General Fiction posted March 25, 2023

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Unconditional love of a mother

In The Name Of The Son

by Mario PIERRE

The author has placed a warning on this post for language.

- IN THE NAME OF THE SON - (2532 Words)
You'll find me in your room, haggard, my eyes dry and burning. I needed to rest here, to see the stain one last time.
Remember our stain, Ethan? It has turned horribly brown, its features strikingly aggressive. And your bed, once so soft and comfy, stands ice-cold and lifeless. With my half-dead body now glued onto it, how can our ship not sink?
I'm sure you recall its voyages. At story time, remember? As if struck by a magic wand, it would transform into the Wicked Wench, braving rough waters under the command of the ruthless 'Pirate Captain'.
Oh! The countless battles you fought here, legs dangling high like masts, a menacing musket brandished at the eager prisoner giggling wildly by your side. Deafening orders, hollered to an invisible, bloodthirsty crew, used to reverberate throughout the house:
"Give 'em a broadside! Pound 'em lads! Pound 'em!"
"We're gonna sink your stinking ship, yo!"
We would bounce uncontrollably from the swells of the mattress, heedless of the distressing moans and squeaks of the springs threatening to yield! Your pyjamas were left drenched. The warmth of your soggy body permeated my clothes, the strange new scent of your adolescent sweat tingled my nostrils.
You wouldn't let me go after. Not until Hannah's protests would become unbearable. A lingering kiss on your salty forehead, our ceremonial 'love you, Ethan' ... 'ditto mom', and I would slip out to attend to your exasperated sister, unmoved by your do-or-die plea: 'stay, mom. She's sixteen, too old for stories!'

How I wish I had stayed longer sometimes! Like on the night you opened up.
I had asked if you still liked school. You avoided answering at first, but I insisted.
Your words, heavy as a brick, landed hard on my heart: "just some kids calling me names".
"What names?" I recall asking, after an oppressive silence.
"Oh! Just dumb stuff, you know. Like, Indian brat, where's your turban?"
You squeezed the blanket against your mouth, in a futile attempt to muffle the throbbing sound rising up from the back of your throat.
I was stupidly unprepared for any comforting answer.
Your voice fluttered again, "don't worry, mom. They don't scare me, you know."
"What did you tell them?"
"Asked 'em what's wrong with turbans and Indians."
I held you tight after that, and you must have heard my sniffles, because you clumsily dabbed my eyes with your sleeve. After an awkward moment of silence, I held your finger in my hand, and pointing it at the stain on the ceiling, I slowly guided it around the contour of the dark, human-like figure it resembled. You played along with me, maybe because you needed to recover from the embarrassing moment we just had. We made out the long, curly hair, the beard, then the deep-set eyes, and suddenly you got it and yelled with excitement: "mom, it's... it's him, I can see it, it's Jes â?""
"Shhh! Yeah..., it's Him all right. Just over your bed, see?"
"Thanks, mom."
"You know what to do now... when bad feelings come?"
"Yes! And please, mom, tell dad to never paint my ceiling."

It has never been, and the stain still hovers above, now an epitome of defilement. "I need to cry. Give me tears at least!" I'm screaming at it, but only an eerie whisper oozes out, as if thrust from an otherworldly body.
The stain remains deaf, Ethan. He doesn't hear. Never did. Never will!
From under my drooping eyelids, I relive that fateful afternoon when you dashed into the house and flew up the stairs to your room, avoiding my inquisitive look. A faint trail of cigarette scent followed. Just enough for a mom to know. My heart raced. We talked; you denied it. I told you I didn't deserve that lie. You said it would pass. 'Teenagers phase'. We cried.
But it soon became worse. I perceived other smells. Alarming ones. I searched your satchel while you slept. Found remnants of weed. Your dad and I confronted you. We discussed changing school, getting new friends. But matters began to spiral out of control. I cried a lot those days, but my tears were the spur that bolted me into action. I devised plans and strategies. Awareness marches alongside other mothers down the streets to your school, tedious meetings with your stubborn principal, arduous fights into convincing police to give talks on bullying, self-esteem and drugs. Do you recall how you were unhappy about those, Ethan? But they seemed to work, at least for a while. I was giving it all, but you were already giving up. The struggle for acceptance was too much for your sensitive spirit. Now fifteen, you were slipping away into a foggy place, unarmed and scared, not knowing where to run.

