The Way Things Happen

November 11, 2007
By
It was not supposed to happen like that. Not so unexpectedly, not so...well, I should probably start from the beginning.
I yanked on one of my white sneakers as I leaned against the bed, the old mattress creaking just a tiny bit. Nothing I wasn't used to. I wiggled my toes around in the shoe, making sure that a) there was nothing else in there, and b) they still fit. I hadn't worn these sneakers in quite some time, and a vague wave of nostalgia washed over me, sending me into a fit of delighted titters. My name was called from somewhere in the living room; the hasty and rough tone suggesting that there was important news that I was missing.
Quickly, I gave my room another once over, inspecting it one more time. My room wasn't clean very often, and I liked to savour the experience as I would Haley's comet. Once I was positive that my room was in the order that I wanted it to be, I jogged down the hallway, wearing my cleaning clothes and an old white sneaker.
My mother and father sat on the couch, my father's arm draped comfortingly around my mother's shoulders. Had I committed a felony and not realized it? My mother was holding back tears--she is not one for crying. My father's eyes were red and swollen. I supposed he'd cried about this news on his way home from the office.
Have you ever felt a dark anticipation of something... bad? There was a tingling in the very pit of my stomach. Gradually, as the ominous silence dragged on, the tingles spread to engulf my entire torso. The tingles were nearly painful, now, and I had to surpress the urge to grope my stomach. The tingles also had a strange effect on other parts of my body as well. My heart began to pound and rise simultaneously, erratically beating out a rhythm that mimicked a death metal drum solo. My lungs constricted, yearning for a fresh gulp of air. Oh, that was because I'd stopped breathing. I was literally holding my breath for this news that I knew I was not going to like.
"Honey, your grandfather passed away," my mother managed to choke out, turning her head slightly.
"That's not funny," I insisted, denying what I already knew to be true. Neither of my parents spoke and the room seemed to dim three shades darker until the living room looked more like a gloomy constricting box than a tv room. But my grandfather loved sparkling water. Now he couldn't drink it.
The tingles disappeared mysteriously, but for the moment I couldn't acknowledge them. The tingles were replaced by a dull, sloth-like numbness that started somewhere in my core. It spread quickly to my knees and chest like a warming flu medicine. My head seemed to have grown a heart because it was now pulsing to its own confused, irregular song.
My knees gave out and I found myself kneeling on our plush carpet floor. My mouth opened, as if to speak with it, but all coherency I had once retained had abandoned me, and my mouth closed again only to repeat the motion many times after that. I supposed that I resembled a gaping fish, one that was most certainly going to die and had resorted to fill its lungs with oxygen until it could no longer do so.
My mother immediately hurried off of the couch to come to my aid. Looking back on my mother's reaction to my reaction to the 'bad news', I realized that she wasn't crying because she was waiting for me to cry. She wanted for us to be able share our mourning, to be able to comfort each other.
But the 'bad news' kept repeating itself in my mind. I refer to my grandfather's death as the 'bad news' because to actually think the words, my grandfather is dead, would in some way mean that I was accepting the fact that my favorite family member would never be able to drink his sparkling water. Funny how, with everything that was trying to penetrate my mind all I could focus on, all i could on to was his inability to drink sparkling water.
My mother, still trying to comfort me, wrapped her arms around me. I blinked, and shook my head, the shock wearing off, a new anger neatly slipping into its place.
I squirmed out of her grasp and stood up on shaky legs. My head swiveled from left to right and back again as I retreated from the room. I was backing up to the front door, my mind fuzzy and clouded. My vision was blurry and water-soaked. My mother raised her voice just a little, using only a hint of the authority she possessed.
To me, it seemed as if I were a goldfish inside my bowl and my mother was annoying me by tapping incessantly against the glass.
I turned and fled out the front door, tears streaming down my cheeks and dead-set on drinking as much sparkling water as I could stomach and then some.





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