He sits in one of the chairs in the row against the wall. The skin is pulled tight from the back of the head to crease his brows into a frown. He glances around the empty, hallway-type waiting room, then drops his head. Nothing to catch his interest here. He spreads his hands wide for a moment, then clenches them suddenly and savagely- digging in with the nails.
His mind is returned to the previous evening. A conversation flashes before his eyes in the form of a memory.
“You do not have the AIDs, Mother.” he says.
“I have the AIDs, I have the AIDs.” she says, wide eyes rolling with terror.
“It is only a cold, Mother.”
“It was a cold. Now it’s the flu.” she says with the same hysteria, “I’ve heard of such things happening. First a cold, then the body cannot fight the virus, and so it develops into the flu. Then.”
She stops at the thought.
“Then I will die.”
“You are not going to die. Mother.”
“The body… when it stops fighting- when it gives up the battle-” she stops to control her hysterical stuttering. “What do you call that- the defenses of the body. The immu-, the im-, something.”
“The immune system, Mother.”
At that moment the terror leaves her eyes, leaving a blank stare.
“I am going to die.”
“You are not going to die. How can you have the AIDs? If father does not have the AIDs, you cannot have the AIDs. Father does not have the AIDs.” he states, almost wearily.
Her face changes then, to reflect guilt. Guilt for a crime that he was all too familiar with.
He feels foolish for having stated this obvious truth, for the truth of the statement was dependent on something his mother did not have as one of her values: fidelity. Although he had accepted this fact, it feels as if something heavy has dragged his heart from its place to the depths of his stomach every time that he is reminded of it.
When he turns his attention back to his mother, the expression of guilt has left her face. Her eyes wander aimlessly.
“I can’t die..” she mumbles.
And suddenly and viciously she says, “There must be… They must find the cure. They’ve had all the time in hell to find one by now. They.. they must-”
“The AIDs be damned!” The exclamation of rage leaves his throat with a violence.
She stares at him, eyes wide with surprise and shock.
The look with which she regards him prevents him from saying the rest, things that he has kept bottled up for so long. You are not going to die. I am going to die. Because of you. You are killing me.
The contemplation of the past ends here and he is back to the waiting- room. His mother is not yet out from the medical examination.
Dreams are thoughts, they say. Thoughts from the subconscious. What of memories, then? Memories are thoughts. They will probably sink into the subconscious after the conscious forgets them, stored as deleted files are in recycle bins in computers.
I cannot escape this memory… Even if I were to forget it, it would surely become part of the subconscious and return as a dream.
He then remembers his dreams. He stands in the middle of a stretch of flat ground. A grove of trees lie about fifty yards away from where he stands. He himself is standing in the shadow of something huge. Of what, he does not know.
A person standing next to the grove of trees waves and speaks but the distance prevents the sound from being heard. It is a girl with auburn hair. Her features are covered in shadow and are indistinguishable.
There is the weight of a gun in his pocket. Not big. A Beretta .38.
He stops thinking about the dream and his mind is once again back in the waiting room. He now feels the grip of the gun in his pocket.
“When will you be here?” a voice says in the room.
He looks up, startled. He had not not heard anyone enter the room, so lost was he in his thoughts.
A girl sits on one of the chairs set up against the opposite wall, a phone pressed to her ear. He notices her trembling lips and glistening eyes. Her face is barely held under control against overflowing emotion.
Then he notices her hair. Auburn. He notices the shape of the face. He knows this girl. He cannot say from where.
“She will not live more than 2 hours.” The girl shifts in her seat. “Yes, grandma. This is from Dr. Ahpuch.”
There is a pause. Then a sob.
“Mother is-.. What am I to do now, Grandma?” There is no reply from the phone.
“First Father and now Mother.” The tears stream freely from her eyes now. “I have nowhere to go. Nowhere to turn.”
There is a short reply from the phone.
“God? How cruel is God? How can he plan for this to be the end for my mother?” she asks. Not questions for the grandmother. Not questions for anyone in the world. An unanswerable question.
“Cancer.” The word cracks through the air like a lightning through a night sky. “They will not even let me stay with her. She does not have consciousness. They have sedated her.
“I truly have no one.” Her voice is now quiet, almost dangerously calm. “I have heard her screams. The pain is too great for her.”
The tears return. She bites on her lip and says with force, “I could not stay with her because of them. They sedated her.”
Then with less force, “But she would have been in agony.” She pauses. “Would she have chosen to endure the pain to stay with me for the last few moments of her life?”
By now she is no longer directly talking to her grandmother or anyone.
“Or would she have chosen the medication? Me or a quick descent into the darkness? Which?”
Out of the phone emanates the same word over and over again- her name. She has been oblivious to it until now.
“Grandma? What is it?”
A rather long answer is heard. It is broken and stuttering, in the way that words laced with guilt break and stutter with reluctance. And as the words come together into meaning, the girl’s eyes widen.
“You cannot.” she says.
“You cannot.” she repeats, eyes full of terror. “Please don’t send me off the Uncle Jay. Please. Grandma.”
“I shall die, Grandma.” she says. “If you send me off the Uncle Jay, I shall die.
“I promise to work. I will pay for my food, my expenses. I will sell my clothes, cut my hair, anything.” she begs. “Please, I will do anything. Please don’t send me off. Please.”
The phone speaks and the words are heard distinctly: “I’m sorry, sweetie. Goodbye.”
The signal is cut. She lowers the phone slowly and raises her shocked eyes from the one spot on the floor she has been fixated on the entire phone conversation.
The girl’s and boy’s eyes meet. At that moment he thinks that the girl must need the weapon more than he does.
He stands. His hand travels into his pocket to land on the warm handle. He hesitates, remembering the thousand times he had pointed it at his own head and attempted to fire. He pulls out the weapon and holds it out to her, the handle in her direction. She accepts the gun wordlessly and without hesitation. He stares into her eyes. Her eyes are green, with no pupils.
At that moment, his mother exits from the doctor’s office into the waiting room. She smiles when she sees him and walks toward him rapidly. He embraces her, feeling relieved. The feeling surprises him, because it was as if he had been afraid all along that his mother would die as the girl’s mother was doomed to.
“I do not have the AIDs.” she murmurs into his shoulder happily.
He releases his mother and turns. The girl is gone.
At night when he sleeps, he dreams. In the dream, he holds the .38 in his hands. As he watches, his own hand points the gun into his own head. He fires. He falls in the dream, and at the same time he falls backward onto his bed. Blood spatters his pillow and sheets. The gun clatters from his nerveless fingers off his bed onto the ground.
A pair of pupilless, green eyes watch him, both filled with a great sadness.
Created: Apr 23, 2014PlagueRocker Document Media