We started medical treatment. I took leave from work at the hospital, came to have lunch with you at school, waited for you to step out from the school bus in the afternoon. You would artfully avoid my kisses, but I could still smell. Strong stuff, which were surreptitiously altering
your whole demeanour, drawing a perpetual dazed look on your beautiful face. You blamed too
much homework and locked your door. Squelched story time.
You failed your exams.
Then one afternoon, the bus didn't stop. It took me off guard. But my response was explosive. I was now 'Pirate Captain', battling on every front, challenging the police casual response: 'just another runaway. He'll probably come back tomorrow.'
Your teachers commended my resolve. I talked to some of your friends' parents. Some dads joined me in the search. We spent freezing nights looking under bridges, along treacherous paths and alleyways. I drove recklessly through the rundown neighbourhoods of Toronto, following every lead. I was the paradigm of the perfectly crazy mom.

My boss called me one day. There was a extraordinary breakthrough in the cure for drug addiction. A renowned U.S. hospital was carrying out clinical trials. A true medical miracle, and that hospital director was her personal friend.
When the police brought you back a week later, raddled and depressed, I was relieved. We hugged and sobbed. In my trance, I became oblivious to the stench of vomit, weed and stale wine. I talked to you about the treatment, helped you fill out the paperwork. I would use all my savings, but we would beat that demon. Only if you consented.

We acted normal after that, ate together like a family, watched tv shows, celebrated your sixteenth birthday. I patiently waited for you to cross the chasm. But the silence amid all our noise was a cancer, covertly gnawing at us while blowing breeze, in a disguised attempt to numb our hurt. We finally broke in pieces.
You vanished again. Your dad left us for good. Hannah went to live with him.
It's strange how horror can quickly become commonplace. A new routine.
Like the night a neighbour brought you home, in your underwear alone. Do you remember? Some homeless guys had stolen your clothes.
You disappeared again the next morning. I would spot you three weeks later, snoring behind a decrepit wall, flanked by two drunk adult males. My voice broke calling your name: 'Ethan, come home, pirate... I miss you'! In the semi-darkness, your blank gaze subdued me.
When you started coming home, even once a week, it was renewed hope. I knelt by your empty bed each night praying, chatting with the stain, spilling my overflowing gratitude. After a while, I took the blinders off. You were here only for drug money, and I relented. You turned suddenly into a beast.
The swearing and yelling punched me harder than your bony hands smashing my face to the kitchen counter. But I stood my ground: "Not giving you a dime unless you come with me to the States!" Plates and glasses went waltzing against the walls. I eventually surrendered and you snatched the cash and stormed out. I cursed the devil inside you and yet, I would invariably say
the words, the special goodbye you and Hannah loved to hear as you left for school or to play
with friends: 'Au revoir, Ethan. I miss you already.'

I've worn myself out trying to save you, Ethan. Fighting this alone was hard. Your dad never really cared. He comes to 'check on me' from time to time. I think it's merely to relieve his guilty conscience. Like yesterday. His face downcast, a dull and boring script on the tip of his tongue: "Hi Gracie, didn't sleep well, I see! Been drinking again?"
Acts and rituals, nothing more.

Your sister visited this morning, her high heels hammering the floor in a panic as she searched for me. Her hair tickled my ear as she bent down to kiss me. I thought I'd finally cry.
"Why are you sleeping here, mom?"
"You look beautiful, Hann."
"Oh my God! You've become a living corpse, mom! How dare you wreck your life for that monster!"
"Don't say that. He's your baby brother!"
"Babies don't mutilate his mother!"
"Nobody loved him, not even you."
"Oh! You had enough overflow to cover for us all! Has it not always been, 'we'll do this because Ethan... Ethan this, Ethan that..., my son is ill, he needs me, poor thing, our little lamb... my â?"?"
"Cut it off, Hann, will you? I did everything for you too."
"Everything was about him, for him, done in his effing name! You'd set heaven on fire for your son! I'm so done with your frigging shit!"
"You were always fine. He's so sensitive, Hann."
"Give me a break. And stop spinning your life to his fucking rhythm!"
"Don't you swear in this house!"
"Sorry, mom, but that's so... wrong! Come to your senses, for God's sake!"
"You'll understand one day. I wish I could be crying like you, honey."
"You won't ever again, mom! You spilled your last drop for him, remember? I need to go now."
"Love you, Hannah. Always remember that."
"Yeah, right! I will stop by Sunday and help you clean this pigpen."
"Not this room!"
"Of course, not his room!"
"Enough torture. Give me your wet lipstick kiss."
"Promise me you'll get up and take care of yourself... and help me Sunday."
"If you promise you'll never judge me. Love you. Bye, honey."
She wiped her tears as she walked away.
I must have dozed off, because I didn't hear her coming back.
"Mom, are you alright?"
"Why'd you come back?"
"I'm asking you, ARE-YOU-OK?"
"Why?" I moaned.
She took a long, hard look at me.
"Why didn't you say the words?"
"What words?"
"Stop playing dumb! Are you planning to hurt yourself, is that it mom? I won't get over it, you
fucking know that."
"Stop swearing, Hann. Now go, you'll be late for work."
"Say the words, or I'm not leaving this room!"
"Oh! Hann... I'm so weak... I'll see you Sunday, ok?"

