“The Widow’s Son” | Novella | Written by Graves Asher | 3 - Mishmashers Mishmashers

“The Widow’s Son” | Novella | Written by Graves Asher | 3

XI.

One month later, still no Dad.

Goodbye, Dad.

Goodbye.

See you later.

Maybe.

Nice knowing you.

Kind of.

At least, part of you.

So many secrets.

Little things.

Hidden away.

Did I know you helped out after my cousin’s messy suicide? No. Did I know you didn’t understand how to parent a child? No.

No.

No.

But Mom told me.

Thank her.

She’s swell.

Mom told your secrets.

Some wife.

Some friend.

Right?

She told me a lot of things.

Secrets.

Dark secrets.

Your secrets.

Your dark secrets.

Why?

I don’t know.

Ask her.

Did she want me to feel just as miserable as her? Did I need to suffer right along with her? Was I not sad enough in my own grief?

She could have asked.

I was right there.

The whole time.

The whole time.

Right there.

By her side.

But it didn’t matter.

At all.

She wanted you.

Only you would do.

But that doesn’t matter much to you now, does it? You’ve hit the supernatural highway. Abandoned the dresser drawer tour.

It broke her heart.

I wish I could have warned you.

You broke her heart.

Twice.

First, you died.

Then, you abandoned the drawer.

I wish I could have warned you.

Stay away, Dad.

I would have told you that.

Stay away, Dad.

Stay far away.

Or you’ll be sorry.

So very sorry.

XII.

Mom invited me over for lunch on a Saturday.

I should have known better.

Should have prepared myself.

Anticipated her intentions.

Hidden agendas.

We ate sandwiches.

Chips.

Drank soda.

In-between bites, small talk.

Work.

Life.

Work.

Life.

Dad.

Dad.

Dad.

Dad.

Dad.

Dad.

Dad.

Dad.

Work.

Life.

Work.

Life.

Dad.

Dad.

Dad.

Dad.

Dad.

Dad.

Dad.

Dad.

Dad.

On repeat.

Looped.

For infinite.

A hideous, never-ending cycle.

Once we finished eating, she said she wanted to show me something she added to the bedroom. I took the bait.

Hooked.

But I knew better.

It’s Mom.

She does these things.

Sneaky things.

Mom showed me a painting.

“Your father did this in college,” she said.

Flowers.

Rolling hills.

Blue sky.

Very pretty.

But she didn’t care about that lovely painting. No, she wanted me to believe she did, but I knew it was a ruse.

A trick.

To lure me.

Into that bedroom.

Hidden agendas.

She turned to it.

The drawer.

Her eyes watered.

Lip quivered.

“He’s still gone,” she told me.

What could I say?

What?

“I’m sorry.”

I said that a lot.

“I’m sorry.”

What else could I say?

When someone falls into the depths of grief, you can’t do anything. You can be there for them. That’s all you can really do.

You can’t change the present.

The past.

The future.

It’s all set in stone.

Rock solid.

Unbreakable.

“He left me,” she said again, angry this time.

“I’m sorry.”

“He left me.”

“I’m sorry.”

“He left me.”

“I’m sorry, Mom.”

She smiled.

Tears in her mouth.

“I’m okay,” she said.

Lies.

All lies.

Because.

Then she said, “I have a plan.”

I’m sorry.

Dad.

I’m sorry.

XIII.

Mom doesn’t plan.

Organize.

Think ahead.

That’s not her style.

Never was.

But she had a plan that day.

She’d hatched it.

Stewed on it.

Cooked it.

A recipe for unintentional malice.

Then, she put it into motion.

I didn’t know what she had in mind. She kept mentioning her plan, her project. But when pressed, she never revealed details.

I was in the dark.

Again.

Mom liked secrets.

Dark secrets.

Kept things hidden.

My cousin’s suicide.

Dad’s inability to parent.

What else?

Hidden.

What else?

Tucked away.

