“The Widow’s Son” | Novella | Written by Graves Asher | 2 - Mishmashers Mishmashers

“The Widow’s Son” | Novella | Written by Graves Asher | 2

VI.

I spent some time out of town.

Not because I wanted to.

No.

Not that.

No.

Because I needed it.

Desperately.

Needed it.

Survival mode engaged.

If I hadn’t taken that time, I would have snapped.

Cracked.

Right in half.

A worn, brittle twig.

Sad.

Pathetic.

Crushed beneath the world.

Splintered.

Dried out.

So I told some white lies and escaped to a peaceful world without Mom. It sounds terrible, but I’m not a malicious person.

I am kind.

Sometimes.

I am friendly.

Sometimes.

I am a good man.

Sometimes.

I am considerate.

Sometimes.

Or, so I am told.

Did I lie?

Yes.

Did I mislead?

Yes.

Did anyone get hurt?

No.

Things moved on, as they always did. Guilt trips appeared, as they always did, but I brushed them off. I couldn’t listen.

Couldn’t.

No.

Self-preservation.

Self-care.

That’s what the professionals say.

The experts.

In magazines.

With beautiful faces on the covers.

With all their money.

“Self-care will save your life.”

Except, it won’t.

It will earn someone some money and sell a few products. After that, you’re still the same person you always were.

Except poorer.

Nobody changes.

Nobody.

Not even the dead.

Dad disappointed Mom all the time.

Why should he stop in death?

VII.

Pandemonium.

Chaos.

Emotional meltdown.

That’s what I came home to after my trip.

As soon as I returned, Mom summoned me.

We had a conversation.

Deep.

Meaningful.

No.

Wrong.

None of that.

Strange.

Bizarre.

Peculiar.

I never dreamed I would have a conversation of any length about my father’s ghost with Mom, but that’s what we did.

Excerpt:

“Look at that drawer,” she demanded.

“What about it?” I asked.

“It hasn’t moved.”

“Is it supposed to?”

“Yes! Your father has stopped.”

“He stopped opening the drawer?”

“Yes!”

“I’m guessing he moved on.”

“But I told him.”

“What did you tell him?”

“I told him if he started this, he couldn’t stop. I warned him. I said, ‘Don’t you start this and suddenly stop it. No way.’ I said that.”

“Mom…”

“Don’t do that!”

“What?”

“Pacify me!”

“I’m not.”

“You are, too!”

“Okay fine. I am. You got me.”

“He’s not allowed to do this,” she said, switching gears. “He’s not allowed to start this and then stop. No way. I told him.”

“What about Heaven?”

“What about it?”

“He may have moved on to Heaven.”

“What… no.”

“What? You don’t want him in Heaven?”

“I didn’t mean that.”

“Then what do you mean?”

Silence.

“No,” she finally said. “He can’t start and then stop. I warned him. I told him not to do it. Why would he leave? That makes no sense.”

“Heaven, Mom. He’s in Heaven.”

“That’s possible.”

“Yes, it is.”

“But I warned him.”

“I know you warned him.”

“I did.”

“I know you did.”

“I liked knowing he was around.”

“I know you did.”

Repeat.

Repeat.

“I know you did.”

Comfort.

Comfort.

Repeat.

Repeat.

“I miss him.”

“I know you do.”

Guess what?

Me, too.

VIII.

I thought a lot about death as a kid.

Death was everywhere.

Cousin (suicide).

Grandfather (brain cancer).

Great aunt (brain cancer).

Death.

Death.

Death.

Here.

There.

Everywhere.

Death.

As a child, I would cry myself to sleep at night as I thought about life without my parents. Miserable tears soaked my little pillow.

I hugged my teddy bear.

Tightly.

So tightly.

“Don’t you leave me,” I told it.

Teddy bear lives on.

In my closet.

In a box.

Hidden.

But alive.

My dad lived as well.

Not inside the box buried underground, but inside his old bedroom. Opening a dresser drawer all by his lonesome.

At least, Mom thought so.

Until it stopped.

For a while, she moved on.

Cleaned up around the house.

Emptied the garage.

Had a yard sale.

Progress!

Sally forth!

I beamed with pride.

Look at her go, I thought.

Look at her go.

Then, the drawer opened.

Suddenly.

Unexpectedly.

She fainted.

Woke up.

Drawer still open.

Sock dangling from the side.

She called to tell me the good news. But I didn’t want to hear it. I really didn’t. I wanted Dad in the ground. Where he belonged.

Dead.

He died.

Died.

Death.

Death.

Death.

My greatest childhood fear.

Made flesh.

So to speak.

I wanted to move on.

But I couldn’t move on, because Mom wouldn’t let me. She insisted he had remained behind to care for her.

But what about me?

Who will care for me during my grief?

Teddy bear?

Mom?

What about me?

IX.

Dad did that one encore.

Then, boom.

Gone again.

G’night, folks.

Thanks for stopping by.

Gotta go.

His bedroom tour had concluded, and he didn’t come back. I like to think he’d found his way to a much better place.

Heaven?

I don’t know.

Valhalla?

I don’t know.

Hell?

Possibly.

I don’t know.

I don’t.

Religion is stupid.

And scary.

I tried to explain things to Mom.

Make it clear.

Dad is gone, and he’s probably not coming back. He may have stopped over to say goodbye, but he had to move on.

Sorry, Mom.

I really am.

But that’s life.

People die.

They go away.

Forever.

You can’t escape it.

Regardless of the pain you feel.

The hurt.

Suffering.

Agony.

Sleepless nights.

They go, and that’s the end.

Their story is over.

Time for you to write a new one.

But she didn’t write her own story. Never did, really. Dad wrote one for her, as a side character in his personal journey through life.

And she smiled.

By his side.

Always.

Always.

Always there.

Where she wanted to be.

Now that story is over.

Book closed.

Time for bed.

What now?

What do the sidekicks do when the hero dies? What do they do when the narrative abruptly comes to an end?

They languish.

Flail.

Try to swim.

Try to find footing.

Something.

Anything.

To find a story.

Where they belong.

X.

The drawer.

That dresser drawer.

That goddamn dresser drawer.

Mom watched it.

For two days.

One entire weekend.

She didn’t leave the bedroom. She stayed there, looking at that drawer. Hoping it would open. Praying to her quiet God.

Willing it to open.

Wishing for him to return.

To the drawer.

That drawer.

That useless drawer.

That useless goddamn drawer.

The holder of pointless things.

Junk.

Garbage.

Ghost in the drawer.

Pushing.

Pushing.

Performing.

On stage.

A one-man show.

For a one-woman audience.

Leave the house, I told her.

Get outside.

Breathe.

Relax.

Live a little.

Let’s go to a movie. Let’s go tour a local distillery. Let’s go for a walk in the park. Let’s do something outside of the house.

Away from that drawer.

Dad’s drawer.

Dad’s goddamn drawer.

No.

What if he’s there?” she asked.

In that drawer.

With his old socks.

Underwear.

Flashlights.

Knives.

A mass of spectral energy.

Trapped.

Because of a sad woman’s will.

Imprisoned.

By undying love.

And grief.

Trapped by grief.

Endless goddamn grief.

Previous Page | Next Page