“…the case is much more severe than we thought Miss Gardner, we can put him on meds but I’m not sure that…” The doctor’s voice drones in and out of range as I try to eavesdrop on his conversation with my mother through a crack in his office door. “Illness of the mind is a delicate beast, and we’re not sure if we can…” I knew it was bad, I’m not really even sure I wanted to hear what he was telling her. She was sobbing; of course, as any loving mother would as she’s told her baby boy was a wreck and couldn’t be helped. “Thorazine is a good way to start, as for the side effects…” I couldn’t listen to this any longer, as I’m sure my mother felt the same way.
“Mom, can we go, I’m getting hungry?” I said loudly as I barged into the office. She quickly looked away to hide her tears and began scrambling for tissues inside her purse.
“Y-yes, sweetie, I’m just finishing my talk with the good doctor here and getting your prescription filled, we can stop on the way home. Does that sound good?” She whimpered as she spoke, God it hurts to hear her like this.
“How do you feel today, son? You look kind of flush,” the doctor said in a cautious but caring tone.
“I feel great, Doc. I’m just a little hungry.” I was lying of course, but my mother didn’t need anything else to worry about. The doctor continued filling out some papers for my prescription and handed them to my mother and we left with a few hushed goodbyes.
The car ride home was silent and long, as the doctor we visited was out of town. We stopped at a pharmacy on the way out of town and got something to eat as we got closer to home. I hugged my mother and told her goodnight as I ran down the hall to my room. Closing the door behind me, I sat the food on my desk and picked up my guitar. It, my bed, desk and desk chair being the only three items in my room I was left with little to entertain myself. We’re not poor, I just didn’t like anything else in there, I felt I was suffocating with all the items that used to be in here, and couldn’t stay up here for extended periods of time. I suffer from many issues, “advanced Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder,” is what I would call one of them. If any little thing is out of its place, or its respective orientation, my day cannot go on until it is fixed. My mother pulled me out of school because I would call to check out so much, just to check on something in my room to make sure I hadn’t misplaced it. I’m home-schooled now.
My father left us when I was nine because of my issues, he told my mother he could not handle it anymore, and needed to get out before he was “…driven as crazy as her son.” Her son, those two words hurt me more than any of the other insults that I was pegged with. He didn’t consider me his offspring because of my psychological issues that I certainly did not ask for. I was as good as dead to him; I may as well be anyway.
My mother has suffered the worst. She used to be a beautiful young woman with her whole life ahead of her. She has lost 40-pounds since I was born, and her hair is falling out. I can hear her crying in her bedroom every single night, as it is right next to mine. Asking God, or any divine presence that just so happens to answer, why they have abandoned her and our family. I can just block out her sobs at this point, it’s only when I see her that it hurts me. I play the strings of my guitar slowly and as quietly as I can as I listen to my mother’s nightly cry. Only tonight, there was no crying, I could only hear the soft breeze of her fan through the thin undecorated wall. “Well at least she got to sleep early tonight,” I thought to myself. Placing my guitar back on the wall at the precise angle I had removed it from, and sat on my desk chair.
I have nothing on my desk. I just sit on the chair and stare at the walls; I like to be alone with my thoughts. All of a sudden I heard a loud crash come from my mother’s room. I bolted out of my room and ran to her door. I attempted to rush in but the door would not budge. “Mom, Mom!!” I cried, pounding on the door. No response. I backed up and lowered my shoulder in to the flimsy door as it came flying off of its hinges. I was startled to see that everything was completely fine and my mother jolted out of bed to see me standing there in front of the now shattered door.
“Honey, what is going on?! Are you okay?” she asked as she ran toward me. She wrapped me in her arms with a worried look on her face.
“I-I…” I stammered as no words would form in my mouth.
“What’s the matter, sweetie? What did you hear? Did you see something? Did you…” her voice began to fade and was replaced with a deafening droning screech. I dropped to the floor…
I awoke the next morning, tucked in to my bed and beyond cozy. I sat up and quickly made my bed to my liking. I hurried down the hall to the living room, and saw my mother sitting on the couch reading the paper with a dreary look in her face. She hadn’t slept all night, and had stayed up to make sure I wouldn’t have another episode. “Good morning, sweetie! Would you like me to make you some breakfast?” Her feigned sweetness hurt me to the core, the exhaustion in her eyes visible and her sorrow all but physical.
“I’m okay, Mom, I’m not that hungry,” I said sleepily, as I sauntered into the kitchen. She turned and looked at me as her expression became more panicked than before.
“But honey, I know you may not be hungry but you really should eat. You had a rough night last night, and you did not eat your supper either.”