What else?

I asked about her plan. Did she intend to commit suicide? No, she said. Then what did she have in mind? What was her plan?

I got nothing.

Silence.

Shut out.

Shut down.

Put in my corner.

Bed without supper.

Nothing new.

Not to me.

Flashback.

I remember childhood fights.

With Mom.

About things.

Silly things.

Her latest secret felt silly, so I didn’t push. I didn’t pry. I let her have a miserable little party she could call her own.

Did she need that?

A secret?

Did she hoard them?

What else did she have tucked away?

What else?

I didn’t want to know.

Still don’t.

I’m okay with that.

Fine.

But what she did.

What she did.

No.

I felt guilty. I felt horrible. And now there are consequences. Far-reaching consequences. Shame on her. Goddamn it.

Shame on her.

But, also, shame on me.

I should have pushed.

Pried.

Pull out that truth.

Stomped on it.

Some secrets shouldn’t remain hidden.

They need light.

Or they take root.

Flourish.

And grow.

Out of control.

XIV.

She called out of the blue.

After texting.

Dozens of time.

About nothing.

Nothing.

In particular.

Mom was on her lunch break; I was working. She didn’t care. When she had something to say, it didn’t matter. At all.

Busy?

Doesn’t matter.

Preoccupied?

Don’t care.

Depressed?

Not interested.

Not interested in your problems.

No.

Not at all.

Be quiet.

Mom’s talking. The adult in this situation. The senior. Do you have problems? They don’t measure up. I’m your mother. I matter more.

Your problems: small.

Mom’s: huge.

Monumental.

Enormous.

Unmanageable.

So unmanageable that they end up on someone else’s shoulders. If they have problems, that’s okay. They can handle more.

I could always handle more.

In her eyes.

Because I didn’t have problems.

In her eyes.

“You’re not busy,” she said.

Not a question.

A statement.

“Can you drive me?” Mom asked.

“Where?” I wanted to know.

Hid my agitation.

Frustration.

Anger.

Rage.

“Where?” I asked again.

“Does it matter?”

Her temper.

Fierce.

Misguided.

Misplaced.

I didn’t kill Dad.

Despite what she thinks.

I didn’t.

I didn’t deserve that.

“I need you to take me downtown to see someone important,” she spat. “I have an appointment tomorrow. Can you go?”

No.

I have a job.

Responsibilities.

Bills.

Debt.

So much.

Debt.

But I put it aside.

Dropped everything.

To rush by her side.

Like my father.

Before me.

XV.

I thought she might see a lawyer.

Therapist.

Doctor.

Someone important.

Special.

Normal.

Sane.

No.

Instead, she visited a man named Dr. Philip G. Winchester, a metaphysical specialist. He dealt in the paranormal.

Ghosts.

Otherworldly entities.

Dead fathers.

Haunted drawers.

I scoffed.

Mom ignored.

I waited in the car.

In a parking garage.

Downtown.

Seethed.

Snoozed.

Seethed.

Listened to music.

Seethed.

Before long, she returned. Knocked on the car windshield, all smiles. Motioned for me to roll down the window.

“He wants to talk to you,” she said.

“Who?”

“Dr. Winchester,” she said, matter-of-factly.

Like I should know that.

Like everyone should know that.

Everyone.

On the planet.

Should care.

“Why does he want to talk to me?”

“We need your support.”

“Why?”

“He didn’t say. I didn’t think you would have a problem supporting me right now. I’m having a hard time, you know.”

“I know.”

“It’s so quiet there. At home.”

“I know.”

“Will you support me?”

A loaded question.

Cocked.

Ready to fire.

I closed my eyes.

Thought of my father.

He would have hated this for me, I’m sure. He despised this kind of petty nonsense. Then again, what do I know about him?

Anything?

At all?

Nothing?

At all?

I don’t know.

I nodded.

Stepped out of the car.

And followed Mom.

Upstairs.

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