He walks along the mantle yet again, fingers outstretched, touching each of them.
Kristen . . . Isabella . . . Lee
Their jars all equally spaced.
The three women he had loved . . . Before he stopped.
He's in his eighties now and they had left nothing behind but their ashes and their memories. Frankly it was a miracle he had even gotten his hands on Kristen or Lee's remains after his involvement in their deaths, but Oswald had come through for him. He always had . . .
Oswald's urn wasn't on the mantle. It was tucked away inside the entertainment center where no one could see it. Well, no one but Martin.
The Christmas feast was over and Martin's grandchildren were outside playing in the snow while their grandfather loosened his belt and leaned back in his chair, overly full from the turkey, the stuffing, the potatoes, the pie . . .
It was one of the only sounds one would ever hear out of his mouth and it made Ed smile.
Martin took out his pad and drew exactly what Ed knew he would.
Ed nodded and they headed for the living room. Martin glanced accusingly at the mantle where the other three urns stood in a place of honor. Ed hung his head, avoiding his gaze as he opened up the entertainment center to reveal the urn of his beloved friend.
Martin crouched down like he always did and placed his hand on the smooth metal, running it along its rim. And then the tears came like they always did. Ed's and Martin's.
"I miss him," said Ed.
Martin nodded but then stood up and wrote on his pad. "It's time."
Ed's eyes widened.
Martin went over to the mantle and started moving the urns. Making a place . . .
"No. . ." Ed whispered. Martin's motions made him nervous. "No. Please stop."
Once there was a spot Martin silently removed Oswald's remains from the sheltered cabinet and placed them in Ed's hands. He pointed again to his pad. "It's time."
Ed looked at the gaping space that had been cleared on the mantle and suddenly realized that Oswald was the only one who had left him anything.
He had left him Martin. A family.
And all the women who had traipsed through his life had only left him barren.
Tears welled up in his eyes and rolled down his face. They came so fast and hard that they made his grasp on Oswald's urn slippery, tenuous. Martin placed a hand on his back to steady him. He was right.
It was time.
It was time that Oswald was allowed into the light and given a place of honor in his life.
He put the urn in it's rightful place. On the mantle along with everyone else he had ever loved.