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Mum?

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My name is Sebastian Valentine, the son of Benjamin and Therese. I'm 21 years of age, and an only child. I live in Eastern Sydney, Australia. The year is 1985. My father died a few years ago, and my mother turned to a life of alcohol. Mum's condition was the reason I became a nurse. Dealing with other peoples problems is easier than dealing with my own.

It was 9:30 PM at night, and I'd just gotten home from work. I work as a nurse in the local old folks home, which my friends find strange, but I don't mind. I'd worked there for the last three months, but only got attached to one of the patients, once. Being a nurse in an old folks home, to protect your own sanity, with the presence of death being so high, it's best to leave your emotions locked away, and focus on the money per hour for the job, so my mum told me. But nevertheless, the patient I got attached to seemed healthy. Her name was Mrs. Tod. She was a widow since the moment she was married, she told me. I knew better than to ask her what she meant.

"Mum, are you home?" I call out to the darkness that greets me, like it does every night.

"How was work?" my mother asks. She is sitting at the circle-shaped table in the far end of the corner, in the dark. I'm surprised I didn't notice her, with her lit cigarette.

"Fine," I tell her, walking into the laundry. I throw my uniform into the washing machine, and change into my pajamas. I keep my PJ's in the laundry.

"Your father called," she tells me nonchalantly.

"Mum," I say softly. "Dad died three years ago," I say looking over to her, as I walk back into the lounge-room.

"And?" she asks.

"He's dead. The dead can't talk."

"That's funny," she says, seriously. "Yet you tell me great stories of Mrs. Tod."

"Mrs. Tod isn't dead," I whisper.

"Whatever you say son."

The following morning I awaken at half passed 8 in the morning. My mother has left to visit my fathers memorial, like she does every morning. I walk into the kitchen and flick the kettle on. The phone rings three times before I answer it.

"Hello?" I ask.

"Seb-" the caller begins, before static interrupts. I hang up and wait ten minutes for them to call, but nothing. I finish my coffee and turn the shower on.

The phone rings and surprises me. I was lost in thought. I jump and hit my head on the shower head, and crash into the tap, turning the cold water on full-bolt, in an instant.

I climb out of the shower, and wrap the towel around my dripping body. I walk out into the lounge room, and the phone calls again.

"Who is this?" I demand.

"Is this Sebastian?" the caller asks.

"Yes?" I reply, taken aback as the caller sounds like Ms. Peters, my boss.

"Mrs. Tod has passed away. She listed you as her next of kin."

I don't reply for roughly three minutes. "Mrs. Tod?" I ask. "She's dead?"

"Yes. And you are her next of kin. What do you wish to do with her corpse?" she inquires.

"My, I'm, what?" I ask, in a non-coherent sentence. "I'm listed as her next of kin?"

The phone goes fuzzy and I lose connection to Ms. Peters.

Today is my day off, but I go into work anyway. Mrs. Tod's cold, quiet body is lying on her bed with a sheet over it. I pry back the blue material, and see her eyes looking up at me without focus. I pull the sheet back over her, and try not to show emotion. My mother once told me never to allow myself to show sadness in the presence of death.

"What do you want to do with her corpse?" asks Ms. Peters, my boss, after she walks over to me.

"Why am I listed as her next of kin?" I ask.

"Why wouldn't you?" she asks, confused.

"I'm sorry, I can't make a decision, and I have to get home, my mother is expecting me."

"Wait!" she calls out, as I run off down the hall. This is all too much for me.

I get home, and put my key in the lock. The key doesn't work. I look down at it, confused. It is the wrong key, but I only have one?

I knock, and a stranger answers my door.

"Hello?" they ask.

I choke, I can't even speak. The stranger looks just like me.

I run off down the hall, and they, me, look towards me in wonder.

I make it back to my car, and look at my reflection. I see a stranger looking back at me.

"Don't be afraid," says Mrs. Tod, from behind me. "Jeremy, come back to the asylum, please."

I turn around, and Mrs. Tod is wearing a blue uniform, with a large syringe in her right hand. She sedates me, and I collapse.

"Mrs. Tod?" I ask when I awaken in a rubber room. "Mrs. Tod!" I yell out.

She walks in. "Please Jeremy, you know my name is Nurse Sebastian"

"No, Nurse Sebastian is my name, Mrs. Tod, what is going on?" I stand up, and grab her arms, shaking her before she pushes me onto the floor.

"Yeah this is Nurse Sebastian, I need back up?" she says into her walkie talkie.

My mother walks in.

"Ah, Mary, please hold him down while I sedate him again."

"Mum?" I ask.

"Show no emotion Jeremy. It will all be over soon, I promise."



Credited to Jethro Lyndon Sutherland (Jethro Smailes) 

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