I’d been digging at it for twenty minutes, but the little bastard wouldn’t come free. I plunged the tweezers into my palm even further in an attempt to remove the splinter that was bothering me so. I saw it grasped in the tips of the tool, but as much as I pulled the damn thing wouldn’t budge. I took a tissue and wiped away the blood before trying again.

The wound was getting larger, that didn’t deter me; the bigger it got, the more likely it was I’d be able to free it and my mind could be at ease. My concentration was broken as the front door opened.

“Honey, you in there? I’ve got someone who wants to see you.”

I grimaced at the intrusion. Ignoring her, I got back to work. I stifled a yell as the tweezers hit a nerve. Blood began to ooze out. I took a fresh tissue and hid my hand. I turned to acknowledge my wife.

“I don’t have time for anyone!” I scowled, wanting to get back to the splinter that bothered me so.

She ignored me, bringing the visitor into the living room.

“This is Steve, he’s going to join us,” she murmured.

My leg jittered doing my best to hold in my anger.

“You must be Eric?” the man said, holding out his hand.

“He doesn’t shake hands.”

“Do you mind if I sit?” he said, asking no-one in particular, “What’s happened there?” he continued, “Is that a splinter?”

I frowned, staring at my wife.

“We all get splinters from time to time. But some are harder to remove than others, aren’t they?” he asked rhetorically, “What gave you this *splinter*?”

“The god damn tree house. It’s so windy out there. The girls won’t come down, and the storm’s almost here. I did my best to make it safe.”

“I’m sure you did, Eric, no-one’s saying you didn’t.”

I heard the wind whip up.

“I need to check on them,” I said, leaping from the chair.

“You don’t need to anymore,” Steve soothed.

I ran to the back of the house and forced open the backdoor that resisted in the wind.

Then everything was calm.

“Oh my god, what’s happened! It’s gone!” I said shocked.

Only a battered stump was left of the majestic oak that had held the treehouse.

“Honey,” my wife said, rubbing my back, “It’s been gone for five years now.”

“I don’t understand,” I said, looking down at my hands.

The fresh wound was now red and inflamed, my hands covered in scars from previous attempts to remove the splinters.

“Where are my daughters?” I cried.

“Just where they have been for the last few years, over there, under the rosebushes.”

Then I remembered what happened when the treehouse fell and my daughters weren’t screaming anymore. My hands started to itch. I went back inside to get the tweezers, I needed to get rid of the splinters.

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