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A Bargain With Fate
Parker pulled the thin cover over his mother as she slept soundlessly, the Iv still in her arm. He glanced quickly at the monitor just in case. After two weeks in the hospital and several scares, he wasn't about to risk anything. He smiled sweetly at her wishing she would smile randomly in her sleep. She had features like him only they looked strained and tired, treatment wrecked havoc over her body. Parker could hear the sound of doctors and nurses outside the door, stretchers and sneakers skim the ground but it wasn't as loud as the harsh reality in his head. There were flowers arranged in colors of scarlet red and golden yellow on every counter top in delicate vases, drawings from her elementary students were taped to the wall with messages of hope and love. Parker’s favorite had to be “ Mrs. Dohen is going to kick cancer’s butt.” Every time Parker saw that it gave him some hope but not a lot. Her hair has fallen out and she wouldn't eat anything, not even her favorites. It came to the point where a feeding tube was inserted, parker knew it was almost the end when she couldn't feed much less joke around with them. His father and him tried to make her happy but as treatment went on she was less and less talkative. She had no passion for life, no kick in her joke, just a living corpse.
“Mom, you are going to make it. You are going to beat this right? Right?” He skimmed his fingers over her smooth head where chemo had stolen all of her hair, every last golden strand and whisper into her bare ear. She couldn’t walk now and it was a burden even to talk. His dad eventually couldn't stand to be in the same room as her after the first week in intensive care. He couldn't bare to see his wife beaten down to the core. April, he would murmur when she was asleep during the day. He would only come when she was asleep; it was the only time he thought she was actually there. The nurse would come in to check on her, change medication, clean up a bit, add new water to the flowers and every so often ask what was she like. Such a horrible thing to ask thought Parker. What was she like? As if she was already in her grave. Parker and his dad could tell anyone she was the most vibrant, loved second grade teacher in the world. She likes beagles with cream cheese and lemons with her water. She was the world’s most loving mother and son which cancer took away and buried in sand.
“ Is everything all right in here?” A nurse asked cheerfully when she opened the door with more painkillers. She smiled sweetly even though it was eleven thirty in the evening.
“ Everything is...fine. She’s just sleeping that’s all.” He walked to the window where a clear vase of flowers sat, peaceful and still as the nurse switched the meds. He didn't want to watch he looked out on to the street below, barely any cars passed, maybe one or two. It was a few minutes till the nurse tapped his shoulder. She was much shorter than him, maybe only five foot but her expression even in the light pouring in from outside was prominent.
“ You should be proud of her, she is giving it all she has to live” she smiled again but parker ignored her kind words.
“She’s giving up, she fought for a month and gave up after that. She has been nothing but black hole for nearly four months. She isn't fighting, she is being devoured” he walked out of her way and sat beside her looking at the lament ivory floor. His hands fell limp on his knees as the nurse closed the door behind her with a final word of hope.
“ Maybe with some luck she will get better” parker had the sudden feeling of grabbing the nurse and shaking her till she understood what he felt. There was no hope, if she had no hope what is the point of even caring. Parker sat there for hours it felt like, just sitting, thinking. He couldn't stop thinking about if there was any other way; just one way they could make her start living again. Not just get better but feeling like herself again. That’s all he wanted. Eventually he fell asleep. Everything was quiet and cool until that voice jolted in his ear, mocking.
“Wake up Parker, wakey wakey. Do you want to help mommy live?” Parker barely lifted his eyelids when he felt the air feel as cold as a blizzard. There was a fresh slate of ice on the monitor next to where he sat.
“ Are you awake Park, we got some things to talk about. You and your sickly mother. I got a deal for the both of you. Look at me.” Parker felt his head being jerked up by an invisible grasp but stared at a well-dressed man looking at the vase of flowers. He turned his head slightly to grin at Parker jerking at the hand holding his head in place. He picked one of the red flowers and began to smell it as he strolled to the chair.
“ Parker James Dohen am I right? Nice to meet you, I am here to make a deal with you. I have a bargain for you and your barely living mother. She looked better only a few months ago didn't she? Pretty pitiful now.” Parker boiled with heat as he insulted his mother over and over. He would get up and knock the hell into this guy if invisible claws clenching into his skin weren’t holding him down every time he shifted. His feet were glued to the floor and the icy air licked at his face.
“What the hell do you want to do with me?” Parker spat at the word hell as his breath turn into mist. The man leaned against a wall; his rigid face was handsome in the dim light but unmoving as he studied his victim. He had a pale face and black irises to match his slick back hair. The suit that he was wearing was jet black which made him look anything but human.