I just couldn't say the words, Ethan.

Did I just hear the front door slam?
Must be you, Ethan, those hooves pounding on the stairs. The bedroom door will soon swing open andâ?"
"Oh! Here you are, Eth, come hug me."
"Can't find the money, mom. I'm freaking out."
"Calm down, love."
"Don't fucking call me that, just give me the cash or I'llâ?""
"No, you won't. We need to talk."
"Bullshit! The dough, mom."
I remain calm. Quivering, but not scared. He lunges at me, grabs my hand and starts twisting. I hear bone joints crack and I scream.
"It's painful, Eth! Please, let go of me."
"I'll hurt you more, you know it. The money, NOW!"
"Okay, okay... let me... catch... my breath," I gasp.
Fumbling under the mattress, I bring out a thick envelope.
"Here. All my savings."
He feverishly tears the envelope and stands there, visibly petrified.
"Thirty thousand dollars, Eth. Drugs for life, huh!"
He staggers. "Why?"
I keep watching him.
He slowly starts for the door, looking perplexed.
"Goodbye, Ethan. I love you so, so much."
He mutters something under his breath and tears downstairs.
The final act is over. Heart-wrenching denouement.

I reach under the pillow for the bottle of Xanax, then twist open the wine bottle cap.
I take a few sips and freeze. How do you take thirty pills? All at once? I try swallowing five along with a long gulp. They get stuck in my throat and I choke and cough. In a panic, I frantically ingurgitate more wine.
The bottle suddenly knocks against my teeth and goes flying. I watch it crash onto the window as a whoosh of purple liquid shoots across the wall. A powerful grip pulls my hair, bends me over and yanks my head repeatedly.
That cry! The horror in that voice!
"You fucking crazy, mom? Spit it out, spit it I say, or I'll slash your throat to take it out!"
This doesn't make any sense, but I'm too stunned to reflect upon it.
His fingers, hard like sticks dig feverishly into my throat.
I throw up on the bed and floor. A bloody puddle with tiny revealing balls.
He's still holding me by the hair, howling, a ghostly halo hovering over his terrified face.
"What the fuck did you do. Tell me, how many? Tell me!"
He thrusts me flat on the bed, climbs on top of me, his eyes gleaming.
"I don't need this, you hear me? You should be helping me, not frigging die on me."
His tears drip onto my face. Warm and soft.
He clasps my hand, sobbing profusely. "I'm a wretch, mom, but... tell me you still love me."
I want to scream it out, but the lump in my throat blocks any sound.
He wipes his eyes and jumps off the bed. I watch him pacing back and forth, mumbling.
"I'll do it."
His words ricochet endlessly off the walls of my skull.
"You swear, Ethan?" I'm finally able to ask.
"If you'll come with me."
"Oh, my God, Eth. I've been so waiting for this."
He throws the money on the bed. "Keep it."
"Why have you come back?"
But I already know the answer. He has always seen through me. Just like Hannah. He's bumping his forehead repeatedly against the hard edge of the door.
"Will you say the words now?"
I hold my breath and my heart starts thumping. I relish every millisecond.
"Au revoir, Ethan... I miss you already."
For the first time in years, I catch a fleeting smile on his pale face.
I peer through the window in time to catch a glimpse of his scrawny figure as he disappears around the corner.
A long-forgotten hymn we used to sing when I accompanied my mom to church, gently wraps itself around my soul. I feel goosebumps all over my body. I close my eyes and hum, as if I knew the lyrics all along, and one verse tenaciously clings to my tongue:
'Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing,
Thou hast put off my sackcloth, girded me with gladness.'
Suddenly, I feel it coming.
Brimming behind my eyes first.
Then it pours.

Drug and alcohol addiction takes a toll on family and everyone talks about that, but deep inside, few people care. The government talks a lot but you'll hear so many suicides, crimes, destroyed lives, just because of addiction.
After God, only a mother really, really cares.
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© Copyright 2023. Mario PIERRE All rights reserved.
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