“The Widow’s Son” | Novella | Written by Graves Asher | 8 - Mishmashers Mishmashers

“The Widow’s Son” | Novella | Written by Graves Asher | 8

XXXVII.

At first, nothing.

Silence.

Sweet silence.

The room sat empty.

Motionless.

We peered.

She, eager.

Me, wary.

Into the darkness.

Moonlight cut through the curtains.

Illuminated the scene.

Faintly.

Whatever had been making the noise had settled down. Nothing moved. Nothing stirred. Everything in its proper place.

Mom sighed.

“Nothing,” she said.

“Nothing?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she repeated.

I wobbled.

Pain receptors blinked off and on.

Off and on.

My body slipped into self-preservation mode.

Did its best to keep me conscious.

We stood still.

Mom and I.

And waited for the banging to return.

“Was it one of the cats?” I asked.

“No, the cats were in there with us.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure.”

Mom pointed down the hall.

There, at the other end, sat both of her precious felines. Both looked terrified beyond belief. They, too, had heard the banging.

“I don’t know what to think,” I told her.

“I don’t either,” she agreed.

“Did we do it wrong?”

“Should we do the ritual again?”

I looked at her.

A joke?

No.

No signs of humor.

None.

She was serious.

Dead serious.

“I am not doing this again.”

“Why not?”

I removed the washcloth from my mangled eye. I don’t know what Mom saw, exactly, but I know she didn’t like it.

“I understand,” she said.

“Do you?”

“Yes, I understand.”

With that, we turned away from the bedroom.

Ready to admit defeat.

But then we heard it.

The banging.

Mom’s face lit up.

“He’s here!” she exclaimed.

XXXVIII.

He’s here.

Her words.

Not mine.

He’s here.

He’s here.

He’s here.

Over.

And over.

Again.

Mom looked like a young girl on her sixth birthday. She clapped her hands. She jumped up and down. It seemed so surreal.

So childlike.

Pathetic.

I leaned against the wall.

The bleeding wouldn’t stop.

My eye socket throbbed.

Finger tip ached.

Head felt too full.

Of emotions.

Pain.

I wanted to pass out.

But I didn’t.

Consciousness held on.

For dear life.

I leaned against the wall, watching the dresser door open and close, open and close. I watched it with my one good eye.

Mom rushed to the drawer.

Leaned against it.

Sobbed.

“I’ve missed you,” she told my father.

The drawer closed.

Opened.

Closed.

Again.

Again.

Deep.

Erotic.

I closed my eye.

I felt uneasy.

Like I was viewing something I shouldn’t see. A late-night softcore movie designed for the deeply grieved and impossibly lonely.

Mom broke my meditation.

Invaded my space.

Took my hand.

“Come,” she beckoned.

“Say hello to your father.”

I wanted to run.

To scream.

To die.

XXXIX.

I’d run out of patience.

Completely.

Tank ran dry.

I jerked my hand away.

Angry.

Fearful.

“No,” I told her. “I’m done here.”

“Please,” she begged.

“No,” I said again.

“Please.”

“No. I don’t need this.”

“But you do.”

“I don’t.”

“You need this as much as me.”

I felt insulted. I am nothing like her. I will never be anything like her. I will go to great lengths to avoid that. At great pains.

I am not my mother.

I am not my father.

I am me.

I’ve cataloged their mistakes.

Missteps.

I have volumes.

Of reference material.

A roadmap.

To how life shouldn’t be.

And I will follow that.

Instead.

Mom always liked to look the other way. As such, she couldn’t see that I hurt. That I couldn’t stand on my own two feet.

Literally.

Figuratively.

But still she tugged.

Pulled.

“Please,” she said.

Eyes watering.

Tears flowing.

“Please,” she said again. “Please.”

I fought against her.

I did.

I tried.

But in the end.

I gave in.

As always.

And stepped inside the bedroom.

XL.

Mom guided me.

Toward the dresser.

I felt like I did during my baptism.

Scared.

Confused.

Pressured.

Forced.

Rewind.

I am ten years old.

I didn’t understand anything.

But that didn’t matter.

Mom wanted it.

Grandmother wanted it.

Family wanted it.

So they dunked me in a shallow pool of holy water. The godly liquid went up my nose, made me cough. Everyone chuckled.

The holy spirit.

Working through my nostrils.

Behold.

Behold!

The power of God.

I stood there.

Grinning.

Unrehearsed.

Holy water.

Coming out of my face.

Preacher’s hand on my lower back.

Lower.

Lower.

And those feelings flooded back into my head. God smelled an opportunity to show His power once again.

I am here, He said.

Remember that feeling?

I am still here.

But you have forsaken me.

And I have forsaken you.

So Mom pushed me.

Toward that drawer.

Which opened.

To accept my love.

XLI.

“Say hello.”

Mom said.

“Say hello to your father.”

The drawer opened wider.

Wider.

“Say hello.”

“Hi,” I said.

“No,” she scolded. “Put your hand inside.”

“Why?”

“That’s what he wants.”

“Why does he want that?”

“I don’t know.”

“Then why should I do it?”

“Because he wants it.”

Sound logic, to her.

Mom smiled.

“How do you know this?” I asked.

“Because he told me,” she whispered.

“When?”

“Now.”

“Just now?”

“Yes, just now,” she said, growing impatient. “This is what we wanted. Say hello. He’s missed us. Can you feel it?”

“Did he say that?”

“No.”

“Then how do you know?”

I do.”

“How?”

“Do it. Please. Now.”

Wide smile.

Dead.