“ I want to offer you a bargain. Your mother’s lovely life back. Don't you want that? To hold you mom in your arms and know she is going to live? Any good son would want that for his mother.” Words like smooth venom trailed out of mouth flowing into the ears of a struggling Parker. The man scratched his neck as if to ease an itch but it left behind deep incisions. Parker face contorted at the sight of the gashes, fours deep scars healing quickly. The man looked at him blankly then smiled.
“ I am very much like the man called god. I can create beautiful and horrible things but they come with a price. You just have to decide who you want to bargain with. I can spare pain and kill her now or you can do what I ask and she will live. God would only have her die and leave you with the pain. I am a bussness man parker;” he sat beside parker’s mom and looked down at her near lifeless body. “ A man who is going to make things better if only you want them too.” He smiled down at her like she was something precious, a pearl in an oyster. The sound of ambulances pierced the air and it distracted them both for a minute. The third floor was a dead quiet, not even the sound of nurses slipped through gaps in the doorframe. Parker relaxed a bit, allowing all the anger to dissolve off along with the claws that left puncture wounds from when he struggled. He rubbed his wounds gently surprised when they slowly vanished. He stood up slowly ingesting all the information given to him, wondering maybe this was the way his mom could live. The man stood at the window watching the drunk driver being hauled into emergency, face scarred up. Behind him were a family crying beside two stretchers, both bodies still and bloodied.
“ What do you want from me?” Parker moved slowly to his side. He was ready for anything and everything. From suffering like Prometheus to enduring hardship of odysseys, he was ready to give it all up. Playing with the flower from the vase he sighed deeply, straightening his jacket so the folds looked iron flat.
“What I want from you is something that you can’t take back, not with me. You must be loyal to me. If you do that for me your mom, April will live. By the way she is only going to live another few hours. She has this idea that it will be all better if she died but you don't want her to do you?” Parker looked at the room slowly observing every last detail. White walls with crayon drawings of his mother in the classroom, red and yellow mix breeds that smelled of honey and tea. He saw photo albums and dvds in a corner. The monitor next to her showing the rhythm of her heart with her beside it in a hospital gown. He wished he could redo the last 6 months and forget that this had ever happened but he knew not even fate could agree to such a bargain. His lips trembled when he spoke.
“ If it will mean she will be alive, I will do it.” The man glanced at parker who was still focused on the faint shadow of his mom sleeping. Grinning slyly he patted him on the back generously, a scorching heat was embedded on parker’s back from where he had touched him, burning deep into his flesh. The man toyed with the crimson hybrid flower and placed it in the pocket of his jacket.
“ Nice doing business with you Park.” Without a sound he walked out the door, closing it behind him. The room warmed quickly as water dripped from the windows as if they were crying. Parker grasped his back still burning brightly in pain gripping the spot with his hands. The skin seemed to have raised in a design but the pain was overwhelming. He wanted to call for help but when he looked out the door for a nurse or a passing doctor there was none to be found. Hobbling to the chair beside his mother he collapsed barely making it inside. It was the wrist he has ever felt, like a searing open wound in hot water. He tossed and turned with every jab nearly ripping the leather cushion with his hands. Eventually the pain ceased but the skin was raw and sensitive to touch. Finally Parker slept.
It wasn't till a week later that she was showing signs of wellness. Most of her tumors had disappeared over night it seemed over night and within a month the doctors were baffled. She had beat cancer when it was staring her in the face. Parker’s dad was overjoyed with the news that his wife would return home healthy but she inside she wasn't. She was always upset, complaining and hating everything. She even quit her job saying how she couldn't work with children, how they annoyed her to high heaven. Parker would notice her writing furiously at a leather bound journal but every time he got near to her she would yell or storm off into the bathroom and locked the door. After two months of this she was dianoisged with depression. His father tried everything he could to make her happy, from vacations to cooking to not even talking to her which what she liked most. It was one medication but over the months it became several. She heard voices and hated everything especially her family. She blamed them all for letting her live.
“ Mom, aren't you glad your alive? Aren’t you happy?” She would look at him eyes wide and deranged. She stopped bathing and let herself turned to filth.
“ Do I look happy?” She said in near shriek. “I should have died in that hospital. I should have died! I don't dream, no, I have nightmares! Of terrible events, vivid, too vivid. And it wills all come true. I know it will, It will come back to haunt me in some way. I will live through hell if I don't stop. That’s why I need to leave, so they won’t come true.” She was frantic, lunatic, out of her mind but she was still his mother. She scratched at her neck as if to ease some itch but in doing so leaving behind four trails of blood. With every stroke the gash deepens until parker had to hold her back from inflicting more pain on to her.
