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As I slowly walked down the deserted street, I began to think about what my mother had said. It disturbed me deeply and made my guts twist and churn inside of me. How could everything have come to this? After all our laughter and warmth together, how could she think like this?
“Some things aren’t meant to be dear. Sometimes there’s only one solution, only one way to salvation.”
Her words kept repeating in my head. My mother had always been there for me, by my side whenever I needed her. Through all my 17 years of life, good or bad, she always understood me.
I passed strangers on the street as I made my way over to the park. It was so quiet: A rustle in the trees. Water down the drain. Leftover chatter from the day. I usually came here to think. It seemed, now a days that there was much more to think about.
As I sat down on the park bench, I tried to understand my mother. If my interpretation of what she had said was true. How could she suddenly feel this way, out of the blue? No warning whatsoever.
I must’ve sat there a while, thinking of any alternatives that I may have missed, any clue that may have come out of this. The streetlight above me started flickering. It flashed on and off, creating an eerie atmosphere to my surroundings. A chill crept down my spine and I shivered.
I decided it was time to start heading home. I took my time though. Admiring the beautiful night sky with all the stars above, thinking if there was more to life. Is there a purpose to all this insanity? Do the stars hold answers to something greater than us?
I decided to bring dinner home again tonight, for what seemed to be about the fourth time this week since my mother hadn’t cooked in months. That’s when this whole thing started, months ago, when my mother suddenly became dead, unchanging. Like a zombie, all closed up to the world. Glazed and turned away. Tuning everything out. She was like a prisoner to her own mind.
When I opened the door to our small, enclosed apartment, I was greeted by darkness. I called out for my mother, but of course there was no answer. I searched for the switch on the side of the wall. As light suddenly flooded the room and destroyed the shadows, I saw a crumpled figure lying on the couch. It was her. My mother’s meek body lay as still as a corpse. Her legs tangled in the covers that I had laid over her this morning. Her eyes were open and unblinking. She seemed to be staring out towards the open window.
This angered me. Suddenly I became hostile. The woman who had raised me, lying there, making no effort to care. Soaked in her own world, in her own problems. She was so selfish, so self-centered. I took large strides over to the couch and pulled the covers off of her in quick movements. She looked alarmed. She finally blinked and showed some recognition of my existence. “Is something wrong?”
I considered her question. Her eyes remained uncaring and cold. Of course the answer was yes, and I was still infuriated by her behavior. However, I put aside my emotions, and took a deep breath.
“ I brought dinner.” I declared. As if that solved everything.
The next day, I was awakened by the shrill ringing of the telephone. I wearily climbed out of bed it was only six AM. Who could possibly be calling me at six AM?
“This is she.” I replied groggily.
“I’m afraid I have some bad news.” This caught me by alarm. I wasn’t expecting this.
Suddenly my mother appeared out of her room. “Ms. Stevens?” She grabbed the phone out of my hand. I watched as she took the phone with her into the kitchen making low murmuring noises as she walked. I just stood there and watched. When my mother came out of the kitchen, she suddenly looked ten years older. “There’s been an accident.” She explained. “Your brother was involved in a car accident.” I studied her face carefully.
I suddenly felt overwhelmed. “He’s dead.” She said, with no emotion in her voice. I staggered away towards the couch but I missed and landed on the floor instead. I looked up at my mother trying to find the right words. I failed. My mother left the room. Just like that. The person I used to know would have stayed here with me, telling me it wasn’t true.
My brother was three years older than me. We had never been close but I still felt a connection to him. He had always been the daredevil in the family. The risk taker, the explorer. He traveled almost all the time, always away from home. As if he was trying to get as far away from us as possible.
This news affected me greatly. I always thought that nothing could touch him. He was always getting in trouble and getting hurt. This didn’t feel right.
I slowly got up, feeling nausea getting to me. I needed fresh air. I burst out the door, still only in my pajamas, but I didn’t care. I ran outside into the cold air. In front of the busy street with cars zooming past.
In front of me I saw a store I didn’t recognize. It was a new, just opened, some sort of medical parlor. The only reason I suddenly focused my attention on this was because there was a long line of people, waiting outside. There were people of all ages. From teens to seniors, yet they all had the same grim expression on their face. I didn’t care. I ran all the way to the park, to the bench. The streetlight was still on and flickering and it was freezing cold under the shade of the trees. I just sat there and breathed. My brother was dead. I felt numb. Even though my brother and I were never close, I still loved him. He brought joy and laughter to our family. During holidays he would come and visit us and tell my mother and I of all the exciting things he saw and the people he had met. It felt empty without him on the holidays, if he couldn’t make it for some reason or other. My mother and I needed routine, and he kept it safe for us. This just didn’t make sense, I felt empty.
I sat there for hours. I couldn’t understand. Nothing seemed to make sense anymore. My mother’s emotionless voice filled my brain. As if she didn’t care that her only son had died. Why didn’t this disturb her? Then, suddenly I remembered that she had run out from her room and grabbed the phone from me. I wondered why she had done this. She couldn’t have possibly known what the phone call was about.
I got up and walked back towards my apartment. I was planning on talking to my mother, about everything that had happened over these last few months. I really needed her now. As I came to my street, I noticed the new parlor again. Suddenly I noticed a sign above the entryway. I freezed. This was impossible. This couldn’t be. ‘Salvation is here. Suicide procedures.’ And then I noticed a new addition to the long line waiting to get in. She was just standing there, as if it was any other store. Her cold, expressionless face disappeared. She looked as if a great weight had been lifted off of her. I ran over to her. She looked surprised. I grabbed her arm and pulled her towards me. My movement was sudden and she hadn’t expected it. She crashed into me. “What are you doing?” She asked sharply. “Mom, how could you?”
“This is none of your business. This is about me.”
“About you? You’re my mother! How can you just stand there so calmly? I need you!”
“I’m sorry, but this is for the best.” What was she talking about? Tears were streaming down my face. I was standing there amongst depressed strangers. I couldn’t stand it. I started yelling. I was screaming at the top of my lungs. All these people waiting in line. Other people passing as if this was normal.
“Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to come with me.”
I looked up. There was a police officer holding my arm. “There’s been a complaint.”
He said. “One of the customers asked me to tell you to leave.” He grabbed my arm and started pulling me away. I screamed even louder. He pulled me farther away. I stopped struggling as I saw my mother. She gave me a sympathetic look and entered the store.
Weeks must have passed. I was in the apartment. I had nothing to distract me from reality. There was another phone call. I didn’t care. I couldn’t be bothered to pick it up. I just sat where I had been sitting for a very long time. The voice mail picked up and I heard the voice of a stranger who used to be my friend.
“Hey, this is Emily, I’m sorry we haven’t been in touch for a while, but I just heard about your brother. I’m so sorry. I can’t believe he would do something like that. What could have made him feel that way? If you ever want to talk, maybe we could get together or something. God, I just can’t believe he was willing to take his own life…”
I tuned the rest of what she had to say out. Take his own life? Is that what she had said? She must be mistaken. My brother died in a car accident, I had been told that by the hospital directly. But then I remembered something. My mother had been the one to tell me this information.
Suddenly, everything made sense. She lied. My brother didn’t die in a car accident. He must’ve died the same way my mother died. My mother tried to protect me from the horrible ugly truth. Not that anything mattered anymore. It was all over.
I could’ve been standing there for an hour maybe. There were so many people in line. Finally I grabbed the handle of the door and made my way inside. The chaos of the world around me faded. I smelled a sickly medical smell. I smiled. I was on my way to salvation.