Wide eyes.

Dead.

She pushed again.

I stumbled forward.

Couldn’t fight.

Resist.

My body didn’t have much to give at that point. Everything started to turn black. Will, broken. Body, fading.

I kept one hand on the top of the dresser.

The other in the air.

Away from the drawer.

Away from the father-mouth.

“Go on,” she insisted.

“Say hello?” I asked.

“Say hello.”

“By putting my hand in here?”

“By putting your hand in there.”

I nodded.

Took a breath.

Prepared.

To say hello.

XLII.

I never said goodbye to my father.

He was pretty much dead.

When I arrived at the hospital.

A sack of meat.

On a respirator.

Mechanical inhale.

Dead dad.

Mechanical exhale.

Dead dad.

Over.

And over.

I sat next to mom. A woman I didn’t know stood beside me. She rubbed my back like a mother should. Like a mother’s supposed to do.

Mom didn’t.

She was sobbing.

Lost in her own world.

Ten minutes later, the doctor bowed his head.

“I’m sorry for your loss.”

Just like that.

Worlds ended.

Mom wailed.

I cried.

Quiet.

Reserved.

Mom stood.

Crossed the room.

Kissed my father on the forehead.

“Oh, baby,” she told him.

I sat there.

“Do you want to say something to him?” Mom asked.

I shook my head.

Why? I thought.

He’s a meat sack.

Mechanical inhale.

Dead dad.

Mechanical exhale.

Dead dad.

“You should say something to him,” she said in a stern voice. “This is the last time you will ever see him. The last time.”

Everyone looked at me.

Doctors.

Nurses.

The stranger with her hand on my back.

Mechanical inhale.

Dead dad.

Mechanical exhale.

Dead dad.

“Say something!” Mom screamed.

I sat there.

“Say something!”

XLIII.

I placed my right hand in the drawer.

Waited.

And waited.

“Say hello,” Mom instructed.

I felt stupid.

So stupid.

Beyond stupid.

I looked at the drawer.

And felt something look back.

I can’t explain it.

Won’t explain it.

But from the darkness, I felt it watching me. It judged me. Whatever was inside didn’t feel friendly. It didn’t feel welcoming.

But it did feel like my father.

In a way.

In a weird way.

“Say hello,” Mom insisted.

It wasn’t him.

But it was him.

Except darker.

Meaner.

Colder.

“Say hello.”

I knew my father.

“Say hello.”

I could sense him.

“Say hello.”

When he would come home from work.

“Say hello.”

Stressed out.

“Say hello.”

Bitter.

“Say hello.”

Angry.

“Say hello.”

Vengeful.

“Say hello.”

Disappointed.

“Say hello.”

I knew his darkness; it is in me as well. In time, I understood his coldness. I could feel when he hated my mom and me for being around.

In the house.

That he hated.

With every fiber.

I knew my father.

And I didn’t know him.

At all.

And this wasn’t him.

At least, not anymore.

“Say hello.”

I closed my eyes.

“Hello, father.”

The drawer closed on my hand.

And I screamed.

XLIV.

Mom screamed.

I screamed.

We screamed.

And the drawer kept closing.

Harder.

And harder.

My wrist broke.

Harder.

Then my fingers.

Harder.

Bones shattered.

Harder.

I felt my hand go limp.

It disconnected from the system.

Shut down.

A dozen times the drawer abused my hand before I finally slipped free. Overcome with pain, I fell backward.

Onto the floor.

Eye, oozing.

Hand, throbbing.

Life, spiraling downward.

I laid there.

Hyperventilating.

Staring at the ceiling.

Of my old bedroom.

That now belonged to my mother.

Meanwhile…

She cried.

Again.

She sobbed.

Again.

Instead of comforting me, she rushed to the drawer. Held it. Cradled it. Said nurturing, loving things to it.

“What did you do?”

I thought she was talking to the drawer.

No.

She was speaking to me.

“Me?” I asked.

“Yes, you.”

“I didn’t do anything.”

“You must have done something.”

“No.”

“Said something.”

“No.”

“He always regretted you.”

“I know.”

“He didn’t want to be a father.”

“I know.”

“Didn’t know how.”

“I know.”

“And he resented you.”

“I know.”

“And me for giving birth to you.”

“I know.”

She cuddled the drawer, and it purred contently. Gurgled its approval. But I stand behind my assessment.

That wasn’t my father.

At least, not in the way that I remember.

He’d become twisted.

Demented.

I could feel it.

In my broken bones.

XLV.

I started to say something.

Tell her how I felt.

What I knew to be true.

But what could I say?

I wanted to protest.

Would she listen?

No.

Never.

Never.

Too far gone.

Lost to me.

Truly lost.

So I pushed myself off the floor.

Wobbled down the hall.

Bleeding.

Opened the front door.

Waited.

I could hear her speaking to it.

Lovingly.

A devoted wife.

To the drawer.

The father-thing.

I sighed.

Stepped outside.

And closed the door behind me.

Forever.

I wandered through the tonight.

To an empty bus stop.

By myself.

With one good eye.

I looked at the moon.

Full.

Bright.

I turned my attention to the late-night traffic. All those people, on their way to exciting destinations. Exciting adventures.

And I saw a car.

Time seemed to slow.

To a crawl.

I spied a man and woman in the front seats.

A child in the back.

Lonely.

Miserable.

They laughed.

He looked out the window.

At me.

And waved.

And I sat there.

A bitter son.

A jilted child.

An angry man.

All alone.

And I screamed at the car.

The child.

The parents.

In protest of it all.

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