“I just haven’t been that hungry lately I guess I don’t know,” I replied.
“Honey, it has been six days since you ate,” she said worriedly. Had it been that long? I lose track of time nowadays, they all seem to run together. I looked down at my stomach to see it sunken in and my ribs protruding.
“Huh,” I said in realization.
“Yes sweetie, and you have lost a lot of weight over the last few weeks. But it’s okay, i-if you’re not hungry, you don’t have to eat. I-I love you.” She loves me so much she doesn’t even want to make me mad by making me eat. I can see that she wants to hold me down and force-feed me until I am healthy again, but she would rather give me what I want or appear to want than dare risk upsetting me.
“Okay,” I said quietly as I walked back to my room, I could hear her begin to sob as I passed her.
The days continued to pass but at the same time they didn’t seem to pass at all. My mother would bring me my pills and a glass of water at whatever time she would come to wake me up. Sometimes in the middle of the night, sometimes the middle of the day. I nibbled on food she would make from time-to-time, but mostly left my plate untouched and left her at the dinner table. She didn’t speak to me much anymore, her hair hung from her head in patches, and she had no mass to her body anymore. A walking corpse, her appearance frightened me if she appeared too suddenly. I was scared of my own reflection, so I had removed all mirrors from my parts of the house long ago, so I wasn’t really sure of my current state. I could have been worse than her. Clearly I had lost more weight than anyone should ever lose, but my face, I hadn’t seen my own face in as long as I could remember really. Life consisted of sitting in one of three positions in my room; I had abandoned all attempts at completing the home-school “curriculum” my mother presented me.
Of course she said nothing to me, just gave me my homework from time-to-time. “You really need to get this done, if you want to…” I heard nothing but the all too familiar droning sound that plagued my ears daily. Life wasn’t hard, just bleak, and empty. I had no responsibilities and no duties to tend to. Just living and breathing in a box. I was like God’s miserable pet he didn’t care to look after. I hadn’t been outside since I had went on my initial visit to Doctor Poole, and hadn’t left my room in what I think had been days. Weeks? I wasn’t sure.
My mother had quit bringing me the pills and didn’t come in my room very often, if at all. Sometimes, I would go out in the living room in the dead of night, and check her bedroom, and she would be gone. This did not bother me of course; I just wander the house aimlessly when I tired of sitting in my chair, or playing my guitar. Eventually, she stopped coming home. I had nibbled on most of the food, even the things that had gone bad, but I was starting to grow weary and hungry. I was sitting on my bed one night before I went to sleep when she came into my room and sat down next to me. Her appearance was even more frightening than it had been. Her eyes were sunken into her face and looked like endless black pits. Her hair was stringy and patchy, and barely clung to her head. Her cheeks were gaunt, and colorless, and her wiry frame took up almost no space. The stench was unbearable; she had completely lost care for her hygiene. She reached a frail hand out to me and caressed my head with a long, bony finger. “Honey, I love you, did you know that?”
“Yes Mom, I know,” I replied.
“I’m sorry I had to leave you, son. I just loved you so much and I didn’t think I could make you happy,” she said mournfully.
“I know,” I replied.
She leaned into my ear and whispered softly, “Your father and I miss you, son. Please come back to us and we can all be happy again, we can start over and everything will go back to the way it was. We love you so much, sweetie.” I started to tear up. “Honey, I know we may have come apart, but you can still come back to us. We are waiting on you.”
“W-what? I don’t understand,” I stammered through my tears.
She pointed towards the ceiling, “Set yourself free.”
I felt the weight on the bed beside me shift, and as I turned to look she was gone. I went into my father’s long untouched office and took the handgun and ammunition out from under his desk. I walked slowly and mournfully back into my room. I knew what I had to do. I set on the edge of my bed sobbing as I loaded one of the rounds into the chamber. I put the gun down beside me and picked up my guitar. I began to play my favorite song one last time; it was the only one I could remember how to play anymore. I finished and put my guitar back as I had left it. I picked the gun back up, and placed the barrel against my lips. Feeling the cold steel against my teeth and tongue as I put it against the roof of my mouth.
I sat and thought to myself for a moment. The human mind is far more powerful than we give it credit for. Terrible events can surmount in our craniums and fester, breeding a terrible illness and turning a once perfectly happy human being, into a blackened mass of sadness and regret. Yet still with our plastered smiles and positive attitudes, we still somehow trudge on through the daily struggle, with our minds in shambles. I took my last breath and held it, and I closed my eyes. The trigger felt so stiff in my trembling hands. I squeezed ever so gently as I heard my mother open my door…
Written by Roger Step