Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Lion - Part 1 and 2

         The alarms went off and everyone started running in every direction. I only knew what way to go, and that was to home.

        I ran as fast as I could. There wasn't even a bike I could borrow. I just ran, hoping I could outrun my death. I got about a block away from my house before I began to doubt that I would make it.

       My mom was special. She had cancer. Cancer isn't special. Cancer is a Satan and he was going to take her from me at 5 years old, I just knew it. I just remember feeling so hopeless watching the world darken and turn into terrifying shapes I will never forget. The wind picked up and the sky got really dark. I ran past the Whitakers and their wind chimes were singing a terrible song. Garbage cans and newspapers flew everywhere. But I pushed forward to my house, that held my mother.

        Me and my mom used to write on each other's backs at night. It was a fun game that we always played, no matter what. She would draw either a word or a picture on my back and I would guess. When one of us made a mistake, we would erase the entire palate like one would a chalk board. I would draw on her back, and she would draw on mine. We would do this until one of us didn't turn around for their turn. Then the other would know they were asleep, and then go to sleep themselves. Going to sleep felt so lonely to me.  I rarely slept first. I always waited for her. I had to protect her.

        Who else would? My dad left before I was born. I didn't have any siblings. I was the only "man." He left before I was born, denying all kinds of things. She didn't drag me through it...she walked away, risking our well being for my dignity. And now here I am running from a dark siege toward my home that I grew up in; that hadn't been fortified or fixed in decades, to get to my mom. I needed her and she needed me. We were each other's cure for loneliness. We were also each other's cures to the terror in the world.

        The wind blew me down to the ground, planting my face into a wheat bail. I got up immediately and started running, while also staggering toward the front door. The wind struck again, throwing me onto the bending stalks of corn. I got up again and set my eyes to my home. I ran toward the door as the wind pushed me to the right, then suddenly to the left.

       The front door burst open and there she was. My mom came running out. I knew she would. I knew she had to be there. I was scared she wouldn't be, but I just knew she would. The wind blew her down the moment she stepped out of the house. She got back up and forged ahead to me. I wasn't as brave as I was a moment ago. When I saw her, I became a kid again. I was scared and showing it. She fell several times before she reached out her hand and grabbed onto my shirt. She pulled me to her chest, then dragged me staggering to our house, closing the door before we were sucked out.

        There was this time that she wrote on my back that I had gotten the honor of captain of the safeties of the fifth grade. Another time. she wrote that grandma had died, then wrote that she was sorry. Another time, she wrote that the Tigers had won the world series. I laughed and shook my fist in victory at this. Then the time came that she wrote that she had cancer, and would have to leave me. She didn't write all of those words, but that's what I got. She erased what she wrote at least a dozen times before she let it go to me.

        I had made it home. She pulled me by the hand to the bathtub and as we sat in it she was sitting with her back to the storm and me sitting between her legs, with her arms wrapped tight around me. I felt safe. I was home, and that was all I needed to be.

        The wind blew the roof off and sucked every piece of furniture out of the house. It was a slowly twisting mass of darkness that took all of our things and brought down the wall joists and load bearing walls on top of us. Everything was shaking and I could hear my mom grown as objects hit us from every side. I heard her pray to God for help. I heard her cry and beg for God to save me... Me.

        Hours later, we laid at the bottom of a lot of rubble. We couldn't see sunlight or hear any commotion. We just laid there in the bathtub, below everything that makes a house. I felt a familiar finger on my back. She said, What do you call cheese... that's not your own? I had already heard it, but I shrugged my shoulders anyway. I pretended to laugh at her answer by shaking my tiny diaphragm. She wrote everything about her life on my back and kept shaking me to keep me awake. She wrote that she loved me so many times I lost count. I couldn't answer, something kept me from speaking. There a was a pressure on my chest and a weakness in my throat.

I told her I loved her back in my mind, every time.

