“The Widow’s Son” | Novella | Written by Graves Asher | 6 - Mishmashers Mishmashers

“The Widow’s Son” | Novella | Written by Graves Asher | 6

XXVI.

We sat around the table.

With the instruments.

Tools.

From Dr. Winchester.

A scalpel.

Bowl.

Wooden chopping block.

Instructions.

Documents.

Tools.

Tools of madness.

Tools of desperation.

Loneliness.

Sadness.

Desperation.

Desperation.

Desperation.

“These are the instructions?” I asked after reading Dr. Winchester’s ancient text. “This is what that con man told you to do?”

“He said to follow the instructions,” she told me.

“These instructions?”

“Yes. Those instructions.”

“This is sick.”

“I did what he told me to do.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“Yes, I did.”

“Show me your left hand.”

She didn’t.

“Show me your left hand,” I demanded.

No movement.

Nothing.

“Show me your left goddamn hand,” I commanded.

Mom held it up.

Reluctantly.

All five fingers.

Intact.

“You didn’t remove the tip of your left index finger,” I told her, smirking. “If you want to do this, do it right, I say. Am I right?”

Was I?

I don’t know.

“I can’t do that,” she said.

“Why not?”

“It will hurt.”

“So, what do you want me to do?”

“Cut off your finger.”

“What?”

“It asks for a piece of a blood relative.”

“Yeah.”

“You’re his son.”

“But…”

“But what?”

I stopped.

Hesitated.

Tried to find the right words.

Searched.

Dug deep.

Deep.

I couldn’t.

I couldn’t find them.

So I said it anyway.

“I don’t want him back,” I blurted out. “He’s haunting you. He visited you. Not me. If you want him, you make the sacrifice. Not me.”

She screamed.

Instantly.

Indecipherable words.

Immediately.

Rushed down the dark hallway.

Screaming.

Crying.

Slammed the door.

Hard.

Defiant.

Enraged.

She hid inside the bedroom.

And wouldn’t open the door.

XXVII.

Seconds.

Minutes.

Hours.

How many hours?

I cannot say.

But she stayed there.

Inside the room.

Crying.

Wailing.

Cursing my name.

Calling for her dead husband.

Her dead friend.

Her only friend.

I sat outside the door, trying to apologize. My words fell on deaf ears. She didn’t want to hear anything. Just kept crying.

So I sat there.

At the end of a long, dark hallway.

Waiting.

For the crying.

And wailing.

And name-calling.

To stop.

Seconds.

Minutes.

Hours.

Again, I cannot say.

At around two in the morning, she opened the bedroom door. Her eyes red, her face streaked with tears. She looked undone.

“I’m sorry,” I told her.

“I know,” she said.

“I’m sorry.”

“I know. Make it up to me.”

“How?”

She looked at my hand.

“My hand?” I asked.

“Your finger.”

“My finger? Are you serious?”

“Very serious.”

Cold.

As ice.

Her voice, dead.

Her eyes, vacant.

Mom meant business. Serious business. I remembered those looks from my childhood. It was when she became someone else.

Someone to fear.

“My finger?”

“Your finger.”

I don’t know why I caved.

I cannot say why.

But I did.

God help me.

I did.

XXVIII.

I had nightmares.

All the time.

As a child.

I would cry out at night.

Screaming.

“Mom!” I’d shout.

Not Dad.

Mom.

Mom.

Mom.

Always Mom.

Like clockwork, she’d rush in, listen for the hideous breathing coming from the closet. She would soothe my fears. And smile.

Then I would go back to bed.

Sometimes I would sleep.

Sometimes I would lie there.

Crying.

Sobbing as quietly as possible.

I thought about the future.

Mom, dead.

Dad, dead.

Me, alone.

And I cried.

“Mom!” I’d shout again.

She’d return.

“I’m having nightmares,” I’d lie.

In a way, they were nightmares. They were terrors, fears of what was to come. I worried about the future. All the time.

All.

The.

Time.

I didn’t want the future.

God could keep it.

I prayed.

And prayed.

“Keep the future, God.”

I would say it a hundred times.

Over.

And over.

Thinking the quantity would make it real.

Make it happen.

But He didn’t listen.

Typical.

Instead, the days kept coming.

One.

Two.

Three hundred.

More.

More.

More.

And then I found myself.

In the mirror.

Middle-aged.

Balding.

Old.

One parent in the ground.

And losing the other.

To grief.

To madness.

XXIX.

Forgive me.

Everyone.

Friends.

Family.

You.

Especially you.

Forgive me.

You can blame her.

Sure.

Her mental illness.

Yes.

She bears some of the fault.

But I am the one who carried this through. I am the one who completed the ritual that night. I brought it to completion.

Me.

Not her.

Me.

Under her thumb.

Sure.

Under her watchful eye.

Yes.

But I did it.

Me.

Not her.

Me.

Even now.

I protect her.

Forgive me.

For this.

Forgive me.

For protecting her.

Forgive me.

Forgive me.

XXX.

Off went the tip of my index finger.

Mom smiled.

Pleased.

Satisfied.

One step completed.

Two more to go.

My finger bled.

Wouldn’t stop.

Mom handed me a tissue.

I took five.

Tried not to scream.

Show weakness.

I put the tissues on the tip of my finger.

The blood soaked right through, so I added more. And more. And more. Then, I used a rubber band to hold them on.

Instant tourniquet.

Poor man’s first aid.

I got dizzy.

Sat down.

Took a breath.

Another.

And another.

“You’ll hyperventilate,” Mom said.

Like she cared.

“I’ll pass out one way or another,” I retorted.

“Well, don’t.”

“Thanks for your concern.”

“It will all be for nothing.”

“Again, thanks.”

“Do you want me to lie?”

“I want compassion.”

“Do you want me to lie?”

“I want you to care, even for a moment.”

Pause.

“Do you want me to lie?” she asked again.

Forget it.

I regarded the tip of my finger in the bowl. It looked weird. Alien. Once upon a time, it had a home on my body. But no longer.

Now it was on its own.

Braving the unknown.

The occult.

In a bowl.

Sitting on my dead grandfather’s table.

Inside my dead father’s house.

Poor finger.

Poor tip.

Deep breath.

Another.

Just breathe.

Breathe.

Don’t stop breathing, I thought.

I looked at Mom.

She smiled.

All teeth.

When they smile with their teeth.

Like little white lies, all lined up.

They don’t love you.

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