1. a prolonged lamentation or a mournful complaint


Some things just can’t be undone. That’s the crazy thing with life.

Severe mistakes are carved in the mind and heart with an irrevocable vividness.

The sudden panic those memories bring to mind was the scariest thing. After a month of avoiding the past, he could hear the quiet knocks that were slowly creating tiny fractures in his facade.

Riley wasn’t into showing weakness and pretty much avoided all opportunities for a jeremiad–that was just another sign of weakness, an obvious crack in your armor.

Even the act of looking back and wishing for a different outcome was pathetic and futile.

“You did the right thing soldier,” his captain had yelled into his face, wanting to stem the obvious guilt overtaking Riley. “You saved your country from the enemy.”

Really? Had he saved anyone? Was he really a hero? Is that what you called a man who killed an 8-year-old girl?

The guilt was difficult to shake and her face impossible to forget. She was everywhere.

Her body lay still, unmoving. But it was her eyes that gave him chills and caused him to shake uncontrollably. He could move around the room, but her eyes stayed glued to him, staring at him, silently asking why he’d pulled  the trigger.

He’d exit the shower, only to find her cold corpse lying on his black and white tile floor, staring up at him, daring him to forget what he’d done.

Sometimes he would find her on the coffee table, or the back seat of his Jeep, even the island in the kitchen in the wee hours of the morning before the sun came up.

But when he went to check on Riley Jr., and found her draped across his son’s chest staring unwaveringly at him, Riley had lost it.  His yelling sobs had awoken his wife and drawn her out to the garage where he was retrieving his gun.

Things hadn’t been the same since that night. His internal chaos had been vomited into his household to greet the full light of day. The door was wide opened and couldn’t be locked again.

His wife thought he should talk to someone and now Riley Jr., was having an extended sleepover with his grammy and papa.

Riley didn’t know what he would say. He’d have to talk to someone if he wanted his son back in the house–his wife made that clear. But how could he say he wasn’t brave, that he’d broken the cardinal rule of all heroes? He had let his weakness show.

He’d done the right thing. And somehow it had broken him.



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