.
Mary walked with the crying baby in her arms to the landing and looked down at Danny. “Up here,” she said. “Steve locked himself in his room and I’m worried. Last night he came home reeking alcohol and throwing the boxes all over the place.” She motioned to the scattered mess downstairs. “And not so long ago I heard a shatter in his room but he won’t open the door or answer me and now Sophie is upset.”
“He keeps blaming himself for – ” Danny didn’t have a chance to complete his sentence when they heard a loud crash coming from Steve’s room. He rushed up the stairs and knocked incessantly on the door. “Steve, come on open up!”
“Go away!” they heard.
“If you don’t open up I will knock this door down!” Danny threatened hoping to get his friend to open the door.
A few seconds later Steve opened the door and the whiskey bottle in his right hand did not go unnoticed. Mary and Danny exchanged a look and Mary walked back downstairs to calm down Sophie.
“Don’t you think it’s a little early to be drinking?” Danny asked letting himself into the room taking in the mess and broken mirror. There was books, perfume bottles, clothes strewn everywhere. Danny also noticed Steve’s broken wedding picture on the floor.
“Screw you, Danny,” Steve retorted sitting on the edge of the bed and taking a swig of the bottle.
“Hey I’m not the enemy here,” Danny said placing his hands in his pockets and looking at the mess Steve was.
Steve snickered but didn’t say anything.
“You know there are people that are worried about you,” Danny said. “But they’re also afraid to approach you for fear you’ll kick them out.”
“Well apparently it didn’t keep you away,” he said in a clipped voice.
Danny sighed and rubbed his face with one hand. He stood in front of Steve and extended his hand. “Give me the bottle,” Danny ordered.
“Leave me alone Danny,” Steve said standing up and pushing Danny out of the way.
“You really need to cut the crap Steve,” Danny said losing his patience. “I know you just lost your wife and you feel like shit but there are people out there who still need you.”
“Shit doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel Danny. I feel like a part of me died with Mia. My wife is dead Danny and nothing will ever bring her back and it’s my entire fault!” Steve shouted his eyes brimming with tears.
“I understand but – ”
“You understand? No Danny, I don’t think you understand,” he shot back sarcastically. “Your wife never died. She left you but she’s still alive. No one can begin to understand what I’m feeling!”
“Fine, you’re right. My wife didn’t die but come on Steve. You have a daughter who needs you now more than ever. Do you think Mia would have wanted to see you like this? She loved you and trusted you to watch after Sophie. Do you think she would be happy to know her daughter’s father is doing nothing but getting drunk and drowning in self pity?”
“She should have thought about that before she left to New York!”
“That’s enough! No one could have predicted what happened, Steve! Absolutely no one, so stop it right now! You need to sober up and get yourself cleaned up because Sophie needs her father. Mary can’t watch her forever. She has a life of her own and you need to take responsibility.”
“I don’t think I can, Danny. I don’t know how to,” he whispered in a broken voice. “She’s gone, really gone.”
“I know Steve,” Danny said softly. “You think it doesn’t affect the rest of the team as much? We all loved her and miss her but we need to continue with our lives. We’ll never forget about her, Steve. She was family.”
“It just hurts too much,” Steve said sitting down on the floor his back to leaning on the bed. “I just wished there was something I could have done to prevent this.”
“We all did,” Danny said sitting on the edge of the bed and giving Steve’s shoulder a gentle squeeze. “I know your time together was cut short but you need to take all the good things you shared in that short amount of time. One of those was your daughter, Steve. Now what you have to do is look after her.”
“She looks so much like Mia it hurts to look at her,” Steve confessed.
“You can’t let that come between you and Sophie. You’ll only end up resenting Sophie and hurting her. I know it hurts to look at anything or anyone that might remind you of her but she’s your daughter too, Steve.”
“I just don’t think I can do it right now,” he said.
Danny nodded understanding where Steve was coming from but sincerely hoping Steve didn’t push his daughter away. He feared Steve would resent Sophie and end up blaming her too for Mia’s death. Danny deeply prayed it never came to that.
“How about you go and get cleaned up for now? I’ll give you a hand around here and try to get this mess back to normal,” Danny said standing up and looking at the clothes Steve was wearing.
Yesterday after Mia’s burial, a week after it was confirmed Mia had died in the explosion, Steve had disappeared and no one was able to track him down because he had not taken his truck and his phone was off the entire day. From what he had gathered, Steve had gone off and gotten wasted returning home well after midnight.
The results of the bombing had come back and Danny dreaded telling Steve the news but he had a right to know. Danny decided to wait until Steve cleaned himself up and had eaten something.
Hours later, after Steve had sobered up and cleaned himself and the mess in his house, Steve and Danny sat on the wooden chairs by the water in his backyard watching the sun set in silence, each lost in their own thoughts.
“Steve,” Danny said breaking the silence and interrupting Steve’s thoughts.
“Hmm?” Steve responded not looking away from the sun setting.
“The results came back today,” Danny began.
“Remember Laura Hills’ death?” Danny questioned looking at his friend.
That got Steve’s attention and he instantly looked at Danny with questioning eyes. “Yeah?”
“The bomb found in Mia’s room,” he paused to take a deep breath. “It was exactly like the one planted in Laura’s vehicle.”
“You mean…” Steve said shocked at what he was hearing.
Danny nodded confirming Steve’s thoughts.
The End ….. or is it?
Read the Sequel