Then the cigar box
alone on the floor
in the center of his room.
Pictures of Diana and Vasco
Light from the black door stretches
into the spaces
between the floorboards,
spreads like an infection
through wooden veins
until it reaches the pictures
and the memories stored
within each image are released.
Through the cacophony
of firing synapses, the light finds
one picture still buried in the pile
and begins to glow.
Paulo brushes aside
the Polaroids above it
to pick up an impossible photograph,
taken in this room,
apparently even in this very moment.
Diana and Vasco stand
in the fierce embrace
of a family reunited.
Their eyes are bright and full.
At their feet, Paulo
sits hunched over the cigar box.
The air feels stolen from his lungs.
What begins as a deep, salvaging breath
leaves his mouth as a full-throated scream.
He holds it out until there is nothing
but a dry wheeze.
He cannot raise his eyes
from the photo.
A comforting feminine hand lands
on his shoulder, then a masculine one
on the other.
He reaches in to lift the photo,
reveals the Smith & Wesson
Paulo closes his eyes, prays
the only honest prayer of his life.
The air curling into his nose
is fragrant with Diana’s perfume,
The bullet has torn through his brain,
exiting his head
and spraying grey matter
over the room.
He slumps to his side,
wisps of smoke rising
from the seared round of flesh.
They ascend to the mantle
where a single framed picture
Paulo, Diana and Vasco at the beach,
arms around each other’s shoulders,
smiling directly into the camera,