“Life is peculiar in the sense that it ends.” I told this to my mother one morning as we ate our burned pieces of toast and drank our cold cups of coffee in our daily breakfast routine. It was a thought, nothing more than a simple theory I had been thinking about for quite some time. Nothing ends in this world except for life. As I write this story, I can’t help but wonder how long this paper will exist. It is more than likely that it will still be intact after I am dead, perhaps for decades or even centuries. It may be torn, ripped, or crushed, but it will still exist in this world. Life, on the other hand, is created with a set period of time. Once it ends, it can never be restored. I had not told my mother my explanation, I was curious to see her reaction to the statement. She stared down at the newspaper sprawled out across the table in front of her. “Did you take your pills today?” she asked. It was her only response. A small voice in the back of my head screamed at me for bothering to share my thoughts. I had known that she would respond this way, and yet I still chose to speak.
“Yes,” I lied. I had not taken those pills for over a month. I saw no need. They were nothing more than a cure for intellect. All of us who were forced to take them were merely people who looked at life through the eyes of a philosopher, thinking of it as more than something that distinguishes us from the dead. Society deems us as crazy simply because they can’t understand us. The idiotic fascists invented these little blue pills in order to turn us into the clones they had expected us to grow into.
Since the discovery of my ‘disease’, mother and I hadn’t had a single conversation quite the same as before. My pills had somehow always been made the final topic no matter what we originally intended to discuss. It was as if I was no longer her son but instead a nuisance in need of her constant supervision and guidance. Our relationship had shattered along with my freedom. It had gotten to the point where I could hardly look her in the eye anymore. I downed my last drop of coffee as I rose from my seat. “Where are you going?” she asked. I felt my adrenaline levels spiking as she spoke. Perhaps it was the coffee or maybe the pounding headache I had, but I suddenly felt the urge to scream.
“Out”, I stated simply while grabbing my jacket off the living room couch.
“Where is out?” she asked dully. Her eyes hadn’t wandered from the article she was reading in the Daily Times.
“Dunno,” I replied. I expected her to yell but she simply sat in silence. The slam of the door behind me was the only thing to break it. I walked along the side of the street mindlessly. I didn’t know where I was going nor did I care, as long as it relieved the aching in the pit of my stomach, it would be fine. I walked for hours without any sense of direction. I had somehow ended up in the park behind my old middle school. I recalled the countless times that I had come to play in this park with my friends. I had once broken my ankle falling off this swing set and my nose when I slipped off the jungle gym. Both times, my mother had ran to my side and held me silently as I cried.
She was always there to listen to me as a child, but now as a teenager, she is nowhere to be seen. What has changed since then besides my height and stature? Have I somehow become less important in her life? Have I lost the right to my mother’s love? I stared at the jungle gym, asking myself these questions without being able to find a single answer. For the first time in my life, I felt helpless. I could shape it all in my mind, the meaning of life, the reason for our existence, even the future of the world. I would always be able to come up with a possible solution to satisfy my curiosity. But now that the answers actually matter in my life, I couldn’t think of a single one.
I sat on the park bench for hours, waiting for something, but I didn’t know what. Did I want her to come find me or did I want to be left alone? I didn’t know. Being alone would only cause me loneliness while being with her would only cause me grief. Perhaps loneliness would have been the best answer; after all, I had been lonely for the past 4 years. I could at least endure it until I somehow gathered up enough courage to return home. Just as I had reached my final decision, a large sliver minivan pulled up in the school’s parking lot. Sunlight shone directly above the car, blocking my view of the person emerging from the driver’s seat. I pulled my hoodie over my head and turned away from the scene. The probability of that person being my mother was slim to none. She never would have guessed I would come to this park. Neither of us has been here for years. I surprised myself when my feet led me hear. Besides, she doesn’t care enough to search for me. She’s probably sitting at home in front of her television, munching on a bowl of popcorn while watching the news.
I tried to steer my mind away from thoughts of her, but they just kept popping up. Images of her by herself, without me flashed through my mind one after the other. Would she be happier if I were gone? Does she even care where I went? As I contemplated each question, the pit in my stomach grew. I felt it consuming me whole, trapping me within its endless depth. I was falling and with each second that passed by, the bottom of that pit steadily approached.
“James!” The melodic voice pulled me out of my despairing thoughts. Warm arms smelling of coffee, cigarettes and perfume surrounded me. I know this voice, these arms and this smell all too well. They were the source of my despair; and yet, why did I feel so happy to have them with me? I leaned my head back into the curve of her neck. Warm tears splashed across my cheeks one after another. We sat in silence for a few moments as we absorbed each other’s presence. “I was so worried,” she finally mumbled. I remained quiet, unsure of what to say. For the past four years, my mother had been a blank wall in my presence. I never imagined that she had the ability to weep wholehearted for my sake.
“Mom, why are you crying?” I whispered. It was the only thing that I could think to say.
“You left so abruptly,” she paused for a moment, “And what you said this morning.” I thought back to what I had told her that morning. Life is peculiar in the sense that it ends. Had she assumed I was talking about suicide? That wasn’t what I meant to say at all, or was it? Had I unknowingly admitted my depression through that statement? It wasn’t my original intention but my saying such a thing in front of my mother, knowing full well that she wouldn’t understand, may have been due to some underlying need for her attention.
“That was never my intention,” I mumbled, hoping to slow the flow of her tears. We clutched one another in utter silence. Her arms shook around me uncontrollably. This was not my mother, the cold and composed woman I had wanted attention from more than any other. It wasn’t possible for a simple woman to change so much within a couple of hours. I didn’t know the woman hugging me, crying for me, whispering prayers for me. But by all accounts, she appeared to be my mother. Her sweet voice, light brown hair, and piercing eyes all seemed too familiar to me. Perhaps I had never truly understood her. And because of my selfishness and forced independence, I had never really tried. So perhaps this woman is my mother and perhaps she is not.
I unraveled myself from her strangling grip and squeezed her hand like I did in the innocence of my childhood. “Let’s go home,” I whispered. Our fingers entwined as I led her down the path I had taken from our home. Moments ago this very same path seemed to be nothing more than a path, leading me to the memories I never wanted to remember. But now, it was the representation of our peace. A seemingly endless battle finally coming to a draw.