“ No! No! Get off!” She screamed until Parker’s dad ran in and saw the bloody mess of his wife, his son holding her back with tears in his eyes. That was the last day she spent in their house. The last day she walked around a sane woman, but everyone knew she wasn't really in her right mind. Doctor to doctor they said the same thing schizophrenia, she has a horrible case with that and depression. She needs to get treatment. Parker hated that word so much now, everything came with treatment. How would they treat her when she doesn't care about herself or other? Would they treat her with respect?
It was till a few weeks after she left for treatment when parker was off in college studying hard at night, flipping through pages and pages of boring text for an exam coming up. Notes were sprawled in every direction along with snack wrappers and cans of soda. He was slouched over reaching for the pen he had just dropped when a ravenous pain in his back sprouted from nowhere. It had been a year since he felt the pain, the skin rising again, bubbling and boiling.
“ Hello parker, I have a job for you to do. Do you remember? You must do as I say you are loyal to me.” Parker was on the ground in pain when he saw his face, timeless and fresh from before. He winced in pain as he got closer.
“What do you want with me?” He barely made that sound like a sentence but the fire on his back screamed when the man got right in his face and blew hot air on his cheeks
“ I want you to do exactly as I say” that night parker couldn't turn away or take back the promise he made. In the morning he walked into the school grounds where students bustled and talked to colleagues, snacking on apple and protein bars for the day to come. He did exactly as the man told him to by walking in to the middle of the courtyard and withdrawing a gun. Regrettably he opened fire, shooting at anyone who was close enough. Screams, crying and blood covered the courtyard and parker didn't stop he couldn't. He cried the whole time, he cried and fired at the people the man told him to aim at. He hit them all, he had no experience with a gun and he was hitting targets like flying disc. Crying and sobbing in between reloading quickly he felt his shoulder being torn apart. He was shot and all went black.
In the prison hospital, there was a bed; a monitor and a table where his father had left the journal his mother wrote in. the police told him he had killed over six people. Four girls and 5 boys. Several more where injured severally including a teacher and a visitor. Parker cried all night when they told him that. He refused medication and suffered in his bed requesting no one come and visit him. Funerals where supposed to held tomorrow. A nurse walked in quietly and checked his monitor. She adjusted the blinds to reveal a rainy day; full of thick Smokey clouds and shimmers of rain crashing down to the glass. Parker watched as she did all of this, hoping she would say something to him. She was walking out when she paused for a second looking at the journal.
“Is this yours?” She held the journal up in the air for him to see. It had strange lettering on the cover. Lettering that he has never seen. He sat up carefully narrowing his eyes for better look as she walked closer to him.
“ It’s my mom. She wrote in it before... she left. Can I hold on to it?” He took the book from her and traced the imprints of the lettering. It was strange to him to hold the journal that his mom hoarded from them for so long.
“You can have it; it’s just that, we found the same markings on your back.” She looked at him suspiciously and closed the door behind her. He pulled the tie that kept the book shut from the world and opened it to the first page. After reading the first two pages he shut the book and threw it against the wall in horror. He didn't want to know anymore, nothing more was to be read from that book. It was his mother’s sweet cursive with words of sweet venom. He had her. She was tortured by him and these visions beginning with the fall of her son. He should have never interfered with fate. He cried and felt the marking on his back burn.
“Go away, go away! You lied to me.” The man returned the flower still in his pocket, live and well. His face of calm was gone and replaced by an annoyed mask of disgust. He stride over to the hospital bed and gripped tightly the railing burning the plastic.
“ No, we had a deal. Your poor mother lives if you give me your loyalty. She is alive is she not? She just was unfortunately able to see what I have in store and wrote them down, going insane in the process. She is alive is she not? I didn't kill her and every time she has tried to kill herself she has miraculously lived. You have a stubborn mother but now I see you had glimpse in the future. Do you like it? She knew about the future of her beloved son, of her husband and the event sure to scare the world.” Parker was in tears, crying louder than he ever had annoying the man in the suit past his point.
“Shut up.” The claws pressed his lips closed. “ You will get out in a few years. You are to move to a quiet place in Florida where the water is clear and the sun performs every night with glorious colors. When you go there you will see me again. Remember you must do it.” He walked over to the book on the ground sprawled open. Swooping down to pick it up he flipped to the twentieth page out of nearly a hundred he read out loud.
“ My dear son was old enough to understand why I did what I did. I only hope he goes to a place similar to heaven. It wasn't his choice.” He shut the book and threw it on parker’s chest bouncing off to the side. Parker could feel his lips return with blood again, and ceased most of his crying.
“ Why did she say was?” He looked at the man pleading for answers, pleading for everything to return to normal.
“ Cause after your do what I tell you to do in Florida you kill yourself, it’s all written here. And as for going to heaven, know we both know better.” He grinned that infamous grin, all teeth straight and white and left closed the door behind him with out a word.