Greg hadn’t been back in five years. The once bright and shining building with its neat rows of red brick and white window frames now lay in ruins. Parts of walls were falling over, some blackened by fire, and others standing whole as if by divine intervention. He crossed through what had once been the foyer, stepping over cinder blocks, bricks, cracked and warped boards. A tricycle with colorful plastic streamers lay on its side, the white plastic seat burnt, curled. Could it have been only a few years ago that he stood here with Sherry? Holding hands, laughing, walking to the overcrowded classroom where their daughter was waiting to be picked up early. He stumbled, looking down and thought he saw an arm. No, it was a plastic tube for storing sketches in the art room. He kicked it, fell back against one of the blackened walls. “Look,” Sherry had said, “she doesn’t want to leave! Can you believe that? Maybe we should just go without her.” Why not? They might have had fun on their own; they hadn’t had a chance for alone time since the move. But seeing his daughter there then at that moment, sitting with her little pigtails in the semi-circle with her teacher… laughing, turning to him and smiling. He couldn’t resist lifting her and twirling her around. Hug her until she said, “Daddy, stop, you’re squeezing too tight!” He collapsed onto the charred floor, his feet pushing against the footboard of the tricycle. It slid against the cracked, burnt tiles. Fingers on a chalkboard. If only he had said “Yeah, you know what, let her stay. She’s happy. Next time.” But he didn’t. And she came with them that day six years ago. Sat in the back seat when the tractor trailer took too wide of a turn, fishtailed, slammed into their old white Volvo.



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