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The warm scent of the summer grass caught his attention, bring back some of the memories he carried with him of his childhood. There was something about the sweet smell that reminded him of his grandfather. A faint quirk appeared at the corner of his lips. He hadn’t thought of the old man in years. He didn’t exactly miss him, as he’d been a horrible human being while Quinn was growing up, but there were some bright points during Quinn’s childhood that still cropped up from time to time.
Quinn walked out onto the veranda. He stared out over the garden that his wife had planted the second day after their wedding. It was mostly dead now, just like her, but there were still a few stubborn plants clinging to life. She had done the same when the cancer took hold. He remembered her hanging onto his hand, begging him not to leave her side until the very end. Though he’d never enjoyed watching someone die, he gave her his word. He kept it too.
That was one thing Quinn was good at, keeping his word. He’d promised his parents he would take care of his younger sister Helene. He’d done that until she got married. When she left the house, he washed his hands of her since she married against his wishes. Her husband got her interested in heroin and the two of them OD’d two months after their daughter was born.
Quinn assured the courts he would take Verity and care for her like his own. Which he did, until his wife grew too jealous. Then he was forced to send Verity away to a boarding school outside the state. He struggled to keep track of her, to make sure she was well supplied with everything she needed as well as several things that she wanted. But it wasn’t enough, and Verity soon dropped out of school and disappeared. Quinn didn’t know what happened to her during the ten years she was absent, but when she returned to him and his wife, she was a changed woman. Gone was the laughing, trusting child. In her place was a suspicious, angry, bitter woman who blamed Quinn and Sophia for everything wrong in her life. She was currently serving a life sentence for murdering her husband and twin sons.
Quin mused on his life. Everyone he loved and cared for either died or became as good as dead to him. His parents were killed in a car accident. His grandmother, who adopted him and Helene, died of a heart attack four years after the adoption was finalized. His grandfather, who he really didn’t miss, had a stroke and the resulting seizure led to his death. Then Helene got married and died. Sophia got sick. Verity vanished and then returned, too angry to accept responsibility for her own actions – whatever they were. Sophia died. Then Verity committed the triple homicide and was sent to prison for life – specifically serving three consecutive life terms.
Quinn opened the small gate closing the veranda off from the rest of the yard. He walked down the short staircase and began wandering through the half dead greenery. He drifted to his favorite part of the wildness – the berry bushes. In the back corner was a bush with large blue berries on it. He reached out and picked the ripest ones and threw them in his mouth.
The skins burst pleasingly against his tongue. He swallowed the sweet yet slightly tart juice and worked down the soft insides. As he continued wandering he started to feel very sick. His lips and tongue burned, and his eyes were getting blurry. He was very disoriented and he felt like he might pass out at any moment.
The breeze brushed across his skin, feeling like sandpaper. He staggered over to his favorite tree and sat on the bench beneath it. A few cherry blossoms fell onto his lap. He played with them until his fingers no longer worked. The last of the berries fell from his hands. It suddenly dawned on him that they were the wrong color for blueberries. They were nightrot, a rare berry that was a deadly poison. Quin sighed as the poison relaxed his whole body. He gave into the darkness. Waiting for him were all of his loved ones.