        We laid there until be both fell into a deep sleep. To be honest, I fell asleep first. I don't know how long she wrote on my back. I don't want to know. But I do know that at the darkest point of consciousness,  I saw the sunlight. I opened my eyes to it first and immediately looked for her. Things were blurry, but I found her hand hanging from a gurney. I tried to get up. I tried to shout to her. I couldn't produce anything that would disrupt the atmosphere. I thought she was dead. I fell asleep again.

        I would wake days later with an IV in my arm, staring up at ceiling tiles. It took a few moments for me to remember who I was, or where she was.

        Then I heard her voice. I looked to my left and she was reaching for me. I grabbed her hand and we both cried for very different and the very same reasons.


Time flew by. It was weeks, but she was gone in what seemed like a day…

She had two options that she could figure. She looked at him as he slept in that bed she got him from the Salvation Army. The corners of his lips turned up when he was relaxed...when his face could feel nothing. This was the first thing she noticed about him while running her fingers across the contours of his face, moments after giving birth to him. He was a first grader now. He was a really good kid.

She believed he was no reflection of her. She believed he was the very character of God, rising with Him with the sun. She wouldn't soon deserve him. She couldn't. She was only mistakes. She had to choose between the sickness and the sanity of her son. She would have to choose later, she could not right now as she watched him sleep. He didn't deserve that.

         His father was a married man. She didn't even know his name, but he wore a wedding ring opposite hand of his 1977 class ring. He would come and give her money and she would make believe love for him. She didn't even know how long this went on for, but knew he had a disgusting smell to him. His hair smelled like old sweat. His beard smelled of garbage. He was always sweating on her.

He would get up when the love faded and leave the hotel room smiling and forgot to say goodbye every time. She didn't care, she desired him dead when he used words, she desired him dead anyway. She didn't even tell him he had a son, she just ignored his calls and got a job at a supermarket bagging groceries.

         Her two options now? Take her life now or let it happen. Just let the cancer slowly eat her away while he watched from just below the bed rails. Using her head, she could only come to one logical decision. She had a sister who was much better off than her and loved her son as if it were her own. She had a big house with an extra room and two kids the same age. If she just said goodbye now, her son would be OK.

But everything that isn't supposed to feel logical told her to stay. Every moment would be worth a pound of gold to both of them. She would give him the world even as a skeleton.

         She had this choice to make. She had a tube down her throat that would not let her speak to him. At night, he would crawl up on the bed and they would take turns writing things on each other's backs and guessing what the other had said. This night was the THE NIGHT. She had to make a decision before she couldn't anymore. She had to give him something. She couldn't lie anymore or wait for some miracle to happen.

This was her life. His life was about to change. Soon enough, she wouldn't know his face or even be able to see it. Soon enough he would be dead to her mind...a thought that was more torturous than anything she could think of. She knew that he knew she was going away. He just couldn't say it. 

         She flicked his ear to wake him. He stirred and she knew he was listening. He always seemed to be listening. She began drawing on his back. Her hands shook with every letter and she could feel his body tremble with every completed word. Her tears made it hard to keep going. His tears made it hard to feel what she was trying to tell him, but he knew I think.  Her hand stopped at his lower back and he felt her squeeze his small frame against her even smaller one. He braced himself and closed his eyes to think about when she was well.

He went to this thought every time he was scared. He went to he time he fell out of the tree in front of his house and she rocked him back and forth like the wind as it blew storm clouds through the trees. He remembered when she held him when his friend was hit by a car and killed. He didn't understand death until he saw his friend lifeless in a coffin.

         Then he only knew death as just being plastic looking. He closed off the entire world, even when he felt the gasp of his mother's chest and the alarm sounding on the machine next to her. He was definitely crying, but could and would only allow memories of laughter to flood his brain. He would never see the tube in her hand. He would never see all that she sacrificed for him. He would never understand that Salvation Army Bed that took the last of the money she had made with a legitimate job before she started to get sick.

         He would never know all that her life had produced, but he would never forget what she was to him. 

Migrate. T

Thanks for reading...Z