“When you were still little, maybe eleven or twelve, I kept having these dreams about you. Dreams in which I just remember you causing me so much stress and grief.” she said to me. My mother was laid on her back, glaring at a point in the ceiling with a pallid expression pasted on her face.
“These dreams kept reoccurring, over and over again.” she continued. “I kept having the same kind of dreams and I had no idea what they meant at the time. But this is it. This is the grief I kept dreaming about.” As she says this, she releases a heavy sigh and turns to her side, pulling the duvet to her neck. A few seconds of silence followed before she closed her eyes and said, “Turn my light off and close the door behind you.”
This was the last conversation I had with my mother. Well, it wasn’t much of a conversation – I kept my mouth clamped shut the whole fifteen minutes she talked at me. What she said of course remained and settled. In a very dark, gloomy district of my mind. Like an unpurgeable internal ghost, what she said lingers and reverberates through my soul every now and then. And that’s the last time I ever saw her.
That night was the night when everything changed. I went into my room, locking the door behind me. I crawled in my bed fully clothed, not really knowing how I felt. ‘Empty’ might have been the right word. I couldn’t feel anything – no sadness, no hurt, no anger. No emotion at all. I just laid there motionlessly for about an hour or so. The point was to stay quiet long enough for my mother to fall asleep. It came to around 1:30am. I gingerly slipped out of my covers and sat at the edge of my bed for a few moments, listening to the deep, relentless silence which ran throughout the entire house. I took a few deep breaths and mechanically began humming the opening to Erik Satie’s ‘Gnossienne number 1’ hushedly.
I’m going to do it, I’m really going to do it, I remember whispering determinedly to myself as I got up. I opened my wardrobe door slowly and, reaching into the top-right of it, I retrieved a normal-looking shoebox. The shoebox encompassed a wad of good, hard cash. £5,000 in total.
No, I hadn’t stolen it. I hadn’t even worked for it exactly. I’d won it. In an under-25s short fiction competition. Yes, I’d entered and won the competition a year before. The prize was £5,000, a certificate, and a couple features in small literature magazines and local newspapers and such. Nobody knew, though. My family didn’t even know I entered. They never had any interest whatsoever in anything I was capable of or enjoyed doing. They just didn’t seem to want to know. My family had always been like this.
As individuals, we’re very decent, friendly people – but together as a family, as one unit, we’re a complete mess. We hardly ever spent time together, and whenever we did, there was always a stubborn heaviness and discomfort. This same heaviness and discomfort was alive in the house. The walls breathed it out, the carpet stunk of it, the doors were painted in it, each room was stuffed with it. Every moment together was like walking on eggshells or trying to disarm a complex bomb which would detonate at any wrong or reckless movement.
My mother had to singlehandedly spearhead the family, and so was always too busy and too stressed to have any idea what kind of characters her children really were. She didn’t understand them. She was trapped in a bubble. A bubble in which she would live whilst taking care of all of her issues, responsibilities and endeavours. A bubble in which she could not see or think beyond. This bubble allowed no room for other perceptions or insights. Only her own. Whatever she thinks, is right, whatever she says, goes. All she saw was problems she could fix. When she saw something she didn’t like or agree with, she had to fix it – using only the tools and methods she had inside that bubble of hers.
My family grew accustomed to this characteristic of only seeing problems. And so we adopted an instinctual habit of seeing only each other’s faults and pointing out each other’s wrongs (expect for me, I tried to stay out of the house as much as possible and kept my mouth shut whenever I was home. I turned a blind eye to whatever went on in my house, and generally didn’t get involved with anything that happened).
She was very difficult to live with. She only saw things through her eyes, and as I was under her roof, she could impose her perceptions (and the decisions she made as a result of her perceptions) onto me. And I had to take it. Right on the chin. Without a word. Even when I didn’t agree, even when I knew she was wrong, I simply had to shut up and accept it. But there came a point where I could no longer keep increasing my tolerance threshold. I didn’t hate the woman, no, not anything remotely close to that. But we were very different, and would often disagree. This was the case with my entire family, too. I believe we truly did feel a degree of compassion for each other, but we just never learned how to express it – and in knowing this, we all kind of dispersed and sought after expressed comfort elsewhere.
Whenever my family were together, without fail, at some point someone would weave in something totally unnecessary into the conversation. Say, for instance, a mistake or bad decisions one of us made months, sometimes even years ago. Or someone might have taken things too personally, or someone might have confessed harsh and hurtful utterings about someone in the family (again, needlessly).
It was all a heavy, burdensome disarray I just had to find my way out of. And that was it. I took the money, slung on a big coat and filled a rucksack with a few items I figured would come to good use: ID, a change of underwear, two T-shirts, a pair of shorts and 3 unread novels. I slipped off the elastic band which held the wad of £5,000 together, counted and placed £2,000 on my bed, banded up the rest of the cash and pocketed it. I crept down to the kitchen and downed three glasses of water, then went back up to my room one final time. I left my phone along with the rest of my belongings. Looking at the pile of £2,000 by my pillow, I took one last deep breath, and then closed my bedroom door quietly behind me.
And that was it. I left.
Where I was headed to, I had no idea. But all that didn’t matter. As long as I’m out of here, I’ll be fine, I told myself. As long as I take the step, the wind will carry me safely. I remember feeling as though this was the right thing to do. You know, ‘destiny’ ‘n’ all that.