by Leily Farman-Farmaian
The smell of burning food alerted the young man’s attention. Sprinting down the stairs, he entered the kitchen to see a pan of what seemed like scrambled eggs burnt beyond recognition.
“Mom!” He shouted, turning off the stove and dumping the pan in the sink.
“Mom!” Looking around, she was nowhere to be seen. He rushed around the house only to find her in the living room, staring into nothing with Felix at her feet. She looked at him with quizzical eyes, startled by his abrupt entrance.
“What is it, Luke?”“The eggs, Mom,”Her brow furrowed. Luke sighed, taking her by the arm to the kitchen. Charred tufts littered the sink. She looked down, frown deepening.
“Luke, if you’re going to cook, then you need to clean up your own messes,” with a shake of her head she went back to her chair, oblivious to the disheartened look on his face.
Clad in an ebony dress, she smiled. Bittersweet, that was how she described it. His body and face, as familiar to her as her own, rested on silk. The serene expression of his features masqueraded as sleep. She knew better. Taking his hand in hers for the last time, she dipped towards him, a tear trailing down her cheek. She planted a kiss on his cool forehead, wishing him sweet dreams as the Whisper led her to the next room and he faded from existence.
Luke stared at his mother from across the dinner table. The familiar blank look clouded her eyes. He looked away as a flash of grief tore his features. Without looking up he exclaimed,“Dad called in to say he was working late tonight,”
The rest of the evening passed quickly. Luke cleaned the dishes while she sat in the living room,watching an episode of “Downtown Abbey.” Always the same episode. When it ended, he helped her to her room, getting her ready for bed, and lying beside her until she fell asleep. In the morning she was gone. Downstairs he would find her sitting on the living room couch, eyes red and swollen in forgotten realization, muttering into the darkness as she stroked Felix’s fur.
“Where is Henry?”
The striped tabby squirmed, nuzzling her face to try and capture her attention. She was mesmerized, transfixed by the flushed bundle in her arms. He fascinated her, from the calming breaths that escaped his parted lips to the delicate translucency of his closed eyelids. His heart thudded softly in his chest, his ear pressed against her skin as if soothed by the heat. This room,this one hurt the most when the Whisper blew away the image and swept her baby from her arms. Compelling her towards the door, a piece of her heart greyed and disintegrated behind her.
“Mom, it’s time for your meds,” She was sitting right there, staring ahead.
“Mom,” He tried again to get her attention. Her head snapped to look at him, the blankness in her eyes chilled him to the bone.
“Mom,” He reached towards her but she pulled away.
“No! Leave me alone!”
She sprang to her feet in sudden alarm and backed away in fear.
“Mom, it’s me, it’s Luke,” His desperation remained unrecognized as he walked towards her, pleading.
“I’ll call the police! Get away!”
Dread seeped into his veins as he watched her slip, tumbling to the ground in her haste to get away from him.
“MOM!” He screamed again, as he rushed to her side and reached for his phone, dialing 911.
“Luke, Lukey, what happened?” The haze had melted from her eyes, but as she stared into the frightened face, her vision became dark.
She knew it was getting closer. She could tell from the room. Arranged in the corner was the wooden doll house along with the basket filled with worn toys and stuffed animals. An ivory wardrobe, decorated with crayon pictures tacked to the doors, stood adjacent to a twin size bed.A quilt, the one she had sewn with her mother, draped over the floral covers. The room seemed bigger this time or maybe it was because she herself was smaller. She made her way over to the discarded toys and stared at them in wonder, reminded of the years she had spent in this very room. It had been so long. The Whisper was tangible in the air. But it had barely been a minute!Even so, she knew it could not be helped. Struck by an impulse, she ran towards the bed, pulling the quilt around her shoulders before Its palpable hand slipped into hers and led her through the doorway. The quilt frayed around the edges, unraveling.
The smell of antiseptic pierced the air. Two nubs in her nose blew oxygen that tickled as she came to. Voices circulated, consisting of grunts and incomprehensible words, intertwined with the soft beep of monitors. She opened her eyes to fluorescent lights from all sides, the unnatural kind that burned. A woman in a white coat stood next to a young man with drooping brown hair.Unkempt and disheveled, his voice was gruff with sorrow. The sticky hands of panic entangled her in their grasp. The two figures whipped their heads towards her at the increasing sounds of her heartbeat, broadcasted by the devices around her. The young man rushed to her side, a hint of happiness in his eyes. It faded, when she asked him where and who she was, eyes shifting and flustered. She wondered why.
The Whisper tapped into her conscience. It called to her with urgency, beckoning her to the room. It was the last one and all that remained was darkness. A faint luminosity caught her eye,tearing the ebony drape. A wooden box sat alone, light escaping from cracks in the top. She knelt towards it. The Whisper placed a hand on her shoulder as she gazed in wonder. She reached tentatively towards it. Throwing open the lid, a kaleidoscope of visions burst into the sky,interchanging clips and scenes, memories and emotions coloring the room. For the first time in years, she remembered. For a brief moment the recognition in her eyes sparkled like clear cut crystal. Entranced, she barely noticed when the room began to fleck and peel, crumbling into oblivion.
Author Bro: Leily Farman-Farmaian is a high school student in Vancouver, BC. She loves to read, play tennis and spend time with her family.